It has been another wintery week. The weather is still cold. On Saturday the temperature fell to a little above 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It also snowed 3-4 inches Saturday morning. I do not want cold weather or snow because it will be spring soon and I am anxious to begin fieldwork for planting. Hopefully it will warm up soon and the snow will melt. The soil is frozen to about 4 feet deep.
On Sunday, Mom and Dad were still at the Upper Midwest Organic Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I had to sell 22 hogs all by myself! Well, I had a neighbor helping me and the truck driver and my dog, Sammy. This was the first time that I ever filled out the organic paperwork and marked the hogs with a blue 'Q' by myself! The truck was delayed over an hour because he had unexpected stops to make. He was scheduled to stop at three Organic Valley Pork Pool farmers, but that turned into six! The pork pool is doubling in size because of you. Thousands of customers around the country are purchasing Organic Valley pork. The pork pool is adding more organic hog farmers because the sales have increased. This also means that our family feed business will be increasing, too. The more hogs, the more feed needed!
Mom and Dad came home in the afternoon from the conference. Dad gave a presentation on Saturday morning. The organic trade show had 130 booths and it filled the arena at the LaCrosse Center. Over 1400 people attended the programs that ran from Thursday to Saturday. The Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference is the largest single purchaser of certified organic food in the country. It will be held in LaCrosse next year as well.
It was windy and a little snowy out Monday morning. Dad went to a sale yard to see if there was anything interesting that we may need. That night, Dad told me that he bought a few things. He purchased a pony cart tillage harrow. This is a cart with two small wheels that can be hitched on a tractor or pulled behind a disc or a field cultivator. A tine harrow is attached on the cart. It is 20 feet wide. Dad also purchased 3 hog gates, and two shop carts. These shop carts are simple heavy-duty carts on wheels with handles. They are used to move heavy things around in a shop or a factory. Dad plans to use these carts inside of the grainary so we can handle more premix for our feed business. Dad bought a bulk bin from the sale, too. This is not a normal bulk bin! This is the largest bulk bin I have ever seen! It is 18 feet high, and about 8 feet in diameter! It can hold about 15 tons of grain or feed! It is the biggest bulk bin that this farm has ever had. We found a place to put it, too. Now, we just need some spring weather to pour the footings for the bulk bin and set it up. It will be used to hold feed products.
On Tuesday, Mom got a new stove and oven. It is a lot better than our old one. We needed a new stove. Our old one was bought before my oldest sister was born! We received about 2-3 inches of snow that day, too. Dad took 5 sows that are ready to farrow to our neighbor that is helping us in the organic hog business.
Wednesday, Dad moved 4 sows and about 30 pigs out of the farrowing barns. This is the last of the indoor sows and pigs. All of the hogs are outside now. We need warm weather to melt the snow and then we can start having sows out in the pastures. In Dad's spare time on Wednesday and Thursday, he shopped for grain trucks that are in Northeast Iowa over the telephone. As our feed business grows, we need a grain truck to haul grain and feed from one processing plant to another.
Dad went to the pork pool meeting on Thursday. He said that the pork pool is working as it should and is growing. Everyone is very happy with what is going on and pleased at how well the sales have gone.
Dad brought home some of the items that he purchased from the sale yard on Monday. On Friday he hauled the rest home (the hog gates, large bulk bin, and pony harrow cart). He then went to an organic grain plant and brought home some byproducts that we are trying to use in animal feed. Dad also bought a grain truck that he will be bringing home next week.
I had a 4-H meeting Saturday morning. My neighbor, friend, and I did a presentation for our club after the meeting. The topic was about fishing (all three of us love to go fishing). I think we did a really good job! In the afternoon, Dad and I ground three grain wagon loads of byproducts to be used for feed.
Farm Fact: Our family believes in recycling. We recycle paper, plastic, cans, glass, etc. Since we are in a feed business, Dad likes to recycle byproducts and create feed out of that. Byproduct is a term for the material that remains after grain is cleaned or processed. It includes parts of the plant like pods. Corncobs are another example of byproducts.