Making Hay
Week of August 3rd, 2003 | The weather was a little bit rainy.

Building floor for the grain trailer.

Building floor for the grain trailer.

Hello to all! Summer is going by too fast! We had some rain this past week, and we really needed it.

Sunday we had about 30 friends and family at our house. It was a post college graduation party for Jess and a farewell party for Jolene before leaving for California. Jolene will be spending her second year of college out there. She leaves on August 17th. It was a good time and lots of great food to eat!!! On Friday night about a dozen of Jolene's friends came over and we had a bonfire party.

Dad and I took the grain truck with about 750 bushels of our barley to a grain plant in St. Ansgar this week. Our barley had to go through three tests before it could be accepted. We passed all three tests, so we had the load of barley sold. As we waited for our load to be tested, we watched four semi loads of oats get rejected.

After Dad and I finished with the straw baling earlier in the week, I cut 40 acres of second crop hay. The hay will be baled this coming week, as soon as it dries from the rain we received.

Dad and I started building a grain trailer this past week. We are constructing the wooden portion of this wagon and a nearby welding shop is making the metal frame. We found a used hoist in a salvage yard. It will be hitched to the pickup, or in the future, a semi tractor. It will be used for the feed business. This one has taller sides and it will hold more material than the other two that we use. It will be able to hold 550 bushels.

On our farm, it's fun to watch the cattle when they are grazing the green pastures. I think it's really great that we can have a beef cowherd on the farm and to see them all together and care for their young calves. We believe it's necessary to have cattle on our farm, as a part of our organic rotation of our crops. Dad always says the cows are the most important link to make things work.

We have about 90 acres of pasture this year. A pasture is a field with different types of grasses. Our main pastures are mostly orchard grass, timothy, some weeds and legumes. Legumes are plants that belong to the pea family. Alfalfa, clover, and vetch are important forage and pasture plants that happen to be in the legume plant family.

We feed our cattle herd a new strip of pasture each day. This controls the cow's diet and the pasture is fresh everyday. When the cowherd finishes grazing one pasture, we'll move them to another so that the first pasture has time to re-grow.

When a cow eats grass, she will move her head back and forth to tear the grass. Her teeth cannot cut. A cow has four stomachs. Humans only have one. The grass goes down the throat into the first stomach. The first stomach is called rumen. Cattle eat grass and chew their food just enough to swallow it. The swallowed food goes in the first stomach. The reticulum, the second stomach, and the rumen are storage compartments. In both stomachs, the food goes through a chemicals breakdown. After it is mixed and softened, the food is pushed back up into the animal's mouth. She re-chews the cud and swallows it again (she usually does this later in the day while laying down or standing). The swallowed cud goes back to the first two stomachs and it goes through further chemical breakdowns. The food and fluids then move to the third stomach, the omasum. Here, much of the water is absorbed. The food then enters the fourth stomach, the abomasums. The walls of this stomach produce digestive juices. These juices digest the food. The abomasums is called the true stomach because it functions in much the same way as the stomachs of other creatures, such as humans, do. From the fourth stomach, the food finally goes to the intestine, where digestion is completed.

Cows have a baggy organ called an udder. The udder holds their milk. The udder hangs in front of the hind legs on a cow. The udder has four sections that hold milk. When a cow is milked by machine, a hand, or by a calf, pressure causes the milk to squirt out of the udder through the large nipples, also called teats. Beef cows, which produce milk only for their calves, have smaller udders than dairy cows, which produce milk for humans.

Information from The World Book Encyclopedia, 1980, Volume 3, C-CH, Pages 231-232.

Farm Fact: Cows have muscular backs. Most cattle reach a height of about 5 feet. They weigh from 900 to 2,000 pounds. Bulls, male cows, can weigh 2,000 pounds or more. We have a bull that probably weighs about 2500 pounds. Adult cattle have 32 teeth- 8 in the front of the lower jaw and 12 each in the back of the upper and lower jaws. The horns of cattle are hollow and have no branches. Cattle born without horns are called polled cattle. We have polled cattle.

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