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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Battle of the Bosses



Our farm is a bit unique in several ways. 
1. Both of us work on the farm full time and have no other job. 
2. We both have manager roles.  I am the Cattlewoman and take responsibility for the cattle and all the decisions.  The farmer (my husband) takes responsibility for the crops and all of those decisions. 
3. We help one another out depending on who has the most pressing jobs that need done.

This time of year the line between who has the more pressing items tends to be a bit blurred and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day and most days there isn’t enough energy left in our bodies at the end of the day.

This past week we worked on my To Do list:  Working cattle.  We were very lucky to find a teenager to help us work the calves, so we weren’t quite as tired at the end of the day. 
The vaccinations are given subcutaneous or under the skin.  If you are ever had an allergy shot, they are given under the skin.  Sometimes we do give some antibiotics or vitamins that are to be given in the muscle.  This is like when you get a tetanus shot…those really hurt.  We try not to give shots in the muscle because that can cause damage to the meat in the form of an abscess.  Yuck!!
The cows received shots for diseases that might make them abort their fetus when they get pregnant.  The calves get vaccinations for diseases that can cause death.  Cattle are much like humans in that lice like to latch onto them in the winter.  We did apply a product to kill the lice and flies.  The bull calves are castrated at this time as well.  They are less than 60 days old and the pain is the least at this time. 

There is really only one reason to have a bull around-to breed cows.  Bulls can be dangerous, unpredictable, and almost spiteful.  We have a pasture with several breeding bulls.  If you pull one out and do anything out of the ordinary with them, the whole group is thrown into a fight to see who will win the pecking order this time.  After a day or two, things settle back down and hopefully no one was injured in the fighting.  I have a friend who bought a bull for tens of thousands of dollars.  They took the bull home and put him with the other bulls they owned.  The fight for pecking order ended up with this bull having a broken hip.  He never bred a single cow for my friend and he had some expensive hamburger. 

Randy’s To Do List at this time of year is to plant corn along with a few other crop related events.  Even though it has been amazingly warm, we have a rule not to plant corn before April 1.  We practice what is called No Till Farming or Direct Seeding.  We do not work the ground like our father’s did.  This practice allows for better use of water in the soil (it leaves a mulch on top of the soil), reduces soil erosion (the mulch and previous crop stubble slow down water run off), and it greatly reduces our fuel usage.  Since we don’t till the soil, it does mean the soil stays cooler and if we get a freeze, our corn may not fair as well as our neighbors that do till. Here is what one of our fields looked like last year.  ( I forgot to take the camera with me yesterday in all my running around.)

Now that it is dry enough to work in the field, I feed the cattle with the help of my father in law and the Farmer takes care of getting corn planted.  As soon as I am finished with chores, I become the number one girl to call.  Anything goes wrong….I am the first phone call the farmer makes.  It is my job to get parts, pick up piles of corn seed the planter blows out on the ground (worth 100's of dollars), have fertilizer and seed to the field before he runs out, make sure he has food to eat, etc.  All while being a temporary single parent getting homework done, baths, 4-H chores, and supper for the boys.  It is no wonder one of my friends called us the corn planting widows.  But I love the challenge of everyday and can't imagine doing anything else or raising my kids any other way.

Well, I better go before the Farmer calls again.  

P.S. I will try to post some more pictures later this week, if the rain holds off and we can continue to work in the field.