Making Hay
Week of February 9th, 2003 | The weather was still quite cold.

Loading hogs for market.

Loading hogs for market.

Another winter week gone by! The temperatures are still quite cold. We really got a lot of snow on Tuesday along with the high winds!

Sunday, Sammy, Dad, and I sold 61 hogs. Monday, Dad hauled manure out of the hog floors and the cattle yard. This time of the year the hog floors and yard can really get messy. I got out of school early on Monday afternoon due to predicted high winds and snowfall. When I got home, the weather was turning a little bad. While Mom and Dad were at a tax appointment in New Hampton, I went down to my friends' house to go sledding. I had a good time! By the time I got home in the evening, the weather was really getting nasty.

We had a 2-hour late start on Tuesday due to the blown snowdrifts. Some spots had 4 inches of snow, but mostly it was only about 1-2 inches. After I went to school that day, Dad sold 5 hogs and 5 old sows. Tuesday night, I attended an FFA (Future Farmers of America) meeting. We all voted to do a county project. As a group, we are going to raise the water level in a nearby river to make a better fish habitat. While we are doing this, we will also test the water in the river. I think this is a good educational project to do.

Wednesday, Dad worked on the power box that he bought earlier this year. A power box is a special heavy-duty wagon that has an apron (mechanical conveyor) and a spreader on the back end. He installed a different gearbox on it. Thursday, Dad had a pork pool meeting that he attended. He learned that the pool is projected to increase in production by 50% this year. The pork pool also has grown by two new members. The meeting took all day. A veterinarian from Iowa State University flew in to meet with the pool members. He is doing research on the salmonella organism. He has completed a study that found a high level of this organism on large factory farms and a far lower level of it on farms like the pork pool members. Now they are trying to find out why this is true. They have evidence that the way the feed is processed is an influence.

At school, I received my FFA jacket that I ordered about a month ago. I am really happy that I got it. It has my name on it. I also have an FFA pin for my jacket. Looks great! Our FFA group had a picture taken for our school yearbook on Friday.

While Dad was doing chores on Friday, the feed mill broke down. Dad fixed it by replacing a chain. At least nothing serious happened to the feed mill.

I went to the State Large Group Speech Contest in West Union on Saturday, after advancing from district competition the other week. I was in the reader's theater. Reader's theater is a short play where you cannot use any props except painted ladders or wood blocks. Since it is reader's theater, the actors use scripts, but most of their lines are memorized. We got a II rating, which means that we do not advance on to All-State. I thought we did pretty well, though. The judges were really tough. There are other plays that New Hampton High School performed (that I was not in). One Act Play is where you perform a play with out changing the scenery at all. That play received a I rating. Only certain I ratings are allowed to go on to All-State. I do not know if anyone from New Hampton went on, yet. Ensemble is a short play where there are only two people involved. They are allowed to use chairs, but that's it. No props. They received a I rating, too. Group Improvisation is where you have 2-5 people and they do not know the subject of the play until 2 minutes before performing it. They have about 2 minutes to discuss what they are going to do. Then, using up to 5 minutes, they perform a short play using no props except up to 5 chairs. They too received a I rating. I am really proud of what New Hampton High School received. We worked really hard and at least we advanced on to State! I hope all the others will advance on to All- State. Can't wait until I find out.

On Saturday, while I was gone, Dad got the cattle yard ready to sell calves for next week. Each year we do an exercise. We share as a family, on paper, where we are, where we want to be, the problems facing us, and how to work on those problems to improve our quality of life, our farm appearance, profitability, and more. In other words, we do decision making together. We discuss our goals and how to achieve them. We believe that this helps us manage our farm better. All three of us agree that we want fewer breakdowns and more time for vacation. We each listed the farmstead appearance projects that we wanted to complete this year.

Farm Fact: Saturday, Dad checked a sow's ID number. Remember a month ago when Dad and I implanted ID numbers in 25 sows? This new identification provides an accurate record of a sow's history. When Dad checked the scanned number against the computer file it produced the history of that sow just the way we intended. This sow had baby pigs Saturday.

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