Friday, May 29, 2009

Uuufda!

Uuufda! A phrase used in Minnesota-kinda like a sigh.

This is the best way to describe the last 2 weeks at the farm. Uuufda! We have been so busy making hay. We thought we were done last week and then the neighbor came over on Monday night to offer his alfalfa to us. We took it, so yesterday we were busy in the fields again, chopping another 30 acres of alfalfa. We have been dealing with the 3rd driest May in history in Minnesota, and a windy one at that. Last week were making hay with 50 mph winds and 97 degrees...this week it was 80 degrees and NO WIND. As a result we cut alfalfa yesterday morning at 8 am, and we were not able to start chopping it until 10 pm. We finished at 2 am this morning. We are finding that 4 hours of sleep is not enough to function well...so nap time was taken today ;) Uuufda! Makes for a long night and an even earlier morning.

We are looking forward to working on some summer time project tomorrow...getting our sprinkler system up and running for the lactating cows and hauling out the last of the calf manure in the calf barn.

Also an update on Joey...she's growing so well! I hope to have pictures up soon....she's eating about 1.5 pounds of calf starter (calf feed which contains corn, oats, and a protein pellet, all coated with mollasses for a special treat) a day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

1st cutting Alfalfa Video! FINALLY!!!!

Seifert Farms making 1st cutting hay (alfalfa) on May 20th, 2009 in Southern MN. We cut 100 acres of hay and chopped it as alfalfa haylage in less than 36 hours, at about 355 tons in a 250 ft. silage bag. Definitely a little windy though, up to 50 mph winds, amazingly the moisture, which is critical, never got any lower than 55%, most averaging 60%. Alfalfa was about 175 RFV (Relative Feed Value) a measure of the quality of a forage.
video

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Excuse for absence

Just thought I would let you know where I have been.....working at the farm on getting ready for hay season!!!! As of tonight we have 2 fields down and 2 more to go, hoping to finish about 80 acres of hay by tomorrow night. Look for video and pics coming soon....also, we have about 25 high school ag students coming out the farm tomorrow, so it will be a BUSY day.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pictures from the Preschool Tour!

I finally got some time to sit down and post some pictures. The preschool tour threw off our schedule at the farm just a little, and now we are working on planning the tour for the High School Ag class coming next Wednesday. I love pictures of kids seeing a dairy farm for the first time...and a picture is worth a million words. Also a HUGE thanks to the Dairy Princesses that came out to spend time with the kids on Monday! I know they had a blast seeing a real life princess in person!
Explaining to the kids that in the summer heat we run sprinklers, which are ALOT like water parks....so fun for cows too!
Kids enjoying snack time, cheese and crackers.


Dairy Princess Angie handing out stickers to the preschoolers-which say "I met a dairy farmer".-Those were awesome stickers!!!

Meeting Baby Joey. Those kids wanted to hug Joey so badly!

Talking about what we feed the cows to the little boys, so curious about the smells that they smelled.

Petting a cow for the first time. They weren't scared at all!

Snack time with cheese and crackers, and their new stickers.

Mmmmm...juice boxes :)

The best group picture we got at the farm!

Mainly, as you can see, 21 preschoolers and a baby calf are all hard to manage and get to stand still, oh well.

Bottle feeding calves with Dairy Princess Val. Kids LOVED this activity!

Bottle feeding with Dairy Princess Angie. Odessa enjoyed all of the extra attention.

HAY RIDE! The boys were huge fans of the hay ride, but we learned that only boys should drive not girls, like me ;)

Loading the hay ride to the calf barn.



Monday, May 11, 2009

They came, they went, they learned!

Whew! What a day! 42 preschoolers later, I am exhausted! It was busy morning getting ready for the preschoolers before they arrived at the farm. Add to that the energy needed to keep up with 42 4 and 5 year olds, and needless to say it took a lot out of us today. The weather was beautiful and the kids were great! So many awesome questions asked. A BIG thanks to our 2 dairy princesses who came with us today for the visit! Some of the funny questions and comments are listed below....and pictures will be coming soon....

  • "Is that a boy cow, it only has one earring? Girl cows should have 2 earrings"-pointing at a cow's ear tag.
  • "My favorite part was milking the baby calves"-trying to tell us about feeding the calves milk in a bottle.
  • "How come they poop on the ground?"-because cows can't be potty trained yet ;)
  • "Is she bleeding?"-pointing at the teat dip on the cow's teat, which is dark brown colored.
  • "Whoa, she made a mess! Who's going to clean it up?"-when a cow pooped in the parlor.
  • "Can we walk in the poop too?"-wanted to walk in the scrape alley with the cows.
  • "That feed stinks-how do they eat that?"-pointing at the TMR, smelling like silage.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Preschoolers meet Joey!!!!

Tomorrow (Monday) we will introduce 42 preschoolers to the wonders of a dairy farm. We started doing farm tours last year and have decided with the preschool teachers that this should be an annual event. In addition to leaving a lasting impression about dairy farming we are also having a blast with some great kids!

We have many activities planned for these excited kids. First they get to ride the bus to the farm with a County Dairy Princess. She will lead the kids in fun songs on the way the farm. Once they arrive we will check out the bulk tank and milk house. Our cow "Discovery" will be in the parlor waiting to be milked. I can't wait to see the look on the kids' faces when they pet a real cow! It's so cool! After that we will visit the rest of the herd in the bedded pack barn. Then we will load up on a hay ride to the calf huts. There will be the big surprise.....

These preschoolers will meet "Joey". Joey will be so excited to meet all of the preschoolers! Joey is 10 days old and will be fed by the preschoolers tomorrow. She will be very excited to run around and enjoy the special attention. During the summer we will track Joey's progress as she grows and enjoys life on Orange Patch Dairy. Each week I will try to post information about what Joey has been up to, as well as pictures and video. Our hope is that parents and kids alike will check in and see how Joey is doing. Here's a little background information about Joey:

  • Joey is a Holstein calf.
  • She is a heifer.
  • She was born on April 30th, 2009.
  • Her mother is a first calf cow (Joey is her first born).
  • Joey's mom is named Judy.
  • Judy was born 2 years ago.
  • Joey was fed 1 gallon of colostrum for her first feeding after birth.
  • Joey was fed milk from Judy for the first 5 feedings (2.5 days) of her life.
  • Now Joey is fed milk replacer (dry milk which we add warm water to) twice a day in addition to calf starter (feed containing corn, oats, and protein pellets).
  • Joey lives in a calf hut, which is placed in a grove of trees providing shade from the sun and protection from the wind.
  • Joey's hut is bedded with chopped soybean straw.

We hope you will check in on Joey often in the coming weeks!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Some great comments from Sen. Johanns!!!

"Today is a good opportunity to urge the Administration not to let their fervor for organic production cloud their judgment regarding the production methods for traditional crops. Traditional farming and ranching operations are the backbone of agriculture in the United States. Fertilizers, pesticides, and modern plant and animal genetics help our farmers and ranchers fight disease, attack insects and pests, ensuring a safe and abundant food supply. These hard-working Americans literally feed the world, and play an increasing role in our energy security." Sen. Johanns, Nebraska

It's great to see Sen. Johanns supporting all of agriculture, in a fair way. I especially enjoy his comments about trade, the importance of conventional agriculture, and environmental issues.

"I'm as tempted as anyone to hearken back to the days of the farm I grew up on, a quarter section. A dozen sows farrowed at a time, thirty cows, bottled calves. Train them how to drink out of a bucket. I have a little statue on my coffee table in my office of a young farm boy feeding a calf with a bottle. Man, what a life. What a great way to grow up.
"But the world does change, and farming has gotten better, and better, and better. No-till farming, integrated pest management, and field buffers are not foreign concepts to our farmers. According to one report, farmers currently use reduced tillage practices to prevent soil erosion on 72 million acres, and they maintain over 1.3 million acres of grassland.


"We do agriculture the best of any place in the world, and I've been around the world many times. We cannot afford to enact policies or neglect agriculture in a way that minimizes the importance of this very important piece of our economy, and its importance in feeding the world.

"If you take any message home with you, take this: The agriculture community must pay attention. During these difficult economic times, costs matter. We must work to prevent policies that will cripple and crush agricultural producers with counterproductive, overreaching, and economically inhibiting policies and regulations.

Thanks again for your support Sen. Johanns, agriculture thanks you!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Blink and you'll miss it!

I can't believe it, I blinked and I missed it! Which is especially frustrating since I wanted to capture it on video....planting corn that is. I was hoping to capture video of my father in law planting the last field of corn for this year, and I blinked (left the farm to run some errands in town) and I missed it. We had one field of corn left, it rained last night-much needed rain. So I thought that I had plenty of time to go to town. My father in law was eager to finish, and as soon as the field dried off a little, so at 3 pm he went to the field. I am proud to report that we are finished planting the corn crop. We have some more manure to haul and then we can finish planting soybeans and sweet corn. It's nice to know this year we will finish planting before we start cutting our first cutting of alfalfa.

Other than that, nothing new to report from the farm. I am eager to get into the flower beds and work on making the yard "pretty" again. The prep work for the pre-school tour has started and we are also working on scheduling a tour for a local high school Ag class. It's May and very busy at the farm!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Corn planting continues

Corn planting continues at Orange Patch Dairy. My father in law was able to put in about 65 acres of corn in today and yesterday. He was having his usual early season problems with our 8-row John Deere planter yesterday, which slowed him down. The planter was skipping in a couple of rows...making for very uneven rows of corn. SO.....we brought it home, got it in the shop and fixed it. Back to the field. The weather forecast looks good for the coming days, so we are hoping to apply the last little bit of fertilizer, work that in, and finish planting our 250 acres of corn for the year. Since we work with our agronomist on nutrient management, we are able to utilize our natural fertilizer (manure) first for our fields. Our agronomist pulls soil and manure samples to calculate the amount of commercial fertilizer we need to apply each spring. Usually we only need to apply a "pop up" fertilizer. This fertilizer is used to help the corn plants get a good start on the growing season, after that the plants will rely on the organic matter, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous of our cow manure!

Del Monte Foods delivered the packer for the pea field but no drill yet, so I guess that means that the peas will be planted soon! I love peas from the field! We usually plant about 30-40 acres of peas each year to be harvested sometime in mid-June. This allows us to have an empty field in the summer for manure application. Once the sweet corn is harvested in July/August then we move to applying manure on that field and seed the old pea field in with alfalfa. If we time it just right, we get a good rain in August and the fall seeded alfalfa is off to the races! The beauty of farming is getting the most from each acre without depleting it of nutrients. By rotating our crops and planting different types of crops like alfalfa, peas and sweet corn, we are able to better utilize our soils for our cows and our farm.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chopper shopping update...

Jonathan wanted me to clarify something. Even though we are currently looking for a new chopper, we can't really afford it. Milk prices have put additional stress on our family. We were able to save a little money last year when the milk prices were higher, and we plan on using that to help us update our equipment. One thing that is critical when we are making forages is making sure that ALL of our equipment is ready to run. After the 2008 Forage Season we are not entirely sure that our 1991 model chopper can make it through another 100 acres of alfalfa and 100 acres of corn. Knowing this, we NEED to replace this chopper. Our herd's future production depends on the quality of the feed we make. There's nothing worse than a broken chopper with 100 acres of alfalfa laying in the sun, drying and getting drier or.....raining coming in hours. Dry alfalfa makes terrible feed and rain often causes forages to mold, therefore timing is CRITICAL and equipment NEEDS to be ready to run.

We still haven't found the "right one", but we have found a couple "good ones" according to Jonathan. Jonathan continues to search online for other choppers he might have missed, looking for something a little closer to our price range. He was also talking about leaving for another road trip to Wisconsin next week. We shall see if he does leave, especially since we are FINALLY able to start planting corn this afternoon! We will keep you up to date!