Babies, It’s Cold Outside.

It’s no news to anyone, it is COLD. Farmers can’t just take a snow day and sleep in when its -15 degrees and blowing snow (as amazing as that sounds.)  I am definitely guilty of complaining when I get woken up at 5 and it’s freezing outside.  Not to mention it takes me 20 minutes to put on all of my layers of warm clothes so I usually end up making us late.

But enough of all that complaining – there is work to be done!

Our babies need extra care in this cold weather and we will do whatever it takes to keep them warm and happy.

When the temperature drops below 40 degrees, we put jackets on every calf under 4 weeks of age.  Needless to say, they have been wearing these for a while – ADORABLE.

My Dairy Man had the great idea of feeding the calves 3 times a day instead of 2.  The babies are normally given 3 quarts of milk at 5:30 AM and 4:15 PM.  Now they are getting an extra 3 quart bottle at 11:30 AM.  A calf’s thermal neutral zone is between 35-55 degrees approximately. This means that any time under 55 degrees, their body has to make extra effort to stay warm and under 35 degrees, their body is cold-stressed.  It can take almost 2.5 times more energy to stay warm when it is below zero degrees.  This extra 3 quarts of milk at mid-day makes sure that our calves energy requirements are met.

When it’s this cold, I am always sure to give them plenty of fresh bedding for them to nestle into.  This helps keep them nice and toasty!

During the night we had a baby heifer born.  Her mom did not dry her off or attempt to keep her warm, so my husband and I took on that job. If you want to learn why we separate babies from their moms, read my previous post titled, “Thriving Dairy Farms Practice Excellent Welfare.”

We dried the baby off with towels and I brought my hair dryer to the farm. I got her all warm and dry and put a jacket on her.  If you want to learn how we take care of our newborns, read my previous post titled, “Newborn Babies.”

And there is always time for cuddles on this farm. 🙂

Hubs and Patsy

Hubs and Patsy

Hubs and Violet

Hubs and Violet

We are doing whatever we can to keep our ladies happy this winter.  It takes more time and effort, but is always worth it.

Farm On!

-J

7 Ways Marrying a Farmer Will Make You a Better Person

So many joys of being a farmer’s wife. So many life lessons too. I wouldn’t trade this wonderful life for the world, and here some ways I am better because of marrying my farmer:

Patience. There have been times when my dairy man calls and says to expect him home for breakfast at 9am.  Shortly after, around 9:30, I will get another phone call (in a sweet voice) saying, “Umm, remember how I said 9? Yeah, better make that 10:30.” I replied, “What were you doing?” He replied with the picture below and said:

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“Sitting in the rafters watching cow behavior!”

And then I roll my eyes, crack a smile and patiently wait for him to come home.

Slow to Anger. Snowballing off of the previous, the farmer’s wife must learn not to be angry about when her farmer finally comes home, sometimes late. Farmers are home at odd hours of the day, so when they are home, cherish the moment! Yes, it is frustrating, but don’t ruin the short time that he is home by being angry.

*Also, knowing how to keep meals warm is must.

*And packing up the meal and taking it out to the field when there is not time for my farmer to come home and eat.

My specialty: Meals to the field.

My specialty: Meals to the field.

Humility. Being a farmer’s wife is hardly ever glamorous.  Most of my days are spent washing his manure-stained chore clothes and reminding him to wash his manure-coated arms when he arrives at home. There are many activities that my husband has asked me to do or requested my help with that have greatly humbled me.  Whenever he asks me kindly to help him with something, I always end up holding something slippery, slimy or stinky.  I remember the first time my dairy man asked me to take a calf’s  temperature. I looked at him perplexed.  I asked, “How am I supposed to hold the thermometer under its tongue?” He replied, “You don’t take temperatures in the mouth, dear.”

Hard Work. Being a farmer’s daughter is nothing compared to being a farmer’s wife. There are many more responsibilities.  Cleaning, cooking, gardening, canning, laundry, errand running, feeding calves and misc chores to name a few. Add trying to finish a bachelor’s degree into the mix and I’m already needing a nap.

Discipline. Last year I was a college student.  This meant rolling out of bed at 9:45 and rushing to my 10 am class.  There were also many late nights and still plenty of sleep.  I was able to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. That was a big change for me as calves need to be fed twice a day at the same time, every day. Now, whenever I tell someone I overslept, it means I woke up at 6 instead of 5.

Power Tools. When my farmer says that he needs a tool in the barn, I am still learning how to interpret what he means. When he says “Go get me that one tool that I use for this, it’s the shiny, round, sharp, circular thingy next to the balling gun and tag remover but not the other shiny round tool, get the one I used last time”; I am starting to know what this means. I’m still learning a lot about all of these specific tools and their functions but I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I was as a single lady.  Also, hardware stores.  I’m getting very familiar with our town’s hardware store and know where to find a few things!

Geography: There are many times where my husband needs me to pick him up or needs a delivery in a certain field left of the green sign, north of the intersection, around the curve, cross the culvert, past the waterway, west of the hay field and up the hill.  Getting lost is a frequent occurence.

I still have much to learn and much to be humbled by and I’m excited for every new experience!

 

-J

All That Jazz

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Jazzy on a walk

Meet Jasmine the Jersey! (Also referred to as “Jazzy.”) This picture was taken about 8 weeks ago when the grass was still green and corn was still in the field. Dan and I have taken her on a few walks just for fun. I bet you are wondering how we have a Jersey calf on our Holstein dairy farm. I can explain!

This is Jasmine’s mama:

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Just hanging out and getting milked

I snapped this picture in the parlor this morning while she was getting milked.  She’s so pretty! Jasmine’s mom was having trouble getting pregnant so my husband decided to breed her to a Jersey bull. He did this because Jersey bulls are more fertile than Holstein bulls.  Sure enough, it worked!  The calf is called a “Ho-Jo” because it is a mix of the two breeds. Jazzy’s mom was actually our top producing cow in the month of October! Jazzy’s mama is 5 years and 9 months old and has given us 4 calves including Jasmine.  She peaked at 126 pounds of milk per day in October. She has given us 84,000 pounds of milk since she has joined the milking herd. To attain a high level of milk production, no hormones, shots or additives are given to the cows. We simply keep them comfortable, healthy and fed a well balanced diet.  They take care of the rest!

And as a result we have a beautiful little Ho-Jo.

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Relaxing in her stall

Jazzy grew up way too fast and is already weaned.  Right now she is 2 months old.  When she is 15 months old or 52″ tall, whichever comes first, she will be bred and have a calf by her 2nd birthday and will then enter the milking herd!

Newborn Babies

Who doesn’t love babies? Baby animals, baby humans…if it is tiny, I’m going to squeel and need to cuddle with it. With that being said, baby calves are one of my favorite things!

Just look at this little sweetie!

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This little girl’s name is Shadow.  This picture was taken a few minutes after she was born. Isn’t it amazing that calves can stand up and walk almost immediately after being born?

There are a few things that we do to manage our newborns.  After their arrival, they will be fed a gallon of colostrum.  Colostrum is the milk that the mother cow gives after the baby is born.  The mom is milked and then we feed the colostrum by hand to the baby by allowing the calf to nurse from a bag of pasteurized colostrum. If the calf is unable to nurse for an unknown reason, we will use an esophogeal tube feeder to administer the colostrum directly into the calfs’ stomach.  Colostrum has a lot of extra goodies than regular milk.  It has a higher fat content, more antibodies, higher levels of immunoglobulins, and the babies need the extra calories to get them going!

Here is what feeding colostrum is like:

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This little girl’s name is Black Beauty.  After they are fed, they are given an oral vaccine called BarGuard.  They get a shot of Multimin (vitamins) and they get their naval dipped with an iodine solution.  We will clean out a stall for them and give them fresh bedding for their new home.

During their first week of life they will drink 2 quarts of milk twice daily.  When they reach 1 week of age, they will receive 3 quarts of milk twice daily. When the temperature drops below 30 degrees constantly, we will give them 4 quarts of milk per feeding after a week of age.  All of our heifers receive an intranasal vaccine called Inforce at one week of age which helps build immunity to different respiratory diseases.

There you have it! That is how we take care of our precious babies on the farm.

-J

An Upset Tummy, Literally.

This morning we had a cow with a stomach ache.  This can be noticed by decreased milk production and cold ears. This directs my husband to listen to her tummy with a stethoscope. He listens to her left rib cage and taps it firmly. He then listens for what sounds like a “ping.”  From doing this, my Dairy Man knows that she most likely has a DA (Displaced Abomasum).  There are four compartments to a cow’s stomach, the abomasum is the last one.

We do not know what exactly causes a DA.  The best preventative method is a well-mixed ration, but this will not prevent every cow from a DA. The easiest method to fix this is to have a visit from the Vet.  A surgery is performed in order to move the displaced abomasum back into it’s correct spot inside the cow.

Here is a pic!

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Not the prettiest sight, is it? However, this should fix our cow’s upset stomach.  She will be able to get milked tonight, but her milk will be discarded due to the antibiotics she was given during the surgery. She was given a lot of pain medication around the surgery site and will be fully recovered in about a week.

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What a sweetie!

On an unrelated note, this is what I brought my Dairy Man for a mid morning snack:

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He had been working since 5 AM and wasn’t going to be home until dinner so I knew he needed it. 🙂

-J

When Loving Cows Is Hard

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into when I married my Dairy Man.  Of course I knew I would love it, but I have found that I love some aspects of being his wife more than others.

I absolutely LOVE raising calves. I mean I would do anything for these little babies.  I think about them when I’m not with them, I talk about them all the time, and I can’t wait to go down to the farm and spend more time with them.  I am crazy about those little critters, but one especially.

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Leonard (Lenny for short, and referred to me as “Lenny Benny Baby”), has stolen my heart from day one. He was born premature and couldn’t stand up for about a week.  I would climb in his stall with him and hand feed him his bottle which led to an extreme attachment. He is so sweet and charming and I love spending time with him.  Any spare moment during chores is spent giving hugs and scratches to my beloved Lenny.

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The only bad thing about this situation is that Lenny is a boy. Dairy farmers make money from milk production and only girls produce milk. My Dairy Man only has enough room on the farm for girls (heifers), as milk production is their main enterprise. As a result, Lenny will leave the farm in about a week to be sold. He will get sold to a farm where raising boys (steers) for beef is their enterprise.  I knew this day would come and I understand why we can’t keep him, but why did he have to grow up so fast?

I know he will have a great life with another farmer, but I sure will miss him!

-J