Making Hay
Week of December 28th, 2003 | The weather was snowy.

Plant where we have our feed processed.

Plant where we have our feed processed.

Happy New Year! I received many Christmas presents and enjoy them all. Our family had a great Christmas this year! Jolene came home from California and was happy to be back home. Jess came home Christmas Eve day and was home for a couple of days. On Christmas Day we went to Grandpa and Grandma's and had a great time together with the relatives.

On Friday, I job-shadowed two employees at St. Ansgar Mills, Inc. in St. Ansgar, Iowa. This is a feed plant where we have our feed processed at. I had to do a job-shadowing project for my English class and thought it would be interesting to go here.

I woke up at 5:00 AM on Friday. Since our grain truck was full of feed that needed to go to St. Ansgar Mills, Inc., to get pelleted, I rode with the truck to and from the plant. Dad and I left about 5:20 AM. After we filled the truck up with diesel fuel in Floyd, Dad got a ride home with my sister, Jess. Ron, an employee at the feed plant, who lives in Floyd, drove the truck the rest of the way. We left at 6:00 AM from Floyd.

For those of you who do not know, pelleted feed is livestock feed that has been heated and shaped into small cubes, looking like small cylinders. Dog and cat food are most often pelleted products. This is a cooking process and this makes the feed more usable to the stock that eats it.

As I job shadowed Ron in the morning, I learned how St. Ansgar Mills, Inc. delivers feed. The workday starts at 7:00 AM. Ron is told what orders he needs to deliver. He fills out paperwork for these orders. Then, he has to inspect the feed truck that he hauls with. Inspection is very important. Knowing that everything is working correctly can decrease accidents. It is illegal if Ron does not inspect the truck.

Next, Ron fills the truck. The large bulk tank has six compartments. Ron weighs the truck empty. Then, he fills his first order. Now, he weighs the truck again. He fills the second order and weighs the truck. He keeps doing this until the truck is full of feed. This way, the plant knows how many pounds each order of feed was. Finally, after Ron checks all of his orders, he hits the road! I rode with him on a three-hour delivery route. This is an unusually long route. Ron and I left the feed plant at 8:30 AM. We first went to a farmer's place near Carpenter, Iowa, then headed up to Austin, Minnesota. Before Austin, we delivered feed to another farmer in the country. We delivered feed to a large hog processing plant in Austin. After that, we delivered again to a farmer about 10 miles east of the city. Finally, Ron and I headed back to St. Ansgar Mills, Inc. We arrived back at 11:30 AM. After lunch break, I shadowed another employee, Ryan. I helped him work at the plant the entire afternoon. Ryan and I loaded 50-pound bags of feed to individuals. He showed me our feed in the process of being pelleted and I helped him load our grain truck up with the pelleted feed. I observed Ryan cleaning the pellet machine. Then, at the end of the day, Ryan and I bagged some feed. After bagging a ton of feed, I learned how to drive an electric powered pallet truck! Many warehouses have these to move pallets around. It is a lot of fun! Learning how to drive the pallet truck takes a lot of practice.

Also, this past week, Dad hired the local veterinary service to check our cows. We found out that 63 out of 65 cows are pregnant.

james journal pic

Pellet machine.

I really enjoyed the day. I learned a lot about how feed is ground for customers, how it is pelleted, the work that has to be done, including deliveries, and how all the employees have to work together to get things done correctly. Everybody was really friendly.

On Saturday, Dad, my friend Ben, and I fixed a feed wagon that we purchased in August this year. We are in the middle of putting a roll top tarp on the wagon so we don't have to store it inside of a machine shed.

Farm Fact: Pelleted feed reduces the amount of feed needed for livestock production by about 7%.

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