Archive for December, 2014

Favorite Pictures from 2014

I decided to “try” and pick some of my favorite pictures I took this year from the thousands I took! Enjoy!

January

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February

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March

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April

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May

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June

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July

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August

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September

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October

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November

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December

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And that my friends is seeing life through the lens of a country gal.

Bunk Feeding with Vertical Mixer Wagon-Part 2

This is an update to the first post Bunk Feed with Vertical Mixer Wagon.

Week 1:  After a full week of using the mixer wagon, Gene is very pleased and happy with what he sees at this point.  Several observations:

1.  He was feeding 6 round bales a day in the hay rings.  This week he has bunk-fed 4 bales with the mixer wagon.

2.  The cows are content and not all crowding the bunk at one time. They eat and go out to graze or lay in the pasture chewing their cud.  There seem to be some cows around the bunk most of the time.

3. This does not speed up the feeding routine. The total process actually takes a little longer; however he can do other things while the bales are mixing.  Some of the round bales are lighter and fluffier and some are wrapped tighter and heavier and are a coarser stem hay.  The lighter bales grind and mix much quicker-20 minutes. He is putting a lighter bale in first and then topping with the tighter which are taking much longer to grind.  It is taking 25-30 minutes to grind the two bales. If they were both soft bales it would take less time.  He is pleased with the consistency of the hay and the cows are cleaning up the bunk so there is no waste.  At some point he would like to have a bale slicer for the tighter bales to speed the mixing/grinding process.

4.  He is using more fuel because of the time it takes to grind but he is also feeding less bales of hay.

5.  He is putting a mixture of water and Purina Superlix on the hay as it is mixing. It is making an excellent quality forage, smells good and also cuts down on dust.  He is using 130 gallons water and 7.5 gallons Superlix per 2 bales which means each cow is getting 1 lb. of Superlix.  The young calves are really eating at the bunk.

Week 2: The weather has turned colder with rain.  He has had to up the ration to 5 bales but if he was feeding round bales, he would have also had to up the quantity fed.

1.  He tried putting the third bale (it was a tighter bale) in the mixer and that did not go well as it took too long to mix-he lost his efficiency.  He wants to try a lighter one and see how that goes.

2.  He has sent off a sample to the lab for analysis and is anxious to get the results back.

Spot

We have this cow; Gene calls her Spot. She is our rogue, fence walker, gate checker, “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” cow.

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This morning as Gene and I were standing at the patio doors looking out over the pasture he said, “here comes Spot”! We watched her march up the driveway from the back pasture, heading straight to the gate.  Occasionally she would stop and glance towards the house as if she was checking to see if anyone was looking.  It was obvious what her mission was.

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 She looked the gate and noted that it was closed and then looked around to see if anyone was watching before going back the way she came.  (She didn’t see me catching her on security camera!).  She walked all the way up the pasture just to look at that beautiful closed gate!

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If Gene goes through the gate and leaves it open for awhile, she is the one who will find it even if she is nowhere in sight. There is this alarm system that goes off in her brain- boss has left the gate open-go for it.

Quite often in the summer time we see her down on her front knees, head stretched under the fence eating grass even though there is plenty of grass on her side of the fence.  It is a defiant “just because I can do it” attitude.

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Maybe it is her spots-she is the unique cow in the herd of mostly black angus.  Somehow the spots fit her well, individualist bovine that she is!

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Bunk Feeding with Vertical Mixer Wagon

IMG_6847 IMG_6869 One of the joys in the life of a farmer is getting a big project completed. My farmer hubby has been dreaming, planning and researching this bunk feeding project for months. While I surfed facebook in the evenings, he was browsing the web looking at other farmers’ ideas and equipment, trying to figure out what he wanted, was economically feasible and would work best for his situation. We have approximated 150 plus brood cows plus young stock. For years we have been using round bales feeders  but the cows make a terrible, muddy mess around the  feeders in the winter which means there is hay that gets wasted.  Gene felt he needed to have a something different before this winter. Finally the pieces began to fall together and this weekend he completed the bunk and it was ready to use.

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I climbed up on that ladder and looked inside…..

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There were some serious looking blades inside the mixer.

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The mixer will grind and hold 2 round bales at a time.  It takes about 20 minutes to grind a load and he can grind on the go.

 

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The mixer grinds the round bale into small pieces and mixes it all together; the best with the not so best of the hay.

This keeps the cows from wasting hay-they eat it all and all the cows get to eat the same thing. The more timid cows who stand back and wait will get the same mix of hay as the more aggressive ones. They say you save about 30% doing it this way.  Last year he baled 1900 bales and this year he only got 1200.  He had to figure out a way to stretch the hay!

You can also mix feed supplements such as Purina Superlix, corn or other commodities such as brewers grain with the hay.

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At first the cows paid no attention. They were laying out by the hay rings waiting on their supper!

Suddenly one cow who was off in the woods on the side caught on to what was happening. She came out with her calf and started bawling-alerting her herdmates that food was now on the table!

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It wasn’t long until the whole herd was bawling and coming to the bunk.

(We even had a neighbor email and wonder what the ruckus was about with the cows tonight and if everything was ok!)

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Gene talking to his cows as they came to the bunk.

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The first to the bunk!

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It wasn’t long until they were lined up munching away.

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My view from the house.

It took 2 batches (4 bales) to fill the 288 foot bunk.

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Below is a video of filling the bunks.

A note about the video: First you will see Gene filling the bunk and then you will see a cow from the side figure out supper was being served. She starts bawling and then you can see the other cows start to get restless and start bawling. When Gene calls them they start coming. They know the tractor means feeding time but something different is happening. If you notice they are laying around their empty bale rings waiting for them to be filled.

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All fall he has been working hard …..

First there were a few trees to be removed. Our son, Keith, did the tree removal, grading and setting of the bunk.

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Gene is removing a fence that was in the way and will be relocated.

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Setting the bunks on a good base of ground up asphalt from a highway project.

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Graveled the driveway.

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The long term goal is to have a roof and a concrete slab but sometimes things have to happen in stages!

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280 foot loooooooong! Gene figured he need 2 foot per cow.

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Building a fence to keep the cows off the drive through side.

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Finishing touches.

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Making an electric cattle guard.

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He has an electric cattle guard at each end of the bunk. The wires are maybe 6″ above the ground and he can drive over it.

The cattle won’t cross it as they can smell the electricity. They use this method out west on roads where cattle roam the open plain. Time will tell if this works.

Gene says the cattle will tell him what they like and don’t like, what works and doesn’t work and he will make adjustments.

A farmer knows how to interpret the actions of his cows!

Note: When you do something different there are always things to learn.  We are now on day 2 and Gene is very pleased with what he sees happening.  The cows are contented, eating off and on all day and not crowding the bunk.  The four bales lasted 24 hours. He had been feeding 5-6 bales.  We will see how this figures out-whether this trend continues. This evening he added some water and Purina Superlix to the hay as it was mixing. He really liked the results. Below is an update after a about 10 days of usage.

 Bunk Feeding with Vertical Mixer Wagon-Part 2

Shoo-fly Cupcake Recipe

I can not take one ounce of credit for this recipe-it came from a friend, Joyce Lehman, who says she got it from Evie Hostetter.  Recipes passed from friend to friend are the best and this is an incredibly delicious cupcake and gets even better after a day or two. So sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy!

Mix together and reserve 1 cup to sprinkle on the top

2-1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour

1/2 cup butter, soften

1-1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tsp. baking powder

 

Add remaining ingredients and beat well:

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1-1/2 c. boiling water

1 tsp. soda

 

Fill cupcakes 1/2 full and sprinkle top with reserved mixture. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Yield: 22-24 cupcakes.

Cake: 13″x 9″ pan. Bake 350 for 40-45 minutes.

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