Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Please...find a trash can!

I guess finding a trash can is just too much work for some people!
Yesterday as I was planting rye in the soybean field along the road, I noticed a lot of trash lying among the stubble.  This morning, I went back to pick it up.  This is what I found…

Trash like this will very easily be either chopped up with the corn silage or baled up with the hay, finding its’ way in small, sharp pieces, into the cows feed. 
One our best milking cows recently “went off feed”, began running a high fever, and dropped in milk production to almost nothing.  She hunched her back as if she was in pain.  After Jim and the vet checked her out, they determined that she is most likely suffering from “hardware”. 
When a cow ingests a foreign object, it can pierce her stomach and cause pain and infection.  In some cases, she recovers.  In some cases, however, the object can go through the wall of her stomach and pierce her heart, causing irreparable damage.  That’s what they think happened to this cow; the object most likely pierced the sack around her heart and may have damaged a valve.
We do what we can to prevent hardware.  Each of our animals swallows a magnet like the one below...
The magnet remains in her stomach in hopes that it will draw pieces of metal to it, preventing them from going through the cow’s digestive system.  But…in that small pile of trash that I found, there are glass bottles and pieces of hard plastic as well.  And…the magnet is not foolproof.
#264 is slowly beginning to make more milk again.  Her fever is down and her appetite is back, but she will not likely recover fully.  She could have a relapse at any time and will probably have to be slaughtered. 
All that said, throwing trash out the car window is not just ugly…it’s causing real problems for someone, somewhere!  But I know none of you would ever consider it… right?!  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Soybean harvest...

It's interesting, at least to me...All summer long we looked at the soybean fields and thought how "beautiful" they looked. But they have to get pretty ugly (is that possible?) looking before they're worth much to us!

The combine rolled in on Friday morning to harvest the beans.  I think the guys must really think this farmer's wife is either "nuts" or has nothing better to do than follow them around with the camera!  Oh well...let them think what they want!  They keep coming back!

Dried beans in the field...sorry if it's a little blurry!

Combining the beans...This is taken from across the road at the golf course where I was walking with some friends (and my camera, of course!) Oh boy, did the dust fly that day!

The beans are transported in this grain truck...they aren't all in here yet! Just beyond the truck, you can see the partially harvested field.  I love the way it looks like a carpet after the beans are off.  But don't try walking on it with bare feet!

Beans, beans and more beans...

Just like the shelled corn, the beans will be dried and toasted, stored in a grainbank for us, and brought to the farm to fill our bin as we need them.  The cows just love to eat them.  They're quite good, actually!

*This just in...Jim got the totals from the beans; they yielded right around 60 bushels per acre this year.  Last year was better...almost 70 bpa, but he's happy!

Corn fodder...

There are several different ways of harvesting corn...

When corn is chopped for silage, the entire stalk is used.  When corn is combined(shelled) or picked, the dried stalk remains in the field.  If left to disintegrate over winter, it is great for the soil.  Shredded (or flailed) corn stalks also make great bedding.  This is referred to as corn fodder.  We like to have lots of baled corn fodder on hand; it's much more absorbent than straw in the heifer pens.

Saturday was our marathon corn fodder baling day.  Jim had loaded up four wagons on Friday afternoon so the guys could begin unloading in the morning.  We had five guys lined up to help unload while Jim baled.  I was the gopher... I moved some empty wagons around, did the barn work, made lunch, ran everyone where they needed to go, and just, well...gophered!

The fodder in this corn field is all raked and ready to be baled...

Jim is headed back out to fill another wagon...


Unloading...yes, it was that dusty!

By the time they quit on Saturday afternoon, they had unloaded 10 wagons.  That's 1100-1200 bales of fodder!

Jim has since baled several more wagon loads, but they'll remain backed in the barn, unloaded until we need them.  It's good to have this job about finished.  Some years we remember baling fodder well into November.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Slinky... (story from a "guest blogger")


The other week we got a new cat named Dolly. It wasn’t my first choice of names, but now that this cat was ours we could rename it.
            Dolly is black on her back and legs and tail, but has little boots and white on her chest. She is sweet and sleek, very used to people. Her eyes are elephant sized, and have dark, dark pupils. When she arrived, we took her up into the upper part of the barn and she seemed to really enjoy the prickly texture of the hay on the wagon and made herself at home between two bales. She was very curious and of course managed to find her way to a rafter-high up from the ground-and sat there to stare down at us.  She would fit right in with the other cats that were enjoying life on the farm.
            One day over the weekend a friend came over to play. When we couldn’t find anything to do we found ourselves venturing up into the barn to see the cat. The friend petted Dolly and smiled as it rubbed against her legs and purred. “Dolly, we need to change your name,” she thought.  “How about Slinky? You just sort of slink around and slide out of my arms when I pick you up.” I liked it and so that became the new Tuxedo cat’s name.
            Slinky despises the dogs named Snickers and Murphy. As soon as she saw them when she got here, she clung to Kevin’s shirt. (Kevin is the previous owner) Whenever we go up in the barn, so do the dogs and that is where the cat is. She hisses and spits and runs to the best hiding spots and uses the best strategies to get rid of the dogs and to annoy them. Her hiding spots are: the top of the hay wagon where the dogs can’t touch her, on a flap under the elevator, or on the wagon, crouched  between three bales that provide a little house and a very comfortable sleeping area. The last spot is with her only cat friend on the top layer of the highest haymow. Her strategies are…ignore!  That’s it… and it drives the dogs BANANAS! Hopefully the dogs will learn to ignore Slinky more as they realize that they can’t get her …she’s WAY too good for them.
            Only a few days ago Dad was getting hay down from a 25-30 foot hay mow and after carefully looking where he was throwing, dropped one bale down to the floor of the barn. As the bale was midway through its journey down to the floor Slinky came TEARING out of nowhere and into the path of the falling bale.  The bale hit the ground-and Slinky too; now she was covered by this bale of hay! Soon dad was on the ground and releasing the cat from its dangerous predicament. When the pressure was released, Slinky ran from the bale and went to her perch on top of the wagon wheel. Fifteen minutes later, the previous owners pulled in the driveway in search of some straw. After telling the news of the cat, Kevin and Anna made their way to the barn to comfort Slinky.  She seemed to be doing fine. Kevin and Anna left with their straw, and everything returned back to normal.
            Slinky  is finding her way around the farm better now.  She is coming down from the upstairs of the barn and enjoys hanging out on the milkhouse roof and on top of the compressor.  She is my new favorite kitty.
                                                THE END
                                    By Jenna Denlinger

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Harvesting corn...

Once again this week, the fall corn harvest was interrupted by rain, but finally, we are well on our way to finishing up!

During the big rain storm that we had about two weeks ago, some of the corn that Jim hadn't chopped for silage went down due to the heavy rain and high winds.  This can present difficulty in combining or picking the dry corn. 

The combine has "snouts" on the front (my layman's term!) that go between the rows of standing corn and strip the ears of corn from the stalk, sending them into the combine for shelling. In a similar fashion, the corn picker removes the ear and sends it up an elevator into the wagon behind.  When the corn is "down", it is very difficult to harvest, and a lot of corn can be left laying in the field, wasted.

We had a full day of rain on Thursday.  The forecast was calling for more high winds, with gusts up to 35 miles per hour.  This could have been disastrous for the standing corn, but thankfully no more damage was done, and the combining went relatively smoothly.

On Friday evening, the combining began, and they finished up on Saturday morning. 

Here are a few pictures of the combine running through the fields...

On the picture to the left, you can see the reel at the front of the combine.  This is put on when the corn has gone down.  It rotates, pulling the corn up and into the combine, eliminating waste.

The shelled corn is transferred from the combine into this grain cart (below) and then dumped into the grain truck for transport. 

Most of our corn is sent to a local company that dries and toasts the corn, and stores it for us in a "grain bank".  Then throughout the year, they deliver it back to the farm as we need it to fill our bins and feed the cows. 

The rest of the corn is left for picking.  The whole ear is picked and stored in a corn crib, where it dries, and is ground into "cob chop", which we feed to our dry cows and bred heifers. 

 Jim picking corn on Saturday afternoon

Jim and Jenna unloading a bin wagon onto the elevator on Saturday evening

This is one part that the kids the wagon gets empty, someone needs to stand inside and push the corn down to the opening

There it goes, up the elevator into the corn crib.  The crib won't be full this year; Jim chose to shell more and pick less, but we'll still have some to grind as we need it.

The yields this year weren't fantastic, due to the dry summer we had, but we have plenty for what we need.

It's such a satisfying feeling to see the harvest well under way.    There's still lots to do, but the end is in sight. The soybeans will be combined next; there is still some corn to pick, and then lots of corn fodder to bale.  That could go well into November.   I'll keep you posted!

And her name is...

I know, it's been a while since I asked for a name for our latest heifer calf.  I got lots of suggestions via facebook, and made the executive decision to name her...


She was born the night before we had "the big rain" which was due (in part) to tropical storm Nicole.  Since we won't quickly forget that storm, she has "earned" her name.  She's doing aggressive young heifer who is well on her way to making her mark in the world!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


If all I had to do all day was this...

And all I had to worry about ...

was staying away from this...

How different life would be!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


It seems like in the past week, we've done alot of WAITING...

Last Thursday we WAITED for the (much needed!) rain to stop.  By evening, we assumed that it was finished;  the rain measured 4 1/2" by supper time.  It was more than we had expected, but less than disastrous.  Jim was WAITING to chop our late corn; hoping that it wasn't already too dry for the silo.  Too much rain would make it impossible to get into the fields any time soon.

We went to bed, WAITING for morning to come,along with the sunshine!  However, the next morning, it was still raining!  I had forgotten to empty the rain gauge, so we aren't certain how much we got, but people around us had measurements of up to 8 1/2" total.  Wow!

We WAITED some more, and finally the sun came out, and we had a beautiful drying day on Friday.

Saturday arrived, and this is what we did...

We still can't quite believe that the chopper was able to get into the fields after 8+" of rain, without making any ruts, and no mud on the driveway!!

We chopped a few loads of silage to refill the one silo, but needed to WAITuntil Monday to do the silage ag bag. (Several peoples' schedules have to mesh in order to get this done!)

Monday arrived, along with more rain.  So, we WAITED some more...

What do we do while we're WAITING?

We had a little time in the afternoons to do some reading...

I did some baking...made my first apple pie from scratch in ages!  (Sorry, no didn't last long enough! :)  

I made a wreath for my front door with some ladies from Church...

We WAITED to see if our best milking cow would recover from what we think might be "hardware".  (see Dairy Farming 101 - part 1)  The jury is still out on her fate...

We watched a cross country meet on a muddy course...

We enjoyed supper with our Life Group...

And as we WAITED out was seems now to be the last evening of (three consecutive days and another 1 1/2") rain, we were given a beautiful gift...this rainbow!  I think it might've been  the most beautiful, complete, double rainbow that I've ever seen!  Thanks God!

And now...after all the WAITING we've done this week, the sun is once again shining beautifully, a strong breeze is blowing, drying things out, and we hope to finish up chopping corn tomorrow!

I guess we'll WAIT and see!