Making Hay
Week of May 4th, 2003 | The weather was SUNNY.

Piglets enjoying the green grass.

Piglets enjoying the green grass.

James is still in Florida until Monday night.

Mom writes: On Sunday, the two of us went to Cedar Falls to bring home some of Jolene's belongings from campus. We also attended church that morning on campus where Jolene played both the organ and piano for Mass. It was very uplifting to hear Jolene play. We miss not hearing her back home playing in our own church, as she had for so many years. We also sold 20 hogs on Sunday to Organic Valley. Monday, Tom plowed about 10 acres of ground. He also stayed busy with chores and other work. I went to work and was anxious to see James come home that evening. We missed not having him around.

I'M BACK!!! I got home from Florida Monday night. I learned from Mom and Dad about what's all been going on here while I was gone. I was surprised to hear about the problems with the calves. I also found out that President Bush is declaring an end to the war. That's good news. I don't want to see any more innocent people getting killed.

At Florida, I saw Epcot Theme Park, Kennedy Space Center, went to Ron Jon Surf Shop, Wet'n Wild Water Park, Universal Studios, and Daytona Beach. We also participated in the Music In The Parks 2003 competition. The New Hampton Community School Concert Band (I play the trombone), freshman choir, and the mixed choir all received first place trophies. We were all happy and proud! I had a lot of fun in Florida. I didn't really care for the bus trip down and back. It's a long way. We took 4 buses and it was crowded. I didn't get much sleep. I think my favorite attraction would have to be Kennedy Space Center. That was awesome! I can't wait until I get my pictures back. They're being developed and should be back in a couple of days.

I went back to school on Tuesday. While I was at school, Dad had the custom operator come to shell some ear corn. In the glossary, you can see that shelling corn is the process of taking ear corn from corn cribs and separating it into three parts- corn kernels, corn cobs, and corn husks. We use up everything for either bedding or feed, but the corn that Dad shelled on Tuesday was sold for organic bird food. Dad did not have any extra help so after they had enough corn for the bird food sale; they stopped and waited to finish the job on Saturday.

Wednesday, Dad fixed fences and moved sow huts to get pastures ready for summer farrowing. We already have five sows and about fifty piglets in the pasture. They really like the green grass and sunny days! It has been really nice outside lately.

Dad drove the grain truck back to the dealership in Decorah to have some warranty work done on Thursday. From there, he and a friend went to an Organic Valley Pork Pool Meeting in Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, for the rest of the day. At the meeting, they reviewed production schedules, discussed the feed supply, and they had one member show his pictures of his recent trip to Denmark and Sweden. The National Pork Producers Council sponsored some farmers and pork industry representatives to view organic and antibiotic free outdoor pig production in these countries. All of the pork pool members were impressed with the presentation. The farms they visited did not use gestation crates or farrowing crates and they maintain high levels of production from their swineherds.

I had a friend come home with me on the school bus Friday evening. We picked rock in a field of barley that night before it got dark out. The barley is a couple of inches tall already. We have to pick rock from our fields to reduce the chance of damage to equipment.

Saturday, Dad, my friend, and I woke up at 6:30 in the morning and finished shelling corn in a corncrib and shelled corn out of another crib, too. This gave us 1850 bushels of corn kernels for our grain bin. We will use this corn for our hog feed and for our feed business. Saturday afternoon, we picked rock in the second field of barley. This field was a lot larger, so we didn't finish the job. We picked three trailer loads of rock and there are more left! Afterwards, Dad took my friend home while I finished the plowing job that Dad began on Monday. Then, I worked up a plowed field with the field cultivator and the pony cart harrow. I started at 7:30 that night and quit about 9:45. There is about an hour's worth of first cultivation left in the field. I brought the John Deere 7405 tractor that I used home. I drove it by the shop, and used the air hose to blow out all of the dirt and dust from the engine. I finally came in the house about 10:00 that night and found my face black with dirt and dust from the field. I washed up, took a shower, and watched a little television before going to bed at 10:50 PM. It was a long workday!

Farm Fact: The field that I worked up Saturday night was plowed last fall. The plow turns the soil and that leaves it very rough to drive on. Usually, we use the disc to cut the sod up. This time, we used the field cultivator and the pony cart harrow. The field has a lot of quack grass. Using the field cultivator, the quack grass is exposed to the sun and will (hopefully) die.

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