Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Big Project...

If you are a regular visitor to my blog, it was very obvious that I was absent from posting from Spring until, well...now.  Along with all of the "normal" busy happenings on our farm, we started a big project last Spring that took until Mid-Fall to complete.  On April 9, 2012, we began with this:

This was when the hole was dug, and we began to build our new home.  This whole process was a little bitter sweet for me.  I was excited for the new home which we were building on the farm I grew up on.  On the other hand, it meant that I had to clean out and take down the house I grew up in.  The building process seemed to move along quickly which didn't give me much time to work on cleaning out the old house.

The basement walls went up.  The old home had a lot of water problems in the basement.  Therefore, we opted to only dig our new basement down 4 feet into the ground.  Good thing we have a semi truck since we are going to need a LOT of fill dirt.

Next, the outside walls went up and things were starting to take shape.  It amazed me every day how much progress they made.

It wasn't long and the roof went on.  By this time, I was seriously working at getting the house cleaned out.  But...I am a procrastinator by nature, so I took a little break from the process until it came down to crunch time.  The people that were coming to take the house down gave me two days notice.  So, we spent our 4th of July holiday cleaning out the rest of the house and the attic.  There was much more "stuff" in the attic than I anticipated!!  We managed to complete the cleaning that day since the next day the house would come down.  Fortunately for me, I had to work.  Roger took a couple of pictures for me, but I just couldn't be there to watch my childhood home disappear.

After the garage was moved and the house was down, we were finally able to envision what our home was going to look like.  We had a great contractor that made the whole process fairly easy.  It was hard to believe that a floor plan that started on a piece of scratch paper was actually taking shape.  We had found a home that we liked the look of about 40 miles west of our area.  I took a picture of the home on the way by, and that is what we modeled the outside of the home by.  We made a few modifications to fit our floor plan, but it has turned out just as we had hoped.

We were able to move into our new home on October 13, 2012.  Good thing harvest was early this year and help was available.  We are pretty much settled into our new home and loving it!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree....

As Christmas quickly approaches, our little family set out this Sunday afternoon to carry out a Family Tradition....choosing the family Christmas Tree.  JM had his Christmas program at church this morning to get us in the mood for the rest of the day.  I just love hearing the kids sing the traditional Christmas Carols!  After church was over and chores were done, we made the trip to a nearby town to choose our tree.

Also in family tradition, we like to wait for a light dusting of snow to pick out just the perfect tree.  The weather cooperated nicely last night to add the snow we were needing.  We walked through the tree farm to find just the perfect one.

After a little discussion, I believe we have found the perfect tree to take home.  This will be our first Christmas tree in our new home, so JM is determined that it fit that perfect description.

The sawing begins!  We all have our jobs when we go on the tree hunt:  JM is the tree hauler, Roger is the tree cutter, and I am the one who captures the memories.

The hunt is over and we are ready to take our tree home to decorate.  JM is excited since it is also a family tradition to add an ornament to our collection every year.  Our tree decorations are not color matched, but instead a collection of ornaments we have acquired as a family or from our families.  That makes it much more beautiful to us, and constantly reminds us of the true reason for the Christmas Season.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A New 4-H Year Begins

As JM's first 4-H year came to a close with the county 4-H banquet, a new 4-H year begins to take shape.  JM really enjoyed his first year in 4-H.  He learned a lot about feeding and caring for his cattle, and his record book taught him about keeping good records about the care of those animals.  JM was fortunate enough to get a First Year Record Book award for his hard work.



The new 4-H year began last Saturday with the weigh-in of his Pen of Four calves.  We take 4 of our home raised calves and separate them from the other feeder cattle.  These four calves are fed and cared for by JM and his dad.  They are kept separate since their daily feed needs to be weighed and recorded as well as their health records.  JM submits weekly feed sheets to the county extension office.  They also have the opportunity to learn about what it takes to make the project profitable.  They give the calves a value at weigh in, and the kids can choose to lock in a price on the Chicago Board of Trade that they will get when the cattle are fat.  They can also choose to lock in their feed costs and use options on the Board of Trade to help with the profitability of the project.


The Advanced Cattle Feeder project is an excellent learning tool for the kids.  It gives them an appreciation for the costs that go into all aspects of the project, and they learn that it is not always a money making project.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

County Fair Fun

Well....JM's first county fair was a big success!  He had a great time showing his cattle, and brought home a few blue ribbons as reward for all of his hard work.


Tuesday was cattle show day at the O'Brien County Fair.  We were at the fairgrounds by 6:00 a.m. to wash the calves and start getting them ready for the show.  We blew them dry, brushed, combed, groomed and made them look their best to go in front of the judge.  


Allie was the first one to go into the ring.  JM did a great job of showing her.  They received 3rd in the class honors and a blue ribbon.  She is a calf out of our own cows and has the best personality.  Allie and JM have gotten very close.  She just loves to have him near her.  JM was just beaming coming out of the ring with a blue ribbon.  

The two steers, Charlie and Mikey, did great in the ring as well.  Charlie also received 3rd in his class honors and a blue ribbon.  Charlie got to go into the ring a second time for beef of merit as well.  He was one of the top ten cattle in the fair for rate of gain.  Mikey was 4th in his class and also received a blue ribbon.  JM was on Cloud 9!

During the beef show, JM received his award for his Pen of Four project.  He fed 4 of our home raised calves throughout the year and had the highest rate of gain over the other participants.  His calves gained an average of 4.6 lbs per day.  He had to keep track of the feed that was fed to them and also take care of their  pen and health. The project was also judged on the grade of the meat.  All four of JM's calves were in the top six for yield and grade by the packer.  JM received Grand Champion honors for this project.  


Today was the most difficult day of the fair.  JM had to say goodbye to Charlie and Mikey since they were going to be sold on the fair auction.  The whole family shed some tears, but JM had a really hard time letting go of them.  He has put a lot of hard work into feeding, caring, washing, grooming and breaking them to lead.  It is amazing how quickly they become part of the family.  We will miss them!!

JM had a wonderful first year fair experience.  Allie came home with us from the fair.  She will go to a couple more shows yet this summer, and hopefully, she will go back to the fair next year with her calf.  We can't wait for next year.  We met some great new friends and learned a lot along the way.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

County Fair Time

Our County Fair is beginning this weekend, and this is the first year that JM will be showing his cattle as a project for 4-H.  He is very excited to participate!  We have been preparing for this event for months.   JM has been feeding, watering, washing, leading and grooming these calves.  He is quite anxious to show off his hard work!

JM and Allie
JM has two market steers and a breeding heifer that he will be shown.  The market steers will most likely get sold at the end of the fair.  This will be a very sad day for our family since we have become quite attached to them.  They become a part of your family when you spend hours with them every single day!  Our breeding heifer, Allie, will come back home after the fair and hopefully go back to the fair next year as a cow/calf pair.


Allie has become quite close to JM.  She started out the project as a market heifer, but we decided that maybe she would make a great cow since she has such a wonderful personality.

Tonight, we made our way to the fairgrounds and put bedding in our stalls to prepare for the arrival of Charlie, Mikey and Allie to the fair tomorrow morning.


We are using straw bales to give the calves a comfortable bed to lay on in the barns at the fairgrounds.


JM could hardly go to sleep tonight since he is SO excited to have his first fair experience.  He loves working with his calves.  We can't wait to watch JM proudly walk his calves into the ring.  The cattle show is on Tuesday, and it is supposed to be over 100 degrees here that day.  Usually, the day of the cattle show brings some rain to our area, and we are praying that this year is no exception.  We really need the rain and would gladly have to deal with the mud!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Planting

Planting season is in full swing in our area.  Everyone waited for some rain to come before they started putting corn in the ground, and now they are trying to get most of it in before the next round of showers.  A lot of corn acres have been planted in the last 4 days around here.....including some of our own.  My husband, Roger, is also a seed rep for Pioneer Hi-Bred so this time of the year gets pretty crazy at our house trying to be full time at our seed business, feeding cattle and getting our own crop planted.  A lot of late nights and early mornings!


Well....today we got started planting our own corn.  We should be 3/4 of the way done before the rain comes tomorrow - at least if the weather man is correct.  It is amazing how many acres they can cover in a day.


Having a seed tender to fill the planter helps keep things moving along.  We can get our corn in bulk units and not have to stop to break bags into the planter.  It would be nice to get a little rain on the newly planted fields.  Then we would love to see some warm weather and sunshine to get it to pop out of the ground.

While all of this corn planting is going on, JM and I did a little planting of our own.  We started our tomato and pepper plants from seed again this year.


Hopefully, this will work as nicely as it did last year.  We cut down the number of plants that we planted this year.  The garden was quite full last year, and we did a LOT of canning.

I hope everyone is having a good and safe planting season!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Endless Projects

As I look back to last fall, we started our shop project.  The shop was completed last fall, and in the hustle and bustle of harvest, I don't think I ever posted the finished product.  It actually turned out great!  Roger and Jacob were quite happy to have their equipment inside the warm shop this winter.  It was a nice place to work on things and was already warm when they arrived in the morning so they started right up.


With this project complete.....there had to be another one on the horizon, and, of course, there was.  Next on the list was moving one building to the other side of the shop to make room for moving a garage to the south side of the shop.  Kind of like musical buildings!  Since we had such a long fall and mild winter, things worked out quite nicely to ready the new floors for the move.

Building #1 to be moved.
This building is a really nice storage shed, and we decided to move it to the north side of the shop to open this spot up for the garage that we need to move.

Building #1 in its new home.
The move went very well and took place early this spring.  Then they had to get rid of the old cement and pour new cement to move the garage.

Building #2 in its new home.
This is the garage that was only moved about 200 feet from its original home.  This garage was sitting next to the house on the farm I grew up on.  We had to move this garage as we are making way for yet another project to take off.......our new home.  We are building a house on this farm in order to be closer to the majority of our animals.  I am very excited to move back to our "home place" and have JM make some great memories there as well.

Stay tuned as I will be posting pictures of the latest project.  And.....as the new project takes off, spring planting is getting underway.  A lot of new beginnings!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Just when you thought you had enough cattle.....

When I look around our farm all of our yards are full of either feeder cattle or cows and calves.  So....you can imagine my surprise last night when Roger told me the he had in fact purchased another set of steers for us to feed.  I love having them around, but was a little concerned as to where we were going to put them.  But....of course, he already had a plan since this was a group of cattle that he simply could not pass up.

Therefore, we started off celebrating National Ag Day by moving the cows and calves to my in-laws' farm and unloading our new group of steers into their yard.  We did keep a few cows around in our grove.  I just can't give up being able to look out the window and see those baby calves!


I think it is now safe to say that we do not have room for one more hoof on our farm.  Roger and Jacob have plenty to keep them busy every day.  They are a nice group of steers.  We fed steers from the same ranch last year, and they were an awesome group.  As you can see in the background, the bull and cows did not quite know what to think of their new friends across the fence.

We have had such beautiful weather for feeding cattle this winter.  They are growing at an amazing rate.  The frost is starting to go out of the ground, and the mud is definitely here.  Spring is just around the corner, and we can start looking forward to planting corn.  Another time of the year that we love.

Happy Ag Day!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Family Bonding Time

What better to do on a Saturday afternoon but have a little family bonding time.  JM and I didn't have anything on the agenda for the afternoon so Roger came up with a little family activity.  Just the 3 of us and 200 members of our farm family..............working cattle was on his agenda.  We figured no big deal, it would just take a couple of hours.  And.....just when you plan for things to be simple..........they are simply NOT.    Usually when you open the gate to let the cattle out of the pen, they do just that - run for new and exciting territory.  However, these particular cattle have become attached to each other and their pen.  They had no intention of leaving their space.  We yelled.....and chased....and chased.....and yelled with not much luck at all.  It took us over an hour to get 200 head of cattle out of their pen and into the holding area to work them.  Phew!!!  Boy were we tired.  And since it was only about 20 degrees today and the wind was blowing, we were dressed for the occasion and were carrying around about what seemed like 20lbs of clothing.  Good exercise program!!



Now that we had the kids in place and ready to go, we headed over to the chute to get started.  Sounds simple.......but, of course, since it took so long to get them out of the pen, our syringes had frozen up.  So....we had to get them thawed out.  What else could go wrong???  Actually, several things could and did still go wrong, but eventually we got started and made it all the way through.  It was kind of fun to see them all go through the chute.  We have a scale on our chute as well, and some of the fellows have gotten to be quite large already.  If they keep this up, we may be selling them earlier than expected. 

This group of cattle is actually quite tame which is the main reason that they had no interest in moving away from where we were today.  Luckily Jacob stopped by today to give us a hand.  It sure was nice having an extra person help to keep them moving through the chute. 

The cattle received two different vaccinations today to keep them healthy.  They need their vaccinations just like our kids do to keep disease away.  They also received a topical treatment for worms and other parasites.


JM helping at the chute.

After everyone was treated and returned to their home, we loaded the feeder wagon and got them their supper.  They are always happy to see the feeder wagon line up to the bunks.  Our little 2 hour adventure ended up taking us a little over 4 hours, but it was good time spent as a family.  We all enjoyed what we were doing so I guess it doesn't matter what the activity is as long as we are together.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Calving Season 2012

This morning marked the beginning of calving season for our family as one of our homegrown heifers had her baby early this morning.  This new addition was a beautiful bouncing baby boy!  (Just like the ultrasound said it would be!  :)) She had him on her own and all cleaned up by the time we got out there to check them this morning.


We made sure everyone was OK and got mother and baby into a nicely bedded pen in the building.  JM was very excited to jump right in there and make friends with the new addition.  However, LuLu (the new mother) is still a little anxious so JM will have to wait a little while to get in the pen with them.  JM did manage to come up with a name for the new little guy, and it is George.



George is very cute!  We all love this time of year!  We can't wait to have more new babies to join our farm family!