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!