Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tucking in the kids

Our Iowa winters always seem to have a variety of conditions for us to work around, and this year is no exception.  We woke up to a nice little ice storm this morning.  Although we welcome the moisture, ice brings many challenges to chore time.  We are not allowed the luxury of waiting for the storm to pass before we go out to do chores.  Roger got right out there this morning and fired up the feeder wagon to get everyone fed.  We have pens of cattle at two other farm places as well as where we live so we started with the road trips first.  Traveling on the roads was the easy part - the hard part was making sure the tractor didn't slide into the bunks.  Fortunately, the temperatures hung right around the freezing mark today.  The cattle actually thought it was a pretty nice day - they were jumping and playing around as we fed.

We always make sure that the cattle have a warm and dry place to lay down.  That is especially important when the weather isn't at it's best.  So, this afternoon, every pen received fresh bedding to lay on.

We have a bale shredder that distributes the bales around the pen.  All the pens have mounds that we bed outside on, as well as having bedding in the sheds for them.  When the temperatures are as warm as they were today, the cattle prefer to be outside.

It doesn't take them long to start sifting through the fresh bedding.  After they finish eating their supper, they will make their way to the new bedding and tuck in for the night.  And...we will start our process all over again tomorrow.  This time of year takes a lot of extra bedding, but we want to make sure our "kids" are warm and comfortable.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Show Season Begins!

We officially kicked off cattle show season this past Thursday at the Sioux Empire Farm Show in Sioux Falls, SD.  JM got to "skip" school for the day in order to be part of the show.  Roger and JM headed to Sioux Falls right after morning chores were done.  They loaded Emily, the show box and grooming chute in the trailer and were ready for some fun!  They had to be checked in by 11:00 a.m., and the show was at 6:00 p.m. that night.  They had some free time after getting set up to check out the farm show.  I, however, had to work, but hopped in the car right after work to make the show.

JM was nervous for his first show of the season.  This was a new show for him, and he wasn't quite sure how things went at this show.  He was also a little worried that I might not make it to Sioux Falls in time to see him show. he entered the ring, he saw me and all was well!  I made it just in time.  He was in the third class of the show, and I made it there half way through the second class.

JM and Emily worked very well together.  She did a great job in the ring and so did JM.  Emily has been "in training" for this lead thing, but this was her first opportunity to show off  what she has learned.

JM has a great time in the ring.  He loves his calves and showing them.  We were very proud of both Emily and JM.  When JM walks out of the ring with a smile on his face, we know it was a successful show no matter what place the calf gets!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In Training

Cattle show season is quickly approaching so it is time to start training.  That is... training the new calves to lead and re-training the rest of the family to get into the washing, grooming and showing groove.  We all enjoy the calves a lot so it does not take much to get us back into the spirit of things.

First of all, the calves have to get used to the halters.  The four new calves have been wearing halters since about the middle of December.  After they get used to having the halters on, then we start to tie them up for little periods of time in the barn.  Then we start to lead them around with the halter on.  After a week or so of "training", they understand the person holding onto the halter is the one who tells them where they need to go.  Even on the coldest days, we still go out and work with them.  We are also starting to wash them to get them used to that process as well.  Since it is SO cold out, we are washing and drying them in our heated shop.  That way everyone is comfortable and healthy!

Another part of the "training" is to have them get used to being groomed.  Emily, JM's heifer, is getting the opportunity to go to the Sioux Empire Farm Show so she also gets a haircut in addition to the usual routine.  We have been washing her and blowing out her hair as well as combing her a lot to get her used to how things will go at the show.  The calves prefer no big surprises if we want things to go smoothly.  

The new calves are doing very well.  Another part of their training as well as JM's, we are going to take them to a few shows to give them practice before it is county fair time. The whole family enjoys the shows.  We get to meet a lot of great people, and it is fun to cheer everyone on as they go into the ring.