Thursday, February 21, 2013


When I was a little girl I always saw cows out in a pasture and thought…how lucky is that, to have all that grass to eat and it is there all the time so they never get hungry or need anything else to eat…oh my goodness... I was WRONG!!

Since becoming the wife of a farmer I have been enlightened about many things.  Feeding cows is just one of those many things.  We raise beef cows.  Which means we want healthy mama cows to have healthy babies. Good nutrition is a vital part of that happening.  The mama cows nutritional requirements are at their highest in their last trimester of pregnancy and the first few months of nursing their new babies.  This good nutrition plays a major part in good milk production.  You would be surprised to hear exactly what goes into the feeding of our cows.  Prepare to be surprised….

We mix different things together to get the proper nutritional values in our feed.

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One thing we do is chop hay and add it into our food mixture.  This is a hay buster. It chops the hay to make it easier to mix.  This hay makes a good filler for the feed mixture to “stretch” the feed and make it go further. A huge round hay bale is put in the hay buster and and the chopped hay is dumped in the barn into piles ready to be mixed in the feed.  We also feed the bales of hay to the cows too.  They are carried to the cows on the back of a hay trailer (4 bales at a time) or with the bale mover on the back of a tractor (one at a time).

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This is one of our two hay trailers.  It is pulled by a truck and can haul 4 bales at a time.  Each bale has a lever that will release it.  I wish it would catapult it way up in the air in a high arc and plummet to the ground…but when you pull the lever it just sort of rolls off slowly.  I guess that is much safer.  Besides if it did do that I would want this job all the time!!!

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This is the hay bale mover carrying hay to the cows at the feedlot.

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We use a front end loader to scoop up the silage (we grew ourselves…a previous blog post)  and  brewers grain (we buy it and have it hauled in).   The front end loader dumps it straight into the feed mixer. The picture on the right is brewers grain.

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The picture on the left is silage. The picture on the right is a close up of the brewers grain.  It is a by-product of beer.  It also smells like beer. (yuck) !! The cows love it though.

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This is the truck that brings the brewers grain.  It was kind of cool to see how it worked and dumped the stuff.  That is some kind of crazy hydraulic lift.  I have never seen one lift so high

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Sometimes we either mix molasses in the feed or feed it straight to the cows in troughs. This is the smaller tank we would pump it out of and this is the small pump used to do it.

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This is the large holding tank that would hold the molasses (if we had any).  It has gotten so expensive that we are not feeding it right now.

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This is the feed mixer.  All the ingredients get dumped in and mixed.  They can mix 4 tons of food at a time in the mixer.   It is then dumped into piles in the barn.  They then use the front end loader to load it into the cool red feed truck.

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This is Van loading silage into the mixer.  We keep the silage in these bags to keep it from spoiling.

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This is Big Red in action.  The cows can hear it coming from a long ways away.  They come a running and a bellering.  They know that the dinner bell has been rung. The feed shoots out of a drop down chute on the side of the truck.  This is at the feed lot.  There are feed troughs all along both sides of the road.  There are a series of pens behind  each of the feed troughs.  This is where we keep smaller groups of cows or calves.  Makes feeding them a lot easier.

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One of my favorite pictures of the cows eating.  I love to see them all the way down the feed lot with their heads in the feed trough.  Happy cows have healthy babies.  And I can relate…eating makes me happy too.

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                                     Bon appetite!! Or in our case “DIG IN” !!!!


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These cows are in an open pasture.  They hear the feed truck and here they come.  The feed is shot into the cement feed troughs. “if you feed them…they will come”.

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My sweet honey feeding the cows.  This is mainly a cold weather job.  When the grass dies we have to give the cows something else to eat.  That is where the hay and feed comes in.  The cooler weather also means calving season.  Mamas need extra food and better nutrition for themselves and their babies.

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These cows are hanging out around the feed troughs waiting for Van in the  feed truck.  They know it won’t be long and the feed will be flowing.

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The cows enjoying some home grown hay.

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If you have seen the beautiful, lush, green grass growing in some of our fields, it is rye. (and the cranes and the deer LOVE it too!)   That is what we will feed the cows in the spring.  We just turn the cows into the field and they go at it.  We have already turned some cows into some of these rye fields.   I can imagine to a cow it is quite delicious.  It has to be since it is so beautiful to the eye and tender to the touch.   I was tempted to taste it the other day when I picked some for my babies to try to eat. :)

Summer will come soon and the rains will bring some thick green pasture grass.  That will get the cows through to the cold and calving season once again.  It is a cycle…but definitely not a vicious cycle.  Have you seen our sweet, adorable, and beautiful babies!!!

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                                     We have beautiful babies everywhere !!!!

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Except for fluffing and moving the hay that the cows eat…this is the extent of me helping feed the cows.  But I think I get the best part of that job.

 We have around 1400 mama cows having babies, 41 bulls, various bunches of heifer and steer calves to be sold and bunches of replacement heifers that will one day be mama cows (around 550).  There are many mouths to feed.  Even if the feed does not go out every single day…there is something that has to be done everyday to prepare it.  And they are fed every other day.  Every other day 28 tons of feed is fed to our cows.  It is by no means exciting or fun but it is one of the most important parts of “cow work”.  Our crew work very hard to get the cows fed and it is what keeps them in their best shape (the cows I mean although getting up and down off the tractors and in and out of the trucks is a really good workout for the crew too).  I think we have a great looking bunch of cows and our crew ain’t so bad either!!!! I love farmers…especially mine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

This is how I roll

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This is how I roll…literally.

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But this is how I roll, destroy, and annihilate.  This thing is called a chopper.  I think Moses was the original owner but it still works like new.  This is to mow where the mowers cannot get.  I get to mow over thick briars, overgrown weeds, small trees, and vines.  God help anything that gets in my way.  Snakes, field rats, bunnies, baby deer…just kidding I don’t run over snakes.  Ha Ha gotcha!! I am happy to say no creatures either creepy or furry were harmed in the chopping of this overgrowth.

My boss picked me to do this because he said he knew I would take my time, go slow, and be careful to watch out for stumps, big rocks, pine trees, big holes, fallen limbs, and logs.  NO PRESSURE!!! I asked if I can back this thing up if I need to and I get “yes, you can, but not much, so don’t get yourself in that situation”.  He might as well told me to not breath either while I chop.  I did get myself in that situation…lots of tall weeds…low visibility…WHOOP THERE IT IS…big dang rock directly in front of me.  So I proceed to back up not much, pull up, back up not much, pull up, back up not much, pull up… get the picture.  I looked like Mr. Bean in that golf cart when he got it stuck between those two things.  But I did get myself out of that situation without any help and without any destruction to the chopper.  High five!!!! Yay, me.

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This is what I am chopping.  These are the “before” shots.

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This is what it looks like when I am done.  These are the “after” shots.

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It really makes a big difference.  This will give us more pasture grounds and make it so much easier for the mowers to get in here and really mow it good.

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  • I learned something today.  Something about my friend the black snake.  First of all they are not all black snakes.  The whoooge black snakes with the light colored undersides are called Blue Indigo snakes.  They are so blue that they actually look black.  They are a beautiful color and actually quite regal looking.  While black snakes are all black , skinny, fast, and have little beady eyes.  So the thing I learned is that both of these snakes like to “hang out” on top of these weeds, briars, over growth of whatever it is that I am chopping.  I am not sure if they are sunning or getting a better view of the ground so they can see the field rats better.  Regardless of why…this means they are now about the same level as my feet on the tractor and just a few slithers away from being on the tractor with me.  The first I saw was indeed a black snake.  Creepy enough but he seemed annoyed at me and got down to the ground (WHERE A SNAKE IS SUPPOSED TO BE!!!) and went on his merry way.  The next was a whoooge Blue Indigo.  Did I tinkle a little in my pants…well that DEPENDS…ha ha  get it …depends. Anyway no, I don’t wear them …yet… but I may very soon if my boss keeps giving me these stressful jobs and if these bunnies, snakes, and field rats keep jumping out and startling me. 
My first thought was…what if this particular Blue Indigo has a bucket list…and what if one of the things on his bucket list is to ride on the big blue tractor with the crazy farmer lady.  Oh snap… all I know is if he would have slithered on my tractor I hoped it was the last thing on his bucket list because he was fixing to not only kick the bucket but be beat to death with it and then buried in it!  I would have had to work him over with my size 9 tennis shoes because I was not wearing my boots…they are still new and a little slick on the bottom so I wear my old tennis shoes.   He would have either 1. got concussed and fell off  2.  got bad case of smashed head, died and fell off  or 3.  got the snake poop scared out of him and fell off…either way it would have ended with him getting OFF THE TRACTOR. I am happy to say I did not have to resort to violence.  He did take his time but finally slithered off on his belly (where he was supposed to be the whole time!!!) I have enough to deal with without having to be looking for snakes …not in but ON the bushes.  I need a raise.

Speaking of a raise, my boss man did come out and check up on me.  He told me I was doing a good job.  He said this was something he had wanted to get done for a while.  I was quite proud to be able to do this for him…snakes, big rocks, stumps and all.  I think he is kind of sweet on me.  If the truth be told, I am kindly sweet on him too.  I love farmers…especially mine!!