Friday, December 21, 2012

End of the World....Who has time for that?

 By now everyone should be aware that today was what was supposed to be the great apocalypse that the Mayans predicted.  While virtually everyone on facebook and in public has been caught up in this craze one group continues to remain unconcerned with the hype; our cows.


They have much more important (to them) things on their minds.  "Which sand bed do I feel like laying in today?", "When are they gonna scrape the feed lot so I can leave a fresh cow pie right after they clean up?", "Do I want to drink from this water tank or the one over there?", and most importantly "Are his hands gonna be cold next time I get milked?".

December has proven to be a busy month so far.  As of today we have welcomed 20 new calves.  Even after seeing hundreds of calves born it never gets old seeing them come to life just moments after they are born.  Unlike humans, calves are born ready to run.  Within 10-15 minutes a newborn calf will be standing up and trying to nurse from mom.  This new calf was less then 20 minutes old and looking for some lunch.

It is looking like we are going to leave 2012 with a bang.  The steady stream of calves doesn't look to slow down until after the first year.  Who knows maybe Santa will deliver a Christmas heifer calf this year.

Monday, September 17, 2012

PA All American Dairy Show

This week we are at the Pennsylvania All American Dairy Show in Harrisburg at the farm show complex.  In its 49th year the All-American is the worlds largest dairy show with over 2,400 of the best dairy cattle shown by nearly 1,000 of the best exhibitors on the nation.  Over the course of 6 days these animals will be shown in 23 different shows.The picture above shows the winners of each of their breed shows from the 2011 show.

This year we decided to take 3 animals to the show. From left to right is Salty Talk (summer yearling), Mayhem (fall yearling), and Midge ( 5 yr old).  It has been 12 years since be were last here.   A lot has changed since then but many of the same faces are still here that have been coming year after year.

We moved in on Saturday and will be here until Thursday morning.  Yesterday (Sunday) was the showmanship contest where youth ages 10-21 are judged on how well the animal leads for them and how well they show off their animal.  Over 400 youth participated in the contest.  Today is the youth show and kids and parents both are busy putting final touches on their animals to make them look their best before going into the ring.

The Guernseys will show on Wednesday but until then they are just hanging out, relaxing and laughing at the us trying to catch their cow pies before they hit the ground.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Going to the State Fair

Today we took 7 heifers to the Maryland state fair in Timmonium Md. Several hundred dairy cows came in today from across the state and surrounding states to show off their cows.

Tomorrow and Friday the show will take place in the Cow Palace. The animals will be broken into classes by breed and age and judged for comformation, how well they are built. The winners of each class will come back and compete for Supreme Champion, or king of the hill in cow world. 

The fair is not only a chance for us to show our animals off and see how they compare to everyone elses, but it is also an opertunity to catch up with old friends that we only see once or twice a year.  It is also a great time to interact with the public. For many of the people that walk through the barn it is the only time they have seen a real cow in person. It makes for a great question and answer session. 

If you happen to visit the Maryland State Fair this year come visit us and our brown cows. We are in the far corner of the cow palace right behind the Md Farm Bureau Dairy Bar. What could be better than finding your favorite dairt cow to get your picture with then go around thr corner and get an ice cream cone?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Working on the 4th of July?

Most years while everyone is busy celebrating the 4th of July, sitting back and relaxing with family and friends in honor of the men and women who fought to make and keep America "home of the free", we are out in the fields trying to get the wheat harvest done.  We tease around the farm guessing what field we will be in on the 4th and if it will be a good fire work watching perch. 

Some people think we are crazy, but we like it.  Once it gets dark and people start shooting fireworks off, we usually call it a night and look for the highest place to sit, often times atop a loaded trailer or stack of straw.  When you get in a big field on top of a hill you can see fire works around you and the most pressing concern on your mind is "which direction should I sit to get the best view?".

Everything has seemed to be early this year from planting corn, to first cutting of hay, planting soybeans and the ripening of small grains.  As a result of the earlier than normal season paired with having the new hay shed and buying a 2nd automatic stack wagon we were able to get the straw crop up in record time.

Here we are picking up the last load of straw.  This bale wagon came from out West where the owner had three identical machines that he named after the 3 Stooges; Larry, Curry, and Moe.  This machine is "Moe" and will pick up 160 bales at a time that can be taken back to the farm and dumped in a nice neat stack, all from the comfort of the cab.

Thanks to hard work from all of the crew over the last couple weeks we got all but caught up with baling hay and straw and were able to sit back and relax with everyone else for the 4th of July.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June is dairy Month

As you may or may not know June is officially dairy month.  National Dairy month was created to remind people the value milk and other dairy products have.  You may be seeing more grocery stores and other retailers running more ads than normal to steer you toward the dairy isle. Don't be bashful milk is great for you at all ages.  Here are some of the reasons why you should trade that soda at dinner for a tall cold glass of natures most perfect food:

  • Obesity - Lowfat dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese, may help control body fat, according to several studies.
  • Women who consumed the most calcium and ate at least 3 servings of dairy foods per day were 80% less likely to be obese than those with the lowest intake.
  • A lowfat diet providing 3 servings of lowfat dairy products and 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, significantly lowers blood pressure as much as some medications, especially when combined with a low sodium intake.
  • The results of a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine show calcium may help reduce the risk of colon tumors.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Life is good...if you are a cow

As dairy producers our job is to provide a safe wholesome product to the consumer while being environmentally sustainable and responsibly treat our animals.  We take great pride in making sure our cows are taken care of properly.  They each have individual sand beds to lay in, fresh feed and water available around the clock and have the veterinarian stop in every two weeks to monitor reproductive status and look at anyone who may be feeling under the weather.

Now that the summer heat has started kicking in we have fans and sprinklers for the cows to help stay cool.  They have it better then most people. While we are out working in the hot heat they get to lounge around, getting cool water sprayed on them and a fan blowing the heat away.

In an attempt to better educate the public and create confidence in the dairy industry, the industry has developed the National Dairy Farm (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) Program.  It was developed to demonstrate and verify that U.S. milk producers are committed to providing the highest standards of animal care and quality assurance.  Other food areas have check off programs; like Beef Check off , Pork Check off.  As an industry we decided it would be a good thing to take a proactive approach and develop our own simmiliar program.

The program is set up to have a trained evaluator come into a farm and evaluate animal handling and housing and give the producer recommendations to improve their farm.  It include everything from properly handling baby calves, working with a veterinarian on a regular basis, training employees, and proper record keeping to ensure food safety.

Land O Lakes, our milk cooperative sent a representative to the farm yesterday to go through this evaluation with us yesterday.  It started with a series of question on how we operate and then he walked through and looked at all the animals.  We are proud to say that the evaluation went quite well and he was very pleased with our efforts in taking the best care of our animals possible.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thankful for the rain

I think almost everyone welcomed the rain that we got over the weekend.  This is one of the driest spring I can remember and was starting to get concerned about potential of a drought before we even got any crops in the ground.  We seeded about 50 acres of hay almost a month ago that still hasn't come up yet because there simply wasn't enough moisture for the seeds to germinate.  Fortunately we had almost 2.5" of rain that came down nice and easy and soaked into the thirsty soil. 

 It could not have come at a better time.  We are planing on starting to plant corn next week.  The rain will provide much needed moisture to get the corn to germinate and get off to a hardy start.  It also gave the hay that  we mowed over Easter a healthy drink.  You could see how much it grew over night after it rained.  We also just finished the hay shed last week and were able to move most of our equipment inside out of the weather.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Hay

The unseasonably warm weather has pushed thing ahead 2 to 3 weeks ahead of schedule.  Most years we chop hay for the cows the last week in April and won't start making dry hay until the middle of May.  When we chop the hay we bring in a machine that chops the hay up like a supper sized food processor you would use in you kitchen.  The picture below shows us chopping directly into dump trucks that will haul the silage back to the trench.

 We then store it in a trench and cover it with plastic so it can go through anaerobic fermentation that keeps it from spoiling. The picture below shows use pushing the silage from the truck into the trench and packing it down to get all the air out to keep it from spoiling.
When we are done we put a big piece of plastic over to seal it up and weigh it down with old tires to make sure the plastic stays on tight.  3-6 Months later we will start feeding the transformed silage to the cows.  By turning hay and corn into silage we are able to store them much longer then if we made dry hay.  Think of it like turning cucumbers into pickles.  Another plus the cows love the way it tastes.

Monday, April 2, 2012

What have you heard about " Pink Slim"?

Since there has been so much hype in the media over pink slime I thought it would be a good time to talk about it on here.  Sounds pretty disgusting doesn't it?   With a name like pink slime, visions of half rotten mystery meat stuck to a plastic wrapper that has been hiding  in the back of your refrigerator for weeks comes to mind.

Pink slime actually is not pink or a slime.  It is the nickname that has been given to lean finely textured beef (LFTB). During the processing of beef, fat trimmings are collected and remaining meat that otherwise would have gone to waste is mechanically separated.  By doing so more lean is able to be harvested that otherwise would not be economical to recover if done by hand. After being separated it (LFTB) is treated with  ammonium hydroxide gas or citric acid to kill E. coli, salmonella, and other bacteria that could potentially be present.  After going through the whole process LFTB is just as safe if not safer than any other cut of meat you would pick up at the grocery store.

Lean finely textured beef or Pink Slime as known in the media is found through out the food chain.  It is approved through the FDA who governs the all food  and drugs that are sold in the United States.  It is found in many low cost beef products such as filler for hamburger, ground beef, chicken nuggets as well some other products.
Nebraska Farm Bureau president, Steve Nelson responded on Thursday to the USDA's decision to disclose to public schools what products have "pink slime" in them.  Nelson feels the USDA has ignored the science behind the product.  He stresses that the product is a safe wholesome product with no health implications.  

Keep in mind that you can't believe everything you hear in the news (or on Facebook).  We all know that the media has been known to stretch truth in order to sell a story. So before you jump on the bandwagon with the next big media story take few minutes and do some of your own research so that you understand the big picture and not just one side of the story so that you can make an informed decision for yourself.