Making Hay
Week of March 23rd, 2003 | The weather was very nice.

Our new grain pup.

Our new grain pup.

Hello to all! We had a very busy week. Everyday, Dad has been working from 5:00 in the morning to about 7:00 at night. There are so many things that we are trying to get done before we have to go out and start spring fieldwork.

Dad and I sold 20 hogs on Sunday. We sell most of our hogs on Sundays because they get processed Monday mornings. In the afternoon, my family and I helped with our community church's annual St. Patrick's Iowa Pork Chop Supper. We volunteer to help each year. The supper had a big turn out and our church did financially well. Jolene came home on Sunday for an overnight visit.

Monday, Dad was busy hauling manure from the hog floors and the sow pens. While he was doing that, my uncle (Dad's brother) stopped for a visit. Jolene went back to campus today. She is on spring break this week, but had to go back because she has to work all week. She has been working at a restaurant for about a month now, and really likes it. She makes good tips. She stays quite busy between school and work. Tuesday, Dad shopped around and purchased a grain pup. As in my glossary, a grain pup is a grain wagon pulled by a truck. Some are made from old grain trucks. The cab and engine were taken off and had a hitch built on the front end. This grain pup can be pulled by our Ford pickup truck. This equipment will be used to move grains and protein to and from our farm. We have to grind some of the byproducts we are using and these materials are put into the straight truck that we bought. The grain pup is used to bring these materials to our farm.

Wednesday, Dad sold 5 hogs and 4 old sows. Also that day, Dad started working on the grain pup that we bought. We had to build a cover on the top so we can cover grain or feed that may be inside while it is raining or snowing. The cover has to be durable and easily used.

Dad brought sow feed home from a feed processing plant on Thursday. He used the grain truck and also brought home some premix. All this feed will be sold for our feed business. Friday, Dad worked on the grain pup just like on Wednesday. He purchased the canvas tarp for the top. When I came home from school, I helped Dad out.

Dad went outside at 5:30 Saturday morning to work on the grain pup. After I woke up and had breakfast, I went out to help. We finished the grain pup about 9:00 that morning. After we finished, Dad, a neighboring farmer, and I, went to a CHARM meeting at a friend's house near Osage. CHARM is a small group of farmers that Mom and Dad and some of their friends started. This group gets together about 4 times a year to talk and share information about farm management. CHARM, an acronym, stands for Coalition for Holistic Agricultural Resource Management. At the CHARM meeting, we thought and shared about our next five years and what we want to accomplish in those years. We also shared about what's been happening on each of our farms. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone and having a good time. While I was at the meeting, I went outside and looked at some of their pet sheep and their lambs. We do not have any sheep on our farm, so this fascinated me. The little lambs (baby sheep) were very cute! They are very soft and their wool can be used for making sweaters, caps, blankets, and more. I got to see some of their sheep blankets they made. They were very warm and comfortable. Mom took the day off from work and went out of town with some friends for an overnight getaway. She's been working hard lately and looked forward to a little time off.

Saturday evening, Dad and I brought 4 sows and their piglets (32 pigs) home from our neighbor's place. We are hiring our neighbor to help raise some of our sows and piglets to try to lessen diseases on our farm. Our neighbor lets the sows outside in the morning and night for fresh air. While we were there, we watched him let all the sows back into their pens with their piglets. They really show that they care about their young. It was really interesting to see the bond between the sows and pigs! They went in their pens very fast. We put the sows and pigs that we took home in a hoop building until the pigs get big enough to live on their own. Dad and I did not get done with chores until 9:00 Saturday night. That was one long day!

Farm Fact: The CHARM group has been together since 1995. CHARM meetings encourage members to think about their life and how they plan to spend it. We discuss problems that we face and work to improve the quality of life that our members live. The management ideas that our group uses came from Allen Savory's book HOLISTIC MANAGEMENT. The revised edition was written in 1999. With the support of our CHARM group, our family has made some crucial decisions and goals for our farm. Our group has toured interesting operations, including, Chaseburg butter plant and a dairy bottling plant, where some of Organic Valley products are manufactured.

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