Stalkers!

20150331_074210 20150331_074156Dr. Phil always say, “Follow your gut feeling.”

Today I felt like I was being stalked and look what I found.

The brown one is Amberbosa. (Yes, Amberbosa) I don’t know who the other one is, but I know she’s going to have TWINS! That’s why she has a red ear tag.

Testing for pathogens

mastitis samplingWe are still working on getting our somatic cell count lower.

Somatic cells are indicators of an infection in the udder.

 Each time a cow contracts mastitis, I take a sample of her milk and put it in the incubator.

If I did it correctly, I will get a result in 12 – 24 hours.

Then I know which medication to use for treatment.

I will post my results later.

Just call me Scientist Kerry!

Dogs rock

1406237609350Not only do dogs provide us with love on the farm, they also provide fun and rodent control.

Between Lilly, the black and white Great Dane; Ole, the rust-colored Pit Bull and Bob the Chocolate Lab, there is always something going on. Ole has such an expressive face. Lilly is just a big doof and Bob is always fairly serious; she’s a senior citizen.

These three dogs love to go swimming in the river. Not that Lilly and Ole are any good at it, but they do have fun. Bob still loves to do the infamous doggy paddle.

Our dogs keep away rats, cats and any other varmint that wanders to close to the farm. I KNOW THEY keep skunks at bay too. They come home smelling like Peppy le Pew often enough.

We love our dogs as if they are family because they are family.

Riff – raff returns to our area

Well, I thought I lived on the safe side of the Minnesota River.

I mean, I know that the area of St. George is considered “God’s Country,” but I didn’t think the area around Searles was too far behind the land of amazing corn and soybean harvests.

We have pretty good harvests in our neighborhood too. By the way, a neighborhood in rural terms encompasses everything within a 10-mile radius of a farmer’s homestead.

It’s true, I have friends that live near Sigel ballpark that I consider neighbors. I would like to think Sigel residents feel the same way.

But I digress, which happens a lot to me when I sit down at my computer. Back to the matter at hand.

I feel like I live in a rather unassuming area. There is very little riff-raff that enters my expansive circle. If there were, I would have to create Steven Spielberg’s story “Under the Dome.”

Sure, we have the occasional wayward soul that seems to think it’s OK to dump garbage, animal carcasses and appliances in the neighborhood, but even that ugly activity has decreased as time moves forward.

My two theories concerning the decrease in riff-raff activity is this: 1. They are too old to lift the appliances out of the pickup bed; 2. We have actually caught one of these souls dumping garbage and he ended up getting ticketed for something way worse that littering. I bet word spreads fast in their “neighborhoods” on safe dumping grounds.

So, the other day, when I decided to take my two capable dogs for a run, using my bike, I was a bit dismayed at what happened to me.

I have one rather large Great Dane, who needs to diet and exercise. According to the latest dog medical magazine, Lilly is 20 percent overweight and obese. She passed that milestone over the winter. I tried to hide the story from her, but she is too tall and she managed to see all those pictures of overweight dogs.

All she could do was look at me with those sad-dog eyes.

“I’m obese?”

On  the other hand, I just adopted a pitbull-lab cross, and he has problems with too much energy. He subscribes to Dog Fit magazine. Ole needs to always have somewhere expansive to run and play. Usually he chooses to visit the Schlumpberger residence, which is only one mile away from the home fort in my 10-mile circle, to play with their rat terrier.

In an effort to appease both dogs, I hopped on my bike and took off down the road. Not soon enough. Steve came driving up behind me in his pickup and told me I had a flat tire.

No wonder it was taking all my energy to pedal my bike.

I was sweating like a dog! You do know dogs sweat by panting, right?

I hopped off my bike, laid it in the ditch for later retrieval and kept walking with my dogs.

Soon enough, Russell came by in his Jeep. He had our chocolate lab Bob in the backseat. He said, “Bob wanted to go for a walk too.” (She’s old and very slow.)

“Just wait,” I said, “I’m riding with you and running the dogs like city-folk do.”

I stuck my head out the window and offered cheers of support for both Lilly and Ole, while the wind blew through my summer-blonde hair.

Bob sat in the back seat happily panting as the breeze blew through her Hershey-colored dog hair. She was in heaven. This appeared to be her favorite walk EVER!

We ventured to Grandma Tadpole’s house and visited with Steve, Grandma, Russell, myself and three tired dogs.

One the way back home, I hopped into Steve’s pickup, because I wanted to pick up my bike on the drive home.

I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t find my bike. Within that hour, someone had lifted my bike!

Riff raff!

I’m OK with that. I figure once the person uses it, they will put it back in the ditch.

If said riff-raff wants to return my bike, believe me, the only question I will ask, is this, “Why did you have to bring it back?”

 

Time to exercise, but not this way

Saturday night I felt a bit guilty for eating three full-sized graham crackers covered with left-over cheesecake filling before I sauntered upstairs to watch Netflix on my iPad.

I kind of swore that I wouldn’t partake in snacking before go up to relax in bed.

I puffed my pillows and settled into bed with my earphones in my ears.

I just about hit the ceiling when I felt some very strong fingers grab ahold of my foot. I was so enthralled in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, I was a bit freaked out.

Those hands were my husbands and I instantly knew it was going to be bad. He never grabs my feet any other time.

“There are beef cows and black and white Holsteins running around in your yard,” Steve said.

That’s like hearing, “Code blue!” “S.O.S.” or “Mayday!” or “He’s in v-tach!”

There’s no time to ask questions, or get answers for that matter, because Steve gives these long drawn-out answers. And by-god, those cows are ripping up my new grass seeding!

I quickly removed my pajamas and put on my smelly, dirty chores clothes. Grabbed my wool vest and was out the door before Steve even had socks on.

Yep. The cows were obliterating my new grass in front of the house. Oddly enough, the small electric-fence I created to keep the dogs off my lawn had trapped a big beef cow. She was on the inside of the fence and couldn’t figure out how to get on the outside of the fence. Cows can be so dumb.

I jumped on my super-sonic bicycle and started herding cows back toward the “escape tunnel.”

They ruined the fence right by the north-end of the barn.

Steve and I herded the all but one of the wild beasts into the correct pasture. Then we had to figure out how one other rogue cow trapped herself into another pasture area and bring her back to the other group.

Well, herding her worked as well as trying to catch a greased pig in a County Fair contest.

She managed to jump through a fence, and run through knee-high mud and manure and hide herself in the group of cows that are not being milked.

Steve, being the insane cow herder that he is, thought we should try to get her out of that group. I, being the sane cow herder, thought we should wait until morning.

I lost and I was headed into the mud and manure.

I stood in front of a vast mud hole. I pondered how I was going to cross and the only thought that came to my mind was to follow the cows’ tracks.

Well, that worked as slick as trying to catch two greased pigs at the County Fair.

Before I knew it, my rubber boots were making this awful sucking sound as I tried to take steps. My feet were coming out of my boots and my boots were disappearing in the brown goo.

By the time I weaseled my way out of my gooey mess, I had removed my boots and stuck my feet into the cold goo. My hands were also full of it, as I had to balance when I tried to pull my boots out of the mud.

They still stink.

Eventually I removed myself from the abysmal mud and started to walk to the milk house for a proper dousing in the large stainless steel sinks.

My feet were cold, manure and mud had squished between my toes and my hands were just as icky.

After I returned to the house, I thought, “Well, I don’t have to feel bad for snacking before I had gone to bed. I had worked it all off. In one hour I road my bike at super speed, ran around the grain bins like I was on a merry-go-round and used every muscle in my body to unstick myself from the manure-mud mixture.

Yep. I think I burned off the cheesecake filling.

It’s good to live on a farm.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at kahoffman@newulmtel.net

 

This winter needs to move on

The weather man says this is going to be the last frigidly cold day for a while.

How long is a while?

I am very tired of the cold. I think the animals are tired of being in the cold as well.

It was a dickens trying to get the cows moved out of the parlor this morning. When a group of cows is finished giving milk, they have to walk through a little “hallway”  and out an exit door.

The problem is that many don’t understand the concept of an exit door.

For some reason, they don’t get that they are supposed to walk through the door and back up to the barn, where fresh feed will be waiting for them.

Nope, a lot of them will stand right in front of the door and gaze out into the cold, snow-covered yard.

I can’t blame them. I don’t like going out into the cold every morning either.

I don’t, however, stand in the door way and look at all the icky snow. I mean, Steve is never too far away from me in the morning. I could just about imagine what he would say if I were to stand and hold the door open.

The first snowfall of the year is beautiful. Any consecutive snowfalls after that is downright ugly.

I like to suggest moving the dairy herd to a warmer climate – like Arkansas. We could keep the cows down there and used this farm as a summer vacation home. Of course I would need a pool. I love to swim.

There are so many issues that a deep freeze causes. The one that bothers me the most right now is in the feeding area of our second group of lactating animals. Because cows really don’t mind if they go to the bathroom while they are eating, they doo. (pun intended.) So the doo plops down to the frozen layers behind the cows and keeps building up all winter long.

Some of our animals have to get down on their knees to reach the feed. That makes my worn-out knees hurt just thinking about it. The cows look like Jessica Jerome, women’s USA ski jumper, waiting at the top of the slope ready to fly down the hill at unspeakable speeds.

If those 40 degree days come to fruition, you can bet I will be outside trying to clean up that frozen mess.

Not only is the weather hard on the cows, it’s starting to make me a bit grumpy too.

Won’t it fix itself?

Sometimes I know when items such as gaskets, my oven and my car are worn out or broken.
Gaskets leak where two pipes meet, my oven never seems to sustain a constant temperature, and my car’s battery begs for an auto-like Redbull energy drink.
Sometimes I actually try to fix things as soon as I notice it has broken.
Sometimes I can secretly hope for several days that it will fix itself.
That never happens.
Such was the case this morning.
I knew the pressure washer was not working properly.
Our pressure washer sprays water so fast and hard, it will peel decals right off a car, skid loader, tractor…skin off my fingers.
If, I am not careful, when I pressure wash the skid loader, it could end up reading “kidloader” and I would get in a lot of trouble with child protective services.
God forbid they think I use farm equipment to move my children around the farm.
I am not even going to discuss the time one of my offspring fell out of the bucket of the skid loader and required several stitches to the back of his head.
I will, however, explain that Father was watching the children while I was in Las Vegas when this particular incident occurred.
Getting back to the pressure washer. On the end of the long hose that I drag through the parlor every morning after milking when it’s time wash the space, is a nozzle.
It doesn’t look at that special, but believe me it is.
It has some sort of mechanism inside that makes the jet of water spin in a circle. It’s hard to explain, but think Spirograph. It makes designs in dirt just as fantabulous.
Well, the thingamajig inside the nozzle hasn’t been working for more than a week.
I don’t like working on the pressure washer. It requires more tools than a person can legally carry without affecting a health-insurance policy.
Hence the wish for it to fix itself.
This morning, it still wasn’t working.
(I was also in a bad mood because the hoses on all our milking equipment are worn out and they haven’t replaced themselves either.)
I did the next best thing.
I batted my eyelashes at Hubby and asked him if he could “help” me fix the nozzle when he was done scraping manure out of the milking parlor and holding area.
I secretly know that asking Hubby to help means he will just take over and make the repair.
It worked.
An old nozzle was put on the hose by Hubby, to allow me to continue to pressure wash. This nozzle was quite disappointing. It lacked the pressure clean the walls and floors to my satisfaction.
When I finished pseudo-washing the milking parlor, the first nozzle was repaired and ready to be replaced.
In essence, I guess the nozzle did kind of repair itself, via Hubby.
Now if only I could talk to Steve about those gnarly hoses on the milking unit.

Minnesota Winters on a Minnesota Dairy Farm

We all like to complain and we all like to brag.

When it comes to living in the Winter Wonderland we call Minnesota, we like to do both excessively. Living and working on a dairy farm gives my double the capacity.

We dairy farmers like to complain when it’s hot. We like to complain when it’s cold.

Right now it’s really, really cold. It’s so cold that throwing a cup of boiling water into the air, doesn’t make it vaporize; we have to watch for falling ice chunks in the shape of a coffee mug.

Just kidding. The water doesn’t fall in ice cubes.

Winter does make it a bit more challenging to get some things done. The difference between the air temperature in the milking parlor and the air temperature in the cow-holding area create clouds.

Water hoses freeze.

Cows don’t  want to leave the tepid temperature in the milking parlor to go outside into the freezing temperature. They crap more in the milking parlor, which means our clothing looks like it’s polka dotted.

We enjoy milking cows. Milking in Minnesota makes us tougher.

It gives us a reason to brag.

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