Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shame on YOU PETA!!!!

Apparently PETA can't stop attacking hard working dairy farmers here in the USA. PETA recently released a video that showed dairy cows in deplorable conditions. I can honestly say that cows at OUR FARM are NOT treated like this. We care very deeply for our animals both for personal and economic reasons. Happy cows, are profitable cows on a dairy farm, therefore cows on the PETA video are not producing to the maximum of their ability, nor are they living long productive lives. This is just an example of ONE Bad Apple which PETA is amplifying to represent an entire industry. If you don't believe me....well, stop at your local dairy farms for a visit and ask a few questions. If you do, you will learn VERY quickly how much dairy farmers actually care for their animals.

Please listen to this great video from another advocate for agriculture.

Shame on YOU PETA~! For picking on hard working dairy farmers :(

Monday, September 28, 2009

World Dairy Expo bound!!!

Tomorrow (Tuesday) we are headed off to World Dairy Expo in Madison Wisconsin. I am so excited !!! Dairy Expo is a great place to meet with old friends, fellow industry leaders, and make new friends. This year I am attending the opening day to be an active member of a seminar about using Social Media to deliver the great messages about the Dairy Industry. I am truly honored to have been asked to share my thoughts. I am hoping to take some cool pictures and video to post in the coming days as well as more corn silage videos.

Also great news from the farm, our bull calf streak (7 bulls in a row) has been broken! Today we successfully delivered a set of twin heifers!!!! So cute, Kasota and Kimble are a lot of fun to feed twice a day and play with =)

Off to bed, so I can road trip tomorrow!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Corn Silage Season Part 2


video
A little night time action at the farm. This video was taken on September 7th, 2009 (Day 1). We finished opening the fields and wanted to get a head start on the long and hectic week ahead. The key to making good silage is to make it quickly as possible at a consistent moisture. Consistent moisture helps to make quality forage which feeds our cows who make safe, wholesome, nutritious milk for you the consumer =) Please enjoy our little video of night time silage chopping at Orange Patch Dairy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Corn Silage Video Part Posted!

Finally I got at least the first video posted from corn silage season! We started chopping on September 7th, 2009 and finished on Monday September 14th, 2009. We worked 6 days and made 8, 250 foot long bags of forage.....equal to about 2500 tons of silage for the cows for the coming year!!! Once the forage is made we store it in bags for at least 3 months to make sure the feed is completely fermented. This video is from the 7th, when the neighbor came over to "open" our fields. He drove his self propelled chopper (a forage chopper that has an engine attached to it instead of chopped like ours which needs a tractor to pull it) through our fields chopping end rows and making "roads" through to make sure that we do not run our precious crop of corn down. Check it out!
video

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Appreciation for Rural Minnesota Culture

It's been a little while since I last blogged, but I have a good excuse. I was in Central Minnesota for the weekend, attending my future sister in law's bachelorette party as well as learning to appreciate the simple things of rural Minnesota. My future sister in law Erin is from a small town southwest of Little Falls Minnesota. This lovely town of Sobieski has all of the necessities of a rural community: church, co-op creamery, a couple handfuls of homes, even more farms, local restaurant, every one's favorite bar, no stop lights and no stop signs. It was filled with great people, all with an agricultural background (lived on a farm, lives on a farm or raised on a farm). I had a blast meeting all of the "locals" as well as learning more about their Polish roots.

I visited the local bar for the party, but ended up having an awesome conversation with the area farmers about their crops, the harvest, and their livestock. On Sunday I had the privilege of attending their church bazaar. Dinner was an AMAZINGLY delicious meal of chicken, real potatoes, Polish sausage, and haluski. Dessert was the best darn piece of pie I have had in a long time. Here you could see the values of a rural community. The value of hard work to put on a great event for a good cause. The value of community and social connections with your neighbors. The value of family and friends. The value of agriculture. Agriculture is a bond that binds all in rural communities in Minnesota. Here in Sobieski most were from farms and some work in other agriculture related jobs. It was truly awesome to wittiness people working together for a good cause, laughing and working hard.

Coming soon....the videos from corn silage season!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rain delay AGAIN!

Oh Dear! Apparently God would like us to take the weekend off to attend a family wedding instead of finishing corn silage. Today we received almost an inch of rain today---much needed for the alfalfa that we just planted but as of today we only have 6 of 8 bags of silage finished. We were hoping to make headway yesterday but found that we had a broken shaft and pulley on our silage chopper, so we had to stop, order parts and wait for them to arrive this morning. We replaced the broken parts and started chopping at noon, only to be rained out of the field again. We need to make 2 more bags of silage, but they will have to wait until Monday, when the fields will finally be dry enough to go back in with our heavy equipment.

So instead of finishing chopping, we will be taking the weekend off to go to a cousin's wedding near Rochester MN. We are super excited to see family that we haven't seen in months! We are also excited to sleep in...since we will be spending the night, and we have some great friends hired to milk while we are away. We only hope that everything goes well for those whom we leave behind with our cows....I had a speech with the girls to make sure that they don't cause any trouble for us =) See ya on Monday!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Rain delay...

Darn rain shower...poured .3 of an inch on us tonight, just as we were starting to really get going on chopping for the day. We have 3.75 bags of sialge done and we need a total of 8 bags of silage....so we have a LOT of work to do in a short period of time. We need to make 2 bags of silage each day for the next 2 days so we can go to a wedding this weekend. God willing we will get it done...so we pray.....the corn is too wet to chop so we must wait for it to dry. Hopefully tomorrow we can start early to make up for this RAIN DELAY.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Celebrations!

As you venture off to your Labor Day celebrations tomorrow, we at Orange Patch Dairy will begin the process we know and love as "Corn Silage Season". Yes, it is time, the corn is dried down enough to be chopped, hauled home, and packed into large 250 foot plastic bags. These bags will store enough feed for all of our cows, heifers, and calves for the coming year. Corn silage is the primary feed in our cow rations, as it makes up about 35% of the total diet (50 pounds per cow each day). We will be making about 2200-2400 ton of corn silage this year, and we hope to finish it by the weekend (5 days start to finish). Therefore I might not be blogging in the coming days but I hope to be gathering some great pictures and video from the farm to show and tell about silage season. But I do have some thoughts on Labor Day I wanted to share....

Dairy farming is a hard labor filled job, but ask any dairy farmer and they would tell you how much they love their jobs. It's a dairy farmer's passion and drive for what they do that helps them through tough years like this year. It is their love of their job, cows, and nature that helps to get them through each day and forces them to wake up each morning only to repeat it over again. Right now we aren't getting paid to milk cows, but in fact we are paying an admission fee to go to work each day. How would you feel if your boss was standing at the door each morning collecting a fee to enter and do your job? It wouldn't feel too good, but for a dairy farmer, there are so many other "gifts" of the job to make it worth while. I wake up each morning looking forward to the next baby calf, the next gain in milk production, a pretty sunrise, fresh cut hay, the next new surprise. It's honestly fun to know that even if the the daily tasks are the same, the days are still filled with a variety of surprises, some better than others. My father, who also dairy farms, often stated "Well I am at least doing this for exercise"...referencing milking cows during low milk prices. I have been doing dairy farming for exercise for a few months now, but I am still not complaining. So as you enjoy your Labor Day, honoring that we all have the ability to work, please think about the people responsible for the food on your table....the farmers, the employees, the processors....they all work hard to ensure that you have safe, wholesome foods for you and your families. It a labor of love....so please make sure that we are not working in vain and enjoy all the great dairy products, meats, vegetables and fruits that you can.

Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Case of the Moldy Hay

As mentioned in some earlier posts we struggled with some issues with sick cows and heifers. We had some cows ill with toxic mastitis and we had a heifer die tragically from a hemorrhage in her intestines all within the same week. As dairy farmers often have to work as investigators, searching to solve a problem for the good of our animals. We have had experiences such as this over the last few years and we have learned from each of these experiences. With the pack barn that we run we allow the cows to sleep on bedding mixed with manure solids-it's clean dry and comfortable, better than the pasture-think Tempurpedic mattresses. As the manure break downs bacteria move in. As long as the cows are healthy and their immune systems are running at full force, the bacteria is harmless....BUT if the cows are under ANY stress these bacteria can now become harmful.

And that's where the investigation starts. Jonathan and I knew immediately that these 3 sick cows meant that something was wrong, and we knew that the only thing that we changed in the past week was the new alfalfa hay that we purchased to feed the cows and heifers. We remembered that in the past we had hay that had mold in it and made the cows sick, very sick, and we caught the mold when it was too late. I am glad to report that we learned from our previous mistakes and immediately stopped feeding that purchased hay to the cows and found some different hay from a neighbor to feed. Almost immediately the cows that were sick got better and the Somatic Cell Count that was rising, came down. These signs told us that it was in fact the hay, so we had it tested for mold. Our local feed representative came out to the farm and pulled cores from the bales and sent them to a lab for testing. After culturing the hay samples for mold we received the results that we expected....the hay was positive for mold, a mold that is very dangerous for cows....Aspergillus. Aspergillus is known to produce a mycotoxin that hinders immune systems, causes internal hemorrhaging, and other bad things.

So you ask yourself, how did the hay get moldy? Well, it's quite easy, alfalfa is cut, dried and baled, but this pile of hay was cut and not allowed to dry to a low enough moisture level to be baled. It was baled, which compressed the wet alfalfa next to each other and allowed an environment perfect for mold to grow. The mold is very small, almost unseen to the human eye, but we did notice it's signature white fuzz on a couple bales after the fact. Thankfully we removed the hay from the cows diets before it could make more of them sick. The importance of HIGH QUALITY feed for cows cannot be stressed enough. The better quality the feed for cows, the better the cows' overall health and production. We work tirelessly to make high quality haylage and corn silage for our cows at Orange Patch Dairy, and we try to buy clean dry hay. The hay grower that we purchased this hay from was not aware that his hay was moldy-and frankly it did look very green and dry, inside the bales it was a different story. After calling our grower, he will move the hay back home to be destroyed and he will refund us the money that we paid.

As a result the cows at Orange Patch Dairy are doing MUCH better, happy healthy, and producing!!!! Yet another example of how dairy farmers continue to look out for the best for their cows....Happy cows are producing cows!

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's a girl!!!

I am proud to report that the baby calf that I was patiently waiting for last night was born successfully this morning at 7:13 am....and it's a heifer (girl). Unfortunately I was too tired this morning to make it to milking early to check on our cow 301. Fortunately though, my father in law was up and willing to help 301 out. She was trying to deliver a breached baby calf. Much like a human mother giving birth to a breached baby....my father in law had to manually maneuver the calf into the right position. Once in the right position it was time to help 301 out. My father in law and brother in law Chris worked quickly to hook up the OB chains to the rear feet that were coming out. Typically a calf would be coming out front feet and head first but this calf was backwards, and needed help if it was going to survive. If a calf comes rear feet first the risk of it not breathing is great...as the umbilical cord breaks in the birth canal cutting off oxygen to the calf until the head passes though-speed is of the essence at this point. Once the OB chain was hooked on, a series of gentle pulls helped 301's contractions get the little heifer out. Hence arrived 301's calf Judson! Judson is doing well and we greatly thank Steve and Chris for coming to 301's aid!!! It's awesome to have people around the farm all of the time that can catch animals in trouble and help them ASAP!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mother in waiting...

As I am typing this right now, I have enjoyed about 1.5 hours of being inside our home. Today we had 4 calves born from 3 cows and as of right now I am waiting for the delivery of calf number 5 for the day. Mother cow was starting to calve at about 11:30pm tonight. As a result I am staying up to head out and check on her. I am closely monitoring her progress to make sure that she has a safe and successful delivery for both mother and calf. This particular cow was given medication yesterday which has worked to help induce her labor and delivery. Much like in humans, if a cow goes too far her due date the risks of a difficult delivery steadily increase. This cow is 12 days past her due date, which isn't too uncommon with the sire of her calf, but we would rather be safe than sorry. She was given medication yesterday morning, with the hopes that she would have calved this morning, but she decided that she is waiting until tomorrow morning instead...so I wait, hoping for an easy care free delivery from a great cow! Out I go to see how she's doing.....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Waiting for paint to dry...

Well maybe we aren't waiting for paint to dry, but it's pretty darn close! That corn that we thought was dry enough to chop this week is actually not dry enough...too wet instead. Corn silage is put into bags at our farm, and the corn has to be dry enough to get the bagger machine to push the silage into the bag. A normal corn plant is about 75% moisture, but once it reaches maturity the plant starts to lose moisture and dry down. The ideal moisture for chopping into the bagger is 68% moisture, maximum. We chop corn for a range of 65-68%. Last night's samples tested out at 69% moisture. Then we re sampled the corn today only to find out that one of the fields is at about 72% moisture. NOW....we have to wait for the corn to dry down. We can't start until the wettest field is at the right moisture. Usually corn dries down at 0.5% each day in warm weather, but since we are having the 7th coolest summer ever this year it may take longer. As of right now we are thinking that we might not start chopping until Monday, but that means we can enjoy the Labor Day weekend....a bachelor party, hag and stag party, and a family picnic----all things I would rather do than chop....save that for the weekdays ;)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Corn Silage coming fast!!!!

I thought I would have time on Sunday to post BUT we are looking at chopping corn silage very soon!!!! As a result we have a LOT of prep work to do. This weekend we worked on hooking up the chopper, greasing, lubing, airing up tires, etc. We need to make 8 silage bags of corn, each 250ft. long, holding about 375 ton or 750,000 pounds of silage. That silage will feed about 200 cows for an entire year at our farm. Making it correctly is critical for us to make good milk for the coming year. So if I am missing I am sorry I am busy working on silage, and I will have a full report once we complete the job, hopefully in about 1 week.