Making Hay
Week of August 24th, 2003 | The weather was hot and dry.

Feeding sows in the pasture.

Feeding sows in the pasture.

Hello! I have been very busy this past week taking care of the livestock chores and feed business. Dad went out with my sister, Jolene, by train to Fresno, California. This is where Jolene will be spending her second year of college as an exchange student through UNI. Dad flew back to Minneapolis, where my other sister, Jess, picked him up from the airport late Thursday night. Dad stayed overnight at her place and than Jess brought him home on Friday morning. Jolene first wanted to drive her car out there by herself. Mom and Dad finally convinced her to at least let Dad go along and get her there all right, and he would fly back. Well, at the last minute, a few days before leaving, Jolene decided that maybe it's better to leave her car at home and take the train out. This would be less costly than to fly. A lot of last minute changes were made and on Monday, Mom took them to the train in southern Iowa where they were to board late in the day. Mom was glad to get home after a long day of driving. Dad definitely was glad to get back home after a long week of travel! Jolene got moved in and will start classes on Monday, August 25th.

With Dad being gone most of the week, I had the chores to do every morning and night. Most of the week went quite well. The only day that I had extra to do and had a few problems with was Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003: I woke up at 4:00 in the morning. I got out of bed, changed clothes, and went outside to do chores, even though it was still dark. I first fed some calves in the cattle yard. These calves were born back in January, so they are weaned from their mothers by now. (They are weaned so they can eat their correct diet.) Then, I fed and watered the chickens in the chicken house. We only have about a dozen chickens. They produce eggs for our own use and for a few neighbors. Then, I took care of some pigs that are in the barn now. As you can read in a previous journal, we have 2 pens of 11 pigs each that are on trial for the feed business. We are comparing and contrasting the two pens with two different types of feed. After feeding them and watering them, I fed six groups of sows that are on the hog floors and a sow lot. Out of these six pens, there are about 60 sows. Their water is automatic, so I didn't have to water them. Then, I checked everyone else on the hog floors, and the hoop buildings. The hoop buildings have pigs from two months old to six months old. The feeding and watering are automatic there.

Next, I used the four-wheeler and a trailer to feed sows out in the pastures. I had about 18 5-gallon pails full of feed in the trailer. There are four groups of sows out in the pasture. I drove the four-wheeler and the trailer to each pen. One pen is a couple acres in size. I fed the correct amount to each group of sows. Then I checked the automatic water fountains in the pasture lots to make sure they were working. I also had to check the sow huts for any newborn litters of pigs. There are about 40 sows in the pastures. Another chore I had to do was care for the cowherd. They get a new pasture each day. To move the cowherd a long distance, we have to move the lead cow and the rest follow her. Short distance trips, the whole cowherd will see and smell the new grass and will move on their own. I had to move the cowherd about 1/4 of a mile. I herded the lead cow to the new pasture.

I had to fix a fence before moving the cowherd. I got a lot of chores done quite early. I was looking forward to the sunrise, but there was such a heavy fog, that the morning daybreak wasn't pretty at all. At 6:30 AM, I went inside of the house and ate my breakfast. After breakfast, I gave a tour to a visitor from Alberta, Canada. He was touring other farms in Iowa and Minnesota. He was very interested in the way we do things on our organic farm.

At 11:30 AM, I loaded organic protein for a feed customer. I had to use the John Deere 3020 tractor, the auger, and the straight truck. The feed customer brought his straight truck. After that, I went inside to eat dinner. Mom was gone at work most of the day.

Evening chores were very simple. I had to do the chicken chores, take care of the calves, and take care of the pigs in the barn. I also checked the cowherd and everyone else. When I checked the cowherd, I found them in their old pasture! They were mooing because they couldn't get to their new one! The lead cow must have been picky and turned around instead of going into the new pasture. So, using a little "bait" (hog feed) I convinced the cowherd to walk 1/4 of a mile to their new pasture. (This operation takes a long time) I only got about half of the cowherd to the pasture on the first try. The other half was stubborn and went into a different pasture that they had about a week ago. I tried it on them, but they didn't want to leave. I also found more cows in another pasture! It was late and dark. I knew that the cows in the new pasture would go back and lead the others by morning. I went inside the house and went to bed at 10:30 PM. What a long day! The next day the remainder of the cowherd went where they were suppose to go. Chores went well the rest of the time while Dad was away. You never know when extra problems might occur. You have to deal with them and fix the problems. There's always something to do on a farm!!

Farm Fact: I calculated that we handle about 35 pails of feed each day for chores. Each pail weighs about 30 pounds. That means that everyday, we handle 1050 pounds of feed just for chores. Some days, we have to grind feed for hogs or sows. One load of feed in the feed mill usually weighs from 1000 pounds to 4500 pounds. Each year we use about one million pounds of feed for our hogs.

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