Farm animals, Today on the Farm

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The calendar says Nov. 20, but you wouldn’t know it by looking outside. Fortunately, the nice day is allowing us to prepare for the upcoming season of not-so-nice days.

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The cows mostly like the winter. They are much more comfortable than during the summer, when the heat causes them stress and diminishes their milk production. You should see them kick up their heels in the barnyard when the first measurable snow arrives. Plus, they get those cute wooly winter coats.

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This 4-month-old heifer is starting to grow a heavy winter coat.

But winter on the farm can be tough for us people. It takes a lot longer to trudge through snow and get the chores done. You’re always worried about water troughs freezing, equipment not starting, mountains of snow to plow and the electricity going out if there’s ice.

The days are shorter, so list of things to do is shorter. But first we have to get through our winter readiness list.

The first task is to complete the harvest. Before the snow flies, the corn silage flies.

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Corn silage is collected in a chopper wagon and blown up into the silo for long-term storage.

Corn silage, along with hay silage, makes up the basis of what the heifers and milking cows eat. Due to the drought, corn silage was harvested pretty early this year (early to mid-September). We fill plastic ag bags and the silos with enough corn silage to last us until next year at harvest time.

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This silo is about 100 feet tall. Sometimes farmers have to climb to the top to clear out feed that has plugged the chute.

Each cow eats about 90 pounds of food a day, so that’s a lot of feed to store. We also chop leftover cornstalks from the shelled corn harvest to use for cow bedding.

The next thing we do is empty the manure pit. We inject a million gallons of cow waste into our fields to serve as fertilizer. What goes around comes around! I’ll spare you pictures of that process. Suffice it to say, the farm smells pretty ripe during that time. Sorry, neighbors.

Next we put up plastic sheeting in the front and back of the calf huts to keep the babes warmer. The plastic is rolled down to serve as a windbreak in the winter and rolled up again in the spring so they can feel the breeze.

ImageThe same story happens in the greenhouses where the 2-month-old to 6-month-old calves live. The greenhouses absorb a lot of heat so it stays pretty toasty in there.

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Once it gets a bit colder, the baby calves also get extra cornstalk bedding in their huts, and Blake puts a shot of cream in their bottles of whole milk for extra fat and warmth. The calves aren’t worried about that today. This one is enjoying basking in the sun.

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And finally, a new project for this year. Blake and Michael are building a 100′ x 100′ pen to house some new animals that we’re going to have. Can you guess what we are getting? (Hint: It’s something we haven’t had before.) Leave your guesses below!

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Michael and Blake are digging post holes for our new pen.

Written by Jordan Hansen

 

 

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November 24 is Small Business Saturday

Yes, we all know about Black Friday, the annual “holiday” where we stand in crushing lines at big box stores to get incredible deals on gifts for our loved ones. And then there’s Cyber Monday, the day everyone does holiday shopping online.

But have you heard of Small Business Saturday? It’s a much more relaxed day to celebrate small businesses in our communities. You get to shop at and support local businesses and probably get some pretty sweet deals in the process.

The day was first celebrated in 2010 as a way to encourage holiday shopping in local, brick and mortar stores. As a local, brick and mortar retailer in Cedar Falls and Waterloo, we support Small Business Saturday and hope you will, too!

To say THANKS for shopping local that day, all customers are welcome to enter to win one of two $50 cheese baskets! One customer will be chosen from each of our two retail stores. Just add your name and contact info to the sign-up sheets on the counter. You don’t need to be present to win!

Here’s a link to the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.

Community, Local Resources

NIFFP and Farm to School

This Friday Hansen’s hosted the annual Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership (NIFFP) meeting, and their Farm to School event. From 5 to 7 on Friday evening, local residents interested in the NIFFP and Farm to School could come for some good food, conversation, and information.

It was a really fun evening, and everyone learned something. The NIFFP folks shared information about what they’re up to.

Aaron and Neo, the local Food Corps volunteers, shared about their experiences working with kids in Waterloo. Rob and Tammy Faux, from Genuine Faux Farm in Tripoli, told us about their CSA and their farm. The folks from Cedar Falls Blue Zones were also there to get people signed up and share information about their work in the area.

The food was fantastic: Barbecue pork sliders from Pat McCready, yogurt parfaits with vanilla yogurt from Country View Dairy (yes, it’s available in our stores), and marinated veggie skewers with cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, kalamata olives, and Hansen’s cheese curds.