Making Hay
Week of January 19th, 2003 | The weather was COLD .

Home built auger in use.

Home built auger in use.

It's COLD out! Even though 10 degrees Fahrenheit is normal at this time of year, it is different with cold weather and no snow. Monday night, it did snow about an inch. It was nice to see the ground white, for a little while, like what it should be for this time of the year in Iowa.

This week's photo shows the auger that Dad built last week, in use. It is transporting soybean meal from a bulk bin to the feed mill. This will save some labor when we grind feed.

Sunday, Dad and I went rabbit hunting. It was really hard to find any rabbits because there was no snow. Rabbits can easily camouflage their body in weeds and brush. We walked three miles but we had no luck.

I did not have school on Monday (end of first semester), soI helped Dad fix the hog cart that hitches on the loader. Since we were working in the shop, we were using the welder and the torch (both tools create sparks). When Dad was welding a piece on the hog cart, a few sparks fell on an oil spill. There were dry wood shavings near the spill. The sparks and the oil created a fire and the wood shavings were burning, too. We had a small shop fire!!! I ran to get some water with a pail while Dad was trying to knock the fire out with some pieces of wood. I poured some water on the fire. We were very fortunate that the fire did not spread and the whole shop burn down! This is a good lesson to learn from. Always be prepared in case of an accident. Keep your working area as clean as possible. You should have a fire extinguisher nearby, or other means of distinguishing a fire.

Monday afternoon, Mom and Dad had some errands to do in New Hampton. Also, I had an eye appointment. My eye was bothering me, so I went in to the eye doctor for a check up. The doctor said it was fine, but I may need some glasses after a year or so. I have a little bit of near-sightedness.That night, I attended my church's youth choir supper since I am in the youth choir.

Tuesday, I went back to school. It was different because I started the second semester of high school. My schedule and classes changed. Dad worked on bookkeeping all day.

Wednesday, Dad sold 5 hogs. They were delivered to a Minnesota buying station. He went to St. Ansgar and picked up a load of hog feed after the delivery. Thursday, Dad had a pork pool meeting. Instead of driving to the meeting, the pool had the meeting over the telephone. This is called a teleconference—when more than two people are talking to each other on the phone. It is a little hard to have a meeting with 7 people on the phone, but it saves driving and saves time.

After school on Friday, I had speech practice. (I also had practice after school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.) After practice, Mom, Dad, and I went out to eat. Mom was on her supperbreak from work. We had a delicious meal. Mom had to go back to work and Dad and I did some errands and visited my great aunt in New Hampton. There was a basketball game at the high school that night. During half time, I played my trombone in the pep band. That was fun! After pep band, I attended an FFA (Future Farmers of America) meeting. I was a little late, but my teacher filled me in about what I missed after the meeting. We discussed FFA week: wearing our shirts and jackets to school, driving tractors to school, showing FFA off, etc. We also discussed the FFA contest. For the contest, me and 7 other freshman FFA members are going to conduct a meeting. I can't wait!

Remember last week when Dad made the decision of repopulating our hogs? Well, he changed his mind. After much discussion with other experienced hog farmers, Dad decided Saturday that it would be better to change the animal health vaccinations that we give our sows. Of course, the shots will be organically approved. Dad sure hopes this will work and ends with good results.

On Saturday, Dad and I processed (or gave shots to) 26 sows. Along with the vaccination shots, we also put a microchip inside of the sow's lower ear with a syringe. The microchip has a nine-digit number on it. Using a reader, we can find that nine-digit number. Now, we can keep track of the sow herd. We still need to put these microchips in the rest of the herd. Soon, we will be doing this to all of the pigs. We can keep track of the sow's age, type, vaccination shots given, and when she was last bred. With a pig, we can keep track of age, type, vaccination shots, and the parent history. In a few years, the processing plant that processes the hogs will have a reader to read the microchip and they can give us information about the quality of the hog's meat. With the identification microchip, our management system will be improved.

Farm Fact: The Humane Society of the United States uses and promotes identification microchip use for animals. It was developed for pets, so when you loose a pet, you can find it and return it to the correct owner. Each nine-digit number is registered with the owner who bought and implanted the chip.

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