As many of you know, I spend a majority of my time helping out on our dairy farm. Steve has dubbed me the “Fecal Manager,” because, as you know, titles are important.
Not. I am going to keep my title. I often share it with friends and family because I think it is hilarious!
I spend about 60 percent of my time every day working with manure in some shape or form – runny, lumpy, chunky, grainy. I clean the walkways. I clean the lounging lots and change out the bedding.
As miserable as it sounds it is all very important. Clean cows is a definite need on a dairy farm. To the left, if that’s where the picture ends up when I publish this story, is my main piece of equipment. (Well, it’s not actually this particular skid loader, I prefer the John Deere skid loader.) The inside of the bucket, as you can tell is covered with manure. That’s because I was already cleaning the poo out at 7 in the morning when I thought of doing this “Day in the Life of….”
I have recently been holed up in my way-to-large-home for several days. Over the weekend, I was suffering from a migraine that was just painful enough to make it difficult to work. I went to bed on medication Monday evening. Tuesday morning my head felt great, but my back was out. Two more days of respite and I didn’t care what I had to do, I was going to go outside and work.
When someone is sick on our farm, it’s hard for others to pick up the slack. We are all just very busy. Nobody wants to pick up my slack and work with manure, so it just builds up. I had several days of poop piled up to take care of. Besides, when people call in sick, I have a hard time believing they are sick, so it’s tough for me to be sick. I know of people that call in sick at least weekly. I mean, who in the world gets sick once a week? But, I digress.
As you can see in the image, the poo was almost over the top the foot part of my boots. Thank god for muck boots! I always feel bad for the cows when they have to stand in this much poop and eat. It must be miserable. In this photo I am standing in the outside area of our second group of milking cows. They have to eat out in the elements, so I figure the least I can do is keep their “dining-room floor clean.”
In fact, I think that is what I told them when I started cleaning.
“Go into your living room now, so I can clean the dining room.” I am such a nerd.
These photos show a before and after of our lot that holds the cows that are not being milked. It was a chore to get these cows out of the dining room.
I explained to them, “You need to go outside to play. I really need to clean up your dining room. It’s horrendous!” Some of the cows thought it was going to be their last meal, as they kept sneaking back into the area when I turned my back to chase other cows.
“Just go out and relax on the pasture,” I said. “I know you are hungry, but as soon as I finish, I will let you back in to eat.”
This is what I found when I finished scraping most of the manure out of their yard and into the manure spreader.
I felt like they were all Peeping Toms. (By the way, who said the peepers name was Tom? Maybe it was David or Bob?)
Cleaning out pens is no job for the weak minded. You can’t beat yourself up if something goes wrong or if you totally trash a fence, an overhead door or a latch.
And when I clean up pens, things do go wrong. I consider myself a re-rookie. I haven’t had to do this job for more than two years. My depth perception can be a bit off, if I don’t wear the proper vision correction equipment.
I clearly remember ramming this latch with the back of the skid loader and swearing under my breath. (OK, it wasn’t under my breath.) Notice the good one on the left and the wonky one on the right.
The gate doesn’t even close properly. I ruined this one several weeks ago. I don’t recall if I was wearing my glasses or not. I should get the latch replaced. I just haven’t had the time to haul my ass to Lafayette to purchase a replacements. Having a broken latch is just asking for a cow chase at three in the morning! I would be on everyone’s fecal list at that point.
Once I finished cleaning the manure, it was time to help Steve and Zach sort off a few younger animals to sell to another dairy farmer.
This went rather smoothly. These heifers are all due to have calves within the next two months. During that time, we won’t have enough room in our existing facilities to add additional cows, which is where these gals would go after they have babies. Yes, inventories of animals needs to be managed either by selling younger animals to other dairy farmers or selling older animals to the food chain. It’s all quite complicated. (note sarcasm here)
While moving these heifers I mentioned to Zach that the bedding was “awful” and “would need to be refreshed.”
He just laughed at me and said, “Wait until later. The hoof-trimmer is coming today and it’s going to need to be cleaned out tomorrow. (Now you know what I am going to be doing later this morning.) We put all the cows needing trims in the area pictured. The cows are nervous and get upset large intestines, which results in poo everywhere!
Then I remembered that Tiny, the beef heifer, and Gaston, the Goat, needed feed. I love visiting them when a few days have passed without speaking with each other. I swear Gaston gives me kisses on the nose. I had to make several trips with a feed tub because of my back, but they loved the food and me! I often sit in the feed bunk and Gaston will lay on my lap, and then I scratch Tiny’s back and neck. It’s my nirvana.
Sorry for the ginormity of this image, but it’s hard to see what’s going on.
It’s time for several cows to get their hooves trimmed and taken care of. Yes, you have all seen images of horsies with big long toenails. The very same thing can happen to cows if they are not given enough opportunity to wear the hooves down.
We have several lazy cows that don’t like to walk around on the cement. Every several months, we have to clip their nails. We also check for any other issues with their feet. We found several cows that had warts in between their toes and sores on the bottom of the hoof. Glenn does an amazing job of fixing our girls up and getting those toes in shape.
In this image he is putting his catching chute down on the ground. This contraption catches the cows so he can work on their feet.
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It was then that I realized I was hungry. By this time it was only 10:30 in the morning, and I hadn’t eaten breakfast. Off to the house to fry me some eggs and cheese. I was going to take a picture of my meal, but alas, I was too hungry and ate the entire plate before I remembered. So you can look at my empty, messy plate. It was delicious!
Well, by then it was only mid morning. And I had way to much stuff to put on this blog already. I chose to stop my adventure of chronicling my morning. Trust me, it just involved getting rid of some more stuff, via the manure spreader and skid loader – smelly old silage that we also spread on the field.
I did try to clean out the manure pit a bit, but quit that as I kept getting stuck at the bottom of the ramp, slipping and sliding in the Gehl skid loader because the tires are worn down to the smoothness of the satin sheets that Tammy Wynette sings about.
My heart palpates when I can’t go in reverse to get out of the pit and there is a pond of poo in front of me.
But that’s going to be a story for another day. I am already laughing about it!
So rather than a picture of my day, you are getting a picture of a few hours. Sorry for the misrepresentation in the title. If you are upset take it to the news media. That seems to be the trend and it probably would be considered news-worthy information these days. (P.S. I grope the cows udders every day. I think they like it.)