Making Hay
Week of February 17th, 2002 | The weather was warmer.The snow has melted.

Hogs enjoying the corncobs.

Hogs enjoying the corncobs.

Washington's Birthday is coming up! As we celebrated Lincoln's Birthday last week, I have been reading more about the two Presidents of the United States. It is fun to learn the many facts about our presidents. It has been warming up this week and the snow has melted. The ice is still on the water puddles in the morning.

On Monday, Dad fixed the corn auger. The corn auger is an auger from a grain bin filled with corn we use for livestock feed. This auger runs corn out of the grain bin and into the feed mill. Dad fixed it so it will run, but it needs a new bearing.

Monday night, I went to the public school to go to my concert. This is not a band concert, but a solo concert. I played a solo with my trombone. A solo is a song played or sung by one person. I didn't do as well as I expected, but I was nervous because this is my first time ever to do this. I received an excellent, better than what I thought I would do. You can receive good, excellent, or a superior rating. When I went to band class Tuesday, my band teacher called out who received the gold ribbons. This is the best out of each room. There were three rooms. All three gold ribbons were given to my friends. I am proud of them.

Tuesday, Dad sold 1 ton of feed to a feed customer. He also unloaded 14.5 tons of oatmeal and sow feed that he purchased. This feed is stored in grain wagons and large bags on our farm. Dad sold organic wheat to a pork pool member and loaded that out. Dad also started building another sow hut.

Wednesday, Dad sold 13 hogs. The hogs Dad sells on Wednesdays are hauled with our new livestock trailer. Then, he brought 2 hogs to a local locker plant. One of the hogs was sold to a friend and the other is for our own use. From there, Dad went to a livestock sale yard. This sale yard is where cattle are sold by auction. Dad purchased 5 new cows and hauled all of them home in our livestock trailer. These cows are in the field with our other ones. Dad had to cross a creek and go through a couple of snowdrifts pulling the trailer with the newly purchased cows to get out to the field. He was surprised that the truck made it through with the weight. We now have 80 cows including the bulls.

Thursday, Dad weaned 27 litters of pigs. The sows went from a hoop building to hog floors. These sows will start all over again conceiving pigs. Also on Thursday, Dad cleaned the hog floors with the loader.

On Friday, Dad took Noel to the vet. Mom bought him a new pet taxi so we can take him places-even fishing! I am going to take Noel to the County 4-H Fair. When Noel was visiting the vet, Dad asked how old the cat was or if the vet could determine how old he was. The vet was able to determine Noel's age by examining his teeth and eyes. Noel is about 3 years old! He acts like he's older than that and enjoys attention! After the vet, Dad and Noel went to Bassett, Iowa, to pick up some wood. This wood will be used to fix a cattle feeder. Then, Dad and Noel went to Alta Vista (our community town), and went to the farmer's cooperative. Here, Dad's friends were amazed at Noel! One of the employees said, "I am going to get my gun!" (He doesn't like cats.) When he said "gun", Noel turned around and faced the other way! Everybody at the co-op laughed.

Then, from a neighboring friend, Dad borrowed 3 breeding boars. We now have 7 boars, but only own 4 of them. Dad worked on the sow hut some more. By that evening, Dad had the framing done. Dad and I both agree that building a hut is an interesting job and it is fun. I like to build this way. Friday night, Dad and I went to a middle school dance. Dad had to chaperone. He broke up one fight and I had fun. Mom had to close at the store and work late, so she couldn't be there.

Saturday, Dad and I bedded the hoops. We used corncobs for bedding one of the hoops. The corncobs came from shelling corn two weeks ago. We dumped the cobs from the wagon and than Dad spread them with the loader so all the hogs would have a nest. The hogs chew and rub their noses in the corncobs. They like them!

After bedding the hoops, Dad and I finished the sow hut. We built all of the siding, doors, and locks. I built one of the locks myself. Dad cut the wood and I nailed and screwed the siding and doors in place. It looks like the hut we built last week. I hope the sows will enjoy the hut.

I know I write a lot about the protesting of hog factories that are being built every day. Another large hog confinement is being built in our area. It makes me sick to think that our state legislature continues to allow this to go on. A chicken-producing corporation wants to build a factory farm that holds 3 million chickens right south of our favorite fishing spot. With the pollution from possible manure spills, the fish could get contaminated and die. If this factory farm is built, we could loose our favorite and best fishing spot. It's such a nice area and I hate the thought of it being ruined.

In today's Sunday Des Moines Register, headlines read, "Iowans rally against hog lots." Readers like yourself, can support the move against factory farms by petitioning, protesting, and writing your state representatives asking for cleaner air, cleaner environment, and the end to building factory farms. You should also purchase your food locally. Be aware of where it comes from.Dad and I received an e-mail from an individual who heard about our farm on a radio program. She is sharing her letter with you today:

'Your story of deciding to convert to organic farming and of raisingpigs was very moving. I buy as much organic produce and meat as I canobtain. The Organic Valley label is in my refrigerator every week.I just wanted to thank you for caring enough about your animals, the soiland the people that you feed to go farm organically and humanely. I havehealth problems, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and have noticed a difference inboth my symptoms and my energy since I switched to eating organically at the recommendation of my nutritionist. Instead of taxing my immune system, I am now supporting it. How empowering that feels. On behalf of my family and all the others benefiting from your farming methods, I thank you.'

Nancy PalmRoseville, MN

Farm Fact: When Dad and I were doing chores Saturday morning, we moved boars around so they can breed other sows. The boars go to a pen and use their saliva, or spit, to mark their borders. The saliva marks their breeding territory.

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