Typically, the bulls get turned out with the cows on the 4th of July. For the bulls, it's celebration day. This year we're thinking of holding them back for a couple extra weeks to make sure we calve when the grass is growing again. Last winter was too harsh. Spring came so late that some calves were born with snow covering the ground. We'll have two angry bulls, but the cows will appreciate calving later in the spring when the grass is abundant.
The younger bull will run with the heifers, the older one with the cows. Using this gestation table for cattle breeding we can schedule delivery with the forage cycle of our pasture. If the bulls service date is July 4, then the calving date is April 12. Heifers sometimes deliver up to ten days early, cows up to ten days late. Our target date for 2015 is May 1. The bulls will have to wait until July 23, Sorry, bulls!
Several years ago friends from our homeschool group took a cross-country trip to visit family in California. Marie set out with her two kids, Marcie (seven years old) and Bobby (ten years old). Her husband would join them a couple of weeks later. As they got into Kansas severe storms surrounded them. Tuning the radio to an AM station they heard the static and knew they were in the thick of it. The National Weather Service was broadcasting the path and locations of multiple storm cells. Marie could see some rotation of the clouds in the distance. She pulled to the side of the road and gave each of her kids a task; Marcie would listen to the radio and call out town names, along with the direction and speed of the storm. Bobby's task was to find the area on the map and calculated the route they'd take to avoid the most severe weather. The two worked as a team timing storms.
Marie had complete confidence in her kids, they worked well together. In some areas Bobby would have his mom pull over and wait while Marcie watched the clock, timing their move to the next safe area. On Marcie's and Bobby's instruction Marie would either move ahead or wait for the storm to pass. At one point they saw a tornado crossing the highway some distance behind them. The three hopscotched, waiting and moving, according to the weather service's alerts and the teamwork of Bobby and Marcie. Rolling into a small town they saw buildings destroyed with a large debris field expanding for several blocks. Had it not been for the kids mapping and timing skills they would have been in the direct path of this tornado. Marie was thankful that she spent time teaching mapping skills, it paid off.
The ignorant man marvels at the exceptional; the wise man marvels at the common; the greatest wonder of all is the regularity of nature. - G.D. Boardman
On Monday night Keith was in central Iowa for a meeting. On his way home severe storms surrounded him. He listened to the radio and I watched the weather broadcast provided by KCRG TV. They tracked the storm's speed, timing, along with the trajectory. I called Keith, we figured out when he should move or stop to avoid the most severe storm cells.
He'd pull over for a few minutes, then move ahead to a safer area. Some of the storms closest to home were reported to have some rotation. We timed his trip perfectly, he avoided downed trees, hail, and straight line winds. I was thinking of Marie, Marcie, and Bobby and thankful they shared their story with us. I was also grateful to the weather staff at KCRG TV.
Good morning, piglets! The first of our sows farrowed Sunday morning. 10 healthy piglets were enjoying breakfast when I went to the barn. They'll stay inside for 8 - 10 days until they're big and mobile enough that eagles won't prey on them.
Our goal is to raise healthy hogs. We've been concerned about PEDV virus. The confinement hog operations in the area spread manure on the fields and there's always manure on the roads. We've been careful about washing the truck's tires and not allowing visitors for a few weeks to make sure there isn't any contamination brought to the farm. The experts say that PEDV is deadlier in the cold months, but we're not taking any chances. Also, we don't use a feed mix with blood plasma products, just grain and fresh pasture for our pigs. There's a possible link between feeding blood plasma and PEDV. Wasn't anything learned from Mad Cow Disease? Cows are herbivores, but someone had the bright idea to feed young calves bovine meat and bone meal. The hog industry feeds porcine plasma to young pigs that aren't old enough to start eating a grain based diet. I'm proud to go against the grain of conventional farming.