So far, so good

Last night’s trip here to Rochester was uneventful. We were able to meet up with friends in the Cities and ate at Fogo de Chao’s (a Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouse). It was wonderful! But the company was even better. It’s great to meet up with friends and take a moment to relax and enjoy yourself, even if it’s just for an hour or two.

George likes to keep up-to-date on the Royal Wedding details.

Today’s appointment went pretty well. The blood draw part went better than expected. It usually takes several tries and a few different pokers. But this morning was a one-time shot. It was great! (Maybe the extra flesh on his bones has helped?)

Then we were off to see the dietician. She had good news for us, telling us that his ammonia level had dropped by almost half. (Proof that the diet is truly working.) They want to see it below 20 and we hit 18. Yay, George!

Boss Man was a little disappointed. He asked her if George would someday be able to enjoy a hamburger with the family. She burst his bubble when she told him, “Probably not.” He’s holding out hope that maybe a slider wouldn’t count as a full burger, so I’ll let him live with that dream for awhile.

The surprising news? She told us to start watching calories. Yeah, imagine that. We’ve been struggling with putting on weight, fighting for every pound. Now she tells us to back off. That’s just medicine for you, always changing.

His heighth has hit the 41st percentile, but weight is now at a whopping 93rd percentile. From a boy that was born at over the 95th percentile, then dropping off the chart, we’re now where a Wagner boy normally resides…well into the top of the charts! What a blessing!

We travel economically. Make-do cribs! (Just kidding!) :)

I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes. It’s snowing now, so we’ll see how our trip home progresses…if the docs don’t change our plans.

Here is Ag Book of the Day 12, a suggested reading by my sister-in-law. I don’t own this book, but it will definitely be added to our farm library!

A Brand Is Forever

“A Brand is Forever” by Ann Herbert Scott. It’s about a young girl who has a pet heifer, and she’s nervous about branding hurting her pet. The book explains why we brand, and walks through the process. What a great book for those that are familiar with branding, as well as someone who is questioning why we brand! (I think this would work for the parents, as well as the child!)

I’d love to hear any other suggestions! And thank you, for all the thoughts, prayers and support. It’s been a long ride, but we’re keeping our heads above water!

Roadtrip

We are on the road again. We will be in Rochester sometime this evening, for doctor appointments the next few days. I know George isn’t a big fan of the trips, so it’ll be interesting.

I’m still going to try to blog every day. Had I been far enough ahead with all of this, I would have had my blogs ready to roll before we left, but that’s never worked out so well for me! If I plan far enough in advance, something always falls through. Oh well, our lives are exciting to say the least!

Spring has decided to play games with us, and winter has once again reared its ugly head. It’s snowing now again, as we speak. Yuck. I’m ready for sunshine and green grass, but maybe that will be here when we get back? One can always hope.

Here’s a few pics of EJ being helpful and shoveling our sidewalk. Love his enthusiasm!

Not what you want to see in April!

 

EJ love the "shubel" that Grandma B. gave him for Christmas! Maybe next year we will get him a snowblower.

Here it is, Ag Book of the Day 10:

“Little Star…Raising Our First Calf” by Twins Rianna and Sheridan Chaney. It’s a great story about twin girls and their experiences on the farm. I love how they define words in children’s terms at the back of the book. For example, “Manure – A fancy name for cow poop.” The pictures are great, and my kids love to see other kids involved in agriculture. Kindred souls, I guess.

Little Star... Raising Our First Calf<br />
First in a new children's agricultural book series.  Rianna and Sheridan Chaney hope their experiences on the farm will help children understand the importance of farm animals and inspire them to appreciate all of God's creatures

Reflecting (Ag Book of the Day 10)

I’ve been reading more and more situations lately, where churches and others are making broad statements regarding farming, and the decisions that farmers should make.

I have a real hard time with that. I do not know of one farmer that would ever make a decision, based solely on financial gain, without thinking to the future or what will happen to their land if they abuse or misuse it. Yet, those are the implications that are made everyday by some that are not actually physically involved in production agriculture. Now, I’m not so naive as to think that those types of farmers/ranchers don’t exist, but we can’t cast down all of agriculture for them, can we?

Well, I don’t want to delve too deeply into it today, because it’s Friday, and it’s snowing, and I’m already in a bad mood. But I want to bring your attention to a blog I wrote about it a little while back…and I still stand behind it today. What if these tools have been given to us to use? What if technology isn’t an “accident” at all? Hmmm…

Anyway…on to Ag Book of the Day 10:

Today, I went with an old stand-by…not because I don’t have any others to choose from, but because I have it on my Kindle. How’s that for combining traditional ag-themed children’s books and modern technology??? Without further ado, welcome to

“Old McDonald Had a Farm” and it’s now available wirelessly! :)
not only does it have great illustrations (if you have the original version, the illustrations are definitely funnier, and not so politically correct!), but it also teaches young children about the sounds of the farm, and how busy it can be! And who can forget one of the greatest nursery rhymes of all time???
I just had to throw this one in the mix, since it is on my Kindle. Next week I’ll be back to more obscure and lesser-known books, but for now…ENJOY!

Ag Book of the Day 9

Today’s Ag Book of the Day was brought to my attention by my dear, dear friend Katie at Pinke Post:

“If You’re Not From the Prairie” by David Bouchard and Henry Ripplinger. It’s suggested for children in grades four through seven, but I believe any child of any age can relate to the amazing lines of poetry.

Although I do not own this book yet, I will by the end of the weekend…if the weather allows us to travel. (We’re under a winter storm warning for tomorrow…Yay!)

This book has beautiful poetry and great illustrations of what life is really like on the prairie. It’s a strong reminder of all the things that we take for granted, especially when winter is dragging on a day or three too long!

Do you have any other suggestions of ag-related books that you enjoy? Young or old alike?

Signs of spring – Ag Book of the Day 8

For those new to my blog, the month of april is Cultivating Reading month at our school. In support of such a great month, I’ve decided to feature an Ag Book for each day of school. Today is day eight!

And since we’re entering the half-way point of April (and it’s Wordless Wednesday…hmmm, Wordy Wednesday?), I’ve decided to include some pics of sure signs of spring:

Lilacs budding? Check.

Tulips coming up? Check.

Green grass? Sandal weather? Check and check.

Shop open for repairs?

Parts arrived? Check.

But the best sign of spring? Outdoor bathroom is open for business.

Today’s Ag Book of the Day is:

When the Rooster Crowed

“When the Rooster Crowed” by Patricia Little. It’s a really great book about a farmer that wants just a few more moments of rest before starting his chores in the morning…but too many people and animals are relying on him! It’s a cute story, with great illustrations, and my boys love reading it, especially when they’ve gone one too many mornings without seeing Dad.

Records – Part 2 (Ag Book of the Day 7)

So, as promised yesterday, I said that I would explain what records we keep for our heifers (females that haven’t had a calf).

At birth, the records are the same. We keep track of the cow number, the sire (or bull), date of birth, weight at birth, calving ease number and weaning weight (adjusted to 205 days). The only thing that is different, is when we decide to keep a heifer to include her in our herd.

As I’ve mentioned before in my blog, bull calves get white tags at birth, heifer calves get yellow tags. If a heifer is chosen to stay in the herd, she keeps that yellow tag until after she’s been bred with her first calf. Sometime between breeding and calving, those heifer tags are switched to a new cow tag, the chosen color for that year and a new number.

That’s why it’s so important to have those records. This way we can keep track of which calves came from which cow, which bull sired which calves, etc. This way, if we have really large calves, we can see if the bull is the problem, or if there are other genetic abnormalities or issues. Also, we can make sure that no heifer is bred to its own bloodline.

Boss Man writes down the calving information in a small notebook that he keeps in his pocket, then he transfers that information to his calving book that he keeps in the shop. We used to keep that information in the kitchen, so I could help with writing out tags and such, but one Easter morning, right before church, we found out that Scooter knew how to use a Z-tag marker.

What happens when you have a child find a Z-tag marker right before church on Easter Sunday. (Pic is of Scooter, Big Bro, EJ and their cousin)

So, needless to say, Boss Man does all his own tags now…in the shop.
On to Ag Book of the Day 7 – “Senses on the Farm” by Shelley Rotner.
I had the privilege of being able to be involved with the American Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher committee that read this book to a small, young classroom outside of Atlanta this year. It’s a great book, with great pictures, allowing lots of discussion and question-answering.

A matter of record – Ag Book of the Day 6

I was asked if I could explain the records that we keep for our herd, so I will do my best to do just that. (And I’m willing to take other blog requests!)

Before I get to the details, let me tell you that our record-keeping has joined the 20th century (I would say 21st, but we don’t use smart phones…yet) and it’s mostly computer-based, and has been since 1988. We use what is called CHAPS, or Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software.

We have one of these for every calving season, since 1988.

This is how the typical method of record keeping goes for a calf – from birth to sale barn (let’s just say that this particular calf is a steer, since most steers are sold). (And to clarify, a steer was born a bull calf, but was castrated within a few months from birth.)

Shortly after birth, the cow number, the sire (if known), date and weight is wrote down, as well as whether the calf is a bull or heifer. The calf number is the same as the cow, as long as it’s a single birth and both the cow and calf are healthy. The other number that is recorded at birth is the calving ease number.

Calving ease is just what it sounds like…how easily the calf was born. It’s a 1-5 scale, with 1 = no assistance, 2 = minor difficulty, some assistance (Boss Man may have to assist by using the obstetrical chains and pulling some, but just using his own strength, no mechanical assistance.), 3 = major difficulty, usually mechanical assistance (such as a calving jack), 4 = caesarean section (surgical removal of calf), and 5 = abnormal presentation (such as backwards calf, or feeling a tail, not a head).

In the fall of the year, the calves are weighed and weaned (adjusted to 205 days). We keep track of their weight, so that we can figure out what their gain was from weaning to sale time. That way we can make adjustments to feed, weaning date, etc., for the next season (if numbers aren’t where we like), or we can be assured that we’re doing what we need to do, producing the best results we can.

The next time we weigh the steers would be right before sale time. Not only will we know what their average rate of daily gain is (usually 3 pounds per day for our herd), but we can also sort our cattle into different groups, making it better for the buyer (uniformity is always a goal).

Once our cattle go through the sale barn, we have no data on them. We don’t retain any type or percentage of ownership, so there is no reason for whomever is finishing them to harvest weight to let us know how they did.

Now, I’ve mentioned before that our herd is a closed one, meaning that every cow here was born here. We can trace back any cow, calf, etc. that’s on our farm to her origins. It’s kinda cool.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about our heifer and cow records. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask! I love answering questions about our farm and our herd!

And now on to today’s Ag Book of the Day – Day 6:

“Plow! Plant! Grow!” yet another John Deere book (but yet again, one of EJ’s absolute favorites!). It’s a board book, so it’s easy for even George to handle. The pictures are bright and colorful, and it talks about many of the different farming activities that happen on the farm. We don’t use all the methods that they cover, but it’s neat to be able to bring other methods into our discussions. Love it!