Thursday, October 26, 2017

Feeder Cattle: Month 1 - September

We filled up our monoslope barn with cattle in September!  The cattle that went into the barn are feeder cattle and will be fed until they are ready to become beef!

This is our monoslope confinement
This first month it is important for us to keep the stress low for these animals!  Prior to coming in they were weaned from their mammas.  This can be a stressful time for them (but, like all mammals, they will be fine!).  They've been moved from their mammas, they've moved homes, and have some other new calves around them.  All this newness and stress catches up to them and is our main concern this first month.

As soon as they come to the farm, we "work" them with our veterinarian.  This just means that we give them vaccinations, worm and anything else that they need (by direction from our veterinarian). 

The calves are in the chute!  This helps keep everyone (people and animals) safe!

The main focus is to keep them eating and drinking.  Just like you and me, if we don't have our bodies well hydrated and fed, then we get stressed, we lose energy, and we get sick.

They get fed two times a day when they first come in, so we can keep an extra eye on them.  The ones that come up the bunk first are normally the healthy ones (and are obviously getting fed the most!).  The ones that hang back and don't come up right away we keep an eye on for coughing, runny noses, etc. 

You can see the calf that is hanging back here.  His ears are droopy, he has some snot running out of his nose, his head is down.  He's not feeling 100% :(
 We work with our nutritionist to make sure their ration (feed mix) is good for their bellies.  If we don't get the feed right, they won't eat (leading to more stress/sickness!).  We also need the ration to be palatable for them - if it's too dry or too wet, they don't find it 'appetizing' and won't eat. 

Iowa weather fluctuates (tell me something I DON'T know…).  Our confinement barn helps creates a steady environment for the animals so the fluctuations in weather aren't so severe.  Reducing…you guessed it:  STRESS!  The barn has plenty of bunk space for everyone to get a chance to eat out of the bunk.  But, for those small ones that get bullied - we have stress tubs in the pen so they are still getting nutrition when they get pushed out (every species has bullies).  We also keep the barn bedded with more straw to keep them dry and clean - TA DA - LESS STRESS.   

If we don't do a good job reducing stresses (and in turn, sickness), then we have to rely on antibiotics more!  If we provide a good environment and good care the animals bodies will take care of most if these issues themselves.

I love all of the different markings and faces. <3

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Harvest in July

Our combine is out in the field…in July!

This year we are trying something new (to us).  We let some of our cover crop (rye) grow and combined it for the seed! 


Normally, we kill our cover crop in the spring so it doesn’t compete with our cash crop (corn/soybeans).  This year we let it grow to use the seed this fall to plant as cover crops.    


You can see in the photo above you can see the green (weed) area that drowned out this spring.  But over all, it was a pretty field.

You can also see in the photo where the combine is leaving the straw in rows.  We baled that for our cattle and are now going to plant the field to sorghum to chop for cattle feed this fall.

This is the first year doing all of this – we’ll see what we learn!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Planting Progress 2017

#Plant2017 is officially here! 

I’m struggling to keep up on posting anything on social media because I’ve needed both of my hands for most of my tasks this spring!  We got into the field on Saturday night (4/22).  AJ put the planter in the ground at around 8 pm.  I don’t think I would start as it is getting dark, but I’m not a gung-ho farmer like my husband.  I was also attempting to get the kids fed and in bed around that time (part of my spring role on the farm!).

Part of planting is the prepping the ground for the planter, so we’ve been ‘in the field’ since around the second week of April.  We’ve been spraying our cover crops, spraying some areas where we have extra weed pressure, strip-tilling, and field cultivating. 

So far we’ve gotten about half of our corn in the ground!  Last year we got started about a week earlier (4/14/16) and were done with corn by April 26th of last year.  So comparing this year to last, we are behind, but we still have time!  Ideally (in Iowa) our window to plant corn is from April 20 – May 5. 

We also don’t calve earlier in the year like a lot of cattle farmers, so as the planter has hit the ground, the baby calves are starting to come, too!

It’s been busy so far, but the ‘end’ of spring is still far off!  I’ll try to keep you updated as we continue #plant2017!

Planting Progress 2017Planting Progress 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Fertilizer and Math Skills

2017-02-01 Blog Fertilizer and Math Skills

Did you know that I do a lot of math over the winter?  Actually, we do a lot of math on the farm, period (sometimes in the form of…if I can get 15 acres/hour done, and have 45 more acres to do, what time will I be home?). 

After harvest we immediately start planning for the next crop.  One very important part of the next crop is the fertilizer.  The main sources of fertilizer we look at are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (P).  On our farm we have different sources of fertilizer that are applied onto our field as:

  • Manure
    • Cattle manure
    • Hog manure
  • “Commercial” fertilizer (what we have to buy to put it on our fields)

This may seem simple.  “Put on fertilizer!”  Just like everything, it ISN’T that simple. 

We have multiple fields, with multiple yields and crops.  Which then means each field has a different removal of nutrients (for each bushel of corn/soybeans they remove N-P-K).

So we have to look at:

  1. What crop was on each field
  2. What was the yield (which then relates to what was removed as nutrients from the soil)

This will tell us how many nutrients were removed for this past year (we use ISU values to determine what was removed)

We also need to know:

  1. What is the soil analysis for that field?
    1. Did we have high analyses for P and K?  or low?
  2. What was applied as fertilizer the year before?  or, the history of the field?
  3. What do we want?  are we short (too low) on nutrients, long (too many)? what is the investment?
  4. What will the weather be?  What’s the plan for next year? 2 years? 1 year? etc

Remember, each of these answers is different for each field!

In summary, Mr. Snyder & Mr. A would be proud that I’m putting my math skills to work.  And, Excel ® is a great program to help me out! 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Tis’ the Season for Meetings

Over the winter we do a lot of paperwork (catch up).  We have piles, we have taxes, we have planning for the next year, we have crop to deliver, and we have school papers to sift through (seriously, this may be our largest pile). 

Also over the winter months we have MEETINGS!!  I call them meetings, but mostly it is school for adults.  Do you have continuing education for your job?  Farmers have the same thing.  This week alone I have a variety of options to attend:  Iowa Pork Congress, Iowa Soybean Association’s Legislative Reception and District Advisory Council, and my daughter’s class has invited me to talk about farming. 

There are so many things for us to be involved in, and we learn something from all of them. We get involved because it is our way of learning but also being able to give our input on what is important on our farm for the coming year.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A New Groove in the New Year!

Wow.  I can’t believe 2016 is really over.  It went a little too fast for me, how about you?

I’ve made resolutions in the past, just to see them fail, grow old, or are too hard to follow.  I’m learning as I grow older to not have ANY expectations for the year.  

My role has grown on the farm to full-time.  Even though I'll need to find a new groove, I'm sure it'll be another good one.  

"You adorn the year with your bounty; your paths drip with fruitful rain."  -Psalms 65:12

Here’s to 2017!

Here is a snapshot of 2016!