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2014 Recap...through August

Posted 8/22/2014 8:52am by Renae Schlatter.

Somehow it got to be August already....and almost September. I keep thinking I need to do an update on happenings here at the farm and now I'm so far behind, so I'll do a recap of our year so far.

January

January brought very cold weather and a lot of snow this year. The days were spent mostly feeding and bedding animals.

This was part of a load of hay we got in for the dairy cows. We would get these big square bales in a semi load at a time.

These are some beef and dairy cows feeding. They would eat hay off of the bunk there.

These pigs had quite the winter! On the left of the picture is a half circle shelter. That is where they would bed down. We put corn stalks in there for bedding. When they would all pack in there it was quite toasty and if they got rustled out the steam would just billow out. We were able to keep them out of the swampy areas thanks to the new cement pads that we had poured.

The dry cows were fed out on the pasture with the woods blocking the weather from the West. Hay was taken out for them and the really did well here.

These calves were born in the fall of 2013 and wintered over here. Notice their long hair. It's amazing to watch the animals adapt to their environments.

The snow and wind did make some beautiful landscapes. The open pastures looked like what I picture the bottom of the sea to look like.

Even though Paulding County is known to be really flat, we do have a great sledding hill at the farm. The kids (young and old) took advantage of the good conditions for sledding!

February

February was still cold and snowy. It also brought about a change in operations. Ralph and Sheila took over the cheese production, among their other duties. The first time they made cheese together was quite the deal. I think everything that could have been broken down was. After the equipment was in working order they did accomplish their task at hand.

This was the first and only time that wool sweaters, flannel shirts, and stocking hats were worn while making cheese. It warms up in there quite a bit.

By accident we had some ewes have lambs this year. We got them in as cull lambs because they didn't get pregnant, but alas, they were pregnant!

More feeding of the diary cows. In the middle is the bunk where they are fed hay, and on the left is the wagon where they are fed the barley sprouts. They really enjoyed the sprouts and they seemed to keep their condition better through the winter with that feed.

March

 The beginning of March brought a couple of late snow storms. We waited and waited for the ground to thaw and the grass to start growing. The spring calves started to arrive also.

I think this was our last snow storm!

One of the new Spring calves. The spots around the eyes are characteristic of the Normande breed. We are crossing Normande genetics in to the cows we have. These have been the best diary breed we've used so far.

We had developed a recipe for hot dogs and bologna, as well as beef summer sausage and snack sticks. These are all the spices that go in to some of those recipes. We were able to work with a couple of different butcher shops to get these made to our specifications, without any fillers or nitrates.

On the day of Spring Equinox we were able to stand an egg on its end.

April

The big event in April was finally getting the cows out to pasture. On April 21 they were let out to graze again. It had been a long winter!

Starting down the lane...

Turning in to the field...

And grazing.

And action!

 

May

In May we started thinking about how to improve our pastures and how we could get more grass and hay off of them. We worked with a man out of Sturgis, MI, who practices holistic practices for livestock supplements and natural fertilizers. Instead of filling up the sprayer with our well water, which would take forever, we got a trash pump and decided to just pump water out of the pond. So Kyle worked on getting a cage made for the hose to stay put. It made for some good entertainment until they got everything set up.

These totes held some of the fertilizers we used. They included Zumsil, which is a silicon, that helps with disease and drought tolerance and is supposed to improve yields. We also used liquid fish and Maxi Crop, which is a sea based nutrient source.

And filling up with water.

June

June was spent growing and butchering chickens and making hay. July was much the same, with no rain. I don't have any pictures from July.

One day at the butcher shop we were having too much fun and decided these chickens looked like they were just chilling out pool side! Sometimes you just have to make your own humor to stay sane!

We had great help getting the birds in to the freezer. The boys liked to "go fishing" and the girls were good at getting the bags ready for us.

Some of the hay that we made....we weren't able to get enough, but some is better than none.

Towards the end of June we move the heifers that were just up the road at our farm to the North of us down to the home farm. Instead of loading them all in to a trailer, we just walked them down the road as it's only about a half mile.

August

Finally we're caught up to August.

We are dry again this summer. We've had to feed hay early for the past five years and it's taking a toll on us in many ways. Our ideal is to have enough pasture to graze until about Christmas time, and then feed stored feed from then until late March/early April. When we have to start feeding hay in September and October it puts a strain on everything. We are trying to do some analyzing and figure out what steps we should be taking. Right now we have about a week of grass left, unless we would get some good soaking rain soon. We seem to be an area that the rain splits right around us.

Kyle was able to take the cows across the road to the North to utilize some pasture that we don't usually use for the milk cows and that gave us an extra week of grazing.

The other day the storm clouds rolled in and I was hopeful that they would settle over us, but they were moving too fast and mostly to the North of us. We did get a quarter inch out of that. Afterwards the sun was shining and a beautiful rainbow draped in the sky to the East and the Western sky was brilliant with the sun shining bright through the clouds. It was like a dirty window had been polished and everything was clearer. Later a beautiful sunset filled the sky. It was a good reminder that ultimately things are not in our control.

These sights reminded me of Psalm 19:1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Until next time.

-Renae