Making Hay
Week of February 24th, 2002 | The weather was cold .

Loading calves to be sold

Loading calves to be sold

The weather has been changing a lot through out the week. It is really muddy now, but it will be cold next week. It snowed 1 inch Thursday morning. Tuesday it rained 1.5 inches. This drove the frost out of the ground and made the yard and the cow field messy.

Sunday afternoon, Mom, Dad, and I went to the Swing Show. The swing show is a show put on by New Hampton high school students. It has swing choir, jazz band, and solos sung. Jolene participated in all three. We enjoyed it! Then, Mom, Dad, and I went bowling at the bowling alley in New Hampton. We had fun! Our scores weren't anything to talk about. A lot of the other employees from the store that mom works at were also bowling. They were bowling for MDA. A lot of money was raised.

Monday, Dad went to a meeting. One of the speakers at this event was Dr. Temple Grandin. Dad learned a lot about the correct way to handle hogs. Our deep-bedded livestock tend to move far easier when shipping than the same stock raised in the confinement buildings. The stress from living on slippery slatted floors produces animals that are afraid to move around. Dr. Grandin spoke in details about certain conditions that scare animals. Pigs fear slipping, falling and unknown noises.

When Dad purchased our neighbor's old cattle feeder, it was old and the wood was rotten. Tuesday, Dad tore apart the whole feeder and built a new one. By Tuesday night, all of the framing was built on the cattle feeder.

Wednesday, Dad worked on the cattle feeder. He didn't get much done because Dad held a pork pool meeting here in our house. Usually these meetings would be at a community center either in LaFarge, or at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The meeting was held at our place because Dad wanted to show everyone our 42nd sow hut we built last week. He also was asked to show everyone the records that we keep on the computer for our hogs. After the meeting was over, 5 pork pool members (organic hog farmers) needed feed. From these 5 farmers, Dad sold 7 tons of feed! That is not a lot, though. If you think about it, each farmer received an average of 1.4 tons.

Thursday, Dad worked on the cattle feeder. That night, the feeder had one side half done. I had a horrible headache at school Thursday and I went home even though we had an early dismissal. I think this is my very first time I ever went home from school sick! A very good friend of mine came to school to visit on Thursday, but I didn't see him because I was in the nurses' office. I haven't seen him for over a year because he and his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. He was home visiting.

Friday, we had no school because of state wrestling. Dad and I hauled manure out of the hog floors that morning. We tried to start the John Deere 4020 to haul manure, but the batteries went dead and had to use the John Deere 3020 and a manure wagon. That was bad because it wasn't too warm out that morning! I got stuck in the compost pile every time I went down to unload. It was muddy and slippery. I got myself out each time except once. I had to wait until Dad came down to see what was going on. If we had a radio system, I could radio Dad in to come down and pull me out. While I was waiting, I saw something brown walking out of a grove about 200 feet away. I couldn't tell what it was until it walked out further. It was a deer! Then a second deer came out of the grove, and next thing I knew, I was looking at 5 young deer! The small herd ran over the road and into our pasture. Then, they ran into another small grove and they were gone. When Dad came to pull the John Deere 3020 out, I told him about the deer. We both were shocked that there were so many in one spot.

Dad and I finished the cattle feeder Friday afternoon. It is the same as the others, but we placed railings on the top so we won't fall. The railings are only 1 foot tall, but if it is any higher than that, we can't get the large rectangle bales of hay on the top. We also placed railings on another cattle feeder. While we were placing these railings on, I knelt on the platform that holds the large rectangle bales of hay up. The platform is hog paneling used for hog flooring on factory farms. Kneeling on this HURTS badly! I thought my knee bones would break or something! Dad said that this hog paneling is the most comfortable made.

Saturday morning, we sold 54 calves. While we were loading the calves onto the trailer, they became scared and got wild. I was standing next to a gate in the hog floor alleyway. A big calf came running up and nearly ran me over. That was scary, but when you are near cattle, you need to watch out. My grandpa got hurt recently when he was helping sort feeder cattle on his farm. He's lucky he didn't get hurt worse than he did! Three calves are still in the cattle yard because they are too small to be sold yet. We hired the same guy who ships our hogs to haul these calves to the local farmer's place. We had to haul 8 calves with our livestock trailer because his was full. We weighed both the semi-truck and trailer and our truck and trailer when it was empty and full so we can calculate the net weight of the calves. Most years we receive about $30,000 for 50 calves. Ours were heavier this year and we did better than that.

Saturday afternoon, we sold 2 ton of feed to one of our feed customers. We usually use tote bags to handle the feed. Then, Dad, Sammy, and I moved 10 sows and their pigs to a hog floor. There were 76 pigs all together. Fifty pigs went with their mothers, but the rest were weaned and moved to a hoop building with other pigs their size.

Farm Fact: We have three cattle feeders with the cattle in a pasture right now. Each day we feed one large rectangle bale of hay from each feeder. With 80 cows in the pasture, I calculated out about 26 cows per bale. A bale can weigh about 700 pounds.

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