Making Hay
Week of April 14th, 2002 | The weather was warm. What a nice spring week.

Protest sign on neighborhood shed.

Protest sign on neighborhood shed.

What a nice spring week! The temperature is in the 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit range. We really don't use our coats when working on the farm because of the warmer weather. It was damp and wet Sunday, but our first major rainfall for this year was on Thursday. It rained all day. We collected 1 inch of rain. This will be good for the fields since our barley is all planted.

Sunday, Dad, Sammy, and I sold 20 hogs. We forgot about Daylight Savings Time. When I turned the computer on, the screen asked me if it is okay to change the time. Then, I reminded Dad. Dad called the truck driver and he said he would be at our place by 8:00 AM instead of 7:30 AM. As we were loading hogs in our hog cart, the truck driver came.Monday, Dad went to a nearby sale yard (he always goes to the same one). Dad bought 2 hog feeders. When he came home, he had a veterinarian come out to check a cow. This cow had her last calf 2 years ago. She skipped last spring for having a new calf. We thought she was no longer able to have calves, so we were planning on selling this cow. We really don't want to sell this cow because she is the lead cow. She leads the herd from one pasture to the next. The vet checked her, and we found out that she will be having a calf this spring! The really odd thing is she will be right on time for giving birth.

The feed mill broke down on Tuesday. The unloading auger broke and Dad had to get it replaced. Dad tried his best to clean up part of the soybean meal mess that I wrote about last week. A strong gust of wind blew a lot of soybean meal out of two grain wagons last Saturday. It blew all over the place. Also on Tuesday, Dad field cultivated corn stalks to prepare the field for planting a cover crop. A cover crop is a seeding of a crop that will not be harvested but will improve the soil and provide erosion protection. We plant cover crops in the spring to help weed control. Dad planted 23 acres of cover crop Wednesday. He used oats.

On Thursday, because of the rain, Dad decided to work inside of the barn. That was a good idea! Since the main barn (the one with two farrowing rooms) is empty, Dad got ready to move the huts out in the field. He took the electric hoovers out of the huts so they will not be broken in the summer time. Also, Dad cleaned the manure and bedding out of the huts and room.

Dad repeated this operation on Friday. That evening, Dad and I moved 5 huts out of a farrowing room in the main barn. To control any diseases, Dad power washed the bottom of each hut. The sow huts can harbor bacteria that can give baby piglets a disease that could kill them. When Dad and I walked inside the house after chores Friday night, Dad said, "The grass is nice and green. I believe I can move the cattle out in the pasture tomorrow."

That's exactly what happened Saturday morning. Dad moved the cattle out in the pasture. The cattle lot became empty. Then, Dad took both heat housers off of the John Deere 4020 and 7405 tractors because of the warmer weather. Then, Dad changed the engine oil and made some repairs to the John Deere 4020 tractor. Afterwards, Dad removed the cattle feeders from the cattle yard. Then, the 4020 was hitched up to one of our manure spreaders. Dad hauled manure out of the cattle yard all day long. The manure was spread in a hay field for fertilizer. I helped that evening. We had to move the cattle feeders back in the cattle yard because the grass isn't growing fast enough yet to feed the cows.

During the day, I participated in the Chickasaw County 4-H Super Saturday. This is always a fun day for students 4th thru 8th grade. The four sessions I was in were rappelling, creative painting, self-defense/safety, and archery. We had a pizza lunch. I learned a lot and had a great time. After that, I went to the middle school carnival. The carnival had a lot of games and activities. The local radio station was there. My favorite activity was the cardboard maze. It was really dark and hard to find your way through. I went in circles like three times!

As I write my journal, I see Sammy outside. She is sitting on a hayrack guarding the yard. Except one thing, Sammy is looking towards the hog floors watching Dad do chores. Mom and I are laughing at Sammy because there's a pig right behind her and Sammy doesn't know it. She is suppose to be guarding those pigs, not letting them sneak up behind her! When Dad was getting ready to load manure into the manure spreader on Saturday, Dad found a tail sticking out from inside the bucket! He didn't know what it was until he looked closer. Sammy was sleeping in the loader bucket! Sammy does some crazy, funny things around the farm!The Glossary of Farm Terms has been updated with more definitions and more pictures. If you have time, I really encourage you to visit the glossary to learn more about an organic farm.

As an update to the factory farm moving into our neighborhood, more signs and protesting are seen daily. Neighbors and concerned citizens are gathering together for meetings and discussing options. I hope this will help. Like everyone else, I do not want to see our environment and communities destroyed. In the picture above, you see a neighbor who painted a very large sign on the side of his shed. I go pass this large sign every day to go to school.

Hogs produce 10 times more waste then people. On our farm, we try to take good care of the hog waste. We do not have huge lagoons. We haul the waste to compost piles and in the spring, we spread it in the fields. We don't over fertilize our fields because we limit the number of hogs raised. On Friday, the Iowa State Legislature passed a new hog lot bill. This new law provides a limit to large factory farms. But, this is not enough. It does not provide for local control of the location of new facilities. We do not want ANY factory farms in the state of Iowa, or anywhere else for that matter. I guess this new law is better than nothing, though.

Farm Fact: Some people think that farm pigs are muddy and smelly. They roll around in the mud in the summer to do two things. First, the mud protects their skin. Second, the mud cools them off from the heat. If you cage them daily, they can become viscous, like a dog chained up. We don't want our pigs like that, nor do we want to see any other farm animals locked up in small cages. We want to keep all of our animals as happy as possible.

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