The farm life is hard. Things rarely go as planned and we are always at the mercy of outside factors...and sometimes our own shortfalls.
To be honest...our jobs are not just about farming...but about being master problem solvers and always adapting to new situations.
Because...nothing ever goes as planned.
Most of you know that on December 27th, we had a late Christmas present of a new little heifer...that we named Christmas.
Everything was going great until her momma stepped on her when she was three days old and fractured her toe.
This started a whole chain of events that we thought we had all under control...until it all went south.
We had a discussion in the car this weekend about how we are no longer grass or cattle farmers...but we now are mud farmers.
And the harvest is plenteous!
While California is devastated by dry conditions, we are knee deep in mud and muck.
We travelled the state this Thanksgiving weekend and saw tons of crops still not harvested because the farmers can't get their equipment out in the fields.
We even saw pictures of friends' combines buried in the fields.
It has been a rough fall and harvest season here in Ohio.
Even though we don't farm crops and don't have to worry about getting combines stuck, we did have to change plans for our final cutting of hay.
Now that our growing season is done, we are still farming and caring for our animals.
However...that too has been an unusual challenge.
How to Figure Due Dates
Once calving season is done, our sights quickly move on to the next step...
Re-breeding the cows.
We have struggled for several years to get everyone back on a Spring calving rotation. We prefer to have our calves born in March and April, but are O.K. if calving gets pushed into May. Sometimes we have June and July babies, which isn't ideal, but we won't complain.
Some people prefer fall calves. We do not prefer fall calves, but Rain was a fall calf and that worked out pretty well for us.
Meanwhile...Back at the Farm
We spent the last month getting ready for the Ohio Beef Expo and then crashing after the Expo.
With all the final preparations for the Expo and then all the extra laundry and sleep we had to make up after we got home, it didn't seem that there was time to fit in anything else.
But...life still goes on back at the farm.
All the chaos hit just as we were beginning to calve.
Preparing for Calving Season
While many farms are well into calving season this year, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our fist calves. We have three cows ready to calve at any time.
Calving season can quickly turn ordinary life into chaos. You will find yourself out in the barn more than you are in your house...or your bed.
Smart and organized people (I am not at all implying that we fall into this category) will have everything they need on hand and ready to go.
So how can you prepare for the impending chaos of calving?
At some point, you are going to need a veterinarian.
The goal is to have healthy animals that happily graze on lush green grass and pop out beautiful little calves.
The reality is...life isn't always picture perfect.
Something will eventually go wrong and you will need to call the vet...and quite possibly, in the middle of the night.
Your vet is your biggest advocate, educator and asset on the farm.
Just as you might interview a medical doctor to make sure that they have the same vision and treatment methods that you desire, you should make sure you and your veterinarian have a unified vision for the care of the animals on your farm.
All veterinarians are not created equal.
Some are old school, some are cutting edge and up to date on all the new procedures and practices in veternarian medicine. Some are more organically inclined, some are more conventional. Some practices are strictly small animal and some are geared toward large animals.
So how do you determinie which vet is right for your farm?
Ask lots of questions.
It may be a good idea to have your vet out for a well visit and then see if they would be a good fit for you
A well visit may include administering vaccinations, pregnancy checks, or castrations. These routine things are a great opportunity to get to know your vet and allow the vet to get to know you, your animals and your farm.
Mom vs. Mamma Cow
In honor of Mother's Day, I thought we would take a look at our most recent mother here on the farm. We have only had one calf this year, so we only have one mother. There are two calves coming soon, but they are not going to make it in time for Mother's Day.
I guess this was actually a Mother's weekend. Back in February, the boys were going to a show by themselves. We had back to back show weekends, and I had a lot of things that I needed to get done at home. It was also hot and heavy into calving season at another show family's farm. We decided to compromise. Daniel, our boys, and Nick would go to the show and Rog and I would hold things down at the home/farm front. On show day, Rog and I would head down to the show. It was the perfect plan to manage responsibilities and still support our kids.
This summer we are working with Isaac and Walker on taking pride in their work, completely finishing tasks and doing them well, without having mom and dad following behind to pick up the pieces. This week we had the perfect opportunity for them to practice this.
With a cow ready to go into labor and Daniel out of town, we called on the boys to step up to the plate and be the farmers for the day.
Missy's due date was not until June 18th, but we knew that she was not going to make it that long. She was showing the signs of the birth being very close. She was close enough that Daniel wanted someone to check on her throughout the night. Isaac very quickly volunteered. Daniel and I looked at each other and gladly accepted the offer. School is out and he will sleep in as late as he wants, so why should we get up in the middle of the night and then have to drag ourselves out of bed to get to work in the morning?
By night number three, Isaac was no longer enthralled with the alarm going off at 2:30 a.m.
To make things even more interesting, Daniel had to go to Nashville, TN this week for training. We were convinced that Missy would have her baby before he left Wednesday morning. Just my luck! She didn't go and I was left in charge of baby watch. However, I had to work. This left Isaac and Walker on baby watch during the day.
Thursday morning before I left for work, I went out to the pasture to check on Missy. She was fine. By later that afternoon, Isaac called to tell me that her tail had been sticking straight out for about a half hour and that he thought she was having contractions. I had to leave my desk for about an hour and Daniel was in class, so I told him to keep an eye on everything, but only call Dad if it was a real emergency.
I got back to my desk an hour later and Walker called to tell me we had a bull calf. As soon as he had gotten off the phone with me an hour earlier, he ran around to the back of the pasture and saw two feet. Two pushes later and the calf was on the ground.
Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.