Making Hay
Week of February 10th, 2002 | The weather was nice for February.

The sow hut we built

The sow hut we built

Happy Valentines Day to all! The weather is nice for February. While Saturday was a warm day, that night it got really windy. It snowed 1 inch, but the roads were still okay to drive on.

Sunday, a friend stopped and told us he saw a newborn calf in the snow in our pasture! Dad was shocked, but I thought it was just the very first calf we had a few weeks ago. No, I was wrong! We have two calves! They are cute in the field. I hope we don?t have any more calves until April because the weather is not warm enough.

Monday, Dad purchased the manure spreader I described about last week. I really like the spreader. When I hauled manure with it last week, it unloaded the manure on the compost pile nicely. It has two unloading beaters and they do a better job than a spreader with one beater. I am glad that it is ours now. Dad also purchased some rejected barley and had that hauled to a processing plant. He hauled soybean meal to a processing plant, too.

Tuesday, Dad purchased the livestock trailer we were interested in. The trailer factory repainted some of it and fixed the interior lights. Dad processed a lot of pigs in the farrowing barn Tuesday, too. All of the sows in this barn have given birth to their pigs now.

Wednesday, Dad fixed a lot of little things including the wiring on a hog water fountain. Thursday, Dad went to a Practical Farmers of Iowa cooperator-training meeting in Ames, Iowa. A portion of this training meeting was about animal health and different crops for livestock feed. Dad learned a lot about new developments in these areas.

One of the main topics was about farrowing and gestation crates in large-scale hog farms. Many people are against their use. When sows farrow, they can lie down in a small metal crate and can hardly move. On our farm, the sows can walk, run, and play anywhere in the farrowing barn. A sow has her own sow hut for a nest for both her and the baby piglets. These nests are piled with bedding (straw) for comfort. Metal crates are VERY uncomfortable. How would you like to stay in a metal crate just a little larger than your body for 1 hour? Pigs, cattle, sheep, chickens, turkeys, and any other farm animal have to stay in 1 crate for not just one hour, but their whole life. When they are sold, farm employees have to move them to the truck. The animal cannot walk because it didn?t have the chance to run around and play for even 1 hour of its life! The farm employees have to drag it on the truck. This too, is very hard on any animal. So help farm animals by being against large scale factory farms. One way, is putting up signs in your window or yard saying, "Stop Factory Farms" or "Factory Farms are Polluting". Another way is to know where all of your food comes from and how it was handled. Do not purchase food that comes from factory farms because that money goes to the industry. That money injures and kills animals. That money also pollutes the Earth.

Mom and I had to do chores Thursday and Friday since Dad was gone at this meeting. It was easy since all of our animals except for the cattle are near the homestead. But on Friday, Mom and I found a group of sows that got out! The sows are pretty smart. They managed to push the pin open with their noses on the gate. We looked all around the grain bins and hog floors, but only could find about half a dozen sows! When we came home from doing the cattle chores, we drove by the straw shed and found a sow. We chased her back in. When Mom and I came back to the tractor, we found about 6-8 sows all cuddled together in a pile of loose straw. It was cute! Then, we had to chase them back into their home, but they still have bedding! Mom made sure this wouldn?t happen again. She wired the gate pin shut for security.

Saturday, I had a 4-H meeting. I had to do a presentation in front of my club. My presentation was about pollution on the Earth. I talked about how trees and the environment can be pretty, but now, industries, manure spills, and cars continue to pollute it. Many trees are cut down each day for paper, wood, and land for farms and homes and how sometimes this is over done. I talked about animal wastes problems and manure spills that kill thousands of fish. I shared some thoughts of what each one of us can do to help clean up our environment. I talked about how my family recycles our trash. We don?t use chemicals on our fields that can harm the land. Another way to help our environment is by planting more trees. We plant trees for shade, windbreak, and also for our farm to have a pretty border all around the fields. As a 4-H club, we participate in the Adopt-A-Highway program. Twice a year our club members walk through the road ditches picking up trash in our designated area.

When I came home, Dad and I finished the latches on our 41st hut. This is the same hut Dad built a week ago, but never got it totally finished. Then, Dad, Sammy, and I moved 4 sows and their pigs out of a farrowing room in the barn and they went to a hoop building with lots more sows and pigs. We had to process the pigs again. The medicines we gave the pigs are required by state regulations.

Farm Fact: The hut we built only cost $26 in new material. The portion that touches the ground is made out of catalpa wood. This wood has a natural preservative to prevent rot.

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