Monday, August 31, 2009

Calling the Cows...

One thing that I have really appreciated about the new perimeter fence is the ease of moving the cows to new grass. We are not yet to once a day rotations yet, but we are getting there as I figure out how much grass they need each day and how to handle them with the tall warm season grasses that we have right now. I'm trying to use the cows as part of my pasture renovation by getting them to eat down as much as I can before I come back in with the anthill buster and the brush hog (to get rid of all the bushes).

All that being said, one of my favorite things to do is call the cows to some new grass ... it always amazes me that they will come (even from the other side of the farm) and it surprises people when the see it. I can't say that I've done anything special to train my cows, so I just think it is in their genes (kind of joking there).

But, Saturday evening a they were in a far corner of a large open area and I wanted to get them into some fresh grass. I walked out into the field and started calling out, "Come on now cows!" Slowly but surely they started bawling out and starting to move towards me. I kept calling and walking towards the opening in the electric fence I wanted them to go to. Once the lead cows came over the hill and saw what was going on they took off running!

In a matter of minutes they were all in the new area and grazing away. I stood there for quite a while (with some friends) watching them fill their mouths with fresh grass and see the calves bound around and upset their mothers by walking under the fence to the good stuff (there is clover in the areas where I have mowed). I'm not saying that I know why it works to call them like I do ... I'm just saying it works and it is enjoyable!

(I'll try and get a picture up this afternoon or evening)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

1 in 6 Iowans...

I realize that from time to time it may seem like I'm a little hard on conventional agriculture here in Iowa and around the country. Really, I just am passionate about what we are trying to do and what others are already doing that is outside of the "2009 agricultural box" that it can come across like that (and sometimes I'm just plain hard on something). But, the other day I came across this report from the Iowa Farm Bureau that says 1 in 6 Iowans have jobs either directly or indirectly related to agriculture. I thought that was a good thing for my state...

I'm not sure what the percentage was 50 years ago, but 1 in 6 isn't too bad in an age where the number of farmers is shrinking, but the size of farms is rising. Our state has found ways to capitalize not only on our great soil and climate from growing corn, but also on our ability to come up with different ways to keep the economy rolling within the agricultural world we have here. There are some very smart people coming up with some pretty crazy things here in Iowa that effect farming all around the world.

Just think how many more jobs agricultural could provide in Iowa if we support for locally raised food continued to grow at the rapid pace that it is growing now ... We'd have to add more farmers! Just a little food for thought...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Where Have I Been...

For about a month I have been mostly gone when it comes to the blogging world, in fact I'm not sure if there will be anyone left out there to read this. But, I am back ... well, at least I think I'm back and I'm going to try to be back. I guess after 600 plus posts here and over 100 posts on the Epi-Log I kind of caught a bit of the writers block bug and slowly fizzled out. First I started posting later in the day, then I started missing a few days, and then I just quit posting altogether. But, today ... maybe ... I'm back. At least I'm going to try to be back because I miss the interaction and the exchange of knowledge!

So, what has been going on? I don't really know where to begin because I'm not exactly sure where I left off, but I will share a few updates today and over the next few days.
  • As you know from previous posts (at least I think this has been covered), the perimeter fence is completely up now and working wonderfully. I still have to put up four 12 foot gates (two openings) on the outside by the woods, but other than that we are just using it and it is working great. Out on the line we get about 9.6 kV, which I think is pretty good (and I can say from first hand experience it provides quite a shock!). The next chore is to put up the fence around the house, it will run at half voltage and have a cut-off switch.
  • Last week five pigs took a trip to the locker. Loading was quite a chore, but I feel like I was a little more prepared this time even though it still took a while. One of these days I will build the perfect system, for now less than perfect will have to do. In other pork related news we now have two state certified freezers that we can sell meat out of. This allows us to sell by the package or by bundles of cuts. I'm looking forward to this because I know we have quite a few customers interested in 10-20 pounds instead of a half or a whole. The inspection process was pretty easy. We just had to pay the money, have them come out, show a label from the locker (we can put a "raised by" label on it), and put up a "No Smoking" sign by the freezer. If you are insterested in pork send us an e-mail and we will let you know what is available when it is available.
  • The shed ... ahh ... the shed. It needs steel on the sides, I haven't gotten that done yet...
  • Our new bull Sundance is adjusting well to the farm and being kind of loud! He is doing great, but we have him seperated from the herd still so he likes to call out and make his presence known to the ladies and the other boys in the herd. I find that he likes to talk the loudest at the times when I like to sleep the most. But, other than that we are still super glad that he is here and I absolutely love his temperment ... and he loves his treats!
  • Winter hay is still and ongoing issue for me, but I think we are starting to get this squared away. In fact I didn't mean that to be a play on words, but I think will will actually be feeding mostly small square bales this year (from our farm and my dad's). I think this will work out the best, because it will make it much easier to feed inside the shed with deep bedding for the animals. Now, I just need to line up some corn stalk bales for bedding (I have no idea how many I will need).
So, I'm back ... and ... that is just a taste of what has been going on while I have been away from the blog. As some of you may have figured out I haven't been getting back to all my e-mails either with all that has been going on, but I'm slowly making my way through those as well. Thanks again for all the insight and discussion all you readers have added! All that help has really come in handy as we begin to make some visible progress on the farm.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Follow Stoneyfield on Facebook

Becca has recently set up a Facebook page for our farm, Stoneyfield. You can check it out here or from the Facebook button on the right of the page. It contains links to things like our websites and features done on our farm. There will also be some photo galleries. If you become a fan of it (a Facebook term for the non-Facebookers) you will recieve updates about products for sale, any new features done about the farm (hopefully there will be another one or two sometime), and whatever else gets added to the page.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Vegetables of Our Labor

There are many things that I enjoy about farming and living on the farm, but one thing that is really fun are the times when we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Or in the case of the supper I had the other night it is the pork and vegetables of our labor! As you can see from the picture above we are starting to harvest some of our sweet corn and while we have it at meals there is also plenty to freeze for the winter. Along with the sweet corn my wife has also been canning green beans and we should have a good supply of each until next years garden is producing.

One thing that we have noticed though is that the sweet corn in the ground where the pigs lived is doing amazing. But, the tomatoes and other things in the area where they weren't isn't doing as well. It is obvious why this is happening, but I'm always amazed at how much some good nutrients can add to the garden. We will put the pigs in there for a little while in the fall again and hopefully begin building some good soil.

In the mean time we can eat plenty of corn and beans (and a few tomatoes) and of course enjoy some great pork along with the meal. Now, if only I could plant some grains on a small scale then we could have home grown bread as well...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Busting Anthills

A Ford 5000 ... a spring toothed harrow with sweeps ... and a drag harrow ... now we are in business busting anthills! Thanks to the help of (and shopping) of my uncle I am now able to bust up some anthills and try to get this pasture smoothed out a bit. And, I must say that this little rig is working great. Because of the size of some of the hills it will probably take a pass from each direction, but once it is all said and done I think we are going to do quite a number on the anthills on the farm.

The next step will be getting rid of all the brush and then over course deciding what to send into the grasses that are already there. On one hand I could just let it come back on it's own over time, but I think with a little investment we can get the pasture in shape a little more quickly and add in some cool season grasses to go along with the relatively thin stand of warm season grasses that are left in the fields.

I will admit that it is the brush clearing that will take the most amount of time though. For much of it I can attack it with my brush mower on the back of the tractor, but there are a few stands of locust trees that will need to be taken out with the chain saw because they are pretty thick and pretty plentiful. On top of that they are very thorny! Once we get that accomplished then we may drill in some seed.

I plan on talking with some farmers in the area for a good seed mixture to use, but I know for sure that I will be talking with the local grassfed beef farm that has hosted a couple PFI field days the past two years. It is nice to see things start to come together around the farm!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pork For Sale!

Once again, we have “Old Fashioned Pork” available, just like Grandpa and Grandma used to have. Our pigs are kept outside free of confinement houses and have been allowed to live the way pigs were designed to live - rooting up the ground, wallowing in the mud, and relaxing in the sun. This summer the hogs we have available are a Berkshire/Hereford cross, for sale by the whole and half.

Pricing is as follows:
  • Purchase of hog = $1.85 / pound hanging weight to be paid to Stoneyfield Farm
  • Processing of hog = $0.60 - $0.65 / pound hanging weight (their average for a typical order) to be paid to Milo Locker - an award winning, state inspected locker
The hanging weight of the hogs we have this summer should be somewhere around 175 lbs, give or take depending on the individual animal. The amount of meat you receive will reflect on the specific cuts you choose. The average order usually takes home around 70% of the hanging weight. For example, 70% of 175 lbs is 123 lbs.

We have a processing date reserved at the Milo locker, and the meat should be ready to be picked up the first week of September. Feel free to e-mail with questions or for more specific information on cut choices.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Meet Tama Sundance

Well, about 1,100 miles later we finally have our new bull, Tama Sundance, home safe and sound. Except for some storms on Tuesday morning our trip was fairly uneventful as far as things go when you are hauling a bull half way across the country. Sundance was a good passenger who didn't make any noise and drank plenty of water along the way. It was also a relief to see him walk right out of the trailer and have some grass, drink some clean water, and eat a little all within the first five minutes on the farm.

As you can see from the picture above he truly does look like a bull, which is something that we were really looking for. But, beyond looking like a bull we think he will add a lot to our herd. He has great feet and seems to pass that on to his progeny (good feet are an issue in the Dexter breed). Also, the folks we bought him from feel like he improved the udders of his offspring as well.

Another plus for him is that he is red and homozygous from the dun color. That was a nice addition for us because we have a growing number of dun cows and heifers in our herd and I just plain like that color. Also, the red is nice to have becasue we do have a red heifer now and I wouldn't mind adding more so that we can have a representation of all the colors (black, dun, red).

All in all I'm glad to have him here on Stoneyfield Farm. He seems like he is a gentle guy and I think will be a great fit for the farm. Right now he is haning out by himself and getting acclamated to the farm, but we can't wait to get him out with some of the herd.

Monday, August 03, 2009

"Why Don't He Write..."

Okay, today's title is a great line from a movie ... anyone know what movie it is from? But, the bigger question is where have I been. For quite awhile now I have been blogging six days a week. In fact I have even come up with posts to put up while I was gone on mission trips and other youth related things. But, for the past month or so blogging has been pretty tough because of all of our projects and farm work. I guess it finally caught up with me and now it has been almost a week since I have posted. But, I have a reason...

We have been on the road for the past few days taking in a wedding and heading all the way to Virginia to go bull shopping. I figured that since we were in the area (well, it was 9 hours from where the wedding was) we might as well go and pick up a nice Dexter bull. Our travels took us to Olde Towne Farm in Virginia and to Tama Sundance (the picture above is from the Olde Towne Farm website because I forgot my camera cord).

Sundance is a great looking bull that we think will add a lot to our herd in years to come and we are excited to see some calves! Hopefully now I can pick-up the blogging again, because there sure is a lot that I need to catch up on.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...