Friday, June 10, 2011


Guest Post By Lana of Real Farmwives of America and Walking the Off-Beaten Path

Chores…..On the farm….. Where do I begin?

Maybe the biggest job that separates what we do on the farm from what others do is our chores.  Especially if you have livestock.  It’s one of those 24/7, 2-3 time a day things we HAVE TO DO or else our critters will not live very long.  I had my eyes opened to that while dating my dairyman husband for six years.  Right before we married, my husband’s family sold the dairy, and we had a cow/calf operation for a few years, but we ended up with feeder cattle.  Raising feeder cattle means we buy then when they are just weaned, at about 500-600 pounds, and feed them out to market size, which is around 12,000-13,000 pounds.  To gain this weight within a year’s time, they have to be fed at least twice a day, and their feed is mixed up right here on the farm with a variety of ingredients that we either raise or buy.

My husband does most of the feeding because it is a bit complicated, and our feeding conveyors and mechanisms are a bit antiquated.

However, I did pull feeding duty for a couple of two month stretches when my husband had two of is three back surgeries.  Both times were in the dead of winter. 

Good news?  The manure was frozen most of the time.  Bad news?  Everything else tended to freeze up too.

The manure starts to thaw around March.

Here’s a picture of the buttons I had to push.  They are numbered in a certain order, but I never used that particular order.

And I had to keep this gauge right around the 25 mark.  That told me how fast the silage came out of the silo on to the conveyor.

We raise and cut our own silage right around the end of August or first of September, depending on how soon the corn starts to dry down.  Silage is just regular field corn harvested just before it starts to turn brown.

We also feed the cows grass hay that we bale in the summer time.

To go along with all this, we purchase a variety of ingredients prescribed by our feed man.  One main ingredient is corn gluten.

So, all of these steps are vital in the process of feeding our cows.  My husband grinds feed about once every ten days, and he feeds the cows twice a day, regardless of weather and important life events like taking his wife out for dinner for our tenth anniversary coming up at the end of the month! ;-)

I jest, kind of, BUT this “have to do now” business of farming reeks havoc on calendars and schedules.  It is very hard to commit to plans too far in advance; we simply do not know what we will be doing.  Want to get together for the 4th of July? Well……that’s about the time we harvest wheat and bale straw.  It all depends on the weather and maturity of the crop.  Not sure if we will have all the beans sprayed either.  I can’t give you a definite yes or no, and I may not know until that day what we can and cannot do.  We also have to make sure that the cows get fed that night.   Friends of farmers need to understand this aspect of farming.  It is farm and livestock first, THEN we can think about the gravy. 

Do the girls help with chores?  Nope, at least not yet.  Our cows are too big for them to be out and about with, at least for me they are.  This summer we are introducing chores for both girls that involve a lot of household stuff and taking care of our smaller four-legged critters. 

This will get them ready for next year when our oldest will be old enough to show animals at the fair.  Not too sure what if any animal she will show, but this year she is getting her feet, uhm, let’s stay with wet in the business of livestock care.


Michelle said...

I really enjoyed your blog on doing chores. My kids are too little to help too. But I am sure the day will be here before we know it.

Cranberry Morning said...

I know that farm life is not an easy life, that's for sure.

13,000 pounds?? Wow, I feel thinner already! They're monsters, aren't they.

ann said...

You are right on it is always something.

Jent said...

Great Post!

Cranberry Morning - I think she accidently hit one too many zero's, cattle usually finish out around 1200 - 1300 pounds!

Lana said...

Well DANG! You are right Jent; the cows weight out at 1,200-1,300 pounds. See this is why I taught English all those years! :-)

MilkMaid09 said...

I'm a little late getting to this post because it was a crazy weekend. See? Chores even get in the way of my bloggy time! My husband and I have been together for 7 years and my family STILL can't comprehend that we milk cows at 4:00 EVERY DAY. Christmas, birthdays, 4th of July, sick days, wet days, cold days. . . HOT days. . . everyday. The guys usually do take over chores when there's an event going on and "let" (more like "make-so-they-don't-have-to-go") us women-folk go, but I have been known to use chores to get out of doing something I don't want to, haha. See? They're good for something sometimes!