Fun on the Farm

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

I really miss not having an active "Farming" thread since everyone seemed to implement a mass exodus to the other place. It is just not the same there.

So, if there are ANY farmers out there, please jump in and tell how it is in your corner of the acreage.

The Spousal Unit and I have a relief milking/chore job this week. We started yesterday morning and will go thru Friday morning. We had to have the vet last night for a cow that calved on Sunday that decided that milk fever was the ailment of the day. She was fine this morning. However, the farmer (John) had a cow that had twins on Saturday and another had twins Sunday. Vet again today to *hopefully* clean the first one. Eeewww............she smells horrible. Kept the other one in too so he could see if he could get any out of her.

I've said that people should be glad we can take over for them............we are NOT afraid of making decisions, we are good at our jobs and we can fix stuff that breaks. We always hope that there is not much of the latter, but it happens. My mom asked me if it didn't bother me going into someone else's barn and milking their cows and dealing with all that can happen. I told her no, because when I walk in the barn, I treat it like it was my own.............the cows are mine, the calves are mine........and act accordingly. We operate at other farms like we did when we still had our dairy herd.............I do all the milking and calf feeding and the SU does the feed mixing and outside stuff.

So, please, let's get this farming thread going again. I like it here. And when the chores are all done we can sit under a shade tree and have some lemonade and cookies!!

Yeah, the SU and I travel to do chores too. We live in Wisconsin and in August for the last 3 years I've had a gig in New York state! Yeah, she pays my airfare out. The last 2 years the SU has driven out and gone to the NASCAR race in Watkins Glen, which is a couple hours from the farm. After the races, he comes to the farm and helps me and then we drive home. We stay in her house (essentially house-sitting too). SU and I mow the yard a couple times, and I bake for her. I fill her freezer. LOL I think last year I used at least 25 pounds of flour, 10 pounds of butter....................What is funny is that last year I told the SU he was going to take my KitchenAid mixer along in the car. She only has a little Sunbeam, and I had enough of THAT the year before. SU said he felt kind of dumb having the car parked at the races and there was a KitchenAid mixer in the back in a box. I thanked him profusely the first day I used it for bringing it. As he was carrying the box to the car he was grumbling "do i HAVE to take this thing???" Uhhhhhh................YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the best part....................I get my pay in CASH..................

Richmond, TX

Well, I'm still here too.

I wish I could afford your air fare here - could use a vacation and baked goods to boot!

June has been the month of broken stuff: the stock trailer started blowing fuses in the trucks and ended up with all new wiring after a couple of failed attempts to find the shorts. Two of the hot-wire chargers quit, one fixable, one not. The stupid Rubbermaid water troughs are leaking AGAIN. I am replacing them with concrete! Some trees killed in the drought have fallen on the fences in the south paddock requiring major repairs. The main power transformer to the south half of the property failed which meant no lights or water until the power company could replace it. The little shredder (mower) fell apart and by the time it was back together the grass and weeds were so thick the tractor had to struggle to get through. There were two plumbing leaks in the house, the house's well pump relays were sticking - no water from time to time (I hope that was related to the fluctuating power from the faulty transformer) and the keyboard for my computer broke... I hope that is all for a while!

The good news is that rain is predicted this week, and cattle prices are the highest I've ever seen.

Anyone else out there?

Coos Bay, OR(Zone 9a)

Just found this thread today. It's Aug. already. Hay is in, apples are coming on, picked some pears today. Canned the green beans and more to come. Cucumber crop was huge, tired of making pickles, guess the chickens will get the big ones.
My DH and I live on a small farm in Oregon where we raise registered Angus bulls and heifers to sell at approx. 1 year to beef farmers in our state who desire pure bred bulls and heifers. A great small farm, just wish we were younger.
For the first time ever, we are bottle feeding a calf born to a first time mom. He (our baby) is the other half of a twin. The mom's udder didn't come in well at first and she chose the smaller twin....a darling heifer calf and rejected Gus. He is a big boy and a lusty drinker. We have him on the bucket feeder now. Much easier. Now, we want him to eat the calf crumbles, but he steadfastly refuses them. His stool needs to firm up and we think it would if he would only eat the crumbles. We try letting him suck our fingers with a bit of the crumbles in them, but he spits them out. Stubborn like a mule. He sure is cute, though. Does anyone have any tricks up there sleeves to get calves to eat the crumbles?? Appreciate your input. Thanks

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

First problem is that he's an Angus. LOL Any of our half Angus calves were just horrible. Wouldn't suck a bottle, and God forbid that they DRINK. They're almost as bad as Brown Swiss calves. Almost.............. Swiss calves are horrid. I always said that it was a good thing that breathing was involuntary, or the breed would have died out they were so stupid. I am qualified to comment, as we had Swiss cows here when I married the Spousal Unit. Sold them all a couple years after we got married and got Holsteins.

I had some decent luck with having a small amount of the calf feed in my hand, hold the calf's head up, kind of pry its mouth open and dump the handful in its mouth and HOLD IT SHUT. Another thing that "might" work is............warm the stuff up so that it smells really good and is more palatable. The feed man always said that baby pigs would eat pig starter much better if they had a sample bag in the car and it was under the heater. I would imagine calves would be about the same. How old is Gus?

Richmond, TX

You could also try making a slurry of the crumbles and his milk to get him used to the taste. You will have to enlarge the hole in the nipple on the bucket feeder if he is still drinking it that way.

Coos Bay, OR(Zone 9a)

Good ideas! Thanks. I think we will try a combination of things tonight. We will try to warm the crumbles and make him try them (clamping mouth shut) before he gets his milk replacer. Anna....you are right. We did have a horrible time getting him to take the bottle right at first. We finally had to add sugar to our fingers and to the nipple. That is what did the trick, finally. Gus is 2.5 weeks old now and growing well and playing and running in his play yard (we call it) which is part of the barn system. His mom and the entire herd come over and check him several times a day. Of course, their water is just outside his gate. They nose him and softly moo at him. I would love to let him out with the herd, but my husband steadfastly refuses to try that.
BTW, Anna....Our Angus mamas are pretty darned smart. Especially the lead cow. They say, though, that you really don't want smart cows. LOL

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

Oh, if he sucked the cow, then they REALLY don't want to take a bottle. LOL

Coos Bay, OR(Zone 9a)

Gus will be one month old this Sat. He is growing like a weed now, even though he still doesn't like the crumbles very well. He has a big yard to play in and investigate, but he is still all alone except when the others come over to talk to him through the fence. We have a halter and rope for him and have taken him out to meet and greet the others. He gets so excited that he jumps and runs and does all kinds of dances. When he comes to the end of the rope, he can nearly jerk it out of my husbands hand. What I want to do, is just let him loose, but my husband isn't ready to do that. I think he would come to us when he saw his blue bucket with the nipple on it. What do you think, Anna?

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

He is small enough that there is no reason you or your husband can't teach him to lead. The earlier, the better. If you could get a cattle halter with a chain under the chin, that would be ideal, but I don't think they make them that small. If you just are using a "regular" halter, make him walk beside you, and do NOT give him much lead; you have to keep it short to keep control. Keep his head up, it's easier. Once they put their head down, away they go. Ask me how I know this............when I showed beef at the fair, I didn't to get my calves till after they were weaned........like, maybe 6 months old, at least. If you don't think THAT isn't fun! Keep the lessons short............but when he does start to walk, make sure that he WALKS, not jumping and trying to run. When I was in the "teaching" phase, it helped to tie them up for a bit each day. Give him enough rope so he can get up and lay down and move around a little. I'd tie him for an hour or so. At only a month it should be really easy to get him to lead. Always make him go beside you, not ahead. Like a well-trained dog should lead (only you lead on the left side..........LOL, not the right, like dogs are trained). Hope this helps............any more questions, just ask.

Richmond, TX

Just one thing to add: if he won't come along when you lead him you can run the rope behind his rump and sort of boost him from behind. Definitely let him spend some time tied; it will help to teach him to respect the halter. (And if I showed my cows a bucket, I would get all of them not just the one I wanted.)

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

So, what's everyone doing? The SU just got done making a bag of snaplage for a neighbor. That job was done yesterday. Today he is at another neighbor's chopping corn silage. You have NO idea how glad I am I don't have to do that anymore. There is not enough money to get me to chop corn again in this life. I actually would get physically ill the last few years I had to do it...........it was such a miserable job. We had a self-propelled chopper......an old one that worked great in hay. But............it had a 3 row head...........we had a 4-row planter, so we could only take 2 rows at a time. The head was wide row (40 inch), our planter was 36.............add some contour strips in the equation and I think any of you that farm get the idea. I did hear him admit to someone that "the conditions are less than ideal". The stalks wouldn't feed in and would plug the feedrolls up...............why didn't HE chop, you ask??? No way was I gonna run that bagger and try and get wagons up to the hopper.

That was really the only thing here on the farm that I had trouble up the wazoo with and that I just HATED to do............it ranked right along with any kind of hog work. Weaning and moving pigs was another job that almost had us killing each other. And putting sows in the crates. Pigs are the stupidest animals on the farm.

Richmond, TX

Pigs seem stupid because they outsmart the farmer.

I've never run a chopper, but I can certainly picture the difficulties caused by the described mis-match!

I've been shredding pastures - actually just clipping the weeds off the top to help keep the grass going into the winter. Also spraying herbicides along the fence lines so that the hot wires don't ground out. And fixing stuff: leaking float valves on water troughs, restretching a section of fence that someone side-swiped when they missed a turn on the road, regrading the back barnyard so that the chicken coops don't flood now that it has decided to actually rain, trimming tree branches off the hay shed roof, just general upkeep for the most part. I may go to the county fair next week to look at replacement heifers - and support the FFA kids who raise them. It is nice to have gentle cows which have been well handled in the herd!

Monroe, WI(Zone 4b)

No, Porkpal...........anyone that says pigs are the Einsteins of the barnyard has never had to work with them. Sheesh...............I have the benefit of YEARS of experience with them. Go from Point A to Point B up on the hog floor.............all they had to do was walk through 2-16 foot gates, for a total of about 30 feet, if that. Can't see that 16 foot opening, but will make a hole to get through a panel with a 6 inch square hole spacing.

Richmond, TX

I work with pigs - mine are pastured - I can normally get them to do what I need them to do - as long as I don't get in a hurry, then all is lost!

Coos Bay, OR(Zone 9a)

Wow! I'd rather work with Gus. Who, by the way, is now out with the herd. We bucket fed him for a few days, but then he became disinterested in the bucket and wouldn't drink from it. Then, we discovered he was nursing from his mother. When his twin nursed, he would sneak up from behind and latch on. That way, she wasn't sure who was there. After a few days she began to accept him and now he is just one of the herd. Yes!!! Thumbs up. Happy.

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