Making Hay
Week of December 15th, 2002 | The weather was cold. Christmas is drawing nearer.

Cattle corral.

Cattle corral.

How's it going? As Christmas is drawing nearer, my family and I have been busy shopping for gifts. Mom finished writing her Christmas letters and ready to be mailed out to family and friends. This coming week she'll be busy baking and wrapping presents. Noel is very anxious for Christmas! He spends hours just staring at the tree.

Monday, Dad went to an Organic Valley meat pool meeting in LaFarge, Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Dad worked on the cattle corral. The corral is a sorting and processing area for cattle. We built this a few years ago. Dad was preparing it so the cowherd could go through the corral and get vaccinations, and be checked for pregnancy by the local veterinarian. Dad had to fix some of the gates, the walkway where the cattle receive their shots, and the bottom of the tin fence. The cows could get their feet injured by the tin, so Dad put some plywood near the bottom. He used inch thick plywood that our neighbor had and was not going to use.

Friday, Dad and the vet ran the whole herd of cows through the corral and gave them their treatments. This job took a couple of hours. Of course, their calves are weaned and are in the cattle yard in the farmyard eating a special diet. The corral worked very well and Dad handled the entire herd alone. The vet did the chute work.

Saturday morning, I attended the Alta Vista Aces 4-H Meeting. Prior to the meeting, our club went Christmas caroling at a nearby retirement home. After the meeting, we exchanged presents, played games and had a pizza party. I had a lot of fun!

In the afternoon, I helped Dad clean out a hoop building. This one was really messy and took the rest of the day. We put the manure on the compost pile. We do not spread manure on frozen soil.

Saturday morning, Mom went to Storm Lake to help Jess move out of her apartment. She will be living in Owatonna, Minnesota. Mom stayed overnight. Sundays plans were to move everything to her new apartment in Owatonna. Jess finished her student teaching on Friday. She is a college graduate now! She will be invited back to Buena Vista University in the spring for commencements.

That's about all that happened this past week, but I wanted to share a couple of interesting articles I read in the Des Moines Register, just for your information.

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) are being criticized for not warning people of the dangers that large-scale factory farms pose to the public from air pollution. How often have you driven past these large confinements and could smell a terrible odor in the air? This odor contains antibiotic- resistant bacteria and ammonia at high levels that could cause severe health problems.

I found another article saying that consumer reports tested 484 fresh, whole broiler chickens from grocery stores in 25 United States cities and found about half of them contained salmonella or campylobacter bacteria. Those two bacteria alone cause 3.3 million illnesses and 650 deaths a year in the United States. The contaminated meat came from large-scale factory farms because of the antibiotics that they feed to the chickens. The chickens get the same drugs prescribed to treat food poisoning from bad meat. The article also stated that it is much safer and wiser to consume organic meat. The price for organic meat is higher, but it is better quality. Do you want to pay more for better quality organic meat, or do you want to pay more for hospital bills if you get ill from large-scale factory farm meat?

Farm Fact: When we checked the cows for pregnancy we had just one out of 67 that was not bred. That is a very good conception rate and we are happy with that. We buy a few replacement cows each winter to keep the herd close to 70 head. This number of cows and calves consumes the hay and pasture that our organic rotation produces.

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