Calves, Alfalfa, Dry Weather, Baseball, Kittens, and Other Updates from the Farm

It has been a while since I have posted and I apologize. I have a lot to catch you up on…let’s get started.

Calves.

Calving time is my favorite time of year (as many of you know). This year has been better than 2011. Last year, we had many unexplained calf deaths which really bother any farmer or rancher. This year, we have lost two calves, but only one is unexplained. It is still bothersome, but much more normal than 2011.

Alfalfa.

Unfortunately, the good year for calves has turned out to be rotten for cows. We lost one cow to drowning–in our stock pond. A couple days ago, the cows walked through the fence into the alfalfa field. When all was said and done–two more were dead (eating fresh alfalfa under certain conditions causes “bloat” or excess gas). Losing a single cow in a year is tough, but to lose two in a single day (and three during calving season) is really disappointing.

The two recent dead cows both had calves. We really need to separate their calves from the rest of the herd for extra TLC. In near-100 degree weather, we don’t dare round up the cow herd and risk the chance of losing more animals to heat stress. The unfortunate choice is to take our chances and wait for cooler weather (hopefully tomorrow?!?) to bring the cows up to headquarters and sort them until we have the two orphans separated. Both are old enough to survive on their own–so we are crossing our fingers that they are in good enough condition to save.

Dry weather.

Did I mention it is dry? It is so dry that my kids talk about the “day it rained” earlier this spring….

On to baseball.

As a result of poor family planning (just kidding), we get to sit at the ball field for six hours each night. Our youngest son plays in the first game each evening (T-ball 1) and our oldest son plays in the fourth/last game of each evening (Sr. PeeWees). Our middle son plays in game 3. My kids now believe that nachos and popcorn are a food group despite my attempts to pack healthy foods in our cooler. My car is apparently a permanent storage site for lawn chairs, blankets, ball gloves, sunscreen, bug spray, baseballs in assorted conditions, a volleyball (not sure how that got there…), bandaids, empty Gatorade bottles, and broken crayons (don’t ask).

Kittens.

In a previous post about “The Hunt for Baby Kittens” I mentioned providing an update when my kids found the well-hidden litter of kittens. I am happy to announce that the mystery has been solved. My astute, detective children discovered a litter of four cute furballs hidden less than six inches from the well-worn path between the house and chicken coop (traveled four times each day by the children….).

Other updates.

It has been a crazy spring on the farm in the weather front. Our fruit trees were flowering in March. To put this in perspective, our recommendation for planting after a frost-free date is mid-May. For the third year in a row, we will not get any apples (*sigh*). Our plums, chokecherries, strawberries, Juneberries, and many others also appear to be without fruit. I may have to resort to buying jelly….

I hope spring is going well for all  of you. Any strange weather or strange occurrences happening in your neck of the woods?

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About jheem

I grew up on a diversified dairy farm in southeast South Dakota where I learned how to throw a hay bale, pull a calf, deal with death, and "name" the cows. I was in 4H and FFA, and was privileged to serve as a state FFA officer. In college, I studied animal science, focusing on beef cows, mostly because I figured they were less work than dairy cows....I ended up with a Masters Degree in ruminant nutrition and went to work for the University of Nebraska, first as a research tech coordinating data collection for a swine unit and beef feedlot on a research farm and then as an extension educator. In my current job, I focus on environmental issues related to animal agriculture (which is a nice way of saying I talk about manure alot). My husband and I live and work on a seedstock cattle operation in northeast Nebraska. You can learn more about our cattle operation by visiting my husband's blog at http://aldersonangus.wordpress.com.
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4 Responses to Calves, Alfalfa, Dry Weather, Baseball, Kittens, and Other Updates from the Farm

  1. Yes here in the UK we have the “gulf stream” which brings mild warm air presumably from the gulf of Mexico. This year it is tracking up the Canadian side of the Atlantic, curling over Greenland and back south mid Atlantic, then back heading our way having done a huge “S” shaped track picking up moisture and got cooled as well.
    We have had 4 inches of rain in May & so far in June and far more than that in Wales and the west country, and this pattern has persisted for six weeks. some rain has fell every day, and only the sharp ones have managed to wilt their grass and chop it for silage, no hay made yet.

    Last year we had the driest year in a hundred years, and in places hose pipe bans were in place right through our winter and up until this month, when it was declared to be ” the wettest drought” in living memory.

    All my life our mother did all the weather forecasting as explained here
    The weather forecast by Owd Freds mother
    http://www.fwi.co.uk/community/blogs/fretaw/archive/2008/08/22/the-weather-forcast-by-owd-fred-s-mother.aspx

  2. Lona says:

    Weather’s about the same here–early spring, no fruit, abominably hot and dry now. I’m sorry about the cow losses. Drowning? New one for me–but we’ve never had more than a mud puddle in our pastures, so I’m not sure if our cattle and sheep and llamas could actually swim. Sorry about the baseball schedule–we had a couple of years like that, but it was ONE night a week. That was bad enough–can’t imagine every night.

    • jheem says:

      Thanks! It has been a really good year overall and it is great to be busy with the kids’ activities–but it is really disappointing to lose an animal.

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