Making Hay
Week of July 25th, 2004 | The weather was idyllic.

Cutting barley.

Cutting barley.

Hello! This past month went by fast. Dad and I have been very busy with cultivating crops, our construction project, chores, and harvesting barley.

This year, we are building our fifth hoop building. This one will be next to our three market hog hoop buildings, which were built in 1997. This hoop will be for breeding and gestating sows. It is 30 feet wide and 60 feet long. To start the construction out, we used flags and stakes to mark where the corner posts, water fountains, and gates will be located at the site. Dad and I spent many hours discussing and drawing blueprint plans of how to build the hoop building, where the equipment will be located, gestation crates, gates, doors, cement pads, etc.

The hoop building will hold up to 26 gestation sows. There will be a feeding crate for each sow. When feeding, the doors are opened, feed will be given inside of the crates, and the sows are locked in for about an hour. After eating, the sows are released from the crates. The crates will keep the sows separated while eating. This will help prevent the sows from fighting at that time. The main idea behind this building is to breed the sows at the same time so the farrowing is concentrated. If the pigs are born at the same time, then they will stay in groups and not be mixed with other age pigs. This prevents fighting, and will greatly improve the health of the weaned pigs. The size of the building is determined by the expected number of pigs needed to fill a finishing hoop building. The rest of the hoop building has two water fountains and deep bedded pen.

We need to have this hoop building done by the first of November. We have a long time to work on the construction. At least we are not in a hurry! So far, we have the water lines put in, eight truck loads of rock for the base of the hoop, all the rail ties (side posts) put in with rock and cement around them. Our next step is to pour the cement pads that the crates and water fountains sit on. I can't wait until we put this facility to use!

This past week, I cut about 22 acres of second crop hay. While I was doing that, Dad was cutting barley with the windrower (see Glossary of Farm Terms). It took about two full days to cut about 60 acres of barley. Now with the barley cut, we will spend the last week of July harvesting the barley grain, haul the grain and unload it into the grain bin, and bale the straw. After the straw is put away in the shed, we will return to our construction work.

The second week of July was the Chickasaw County 4-H and FFA Achievement Show. In my local 4-H club, I was on the committee to decorate our fair booth. Our club received third place for the fair booth decorations of racecars, flags, and racetrack. The theme was "Alta Vista Aces- A Starting Line to Success." I took 14 4-H projects to the fair. I received one blue ribbon in Tractor, one Honorable Mention in Self Determined, two blue and one State Fair Consideration in Woodworking, four blue ribbons in Welding, one State Fair Consideration, and one Honorable Mention in Welding. I also received three blue ribbons in Field Crops (I took corn, barley, and hay). I was presented this year's Champion Crop Exhibitor Award for top overall points in judging. I helped with pop sales, Carnival Night, participated in the Tug of War contest, and as County Council member, I helped with a lot of errand running and clean up. I had a lot of fun at the fair!

Farm Fact: We use barley grain for sow feed and the barley straw for livestock bedding. Barley straw is also a good resource for cattle feed. When it is ground and mixed with hay, it is often fed to finishing cattle. Barley straw alone is used to feed stock cows over the winter months.

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