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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Break 2012

Well, Spring Break Week is over and boy was it a soggy one.  I am probably one of the few that does not complain when we get rain over Spring Break.  Why?  As a full time farmer, that means there aren’t many days that there isn’t something you should be doing outside, but when it rains you can convince yourself to take a break.  The boys and I enjoyed trying some new recipes for possible fair entries as well as cleaning the house.  I don’t know that they enjoyed the house cleaning, but they did do a great job helping me.  I always try to get the house clean and the freezer packed full of meals by the start of calving season.  By mid-March, the freezer is usually empty and the house is well… a disaster.  This was my chance to get it back in order before we start to plant corn.

Usually the last few weeks of calving, there are some odd things that show up just to remind you why you check the cattle every day.  Baby calves are usually born front feet first and their head is tucked between their knees.  We had a calf try coming ears first with no feet.  Unfortunately, he did not survive and hopefully his mother does not end up with a terrible infection from the trauma of trying to have a calf that way.  She was not looking so good today.  It is always hard to deal with these losses.  We check the older cows once a day, but if they start labor shortly after we feed she could be in labor for 24 hours before we come back to check on her again.  If they are in the middle of labor when we feed we try to go back within an hour to make sure they have had the calf.  Most older cows are only in active labor for an hour and 99% of them have no calving complications.  My parents took the boys to shooting sports practice since we knew that getting the calf out would make us late for practice.  Both sets of our parents help us out when the cattle change our plans for the day.  If it weren’t for grandparents and wonderful neighbors, our boys would miss out on a lot of activities.

We also had a calf that was born physically handicapped.  Her rear joints on one leg were folded up like she was laying and wouldn’t straighten out-almost like the hock joint (back leg knee) was fused together.  Her mother was wonderful to work with knowing that she needed help for her calf.  I just wish there was something we could do, but after speaking with 2 veterinarians there wasn’t much to do, since it was very difficult for her to stand and she nursed laying under the cow.  One even suggested it was a positional defect similar to something one of his own children had.

At least the rain brought some much needed moisture.  The ponds are full, the native grass is greening up, and the rain came nice and slow which means it soaked into the sub soil instead of just running off.  Deep subsoil moisture will help the corn we are getting ready to plant.  I don’t think the wheat really needed that much rain and cloudy weather, but it is still looking pretty good today in the sunshine.  I did have a busy week of 4-H activities:  Geology meeting, livestock judging contest, basketball practice, and getting a heifer halter broke so she can be shown.  I am actually sad to see the boys go back to school.  They are getting to be great help and provided some much needed positive energy this week!