Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The beauty of winter

With all of the ice and snow this weekend it is hard to imagine that we could see any beauty.  It was warm enough today to actually melt a little bit.  This is one of the icicles that formed on our garage.  It was really beautiful with the sun shining on it as it was setting this evening. 

Today, Roger and I had the opportunity to listen to John Gnadke speak about grain quality and Duane Lowry also gave us some market perspective.  John does a really great job of teaching us how to effectively store our grain.  There is more to storing grain than sticking it in the bin in the fall and taking it out when you sell it in July.  Duane talked about selling grain when it is right for your business.  If you feel it is a good sale when you make it, you shouldn't worry about what the coffee shop crowd has to say.  It was a tough day to address an audience about grain markets when corn was down the limit (-30) today.  He also showed us charts displaying that we are near record highs from 2008.  It would probably be a good time to start making some marketing decisions in this area.    Everyone would like to hit the highs, but in the end you just have to make good marketing decisions for your business.

When we arrived back at the farm for the evening, we checked the calves in the calving barn.  They were all just tucked in the bedding out of the wind.  Jake, our little adopted family member, was ready for his bottle.  He came right up to the gate to greet us. We had two more new additions today as well.  That puts us up to 11 new babies.

Sid poses for the camera again.

After spending some quality time with our furry family members, it was homework time for JM.  He had spelling, math and reading to do before supper.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ice on the Farm

As promised, we woke up to ice this morning.  Feeding still went as planned this morning except for the discovery of a cow having her calf.  She was quickly transferred to the calving barn to be able to have her calf where it was warm and dry.

Happy Birthday Jake!
It has rained most of the day, and the trees and power lines have been accumulating ice throughout the day.  About 4:00 this afternoon we lost electricity.  As soon as that happened, the whole family headed outside to bed the animals and bottle feed our little baby calf.  His mother still has not "seen the light" so we will continue to help him out with bottles throughout the day.

JM feeding Ernie
The cattle love the fresh bedding.  They enjoy running through in as it comes off the bale shredder. 

JM was having fun getting acquainted with the new calf this afternoon.  He is a beautiful little calf.  Hopefully he will be our only newborn today since the weather has still not improved.  It was still raining when we came in from chores, and the electricity had come back on.  We were only without power for about 2 hours.  The power outage happened at about lap 147 of the NASCAR race.  Thank goodness for Twitter - we could find out who the winner was.  It is great to see NASCAR is powered by American Ethanol!

Ice on trees

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winter is back...

Winter weather is back and headed our way.  In a few hours, we will be under an Ice Storm Warning which means that our family spent the day preparing the animals for the impending weather.  Instead of heading to my husband's Christmas party in Sioux Falls, we opted to clean pens, bed pens, and make sure the feed ingredients were stocked up to get through the storm.  Having animals on your farm means that caring for them comes before anything else.  Nobody says a word or feels disappointed about missing the party since this is the way of life that we love.

 It was such a beautiful morning on the farm.  It's hard to believe that tomorrow morning everything will be covered in ice.  The ice and wind probably means loosing electricity which in turn means frozen waters.  We hope that doesn't happen, but if it does, we will be out making sure the cattle are able to drink and are comfortable.

We made sure the modified distillers grains pile was full as well as the flaked corn pile.  Our corn syrup did not arrive as scheduled, but is supposed to be here tomorrow.  If it doesn't make it, we are prepared to adjust the feed rations to accomodate not having syrup in it.  We still have plenty of silage on hand, and the protein bin is 1/2 full.  The animals will all be fed in the morning before we think about doing anything else.

We also had a new calf born yesterday, and the new mother isn't quite sure what do with him.  We have been trying to convince her that he is hers, and it would be a big help for her to take care of him.  She is a first time mother and isn't sure that's what she signed up for.  So...until she decides which way she is going lean, we are supplimenting his nursing with a bottle of milk replacer.  He will just become one of the family!  By the way, he would be calf #8 for the year.

The show calves managed to get some time today as well.  JM is still quite close with Ralphie even though he hasn't been led around the show ring since August.  Soon we will start working with Ralphie, Rudy and LuLu to get them ready to attend some cattle shows.  It is a lot of work, but well worth it to see the connection that JM makes with them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spring is here.....well, almost!

Today was a beautiful day in northwest Iowa.  It almost feels like spring!  It was over 40 degrees ABOVE zero today and everyone (including the animals) is enjoying the nice weather.  The new calves were out running around in the grove with their tails in the air.  I am amazed that grass is now visible on the lawn and dirt is showing in the fields.  That is sure to get covered again before spring truly arrives, but we have enjoyed this nice week nonetheless. 

Happy to see black soil!

Meet Sid...

We now have 7 beautiful little calves on our farm and so far, we have managed to name them all.  We have 2 heifer (girl) calves and 5 bull (boy) calves as of today.  They are so much fun to watch as they explore the grove and learn about their surroundings.  The calves made several laps around the hay feeder as I watched them tonight.  Then....curiousity got the best of them, and they had to come over and check me out too. 

There are a couple of other members of our farm family that I would like to introduce you to.  Below is Copper our faithful "cattle" dog.  He is more of a friend to the cattle than a helper with the cattle, but he is a very good family dog.  He is our protector (or so he thinks) and loves all the affection that he gets from us.  


And this is our "ranch" horse otherwise known as Harley.  He loves to ride through the pastures to check the cows and calves in the summer time.  When we round the cows/calves up in the fall to come home, he is there doing his job.  In the off season, he is the resident hay tester...never getting too far from the hay feeder.

I took advantage of the great weather to gather some more wonderful shots of our farm family to share.  Everyday has something different in store for us on our farm.  That is one of the reasons that we love it so much!  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Common Ground

Everyone makes a trip to the grocery store at least once a week.  But, as your making the food choices for your family, do you think about where that food comes from?  The Common Ground program was developed to give you some answers to those questions and put a face on American agriculture.  It is a grassroots program designed to connect farm wives and mothers with the people making the food choices for their families that are not connected to the farm.    The Spokeswomen are farmers who want to show how proud we are of the food that we produce!

Iowa is one of five states involved in the pilot program. The program is sponsored by corn and soybean farmers.  The launch for the Iowa Common Ground program was held Saturday, February 5, 2011 at West Lakes HyVee in West Des Moines, IA.  Spokeswomen, Suzanne Shirbroun, Sara Ross and myself were on hand to talk to consumers and answer questions about what we do and about the Common Ground program.  So, where do we go from here?  Each of us will be hosting grocery store events similar to the launch at HyVee in our own area of the state, doing speaking engagements, and continuing our blogs, twitter & facebook pages to get the message out.  You can get more information at http://www.findourcommonground.com/.

We think it is great that we live in country with so many wonderful food choices.  The United States has the safest most abundant and affordable food in the world.  Our message is to let consumers know that we put a lot of care into the food we grow.  We are putting the same food on our tables that we are producing to send to theirs.  Our animals are a part of our family and most times get fed before we do.  We are stewards of the land that we farm and want to preserve that resource for our children to enjoy as well.

Sara Ross, myself and Suzanne Shirbroun
  We have been featured in the following media following our launch: