Monday, November 25, 2013

They MUST be fed, even when it's cold and you want to hole up in the house.

Bruce went to an IA football game on Sat, leaving at 3:30 AM so I was in charge of cattle chores. It was COLD!! My everyday chores at home are pretty easy so I'm spoiled, it takes a lot to keep our cattle fed and comfortable and Bruce does it every day, no matter the weather. So Sunday morning I tagged along after him with the camera, on Manual again!! (I'm getting more comfortable with it.)

The temp hit a big, fat 0 on this morning, prompting my farmer to go into full winter dress mode. First stop is the bulk bin with ground corn mixed with dried distillers grain, a by-product of our ethanol plant. It's very high quality and makes the ground corn quite palatable, it smells good enough to eat.

The fat cattle get a loader bucket full and Bruce fills buckets for the cows, 5 in all.

This is the corn supplement flowing into the silage pile and then gets mixed and mixed....

....mix, mix, mix.....

There is an element of finesse using the 'joystick' of this tractor, Bruce has his hand on it, forward, back, right, left, depending on what he wants the scoop to do.

It is especially tricky when driving since the joystick and the throttle, the one with the little orange button, are only about 8 inches apart.
The guy who sold us this tractor told us about someone driving down the road, dropping his cellphone and, while trying to pick it up, hit the joystick, dropping the bale spear into the road, flipping the tractor. He walked away, the tractor was not so lucky.
I'm VERY, VERY careful while driving this tractor!
After mixing the silage with the corn, Bruce takes it to the fat cattle and dumps a measured amount all along the bunk. That, too, is an art I have not mastered very well. Some get a little, others have a smorgasbord but I figure it will all even out in the end.
They line up waiting for their breakfast, since the silage is fermenting under the tarp, it comes out warm, like a bowl of oatmeal on a cold winter day. YUMMY!!

Going back for the rest of the silage, we pick up the 5 buckets of corn supplement for our hungry, pregnant cows.
A late arriving cow...
"HEY! Why did you ring the dinner bell???"

Back to the fat cattle with their final load of silage, taken from the tractor cab and catching myself in the mirror.
After everyone is chowing down on breakfast, it's time for some forage. Today it's a bale of corn stalks.
First, the last of the previous bale has to be removed, using the loader Bruce lifts the bale feeder off and to the side.

Then push the dregs into the fat cattle yard for bedding.

The cows are done with their grain and heading out to the pasture.
"Hello, Fancy, our future cow!"

The fat cattle gather on the shucks, vying for the best spot to lay in.

Bruce easily switches the loader from the bucket to the bale spear, all from the warmth of his tractor cab.

Morris finally gets out of bed for a ride in the tractor.

Cutting off the plastic wrap around the big bale before dumping it into the bale feeder.

Back to the yard to switch the loader back to the bucket for morning and leave Morris off after fixing his breakfast.

Home in time to get ready for church, greeted by his loyal and enthusiastic dog, Mollie.

"You know you chose ME, Mollie, when you were a tiny 5# puppy, where did I go wrong??"

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