Ten years ago we purchased a couple of Guernsey calves from our dairy farm friends in Missouri for our sons' 4-H dairy projects. The day we went to their farm to select the calves, getting a dog was not part of the plan. As I opened the truck door, I was greeted by this strange little wire haired dog named Chester. Chester had been dumped in front of our friends home a couple of months earlier. Our friend Kenneth had taught Chester to sit on command and ride the 4-wheeler. As Kenneth saw that I liked Chester,he offered to give Chester to us. We declined and started home with our calves. After traveling less than half a mile, I asked Ryan to turn the truck around and go get Chester. Chester became an Arkansawyer that day! Every day Chester is right beside me when I step out the back door and follows me everywhere I go on the farm. He loves to ride the 4-wheeler and it does not bother him at all to get the seat dirty! Last week after receiving the call about the sudden death of our friend Kenneth, I have thought about the many smiles Chester has given me. I don't know that Kenneth really wanted to give Chester away that day but I have experienced the special blessings of kindness and generosity from a special dairy farmer friend.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
The words to the old song "Cotton Fields" kept running through my mind as we drove by hundreds of acres of white fields of cotton on the way to the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition in Moultrie,Georgia. Our dairy farmer friends Bill and Delia Haak represented Arkansas in the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year competition and invited Ryan and I to attend this event as their guests. Ten farmers representing Alabama,Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina,Tennessee, and Virginia were judged before the announcement from a thirty page nomination form and an individual visit to each farmer's operation. Each farmer represents the very best of American agriculture--innovation,creativity, hard working,love of the land, and devotion to family. Georgia farmer Robert Dasher was selected as this year's Farmer of the Year but truly each of these candidates are the cream of the crop! Before leaving the Expo to return home, we tried to see as much as possible of the 1201 exhibits spread across 100 acres. Sunbelt Ag Expo really does have something for everyone.Ryan came home with arm loads of tractor and parts catalogs and I bought the complete set of vegetable peelers! You can find out more information about the Expo and Georgia agriculture at http://www.sunbeltexpo.com/or georgia.org.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Most of the time when we use the word "crop" it seems we are talking about plants that we grow to feed our cattle but since the first of September, I have been increasingly busy with our fall calf crop. We will have new calves born all through the year but usually in the spring and fall, a group of heifers will give birth to their first calf. These forty two first calf heifers were also babies I raised from birth two years ago. Each heifer is identified with a number name that I assign to them at birth. As the heifer matures, we will use her number name to record her indiviual genetic,health and milk production information. Waiting for these heifers to calve requires close observation and sometimes requires very late in the night or wee morning hour assistance from the dairy farmer and family assistants(that would sometimes be me). During this past month, it has been common for us to have two or more babies born per day. As this heifer group finishes calving, we can breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate the beginning milk production of the heifer that we have raised from birth. Watching our cows grow from babies to mature cows brings a great sense of pride and accomplishment. These cows are not only part of the herd but part of our family!
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Late night suppers sound romantic until you add doing dishes after nine 0'clock in the evening. My kitchen schedule this week has required late night chores due to our fall hay harvest schedule. Utilizing our farm land to produce quality hay is an economic asset to our farming operation and provides nutritional benefits to our young calves. Yesterday's hay was wrapped into small square bales that will be fed to our young calves. As I was watching the baler tie a bale of hay and push the bale onto the accumulator, I was also listening to the rhythmic noise the machine made like the clickety-clack of a railroad track. Ten bales are pushed onto the accumulator platform then dumped onto the field. My oldest son then hauled the bales to the trailer. Farming is truly a fascinating occupation with all of the technology,innovation and most of all--the farmer's love of the land. Each season on the farm brings new tasks along with the daily dairy farm chores but in each task there is reward. Fall brings crisp cool air,brilliant color in the flowers, and a thankful heart for the blessings of the harvest. Happy Fall,Ya'll!