Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas on the farm

Christmas on the farm is far different than Christmas anywhere else.  We would prefer to sleep in however it is not the excitment of awaiting presents that wake us early in the morning, it is our daily routine.  We actually had to wake up our 22 month old son at 4:30 a.m. so that his Daddy could actually witness his 2nd Christmas.  We love our life however people must remember this is a 24 hour a day 365 day a year job with few days off (requires hostipal stay). 

Here is a snapshot of our Christmas Day....

4:30 a.m. drag my rear out of bed....Hubby is showered and dressed already....wake Wyatt up to open presents
5:00 a.m. all presents open...hubby headed to the barn (really late)...begin cleaning up the mess and start 1st load of laundry
6:00 a.m. I could use a nap but I must make 2 pies for family...Wyatt is still playing which is wrecking havoc in the living room (again)...start 2nd load of laundry...1st load in dryer
7:00 a.m. pies are done...time to feed up at the house (sheep and feeder steers)  sure would be nice if the gator was here...start 3rd load of laundry...2nd in dryer...1st is in basket waiting to be folded
8 a.m. both Wyatt and I need to bathe and get dressed...put 2nd load of laundry in basket...3rd in dryer
8:15 a.m.  getting out of shower...dang i knew i needed something out of the laundry...towels...ummmm
8:16 a.m. run to laundry room dripping wet...get towel....wow I wish William would heat this room!
8:20 a.m. put Wyatt in bath and blow dry hair
8:25 a.m. tell Wyatt water stays in the tub for the 100th time...find clothes...back to the baskets!
8:45 a.m. drag Wyatt (the prune) out of the tub...dry him off....run find him some clothes and clean diaper
8:50 a.m. find Wyatt painting the bathroom wall and himself with makeup
8:52 a.m. Wyatt back in the tub...begin cleaning the bathroom
9:15 a.m. Wyatt cleaned....bathroom cleaned...dress the wild man
9:20 a.m. gather presents, child, diaper bag, pies, coats, phone, and pocketbook head to the car (did I mention it is pouring down rain)
9:25 a.m. run back to the house through the rain to get the phone
9:30 a.m. head to in-laws....meanwhile Wyatt falls asleep...what do I do???
10:50 a.m. arrive at in-laws (it only takes 20 minutes but I road around for an hour allowing Wyatt to nap...can't risk a meltdown)
11:30 a.m. Hubby arrives at in-laws...soaking wet and covered in mud...got stuck feeding cows
Noon...hubby cleaned playing with Wyatt still waiting on SIL to arrive
1 p.m. we finally get seated to eat
1:30 p.m. rain has stopped but a tornado has spawn in MIL living room....its name is grandchildren
2:05 p.m. rush out the door to Granny Nance's Christmas gathering (we are late)
2:30 p.m. open more presents...eat again
3:08 say our goodbyes....William heads to the barn....I head home to do a quick clean before my daddy arrives
4:10 Daddy arrives...more gifts for Wyatt to open...more wrapping paper and boxes
6:30 William arrives home...open more gifts...decide to GO get something to eat
7:00 p.m. the only thing open is Huddle house
8:30 p.m. back home...Wyatt passed out during supper
9:30 p.m. head to bed lets do it all over again tomorrow

Now I realize many of you might have experienced that massive amount of confusion and activty yesterday if I bored you sorry... I didn't mention the fresh heifer...the pulled calf...the broken fence...or the ewe that just lambed and lost both rams...or the fact that it rain 3 inches..farm life what fun!!!!  I will post pictures soon.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our New Gator


The weekend of December 4 was one of the rare times William got off and we got to go somewhere.  We traveled to the annual SC Farm Buerau Convention in Mrytle Beach, SC.  There I competed in the Discussion Meet.  This is a competition that simulates a board of directors or committee meeting.  We discuss questions important to the agricultural community.  This is the second year I have competed in South Carolina.  I competed two year in Georgia when I was in college and two years in high school for FFA.  This year was my last year to compete as I WON!!  I now advance on to the national contest in Seattle in Jan.  In addition to the trip to national I also was awarded a new John Deere Gator!  Wyatt is super excited with our new toy! 



Christmas on the Farm

Christmas time is here!  This is one of my favorite times of year...cold weather, family & friends, and SHOPPING!  What could be better...oh yeah celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ!  In the past we like many have gotten caught up in the commercialism that Christmas brings.  This year we have tried to do better.  Each gift we have decided to give will be something hand/home made.  They are truly gifts from the heart not the pocketbook.  It has taken me more time and effort but it is worth the extra to give something meaningful.  We are giving to friends and family out of the want to make a difference in their lives. 




This weekend we also got our tree!  Now for many of you getting a tree is not a big deal but for us its a tradition.  William, Wyatt and I go out and search for the perfect tree in one of the many pastures (all the while feeding cows hay) and then cut it down, bring it home, and decorate it together while we enjoy homemade cookies.  I want Wyatt to grow up with traditions that are meaningful and pleasant.  We are determined to make sure he knows the value of each season and why we work so hard.

Once we got our tree home I realized it was more "Charlie Brown" thank I would have liked but we will still cherish our tree and the time spent together picking it out.Have a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Farm Tour

This weekend we hosted our first official farm tour for the York County Mommies group. It was great to have everyone out at the farm. Our family enjoyed sharing a glimpse of our lives with each of you. If you have any pictures to share I would love to post them here! Again thanks for visiting us at Nance Farms LLC.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Give Thanks....



This week the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is on a 5 day campigan to defend the beef industry against misinformation. Most folks never get the opportunity to see where food comes from. But the fact is, the food at the center of your family gatherings and holiday celebrations started on a farm or ranch like mine.

I am a cattle farmer from York, SC. We have a 200 head cow/calf operation. Our cows are crossbreeds that are bred to purebred Angus or Simmental bulls to give us growthy, healthy calves. This is a family owned and operated business with all the work being done by our family. We raise our calves until they are between 500 and 700 lbs and then sell them to feedlots in the Midwest. The feedlots then feed the calves out until they are between 1000 and 1300 lbs. The calves are then sent for processing and are soon found in a grocery store near you.

In addition to raising beef cattle I am also employed full time as an Environmental Outreach Coordinator for the county. Our family farm began generations ago with my husband's great-great-great-grandfather, Mr. Love. The operation has changed and evolved over the years to included dairy cattle, sheep, small grains and beef cattle. I also grew up on a family farm in south Georgia. That was started by my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Mr. Price.

Raising cattle is in our genetic makeup. Each generation has raised cattle to help feed our families and friends. It's not as much of a job as a labor of love. We do everything we can to ensure our cattle are a safe, wholesome, and nutritious product. We take special steps to ensure that all of are cattle are kept in low stress environments with enough space to be comfortable. Many people don't understand the beef industry as a whole and assume the worst of the ideas out there. Take the time this week to meet with a farmer and find out more about how your food gets from the pasture to the plate.

Farming is not a 9 to 5 job; it’s a way of life. I’m proud to be an American farmer and I hope you’ll join me in saying thanks to other American farmers and ranchers for providing our food this holiday season.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Early Mornings & Late Nights

That is the way of life for farm families. Everyone in the family is involved from the youngest to the oldest members. It is a great way to spend family time, but it also can create tension between generations. Older generations want to do it the way it always been done and younger generations like to try new and innovative ideas. This can spark agruements and heated debates. However it is the responsiblity of both generations to weigh all the facts and discuss the details to make a decision on what is profitable and doable on their operation.
Our dairy is semi-modern in my opinion. We don't milk by hand however we don't have a robotic or revolving milk parlor either. We don't feed in the barn or microchip our cattle but we do use the latest research on establishing a health plan for our cattle that does not include the use of BST. We A.I. most of our females and have developed a comprehensive feed plan with our nutritionist. We like most family run small-medium size dairy operations are in the middle of the road. Still holding on to traditions and getting by with the lowest overhead possible. I believe that in the future we will expand to include a creamery and more value-added products to increase our market share. Just the other day I heard a comment that is so true it's sad..."farmers are the worst marketers ever!" We don't market our products well enough for the normal consumer to know the true value. That is sad. How can we as producers become better marketers of our products?
Below are pictures of how we do things on our dairy farm. Enjoy!














Monday, October 19, 2009

Congrats Rachel!

Way to go Rach!

This past weekend was the South Carolina State Fair dairy show. That means Nana, Pop, and Rach were out of town from Thursday-Sunday. That let us shorthanded at the barn. Wyatt and I pitched in and fed calves, bedded calves, and pushed feed. Wyatt of course had to ride the tractor a few times as well.

Rach had a great weekend winning Grand Champion Brown Swiss at the Open and Jr. Shows and winning All Breeds Showmanship! We are all very proud of her hardwork. Shows continue through the end of the month. This week will be another busy week around Nance Farm as we have four shows.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cool mornings and just perfect afternoons that describes McConnells in October. For us this time of year equals lots of work. Show season is in high gear with at least one show a week if not more. Silage needs to be chopped before the first frost (around the 15th of the month). Fall activities to attend keep adding up and hunting season is just around the corner. Not to mention calving (both dairy and beef) are in full swing. Today we are chopping silage. The field is about 100 acres. William cut about a third of it early and we just finished hauling six loads but were hoping for ten. My father-in-law cut a few more rows so hopefully we can get those chopped before milking time.





I love this field not only for the abundance of forage it has produce for us over the years or the face that in has been in William's family for generations. I love the atmosphere, the open space, the border of trees that circle the beef pasture in the distant, the view, and most of all the house that sits on the edge of the field. Its been featured in movies and loved by the whole community for its simple but elegant style. This is the time of year I wish I could freeze and live in all year. Little man enjoys this time of year as well. It s perfect weather to be outside all day long. The silage field and show barns are some of this favorie playgrounds. I can't believe how blessed I truly am.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Show Season

Show season as kicked off at the Nance Farm and is in full swing. Rachel has been traveling across North & South Carolina since the middle of August showing dairy cows. Most recent was Cleveland County Fair in Shelby, NC. She had a great showing there sweeping the Brown Swiss show and bring home lots of blue ribbons with her Jerseys, Holestiens, and Gurenseys.


With all that showing there are less hands around the barn. William's been a little later getting home in the evenings and Wyatt and I help out when we can. We probably should really help out more often. When we leave the dairy we still have work to do at our home with the sheep, hay and beef cows. It can be quite a long day sometimes. Keep checking back. I am going to try to do better in the coming days and weeks about updating you on daily activities with blogs and pics. Have a great day!

Mornings come early around the farm and everyone has to pitch in.



These are some photos I snapped last week of Wyatt helping push up silage at 6 a.m.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Rainy Days & Mondays

Today is Monday and it's raining. Not a good combo. William milked this morning (as usual). Rainy days means muddy cows and plenty of laundry for me. I am sure that all the milk cows were covered in good old McConnells red mud. Rainy days also cause it to take a little longer to milk, since you have to wash the udders longer.
Then he and his dad gathered up some of the calves we have and took a few to the sale barn. Things are tight on all dairy farms at the moment. With the price of milk creeping slowly back to normal we hope things will be changing soon.

I haven't been at the farm today however I have been working. I have gone to working 4 10 hour days in order to be at home more. I have spent most of the day layout ads for the upcoming show. I just hope there are no huge mistakes.

Below are some recent photos of the farm life.

Wyatt helping to feed baby calves (kinda).

Wyatt's new favorite thing...playing in cornmeal!
Wyatt's first love... a tractor
"Come on Mom lets feed the calves!"

Wyatt & Daddy putting out feed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hot Summer Days

When it is hot outside everyone wants to either be in the air conditioning or the water. Around here that is not usually an option. This weekend is no exceptation.

William, Wyatt & I moved some dairy steers to a new pasture yesterday, when we arrived the gate was standing wide open. William had just been down to the pasture this morning and shut the gate because we already had two steers in the field. The land used by a few deer hunters who obviously didn't know the old rule "If the gate is closed keep it closed." We also helped put out feed, feed baby calves, and wash up around the barn.

Wyatt and I looked over the ewe flock at the house as well. Nothing unusual with them. With the amount of rain and reducing our numbers we have plenty of grass. All the breeding ewes are now out on open fields grazing until winter. The lambs were doing well enough we noticed a few that needed deworming. Hopefully we can get that done tonight.

On Saturday, Wyatt and I helped out at the concession stand at the old York Sale barn to raise money for the Fall livestock show. William had to work some calves. We checked the steers we turned into new ground yesterday. We are looking at purchasing about 3o beef cows from William's grandfather, however both parties are still on the fence on the logistics. Now sure how we can juggle them but I am sure we will figure out a way.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 4th

Celebrating around a dairy farm is a little different than many places. We didn't have hotdogs on the grill or fireworks after sunset. We went about our daily routines as usual.

Wyatt and I slept in late and got up around 7. We gave the sheep some hay and water and headed down to the barn (about 20 minutes away). We stopped by Bojangles for some biscuits on the way. Upon arriving at the barn I could tell we were there to stay. Wyatt and I fed milk to the baby calves one by one, watered and fed the weaned calves, helped put off feed for the milk cows and got things washed up around the barn.

William decided that Wyatt and I needed to help him haul some hay, so we dropped a birthday present by one a friend's houses and then took two flat bed trucks and trailers and a tractor with a loader to one of the Fennel place. It takes about 30 minutes to get from the barn to the hay field at the Fennel place in a truck. Once there Marty one of our hired hand drove one truck around the field while William stacked round bales of hay two wide and two high on the truck and trailer. After that trailer was full I followed him around while he filled up the truck I was driving.

Once the trailers were loaded William and Marty switched places and William and I took the load of hay back to the farm while Marty moved hay to the barns on the other side of the place. Within an hour William, Wyatt, and I had unloaded the hay, fueled up one truck and were back ready for another load. Wyatt in the mean time had fallen asleep.

We took both trucks and trailers and the tractor down a narrow, rutted up little road that is only used during hay season to get to one of the back fields. We quickly had two more loads and Wyatt was awake and ready to play. William and Wyatt were loaded first and headed back to the main barn while Marty finished loading the trailer I had.

Of course if anyone was going to lose a bale or get stuck it was me! I made it through okay unloaded but when I was leaving the field farthest away from the barn I got stuck in one of the ruts and the trailer looked like it was going to flip behind me! Luckily I didn't lose a bale! Between 4 wheel drive and the tractor I got out ok...next time I will pay more attention to the road instead of the radio!!

We soon unloaded those bales and stacked them in the barn at the Fennel place to feed to those cows this winter. Marty headed back to the dairy on the big tractor and William and I loaded up the small tractor and rake so it could be used later this week somewhere else. Again when things happen around our place...they happen to me...

William asked me to drive the small tractor and rake onto the trailer that he had backed up to a bank so we wouldn't have to pull the ramps out (they are REALLY heavy). I apparently was not pay attention AGAIN and could not load the tractor straight on the trailer...as the trailer is rolling away! William quickly stopped the truck and put the emergency brake on and shooed me off the tractor. Again the truck was rolling so I had to get into the truck and back it up to the embankment once again. Needless to say we eventually got the tractor and rake on the trailer but not without a few words sworn under our breath.

We headed out of the Fennel place for the last time on Saturday around 2:45...not in time to catch the nap William had wanted. We stopped and fueled up the tractor and the other truck and then headed to William's parents to drop the truck and trailer. Soon we found ourselves at the barn...hot, sweaty and tired. William when to get up the milk cows while Wyatt and I set up the barn.

Setting up the barn isn't hard just time consuming. First you have to run the wash if you haven't already and then once the line wash has finished you must take the cups off the milking unit. The cups must be placed in the holders until the end of milking. Then all the milking units must be attached to the retractable lines. Filters must be put in place and the milk line has to be put in the tank. Once all that is done and double checked it is time to turn the milkers on. 19 lines of cows later we are done. Two lines are milked at once and each line takes between 5-10 minutes, it all depends on what cows are in the line and if they need special treatment. Plus some cows are milked into special containers because we feed our calves real milk not milk replacer. Once all the cows have been milked everything must be washed down and all milk lines must be sanitized. Calves and cows must be fed again and then once everything is done and all gates locked and double checked it is time to go home.... and do it all over again another day

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Its Hay Season!



Hay season here has been in full swing for over a month now. William has worked everyday between milkings cutting, raking, or baling hay in the county south of us. Last week he brought a cattle trailer of hay to the house for the sheep. The field next to the house needs to be cut as well. I'll have to check with PawPaw to see when he wants to start that. Wyatt loves anything that deals with tractors even cutting hay is fun for him. Below is a picture of Wyatt and PawPaw raking the field beside the house earlier this year.

Milk prices are low and that is causing a lot of stress around here but things will look up when school starts back in September. We have lots of activities going on around here this month. Saturday William's parents and youngest sister set off for Texas and the National Guresney Convention. We also have birthday parties, anniversaries, picnics, and church socials planned. Not to mention we would like to expand our operation some by purchasing a few more yearling Suffolk ewes and laying hens.

Yes, for those of you who know me I said laying hens as in chickens. William has decided a new venture might prove profitable. Free Range eggs are his big idea with the small amount of acreage at the house the option is fitting. By the way for those who don't know I am deathly afraid of birds, especially chickens. I know it sounds crazy that a country girl would be scare so something so small however I am. I will keep you all updated on how this venture turns out. Have a great 4th of July weekend!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Our Operation




Farming is big business....not big money as many of you may know. Our operation began many years before I came around. In the beginning Nance Farm consisted of beef cattle, small grains, and hogs. Now years later we have changed things up a bit. Our farm now encompasses about 200 beef cows, 300 diary cows (including milking cows, dry cows, and calves), 500 acres of small grains and hay ground, and 25 head of sheep.

The dairy, beef, and crops are managed by my husband, William and his dad Bill. My mother-in-law Jane is our head calf feeder, my sister-in-laws Rachel and Emily (sometimes) are milk hands. We also have on full time hired hand to help with hay, silage, and cows and another full time milk hand. I am in charge of wrangling our 16 month old son, Wyatt, and helping William with the sheep. I also work full time for our county as an environmental outreach coordinator.

We will update this blog frequently with happenings around the farm. I might even break down the saga of how this Georgia peach ended up in South Carolina. Stay tuned

Welcome

Welcome to The Dairy Farmer's Wife blog! This blog will focus on all the events and happenings on our small dairy in Upstate South Carolina. You will be able to live the adventure with us! Stay tuned for updates and picutres.