Belated Thanksgiving greetings to all! Everyday we should be thankful for what we have, but it seems like this time of the year when we celebrate Thanksgiving, it's truly the day that people recognize this and give thanks. I am most thankful for family and friends, my faith, delicious and healthy food to eat, shelter and clothes, and living a good quality life on an organic farm.
I only had school on Monday and Tuesday this past week. Wednesday, Dad and I cleaned out a hoop building. We used the John Deere 7405 tractor and John Deere 740 loader to load our manure spreader. We also used the John Deere 4020 tractor to haul the manure. I dumped the manure onto the compost pile 1/2 mile south of the hoop buildings. After the pile is composted, we spread the manure on fields that need fertilizer. Usually, we spread manure on fields in the springtime, but sometimes we do some in the fall. The compost is a mixture of eggshells from an egg breaking plant in New Hampton, manure, and livestock bedding which is straw, corn cobs, and corn husks.
Of course, we had to re-bed the cleaned out hoop building for a new group of pigs. We start out by covering the limestone floor with eggshells. Eggshells are good buffer between the limestone base and the first layer of bedding. They serve as excellent floor for a hoop building. They provide heat and keep the hogs from digging in the limestone base. Next, we spread corncobs on top of the eggshells. The corncobs act like a drying material. They readily absorb any moisture from the manure. Corncobs can be itchy and hard for hogs to sleep on, so we put another layer of bedding on top of them. This layer is usually straw, but it could also be chopped corn stalks or corn husks if we had a supply of them. Pigs really enjoy running around and playing in the fresh, clean straw! After the top layer of bedding gets full of manure, then we put more straw or other bedding in. This provides clean bedding for the hogs to sleep on. After about four months, most of the hogs will be sold and it's time to clean the building out again.
Jess came home for a couple of days during Thanksgiving break. We had a grand Thanksgiving feast at my grandparent's farm on Thursday. My uncles, aunts, and cousins were there, too. The food was excellent and after we ate, I helped my relatives decorate the house for Christmas. Jolene is still out in California attending school as an exchange student. She called and wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving at Grandpa and Grandma's. She spent Thanksgiving at a friend's home out in California. This past Tuesday, she attended the taping of the Jay Leno show and was in the studio audience. She also toured some of the sets for Days of Our Lives and saw Roman Brady from the show. Jolene has been a big fan of the show for a long time! She rode with a friend to Mexico on Friday and toured Hollywood and other cities throughout the rest of the weekend.
On Friday night, Mom, Dad, Jess and I had a special meal. Mom made some excellent food!! Jess left Saturday morning. She had a lot of work to do and wanted to do some painting in her studio. Mom decorated the house for Christmas on Saturday. (I was outside helping Dad all day.)
Friday and Saturday we installed clearance lights on the trailer that we built this past summer. I had my friend come over to help us on Friday with this project. Now, the trailer lights up like a Christmas tree! It is a safety requirement to have clearance lights on highway use trailers. These lights tell other drivers on the highway how long the trailer is, how high it is, and how wide. We did a really thorough job.
While my friend and I worked on the trailer, Dad was busy hauling in the last of the sows and young pigs from the pasture. It is too cold for them in the field and the hoop house that we cleaned was really appreciated by this stock.
Farm Fact: We use everything except the roots on corn, soybeans, barley, and hay plants, when possible. On barley plants, we harvest the seeds (also known as grain) and bale the stems for straw. After harvesting soybeans and corn, and snow not fallen yet, we might chop cornstalks and bale soybean stubble (stalks and stubble is the stems and body of plant). We use all of these resources for livestock bedding. After the stock has made their use of this material, it is recycled to the fields with the manure to replenish the soil.