Making Hay
Week of April 27th, 2003 | The weather was stormy.

Plowing soil for organic corn

Plowing soil for organic corn

Happy Easter to all! Sunday we went to Grandpa and Grandma's house for a yummy dinner! Jess was home and joined us. Jolene had to work all day at the restaurant that she works at, so she couldn't be with us. It was fun visiting with all my relatives. In the evening, Mom, Dad, Jess, and I watched a movie together at home. It was nice to sit and relax.

Monday Jess headed back to her home in Minnesota. It was her birthday. She didn't have to teach, no school (Easter break), but wanted to spend some time at her home catching up on other stuff.

We didn't have school either because of Easter break. Dad and I worked most of the day on fixing the grain auger wagon. We also added a ladder and jack to the grain pup that we use for hauling feed. That night, I packed my luggage for my school band and choir trip to Florida.

Tuesday morning, Mom brought me to school with my luggage. We had to have our big luggage brought to school and checked in, to be ready to be loaded on the buses that we would take early Wed. morning. Dad worked with the cows and calves all day. After school, I helped him bed up the cows with bales of straw.

After Mom came home from work, she helped me pack my carry on luggage that would go with me on the bus. I went to bed on time because I had to get up early the next morning to be at school by 5:00 AM to leave for our trip to FLORIDA!!!! (I'll tell you all about my trip in next weeks journal. I come back home next Monday night, the 28th. Mom and Dad will write the remainder of this week's journal:

Hello readers, James' dad here. With James gone on his school trip, my busy week became even busier. This is one of the heaviest workload times of the year.

Our stock cows start giving birth to their calves around the 15th of April. We had bought six bred heifers (first time mothers to be) in January. One of the risks of buying bred animals is that you do not know the birth dates as well as if you had the breeding take place on your farm. Four of these new mothers gave birth on the weekend that we had such a bad snowstorm. I was worried about their calves and even more so because they were out away from the buildings and had just some trees by the creek for shelter.

All four calves came through the storm just fine. This may have given me a sense of "don't get too worried" and that sense did not serve me well this past week. We had about 12 cows give birth on Friday, the 18th. These cows are all good, young experienced mothers. This is a lot of birthing in a day and the weather was bad and getting worse. It rained 1.5 inches the next day and the wind was harsh. I had the entire herd home and they had shelter from the weather in the sheds.

I decided to split the herd up and allow the cows to go to the pastures near our place. It gets real crowded with 70 cows if they all go inside of the yard and buildings. The bottom line is that I lost 5 new calves on Easter Sunday and the next day on Monday. Not a good way to start the week and the worse episode of calving problems I have ever experienced in such a short time.

We have had many calves born since that day and they, like the ones born earlier, are fine. I am at a loss to explain such a harsh rash of nursing problems in such a short time. I am still battling to save a calf. This one had the misfortune of having a mother with a poor milk supply. I am trying to adopt this calf to another mother cow who lost her calf. I am milking the cow by hand and feeding the calf this milk as he is too weak to nurse alone. This is a tough job. It takes a lot of chore time and you have to be real patient with the animals.

I hauled 37 loads of composted manure later on in the week. Then I removed the loader from the 7405 John Deere tractor and plowed the ground where I hauled the manure. I did not get as much of the work done as I would of if I had James to help but I did get about 20 acres plowed by 10PM Saturday night. This is a crucial job to get done before we can get the soil ready to plant organic corn.

James has certainly been missed by both his mother and I this past week. It was such an empty nest around the house. Even our cat Noel noticed the difference with not having James greet him first thing in the morning or getting picked up and getting a hug everyday after school, like he's so used to having done. We had to do all the spoiling ourselves!<p/>

Farm Fact: We need to get the manure applied to the soil and the soil plowed about 2 weeks before corn planting. This allows the nutrients in the manure to break down into a useable form for the new growing corn plants.

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