Two Weeks of Summer
The calendar does not say that it is officially summer just yet, but we consider the start of summer when the kids are out of school.
College life is requiring Isaac to continue school through the summer, but Walker has been out of school for two weeks now. Being done with homework and school projects has been a relief, but it has been replaced with all the necessities of summer on the farm.
Walker started a full-time job with a landscaping company, which also means that he is getting some over time in as well. Four farmers with 4 full-time jobs is certainly changing things around here.
Buy Hay or Bale Hay
Whether you are strictly a grass-fed operation or you feed grain, part of your animal's diet consists of grass and hay.
Pastures provide the supply of grass through the summer months and grass growing season, but fresh grass is not an option throughout the winter months. Hay is used during the winter months to provide full or partial nutrition to your animals.
We spend much of our summer managing our rotational grazing system as well as baling hay to store for the winter months.
Each farm and situation is unique, but one important item to consider is whether it makes sense for you to bale your own hay or if is better to buy your hay supply.
There are many factors that go into this decision and what is right for you might not be what is right for the farm down the road.
A good mineral program is essential to the health of your cattle. Just like your own body, when your vitamin and mineral intake is out of balance, your overall health can be affected.
Many cattle feeds have additional minerals added to provide a more balanced nutritional package. However, with grass and hay fed herds, a good mineral program is essential. Even if you are feeding or supplementing with grain that has added minerals, it is still very important to feed additional minerals.
Offering free choice minerals to your herd allows them to intake when and how much their body is craving.
Minerals are found in the ground, which in turn are absorbed in the grass, but if your ground does not contain sufficient amounts of minerals, these will not be available in the foliage to your animals.
Tractor Fire Drill
We all know the importance of fire drills. Each school year starts with a fire drill at school and parents are always encouraged to go over a fire plan at home with their children.
Why do we do this?
So that if there ever is a fire, the plan has been discussed and practiced. If the worst were to happen, the goal is that your panicked brain remembers the plan.
Not many people think about having tractor fire drills.
To be honest, we have never had a tractor fire drill...but he have had lots and lots of conversations about what to do if there is a tractor or equipment fire.
Several years ago this hit pretty close to home.
The Great Grass Plan
If you read the post last week, you are well aware that we are having some feeding issues.
We have a cow with an ulcer that is being aggravated by several things...but one being too much feed.
As we talked with the vet and established a plan to get Angel turned around, it quickly became apparent that we needed to make major changes to our feeding plan.
Last weekend we had our first "big" snow of the year. We ended up with probably around 4 inches of snow, but the southern part of Central Ohio received about 9 inches.
I know...some of you are laughing right now.
You see...it has been a couple of years since we have had a decent amount of snow. We just keep getting these annoying couple of inches at a time that do nothing but make maneuvering the roads a nightmare.
We returned to work last Monday on clear roads only to hear weather reports of the next big storm coming in for Saturday and Sunday.
All week long we heard the warnings, but the storm was very unpredictable and no one quite knew what to expect.
The rain, freezing rain, snow line was supposed to move right through the heart of Central Ohio, and with temperatures hovering on the freezing mark, the storm could do just about anything.
By Friday morning the report was that some were just going to get rain, a small line was going to get ice and everything North was supposed to get anywhere from 6 to 11 inches of snow.
We were in the 6 to 11 inches of snow line.
So what does everyone do before a snow storm?
Head to the grocery for bread and milk.
Last week the remnants of a hurricane dumped 5 1/2 inches of rain on us.
We can't complain because we have been relatively dry this summer. It gave us a nice break to get some inside work done, but always in the back of our minds was how in the world we were going to get our second cutting of hay in.
September brings cooler weather, heavy dews and foggy mornings. Hay isn't impossible, but it becomes more difficult with each passing day.
Things We Love...Bale Sleeves
The heat and humidity of summer is here, signalling the start of hay season.
We finished up our first cutting this past week. Hay season is a community event around here. There are 4 families that work together to get everyone's hay done before the rain comes. Some of us need equipment and some need man power, but we all work together to make a pretty mean hay team.
Each of us has different needs for our hay supplies and different storage options. Some need square bales, some need round bales, and we need both. Some make dry hay and some make wet hay. Some store all of their hay in the barn, some store all of it outside, and we store it both in the barn and outside. It can be a complicated game getting everyone and everything where it needs to be when it needs to be there.
Add in the constant threat of pop-up thunderstorms and cranky machinery (everyone had at least one piece of equipment break down) and you have some pretty stressed out and sleep deprived people.
Between the four farms, a lot of hay was made and a lot of cows and horses will be fed this winter.
We ran out of hay this year and we are not about to let that happen again. We ended up wintering more cows than we had anticipated and by the middle of winter we were in major conservation mode. This year we are keeping at least 25 more bales than last year, just to be safe.
We only have a small portion of our barn space that is available for hay storage. With so much hay, most of it has to be stored outside.
Our solution...bales sleeves.
Making our Cows Work for Us.
Grass is a funny thing.
There is either too much...
Or not enough of it.
Many cattle farmers actually consider themselves grass farmers. While we are raising cattle to either breed or butcher, we wouldn't have these cattle if we didn't have grass to feed them.
Grass farming is one of the biggest challenges we face. We have to balance having enough grass to feed our animals, but not so much that we have to mow it down with a tractor.
On top of the spring and summer grazing, we have to prepare for the winter months. Some fields have to grow in order for us to harvest hay for the non-growing season.
It is a constant juggling act.
Each year is different due to constantly changing weather conditions and different numbers of cattle. Some people are better at managing it than others.
But, for all of us, the goal is to put in the least amount of effort to gain the most amount of feed.
The State of Summer
Summer is half way over and I can honestly say it is one of the best summers that I can remember.
I remember some distinct characteristics of my childhood summers. Hot, muggy days (with no air conditioning), popsicles, riding bikes, playing with friends, endless days with no plans...just being a kid.
I have always wanted my kids to have fond memories of summer traditions. My kids definitely have memories, but I don't know if they would describe them as laid back, lazy days of summer. They spend a lot of time on the go and working hard.
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.