Thursday, January 21, 2010

Farming While Sick

For the past couple of weeks I have been trying to farm and fight off a cold/strep throat thing. I have found that those two things just don't work out very well! Regardless of how I feel though there are still plenty of things that need to get done and they all involve a bit of physical labor. So, I have just taken a bit more time to feed the livestock, water everyone, split wood, and take care of all the other little chores that pop up throughout the week.

Going slow has been a blessing the past couple of days though because of all the ice on the ground. I haven't broken out my ice creepers yet, but I've been thinking that it might be a good idea to fit some on the pigs because they seem to be having the most difficult time getting around on the ice. But, they sure are fun to watch as the slowly slip around!

It is supposed to warm up just a little bit over the next few days, so hopefully we will lose the ice. Plus, I went to the doctor this morning. I'm hoping that the melting snow/ice and me getting well coincide so that things can get popping on the farm again!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ice Farm

Sometimes the weather just doesn't exactly cooperate with us. And, it seems that this winter is one of those times. I don't think I should be complaining because summer wasn't too awful on us, especially with the cool temperatures and all the fence building and shed building we had to do. So, I just think I won't complain ... as much as is possible!

All in all the farm survived this little storm fairly well. We still have electricity, the water hydrant wasn't frozen solid, all the animals are still able to get their feed (although the pigs may be wanting some ice creepers), and I was even able to get into the vehicles with just a little bit of work. On the down side though I was supposed to take a pig to the locker today (we were trying out a new locker), but with all the ice on the truck and on the roads I wasn't able to make it. I guess this pig will get to live with us a little longer!

One of the nice things about an ice storm (if it doesn't cause too many problems) is the beautiful images that it leaves behind. The picture on the left here is of our perimeter fence. I'm not completely sure that it would be very shocking to the touch right now. The trees are also very beautiful, but I can never get a picture that does justice to the beauty of the ice covering the branches. I think the natural beauty of the land is one of the biggest benefits of life in the country ... it truly is a blessing to behold.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Persalized Plaque Giveaway!

Head on over to my wife's blog for a chance to win one of these 2 plaques to personalize with your family name, farm name, house numbers, or even a favorite phrase.

Be sure to check out my new post below too.

The Winter Shed

Sometime back (before the winter set in) I wrote about finishing the lean-to portion of our new shed and how it was going to be used for winter feeding and deep bedding. Like everything else this winter things have not gone exactly as planned in the new deep bedding lean-to, but I am learning at least. There were also a couple of questions about why I was using this shed for winter feeding and why I was putting the cattle in a "winter lot".

I was hoping to have a picture of the feeding/loafing area for you today, but per usual this winter things popped up ... today those things were starters going out ... in both of our vehicles!!! I can't tell you how that is possible, but I just know that it is true. So, for now I'll just throw out some of my thoughts and add a picture later.

First of all one of the main reasons for building the hay shed/deep bedding area/loafing shed is ease. With the hay in one side of shed and the cattle in the other side winter feeding is very simple. I just throw some bales into the feed bunk, pull off the twine, and I'm done. But, the deep bedding pack will also provide some warmth and a dry place for the cattle to go in Iowa's cold winters (it has be below zero a lot this year and it has even rained a lot).

As for the "winter lot", that is something that just works for the weather in our part of the country. From the time they get off of pasture until they get back on the pasture it can be muddy and yucky and if I left them out on the pastures I think they could do some damage in the mud and freezing temperatures. So, this winter lot is something of a sacrificial area so that our pastures can stay strong and not have a lot of hooves tearing it up when it is muddy.

That is the idea behind it all, but things aren't going exactly as planned this year. I am learning a lot and when spring and summer gets here there will be plenty that I will have to change. Our feeding bunk is a work in progress and I believe I need more feeding area for our cattle so they don't get too pushy. Also, finding bedding material this year has been beyond difficult and I haven't been able to create as much "deep bedding" as I would like.

Live and learn I guess ... live and learn ...

Friday, January 08, 2010

This is What it Looks Like...

Winter is supposed to be the season where farmers slow down a little, catch up on things in the house, and prepare for the coming year. Well ... last winter and this winter seem just as crazy as any other time of year, and it is always more difficult to do chores in the cold and snow (both of which we have had in excess this year). Let me just say it has been a tough winter and blogging unfortunately was the first thing to get cut when things got tough and busy ... let's just leave it at that.

It seems like the snow and cold just keep coming here and as I type this we are preparing for double-digits below zero. Farm life has become a cycle of digging out of a storm or cold temperatures and preparing for the next. But, thanks to friends and neighbors (along with a working saw) we have been able to keep the house warm and feed coming to the animals. Not everything has worked out very easily though and I have often wondered what in the world I was doing.

Through all of it I am trying to learn and keep my head up. I'm keeping track of the things that work (very few it seems like) and the things that don't work (there are quite a few of these). If I'm worth anything as a farmer I will be able to take these difficult lessons and build on them for the next winter and years to come. Some of the problems have stemmed from not being able to complete a project that I wanted to do before winter (because of money or time), and some of the problems have just come out of no where and taught me a lesson or ten!

I will try to spend some time over the next week catching up on what is going on and answering some of the questions that have come up in my "blogging absence". I hope and pray you are surviving and thriving this winter wherever you are ... make sure to throw on an extra warm comfy blanket on these cold nights!!!

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