"I have something really exciting to do and I need you kids to helpout," Harold said all bright eyed one morning.
"Okay," I murmur, not sure how exciting this really was going to be.
So we went out through the pastures to the calves. Well I guess things can get pretty exciting with a group of calves! When we reached the calves Harold said, "we need to move the calves from here to there," as he pointed to the other side of the pasture. At first I did not understand why this was so exciting and why we needed my brother Justin and me to help. Moving calves happens everyday, and after a while it is no longer exciting! Calves do not get a whole pasture like cows, because they do not eat as much, so we divide the pastures up for them, and everyday they get moved to a new portion of the pasture, with a portable fence.
"We are going to try this more conveniently," Harold explained, and with a wire, (which looks like an electric fence to the calves), Harold, Maria, Justin and I made a square around the herd of calves. We began to walk to the new part of the pasture where we wanted the calves to be. It worked so smoothly. That saved us a lot of chasing! (Although that can be fun). And it was exciting because it was something new, and you do need four people to do it everytime.
Later that week we had a farm tour. Farm tours are always an exciting event, and meeting new people is my favorite part. The day before the tour the tent was delivered because the tour group needed a place to eat lunch afterwards. Two men set up the tent, and when they where done they asked if they could look at the calves. It's amazing how they can be on the job to set up a tent and learn about calves while they were at it. It was probably the most exciting thing of their long workday! The next day the tour finally showed up! (If you were at the tour you might know exactly why I wrote finally).
Okay now that you are all here: We will let the tour begin! Are you all ready? You can all follow me into the milking parlor. This is where the cows get milked twice a day. They walk in through the back and line up on either side of the pit. When milking a cow you stand in the pit. The cow's back end is facing you. Before we begin milking we spray every teat with iodine and then clean it with a cloth rag. We could just use a paper cloth, but would you rather wash your face with a paper towel, or a cloth towel? It is the same for cow's teats. Then we hang the milking unit on, about 6 minutes later we take it off. In the mean time we prep the other cows. The way our parlor is set up, you can get a lot milking at once. When the row is done, we open the gates and they walk out into the cow yard where they get food and water while they wait for the others.
Okay, any questions so far?
"Yes, how long does it take to milk all the cows?"
When they leave their pasture until the time they return it is about 2 hours. All right, let's make our way into the milk house. These 2 big tanks are where the milk is stored until the milk truck picks it up or until we bring some into our house. The milk travels in these pipelines from the milking unit into the tanks.
Let's just walk out this door and hop on the hay wagon and we will look at the animals on the pasture. My brother Tony will be driving us. Our first stop is at the chicken wagon. This is a chicken house on wheels, so we can move it from pasture to pasture. If you would like, you can walk to the chicken wagon. All you have to do is duck under this fence, be careful not to touch it or you will get a shock. I'll just open the door so you can see in. Who wants to touch a warm egg? I'll pass it around. Here on the sides are the nest boxes where they lay their eggs. In the center is where they eat their grain and on the other side is where they roost. If you look way back there you can see that there is a small door where the chickens walk out. Stay away from the rooster, he can get a little mean sometimes. Every day we open the door and the chickens walk out, they wander very far but always come back. They eat grass and eat the fly larva to keep the population down. Any questions?
"Yes, how many eggs does a chicken lay in one day?"
Each chicken lays about one egg a day. And we have about 80 chickens.
Let's get back on the hay wagon and our next stop will be the cows.
Right now you have the opportunity to mingle with cows! You can duck under this fence and walk up to any cow. Just remember that these are big animals!
Okay, let's head back and have some lunch! Thanks for being a great group of tourists!
Your farm friend,
Farm Fact: A hen requires 24 to 26 hours to produce an egg. Thirty minutes later, she starts all over again.