Making Hay
Week of December 29th, 2002 | The weather was cold. Hope you had a good Christmas.

Breakfast in the barn!

Breakfast in the barn!

Happy New Year! I hope you had a good Christmas. I did! Read more to find out what I got for presents!

Sunday, Dad, my neighbor, my neighbor's brother, and I went deer hunting. I was walking up a hill and two deer came out about 10-15 feet in front of me! I froze for a second or two and thought about shooting it. The deer were too close that it was not a safe target and I also couldn't see what was behind them, so it was safer not to shoot them. The two deer ran away without getting shot at. After walking over a mile, we thought about walking back to see if the two deer went back to their home. We didn't find them. I had a good exercise, though (I walked about 3 miles).

Monday, Dad and I put up a new gate. It took all day because we had to put the hinges on the post and the gate was very heavy, too. We dug through the frost to get the post set into the ground so it can support this gate. Dad and I worked on chores on Tuesday. I cleaned out the farrowing houses while Dad fed all of the sows. Dad also fed the cattle their hay, too. Tuesday evening, my family and I celebrated Christmas. We ate a delicious meal with fancy dishes and had the new Organic Valley Eggnog (mmm...it's sssoooooo good!) Before we ate, we opened the presents under the family Christmas tree. I received many new dress pants, dress shirts, dress socks, a pair of dress shoes, school pants, work pants, work gloves, sweatshirts, and other more clothes that I needed. I also received a new band saw blade for my band saw and a computer game. I also got an inspiration book from Mom, cologne and clothes from Jolene, and Jess gave me the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movie (the first one) with a figurine. I really enjoyed my gifts! Then, we ate our meal while watching the traditional movie, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Wednesday was Christmas. Mom, Dad, Jess, Jolene, and I went to Church in the morning. Then, I found one more present under the tree for me. It was in an envelope. I opened it up and read the letter. It told me that I have an appreciation gift for doing this journal and I have to pick it up at Organic Valley (LaFarge, Wisconsin). I won't tell you what it is until I bring it home!!!

We went to Grandpa and Grandma's farm near St. Lucas, Iowa, for Christmas with my relatives (Mom's side of the family). We had a big dinner. In the afternoon, we opened presents. From my godparents, I received a nice tool set, a knife, and a tape measure. From Grandpa and Grandma, I got socks, a couple other little things, and money. The rest of the day, I played cards with my cousin and ate more food. I had a good Christmas!

Thursday morning, I went to a nearby dairy farm that produces milk for Organic Valley. The farm has been shipping organic milk since August of this year. This farm is about 140 acres with 58 dairy cows, corn, soybeans, and hay. I stayed there for 24 hours and experienced life on an organic dairy farm. When I first got at the farm, I went out to help feed the heifers, or unbred female cows. The heifers were out in a cattle yard with a shed for shelter. Then, we went in the fresh dairy cow pen (a fresh cow is a cow that is producing milk) and cleaned the manure out. At 11:00, the milk truck came to pick up milk. I will share about the milk truck next week. I ate dinner with the family (the food was very delicious). I helped feed the cows their food in the afternoon. We mixed hay, grain, silage (any type of chopped grain with a lot of moisture), and haylage (chopped hay with moisture) together to make a totally mixed ration. This is a healthy diet for the fresh milking cows.

Also, that afternoon, the farm kids showed me their pet rabbits, their dogs and new puppies, their cats, chickens, ducks, horses, and the calves. I really enjoyed seeing all the farm animals. After that, we went inside the farmhouse and ate another delicious meal. For dessert, we had homemade ice cream with fresh milk out of the milk tank! I thought the ice cream was really good! Then, we went back outside to milk the cows. Usually, the family would work together milking the dairy cows at 5:30 to 7:00 both morning and night. Milking cows was my favorite time! I am going to tell you about the milking part next week with a good picture to show, too! After milking all of the cows, we went to bed. There's no TV or computer in the house. We went to bed early to get a good night sleep because morning came very early!

I woke up at 5:30 Friday morning. This is the usual time that the family wakes up to milk the cows in the morning. We went outside right away and milked the cows the same way as we milked them the night before. After milking, we went inside to eat a hearty breakfast. After breakfast, the family sat around the kitchen table to read and share some bible verses. Then, we went back outside to repeat the chores from Thursday. We fed the heifers, and cleaned out the fresh cow pen. Then, Dad came to pick me up. After 24 hours of exciting time, I had to show Dad the milking system! I think that Dad was just as impressed as I. I loved milking the cows!

Saturday, I worked on a welding project. Dad showed me how to weld some pieces for gate hinges. These pieces are simple and small, so it is an easy weld. I had to make many of them, so I got a lot of practice in. Dad said that I am well on the way to learning how to weld. Saturday afternoon, Dad and I went ice fishing at Lake Hendricks's at Riceville. We didn't get anything, but a guy who felt sorry for us gave us a nice bluegill!

Farm Fact: The children on the dairy farm said that their favorite thing to do is to milk the cows. I like milking them, too. The farmers milking set up made it easy work and I like the smell in the barn. I think the feed smells the best! I felt a real part of the farm. I even had fresh milk to drink. What a treat! The kids also told me that they like living on the farm because there is a lot of room to play and work with. They enjoy caring for all their pets.

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