Thursday, June 30, 2011

VanEss Dairy

Last night we had the opportunity to attend an open house at VanEss Dairy, which is our largest local dairy.  We walked around to different stations in the barns, and they explained what happens in each area and how it is done.  Harvey and Lisa VanEss and their sons are the owners/operators of the dairy.  Harvey and Lisa moved their family to Northwest Iowa from Idaho and built this new dairy to enable all five of their sons to be involved in the business.  They are a wonderful family and their business is a true asset to the area.

The first station showed us the feed ingredients that go into the ration that gets fed to the cows every day.  In this barn the cows each have their own area to eat and be comfortable.  They are sand-bedded pens which helps the cows stay cleaner.  The barn is well ventilated and kept at a consistent temperature throughout the day and night.  The air quality in these barns in great!  These girls have a comfortable environment and are very content.  By the way.....the gentleman in the center is my brother-in-law, Rodney, who is talking about the feed ingredients and rations used for the cows.

Our next station was about cow comfort. These cows looked very satisfied with their surroundings.  Then we moved on to the Maternity Ward.  This baby calf was born just 25 minutes before we got to the station and another calf was being born as we were walking through.

JM was very interested in the baby calves.  He was wondering just how we could get our hands on some of these.  We may have to look into that for a project for him.

The milking parlor was amazing.  The cows are milked every 8 hours.  This dairy does not have a bulk tank since they have a local creamery just a few miles away.  AMPI has tankers that sit at the farm and are loaded as the milking process is done.  Since freshness is a top priority, the milk is instantly cooled before being pumped onto the tankers.  30,000 gallons of fresh, cooled milk leaves this dairy every day.  AMPI takes this milk and makes cheese from it.

Our family would like to thank Harvey and Lisa VanEss and their families for a very educational tour of your wonderful facility.  The barns were immaculate, and the cows were content and comfortable.  As livestock farmers, we put the care and well-being of our animals ahead of our own.  We are proud to have your business in our part of the state!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Indy Car Race

Our little family took a short trip to Des Moines this past weekend to attend the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at the Iowa Speedway.  We also had the pleasure of meeting some new friends from across the country.  Iowa Corn had invited some bloggers to join them for the race, and we had the opportunity to join them for their events.  Friday evening we enjoyed a wonderful meal at Dos Rios on Court Avenue in Des Moines.  Then on Saturday morning, we went to Baby Boomers in Des Moines for breakfast and to the Farmers Market.  Unfortunately, the rain kept us from getting to the Arts Festival.  We did enjoy the Farmers Market though with umbrellas in hand.  After lunch, the group made their way out to the Iowa Speedway in Newton.

We had the opportunity to walk through the cars and have a garage tour before the races began.  Ed Carpenter, the driver of the Dollar General car, spoke to us and signed autographs.

JM and Ed Carpenter
After the tour, we made our way to the Iowa Corn/Pioneer tent to mingle and enjoy some food.  Danica Patrick made an appearance in the tent as well as Governor Terry Branstad.  They also had 2 Indy Cars in the tent for people to look at or have their picture taken with.

There were 2 shorter races before the Iowa Corn Indy 250 began that we enjoyed.    We watched the entire race from the Iowa Corn/Pioneer tent since they were located just above turn 1.  We had a direct view down pit road which was great to watch.

And they were off.......................  JM spent most of the race listening to the in-car radios on his headset.  He occasionally shared with us.  He really enjoyed listening to the chatter.

We watched Danica Patrick's team in the pits and witnessed a few crashes.  Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured.  Marco Andretti was the winner of the Iowa Corn Indy 250.  It was a great race to get there.

Our family really loved watching the race!  We also enjoyed meeting new friends and experiencing some events in Des Moines.  After all of the excitement of the weekend, JM was just completely wore out.  And believe me...............this sight does not happen often.

Great weekend Iowa Corn!!  Thank you!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Working Calves

We spent a fantastic weekend enjoying the Iowa Corn Indy 250 in Des Moines (which I will post about later,) but we were happy to get back to the farm yesterday to get our calves ready to go to the pasture.  We have a group of cows and calves that have been grazing our grove waiting to head out to pasture.  The "girls" have been finding their way out of the grove and into our garden.  Yesterday was the day to get them ready to go since we came home to find 4 of them grazing the yard.  The calves needed their vaccinations before they are taken out to the grass. 

We rounded up the little ones and put them in a holding pen.  As you can see, they are a little muddy.  We have had an abundance of rain this month and the area around their bale feeder has gotten a little muddy.  They are getting fed hay bales also to supplement the grass they eating.  The rain has also helped the pastures become more lush for grazing.

The calves each received two vaccines to prevent them from getting sick.  Just like we vaccinate our children from diseases, the calves also need that disease protection.  We want to keep them healthy!  The group was small and it did not take long to run them through.

The group is finished and ready to go back out with their mothers.  Tomorrow they will go to pasture and have thick lush grass to munch on.

JM and Copper were there for support!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Busy Weekend

It was such a beautiful weekend here in Northwest Iowa that we couldn't help but take advantage of it.  Even though it was Father's Day weekend, the work did not stop on the farm.  JM and I did some running around in the morning, but made the most of our afternoon.  Roger got an early start and managed to get all of our corn sprayed yesterday as well as his Dad's beans.

Roger sprayed the weeds in the corn to help protect the crop that we are growing.  If the weed pressure gets too bad in the field, it affects the yield of the crop.  We always follow label instructions for the crop protection products that we use and want to do all that we can to protect the crop and the environment.

JM and I made a trip to the local strawberry farm to pick some strawberries to eat and make jam with.    It only took us about 20 minutes to pick two large boxes of strawberries.  They are SO good this year!!

We started with these beautiful strawberries...............

And ended up with:

We sampled a few when we got home and then moved on to the landscaping project.  I added rock to the bushes that I planted a couple of weeks ago.  We did about half of the area yesterday evening, and I finished the other half this afternoon.  It was a lot of hard work, but it looks so nice.  Oh....and we did manage to celebrate Father's Day today as well!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Take me out to the Ball Field..........

Baseball games have officially begun!  JM's season kicked off tonight.  His team is made up of twelve 3rd and 4th graders. There are two teams of the same age group.  He was so concerned all day about winning.  I sat down with him and told him it wasn't about winning but more about what you learn from your experience.  I think I can safely say that my little speech had absolutely no impact once he entered the dugout and joined in the excitement of the other kids.  They all did a great job tonight, and...they did come up with a win. 

My little lefty went up to bat with determination.  Unfortunately, he struck out.  He did have a good hit, but it was a foul ball.  I am always interested to see which side of the plate he is going to stand on when he goes up to bat.  He likes to change things up from time to time.  JM hits well from both sides.  He is having a great time with baseball.  It is a great experience for him and his dad (since Roger is helping coach.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Field Trip

Today we took a field trip with a group of kids from Vacation Bible School from our church.  The field trip was to Prairie Heritage Center near Peterson, IA.  They have a lot of great things for the kids to look at and learn from.  In the basement of the Prairie Heritage Center, they had a very large snake set up!  The whole room was filled with nothing but pictures and information about snakes.  The kids absolutely loved every part of it!  On the main level, they had an exhibit to show prairie animals and plants.

The kids also did a scavenger hunt in this area of the center.  There were all kinds of information about the heritage of the land the center sits on and of the local area.  The Prairie Heritage Center sits in the hills and has a beautiful view from the windows.  They have binoculars and a telescope available for visitors to help enjoy the view.

After the scavenger hunt, we went on a hike on the trails with the resident Naturalist.  She explained a lot about the native grasses and flowers of the area as well as some insects and spiders that call the area home.  They have native prairie grass growing there, and Charlene, the Naturalist, suggested we come back in the fall and see just how tall the grasses will be then.

There is a pond on the property also.  We approached the area quietly and found turtles sunning themselves on the logs.  There were several turtles swimming around the logs too.  The kids had a great time watching them.  Charlene also taught the kids about some of the native weeds.  They broke open milk weeds and learned about some early uses for the milk from those plants.

Overall, the group had a great time.  JM and I plan on going back soon since we had limited time today.  Also, the resident Buffalo are expecting calves soon, and we can't wait to see the new babies.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cyclone Fan

Tonight we took JM to Okoboji to the Iowa State Cyclone Tailgate Tour.  He was so amazed to see the coaches, football players, gymnastic team members and spirit squad spread out throughout the building.  They had an inflatable slide for the kids and loads of Cyclone posters and souvenirs.  His first sighting was Cy.

Go Cyclones!!

Then he moved on over to the autograph table where he had posters autographed by two members of the gymnastics team and 4 members of the Cyclone football team.

JM thought it was pretty cool to meet Coach Rhoades!  I think his Dad thought it was very "cool" as well.........

Coach Rhoades & My Boys
We had the opportunity to listen to the attending coaches speak, and then they had a special surprise for the kids.  They all received Cyclone football jerseys!  JM was so excited!!  He is very pumped to head to Ames for the football games.  And.....he was a lucky winner tonight.  JM won 2 tickets to a Cyclone Women's Basketball game.  More Cyclone action for us to enjoy!!  We all had a great time tonight and will put the Cyclone Tailgate Tour on our list of this not to miss next year!  GO CYCLONES!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Our First Week of Summer

We have had a great first week of summer on our farm.  Last week, I left my full time job to spend the summer with my son, JM, and work on projects on the farm.  I couldn't be more excited to get to enjoy my son and the summer weather.  As I prepared to be done with my job, I made a very long mental list of projects to be accomplished over the summer.  We are off to a great start! 

Yesterday, JM and I had to make a parts run to the Case IH dealer.  On the way home, we took some gravel roads and came by the pasture nearby that has buffalo in it.  There were several with babies, and we had to stop for a minute just to check them out.

Our garden is really starting to take shape.  We now have actual rows!  The onions, radishes, lettuce, and peas have emerged.

The tomato and pepper plants are doing well.  They have grown alot since being planted in the garden.  JM and I spent time yesterday hoeing around the plants and adding the rings to the tomato plants.

We also managed to plant 5 new bushes around our house yesterday and added 2 more today.  If the wind wouldn't have been blowing so hard today, we may have gotten some more done in the perennial beds that we have in the yard.  The sunshine and warm weather is bringing out the best in all of the plants - from the corn and soybeans to the garden vegetables and flowers.

Summer Beauty!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Today's project.

 I made myself a list of things to accomplish this summer, and planting new bushes around our addition was one of the projects.  We still have to add the rock, but 5 new bushes were planted today!!  I had this project complete, minus the rocks, a few years ago, day the sheep got out, and in a matter of minutes my landscaping was bare.  So, now that the sheep are gone, I am making another attempt at finishing the landscaping.