From one generation to the next: National Ag Day

Today is National Ag Day, and this year’s theme is “Generations Nourishing Generations.” It couldn’t be worded more perfectly, and if our farm were to have a motto, that would be about as close as we could get.

The whole reason for everything we do is for the next generation, and the one after that, and the one…well, you get what I mean. It’s the reason I became involved in agriculture advocacy, it’s the reason I started this blog, and it’s the reason I continue to communicate with those willing to talk to me. And I will keep going, as long as I can.

This farm started in the hopes of providing a brighter future for those being raised here – and we continue to have the same hopes and aspirations.

Whether it be through the gifts we are given...

Whether it be through the gifts we are given…

...the moments we share...

…the moments we share…

...the fences we cross...

…the fences we cross…

...or the challenges we face.

…or the challenges we face.

One thing I know for certain, I will enjoy every minute of watching the next generation grow and appreciate the land that we have come to love. And that is the best gift of all.

How are you celebrating National Ag Day?

From our next generation to yours...

From our next generation to yours…

 

 

 

 

WW – Calving 2013

I have a lot of stuff running through my head, but not enough time to write it all down. Here’s some cuteness to get you through the day:

A peak at a new calf through the gate in the barn.

A peak at a new calf through the gate in the barn.

Fresh on the farm!

Fresh on the farm!

This is the fourth bull calf from #27, the famous cow the tweets!

This is the fourth bull calf from #27, the famous cow the tweets!

Just catching some rays!

Just catching some rays!

Strike a pose!

Strike a pose!

Most kids get in trouble when they drink milk straight from the carton!

Most kids get in trouble when they drink milk straight from the carton!

WW – Calving workout fashions

I’m short on words today. Well, actually, more like out of breath and can’t talk, but same difference.

This morning, Boss Man called and needed help getting a cow in. She wasn’t supposed to calve yet, so she was out with the rest of the herd. We bring them in as their due dates arrive, so that we can carefully watch those that are close, and still give lots of exercise and space to those that are further out. This cow ended up giving birth to a dead calf. What was the problem? We’ll never really know, but since our herd has a high percentage of twin calves born, Boss Man thought that she may have a second calf, so we needed to bring her in.

Problem was, she didn’t want to come in.

In fact, she rather preferred being out where she was.

And so she kept returning.

And returning.

And after chasing her through knee-deep snow for 45 minutes, her and four of her best bussie buddies decided to come into the yard…as if it were their own idea.

Needless to say, it was a really great, intense cardio workout. And I would have appreciated it more, had I not just finished 20 minutes on the elliptical. Seriously. The scale better show some excellent progress tomorrow.

That being said, I have to give props to my boot purchase from last summer. I picked up a pair of Bogs on clearance at a nearby Scheels store. (Nearby being 2 1/2 hours from here. Distance is relative, I guess.)

I love my new boots! Comfy, warm, and they stay on my feet! (And just so happen to be cute!)

I love my new boots! Comfy, warm, and they stay on my feet! (And just so happen to be cute!)

I always wore Muck boots, but they would make the backs of my ankles sore after walking in the snow for any length of time. These fit like a glove, keep my feet warm and dry, and I don’t have to worry about Boss Man slipping them on accidentally! (Or any of the boys, either!)

Nap time, here I come…

No one gave me these boots, I paid for them with my own money…or it may have been a gift card…or something. Point is, neither company know that I exist, and all the thoughts above are my own – as scattered as they may be.

Calving season has started

Yesterday was a day to mark down on our calendars – literally. We had two heifers calve, which means that calving season has officially begun. Unfortunately, one calf was born dead, which is always a hard situation to take.

So what went wrong? Well, somehow, during the birthing process, the calf ended up having a foot back. You see, a calf should be born like this:

But instead, it looked something like this:

And Boss Man did what he could to bring the foot forward, so the calf could be born safely, but sometimes it doesn’t work out…and this was one of those cases. We do our best not to intervene unless we have to, but you never know what Mother Nature has in store for you.

This morning I was fortunate to go out right at sunrise. And with the new day:

At first light, I noticed something on the straw.

At first light, I noticed something on the straw.

The sun was just kissing the sky as I went out.

Comes new beginnings:

This heifer is a good mama.

The only problem with the calf being born on the straw, is that it’s only 19 degrees outside. Not ideal for a wet, warm calf fresh to the world. So I called Boss Man down and let him know what was going on. New mothers aren’t always predictable, can be feisty and mean, and really don’t appreciate their calves being messed with…so I let my hubby deal with the logistics of getting the calf someplace warmer. (It’s kind of like him doing laundry, I’m not happy, he’s not happy, so it’s just best if I do it myself.)

Boss Man uses the calf sled to bring the calf to the barn. Mama is close behind, making sure her calf is safe and doesn’t get too far from her!

The last 12 hours have had its highs and lows, but I know that we are where we’re supposed to be…and days like today make it all worthwhile.

No man needs sympathy because he has to work . . . Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

– Theodore Roosevelt

Flat Aggie visits our farm

We had a visitor at our farm this week. He didn’t eat much, didn’t take up much room, but wanted to learn about what we do. His name is Flat Aggie, and he’s a project that was started by a teacher in California.

Many people are aware of Flat Stanley, the popular children’s book that follows the adventures of a paper man. This project is very similar, except the teacher sends Flat Aggie to farms across the country, hoping to learn through Flat Aggie’s travels all about what happens on the farm.

So what did Flat Aggie learn about on our farm? He helped with tagging our heifers with their cow tags. (To learn more about what the cow tags mean, such as their color, read more here.) For our heifers, that’s kind of like being adopted. When we switch out their calf tag with a cow tag, we’re including them in our herd.

A simple hair cut around the ears helps us see the cow tag better. Notice how the number on the left is much easier to see than the number on the right? Thanks, Flat Aggie, for the help!

A simple hair cut around the ears helps us see the cow tag better. Notice how the number on the left is much easier to see than the number on the right? Thanks, Flat Aggie, for the help!

While we were tagging the heifers, Flat Aggie also helped us trim the hair growing in the cattle’s ears. This makes it easier to see the tag numbers when we are working with the cattle. It’s important that we’re able to know which cow we’re dealing with from a distance, so that we can keep track of health, calving progress, etc.

This heifer (meaning she's going to have her first calf soon) is trading her yellow calf tag in for a blue cow tag!

This heifer (meaning she’s going to have her first calf soon) is trading her yellow calf tag in for a blue cow tag!

The last thing Flat Aggie helped us with was giving pre-calving vaccinations. For our cattle, this is very important for the health of the unborn calf. Think of it as a pregnant woman getting a flu shot. The risk of being ill while pregnant, or immediately after the baby is born is greater than the minimal risk of the vaccination. In cattle, even more so.

Before she goes back to eating her breakfast, this heifer gets a shot that will help protect her unborn calf from illness.

Before she goes back to eating her breakfast, this heifer gets a shot that will help protect her unborn calf from illness.

The best part of having Flat Aggie visit our farm? Being able to see things from another perspective. Having to figure out how to explain what we do so that a student could understand was a real eye-opening experience. And it’s great to connect to others across the country that are interested in what we do, but really have no way of finding out, other than through activities like this.

Did it take a little time? Of course. Was it worth it? Without a doubt.

Flat Aggie will be moving on to his next farm, learning his next lesson, sharing his next story. But you don’t need to have a piece of paper to encourage you to share your story. You can do it all on your own.

Trust me, people are wanting to hear what you have to say…you just have to take the step to share it.

When the wife responds…

I have a ton of stuff to get you all caught up on, but I have to share my little story first.

Last night, as I was reading through our emails (they sometimes pile up a mile high, you know?), I caught a message from Boss Man’s friend, who just so happens to be an equipment dealer. He was getting Mark some information regarding the upgrade that they talked about for our payloader (it’s a machine that Mark uses to clean the manure out of the cattle lots, move junk, sometimes snow, etc.).

Well, an upgrade was all news to me. We have a ton of house projects that we need to work on, but I didn’t know that he was thinking about changing some of the equipment. And, truthfully, it’s not real surprising, since I’m usually the last to know! 🙂

I apparently was feeling pretty cheeky last night, because I decided to pay my dear hubby back by replying to the email. And this is what I wrote:

After consulting with my beautiful wife, I've decided that to
spend more money on farm equipment is futile. I shall spend
the rest of my days trying to please her exquisite tastes,
flying to the corners of the world, taking trips abroad, and
showing her the seven wonders of the world...of which, she is
the eighth. Sorry, but I will no longer have time for trivial
things, such as cattle, hunting or just wasting time away
visiting with others.

I followed with:

Yeah, well, I guess I’ll pass this message on to Mark. 😉

 

Lesson of the day: Perhaps we should discuss major purchases…you never know who will respond to the email!

Yes on North Dakota Measure 3

Did you know that America’s farmers and ranchers produce 16 percent of the total world food production on just 10 percent of the world’s land?

Agriculture and related industries provide jobs for more than 21 million Americans. That’s 15 percent of the total U.S. workforce.

In 1940, each U.S. farmer annually fed approximately 19 people in the U.S. and abroad. In 1960, each farmer feed about 46 people. In 1980, 115. In 2000, 139. Today, each U.S. farmer feeds approximately 154 people here and abroad. And they are doing it with fewer inputs, and on fewer acres.

Farming and agriculture is the backbone of our country, but more importantly, it’s the number one industry in North Dakota. Long after the oil boom has come and gone, farming will still be growing our economy and providing for our state and our country.

 

Waiting his turn…his dad is in the tractor, his grandpa is in the combine. Is his future in jeopardy?

 

Measure 3 is a constitutional amendment that will ensure that out-of-state interests and activist groups will not be able to pass ballot initiatives that would jeopardize our heritage of agriculture. This measure would protect the way of life that has made North Dakota a great state and a great place to raise a family.

But there are misconceptions about what this measure is about, and we’d like to clear those up. This measure is NOT about farming systems, it doesn’t pit organic versus conventional or large versus small. This measure would ensure that if you wanted to use GPS and auto steer in your tractor, that would be allowed. You would be allowed to raise livestock of your choosing without worrying that some out-of-state feel-good group is going to tell you that your buildings or fences are abusive to the animal. You would also be allowed to make your own individual seed and chemincal choices on your farm, including heirlooms, biotechnology, organic or conventional. A law could not be passed determining what is right for all farms in North Dakota, those decisions would be left to each farm to make.

The measure is NOT about removing local control. It would not limit local zoning ordinances, nor would it remove the power from local and state governments for regulations.

Measure 3 IS about allowing farmer’s markets and other niche consumer activities to continue to grow and prosper, it’s about giving people choices and protecting our past, present and future. The constitutional amendment is intentionally broad enough to stand the test of time, yet focused enough to protect what North Dakota holds dear.

For those that would question whether regulations would still be allowed, we give you an example of another constitutional right. We have the right to bear arms, but with that right also comes limitations, responsibilities and regulations. The same is true for agriculture.

We just want the right to farm, without risk of having someone else from out of state taking that right away.