Making Hay
Week of February 16th, 2003 | The weather was one inch of snow.

My pet chicken, Rosie.

My pet chicken, Rosie.

Hi! How are all of you? I had to do most of the chores this week. Dad went to Pennsylvania for three days and then to a meeting overnight near Ames, Iowa towards the end of the week.

Sunday, Dad left to go to Pennsylvania to do a presentation at a grass farming conference. He flew out in the morning and got to Pennsylvania in the late afternoon. I had to do the chores that night. We also sold 61 calves. This is the first time that Dad was not here to sell the calves! Dad got everything ready, though. It went well. There were two truck drivers and a neighbor helping me move the calves into the semi truck trailer. It took about one hour. These calves were trucked to the sale barn in Decorah where they were sold the next day.

I woke up Monday morning with one inch of snow on the ground. I had to do a few chores before school, but mostly after school. Mom helped me. In Pennsylvania, Dad talked to a group of people (mostly Amish and Mennonite) at the fairgrounds in Quarryville. Dad spoke again on Tuesday morning to the group before returning home. He stayed with a Mennonite family that we know. This family has 10 children and they are expecting another baby this month. They milk 170 organic cows in a modern facility. This milking parlor was built 2 years ago and all of their 170 cows can be milked in about one hour. They have a beautiful farm and a large recently remodeled house that dates back to 1820.

Dad came home Tuesday night. It was really windy, but the roads weren't too bad. It was worse earlier in the evening when mom came home from work and at chore time. Visibility in some places was zero. The winds were very strong and it was cold out. By the time Dad got home, the weather had improved.

On Wednesday, Dad worked on chores and ground feed. He also got ready for me to do more chores because he left to go to another meeting on Thursday. This meeting took place near Ames, Iowa. Here he met with the members of the Practical Farmers of Iowa who do on-farm research. Most of the discussion was centered on weed control and animal health issues. One scientist reported on a study of the ground beetles that eat weed seeds. They have to have a grassy field or a fence line to live in. These insects eat huge amounts of weed seeds. They cannot live in fields where insecticides are used or in very large fields that have just row crops. I had to do the chores Thursday night and Friday morning. Dad came home Friday afternoon.

Friday was Valentine's Day. There was a Sweetheart Dance that night for my Freshman class. I also had a Future Farmers of America meeting before the dance. The meeting was more like a get together to do things for the contest. I was driving in to town (Dad was with me because I have a driver's permit). The gravel roads were fine, but the snow was blowing and it was bad outside. At an intersection, a car almost slid into me. Luckily, it missed us. The highways were pretty slippery. When I got to the high school, I found out that the dance was canceled. Nobody but me showed up for the FFA get together, but my teacher and I went over a few things. I drove home, too, for a little practice and experience for driving in bad conditions. Mom had to work until closing that night. She didn't like having to drive home in lousy weather. Dad surprised her with flowers for Valentine's, so that made her feel better.

Saturday, Dad and I took 4 sows to a neighbor's organic farm. He has no hogs, but only organic crops. The farmer was invited to join the Organic Valley Pork Pool, but he wasn't ready yet. Instead, he and his family will help us farrow sows during the winter. He can hold up to 16 sows in his heated barn and we can hold up to 24 sows in our barns. This will supply the pork pool with more market hogs in the summer time. Our pork pool members have plenty of pastures for farrowing during the summer. This way we can increase the amount of pigs born in the wintertime. If other farmers in the pool increase their farrowing in the spring and fall, they can balance out the amount of hogs for the pork pool. This idea should produce more hogs and lessen diseases.

Farm Fact: When I did the farm chores for Dad while he was gone this week, I gained a few pets. I have always enjoyed doing the chicken chores, but never realized until now how chickens can be great pets for anyone. They can be friendly creatures and certainly are productive. If we wouldn't have our own chickens, we would have to buy our eggs from the store. We like farm fresh eggs and we know how our hens are raised. When I feed the 12 chickens, I have a pet friend that always follows me. I like to call her Rosie because her feathers have an orange, reddish, and rusty color. She is really tame and likes me very much. Everyday, I carefully pick her up and pet her. In the picture above, you can see me with Rosie. There is only one black chicken in the bunch. I like to call her Beauty (Black Beauty) because she is totally black except for her mane. Her mane has red, dark blue, and orange colored feathers. She is really beautiful, but does not really like to be near me much. Another chicken is very white. All of her feathers are as white as snow. She is really cute, but isn't really used to me yet. I don't have a name for her, either. Do you have an idea for a name?

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