Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shopping verses working

We are working on our free stall barn...a long overdue project.

 First things first, we have some post holes to dig.  Duane was going to do what he does best, spend days reworking his uncles old post hole digger.  I argued that we just need to buy our own, besides I am planning on putting up a lot of fence in the spring.  Then he tells me that the digger I want costs more because of the skid steer we have.

I think we need to ditch the skid steer with the funky attachment requirements.   It was another money saving fixer upper of his.  Nobody likes to drive it because the steering is worn out and it jerks all over.

So yesterday we went traveling with the kids across Michigan looking at skid steers, used of course. I like to shop, but I am also cheap.  Not quite as cheap as my husband, but cheap and scared of going belly up in this crazy economy.

I do believe that we are having a new (used) skid steer and new post hole digger delivered next week.  Duane just has to relax and not second guess himself too much.

I know, it looks kind of rough, but it is actually only 3 years old with low hours.  Manure has a way of making paint disappear, and this skid steer came from another dairy farm.  As long as the working parts work, I'm okay with the paint job.  We'll splatter our own manure on it and no one will be the wiser.

So my bottom line is that he spent some money and the day with his family in exchange for spending several days working alone in his shop on someone elses junk to save money.  I call it a fair trade off.  Besides, this is our first real farm purchase together sense taking over the operation.  I am very excited about that.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Homeopathy for the animals

 We have a very competent young lady taking care of our calves, Emily.  I offered her the job because I have known her for years and have great respect for the way she cares for animals. 

Both my husband and father in law were sure I was making a big mistake.  Truth be told, they just hate change of any sort.  Once the calves had been there awhile and we had our end of the system figured out, both men decided that it was a good choice.  The calves were all doing great under her care.

Then it all went south.  The calves began getting the shooting diarrhea.  Gross, and unhealthy.  We did some research, spent lots of money.  Poor Emily cleaned like no other.  She again proved to be the best in her field, bleaching and cleaning, keeping each calf bucket for an individual, avoiding any cross contamination.  Lots of work for her, and nothing changed, still the shooting pooh.  Yuck!

I agreed to take the next sick calf into the college to be checked.  Then I got the call at 9 pm on a Saturday that she had one ready to go- I didn't think of that when I agreed!  So I called a friend to find out what the procedure was to get a vet there at night on a weekend.  She gave me the information I had requested, but then added advice.  She thought I should try a homeopathic vet she uses from Louisiana.  Hey, it meant I did not have to go hook up the trailer in the freezing cold, haul a calf 40 miles and spend a fortune on yet another vet bill.

I ended up talking to Glen Dupree.  He sent me after a little pill and some heath food store remedy.  Less than $200 later and we have a very happy calf raise (Emily was tired of being poohed on) and healthy calves again.  Thank you to Laura for the advice and Glen Dupree for the inexpensive fix that really does work.

If you are at all interested in the homeopathic remedies, here is a link to Glen Dupree.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dairy Farming

I just started following another dairy farmers blog.  Reading it made me really stop and think about my own blessings.  There are a lot of people out there suffering with these milk prices. 

We barely made it in 2009, but we had a head start. First we are running a family farm that has been around for over a century, lots of stuff is paid for.  Then we sold lots of old scrap steel at great prices, that helped kick start the year for us, plus clean up the place.  In 2009 milking cows lost us money, but we had other means to keep our farm going. 

This past year milk prices were better, but not great.  We were able to make do, then sell crops at great prices.   Again, we are blessed to have other commodities to sell.  We always sell soybeans and wheat, but we even had a good enough harvest to sell some extra corn.

Our story is a good one, but there are lots of young farms out there that don't have tons of old steel laying around from decades of farming.  Or they just grow enough crops to feed their cows, no great crop price will help you there. Even worse, there are farmers who have to buy feed for their cows. These great prices for corn can work the other way for many farms.  They might not be able to buy the feed they need to keep their cows fed.

I hope when you say your dinner prayers, you will include those farmers who are struggling to afford to work all day every day to feed your family.