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Posts Tagged With: animals

Better Make Hay

You’ve heard the expression, “better make hay while the sun still shines?”  It falls in the same category as “shake a leg” or “get a move on.”  And while I have no idea how shaking your leg helps get any work done, “better make hay” isn’t just a saying for us.

Better Make Hay While the Sun Still Shines

Baling hay tends to get put on the back burner because there aren’t many cows on our row-crop farm.

Better Make Hay While the Sun Still Shines

The tractor on the left pulls the mower, which does what any mower does.  Behind that is a tractor pulling the red and yellow rake.  The rake pulls the cut grass into rows, ready for the baler.

Better Make Hay While the Sun Still Shines

The tractor drives over the rows of grass and the baler sucks them up, winding the grass around and around until the bale is big enough.

Better Make Hay While the Sun Still Shines

Then you open the baler and the hay rolls out.  (Funny story, round bales roll.  You have to be careful opening a baler on a hill.  There’s a surprising amount of physics in farming.)

All this, of course, depends on any number of things– most importantly the weather.

Fresh cut grass has water in it which evaporates as the grass dries to hay.  Baling dry hay is very important because wet hay will continue to “cure” after it’s baled and the steam inside a wet bale can actually cause the whole thing to smolder and smolder until your hay bale goes up in flames.

Better Make Hay While the Sun Still Shines

We rely a lot on the National Weather Service when we cut hay.  We need a minimum of two sunny days in a row, one for the grass to dry and another to do the baling.  But since no one can predict the future we often see rows of hay like the photos–wet.

Better Make Hay While the Sun Still Shines

This hay was cut with a 0% chance of rain, only to experience several inches and a hail storm.  At this point all you can do is hope it stops raining and the hay can dry out again.

And when you’ve got a sunny day, well, better shake a leg.

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Categories: Animals, Farming | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

A Real Disney Princess

You know how as a parents sometimes you just smile and nod and say “Sure sweetie”?  These certianly aren’t our more stellar parenting moments, but when you’re home with kids 24/7 it happens.  There are just certain instances when this has more consequences…

For example, the other day when two of Baby’s therapists were finishing up their visit, in walks Anna, just like this.

Anna's dream came true.  She caught a bird!

Since it’s hard to tell in the photo, I’ll tell you.  That’s a baby barn swallow in her hand.  Which would be interesting enough as a parent, except for one small thing.

For the past four weeks that background chatter, the constant flow of conversation as been, “Can I please try and catch a bird?  Princesses can catch birds.”

The conversation typically continues something like “Maybe someday we’ll get a pet bird.”

“But if I catch one can we put it in that bird cage?” (points to Hobby Lobby decorative bird cage)

“Um, not really.”

“But can we get a bird cage?”

“Sure.”

“Can I pray to catch a bird?”

“Okay.”

“Yay! I’m going outside right now to get one!”

“Uh, huh.”

Never.  Ever.  Did I expect to see her walk in with a real, live, baby bird.  And, I should add, neither did the therapists.  Holding it bird out with both hands she exclaims, “All of my dreams have come true!”

Prayer is powerful stuff.

She and Brett were playing in the shed on Daddy’s old Chevy when she found this baby bird on the ground.  When I went back outside with her I found half a nest on the roof of the pick-up that had evidently fallen out of the rafters, another fledgling still inside.

Anna's dream came true.  She caught a bird!

We took lots of pictures and then a broken hearted Anna left both birds in the nest, certain I was thwarting God’s ultimate plan for the universe and denying her her royal birth-right.

Anna's dream came true.  She caught a bird!

There’s little hope for the poor things; I didn’t see any sign of the parents all morning and there are too many predators around here for birds to survive on a truck.  But leaving them there is probably their best bet.

And Anna is praying for them.

Categories: Animals, Family | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Daddy’s Tractor Quiet Book Tutorial

Daddy's Tractor Quiet Book Tutorial

If you’ve never made a quiet book before, well, you’re smarter than me.  I’ve made six in the last few weeks.  My latest creations have two important characteristics that made me think I should share them on the blog.

1.) They are farm themed.

2.) They’ve gotten much better and MUCH simpler!

My Pinterest board started out with phenomenal projects (search Russian quiet books– or maybe don’t) and I jumped in with both feet.  Four weeks later, and I’m much wiser. 😉

First!  This tip helped me SO much.  Draw or print your pattern onto paper then trace the pieces onto freezer paper. Then roughly cut the shapes out of the freezer paper and iron them (medium high heat) onto the felt.

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

Felt stretches easily and can become misshaped– never work with just one layer!  After you’ve cut the felt the second thing you’ll do is join it up with another layer.  Some pieces will be sewn to the page, other shapes you’ll need two of.

Many directions have you cut two, let’s say trees, and sew them together, but again, stretching.  If you sew it to a plain piece of felt, like the tire and pick-up below, you can cut the finished shape when you’re done and it will look perfect every time!

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

Let’s get started!

Tractor Page

Obviously you’ll need a “Daddy’s Tractor” page first!  This one has changeable tires for button practice.

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 piece of background felt
  • One sheet of tractor color felt (of course I recommend red-lol!)
  • One sheet black felt
  • One sheet white felt
  • Two large-ish buttons
  • Needle, thread, sewing machine, etc.

Trace a tractor outline, windows, and three grill vents onto freezer paper. Cut and sew these pieces onto the background felt.  Then trace and cut the tires.  Sew the white rims to the black felt, then do the double layer thing I described above with the black.  Add a button hole to the center of each tire.  Using the tires as guides, hand stitch the buttons in place.

Sheep Page

Curled ribbons make great sensory play!

Obviously the first thing any Daddy's Tractor quiet book will need is a tractor!  This one has changeable tires for button practice! 

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 background felt
  • One sheet white felt
  • One sheet gray or black felt
  • Assortment of ribbon, I recommend grosgrain
  • Wooden dowels OR wooden pencils

Start by creating the curled ribbon. Preheat the oven to 225*.  Wrap the ribbon around a dowel rod (I used a pencil!) and hold in place with straight pins or clothes pins.  Bake the ribbon for 20 minutes and allow to cool completely before removing from the dowels!

Meanwhile, cut a fluffy sheep shape, head, legs, and fluffy head piece.  Start by sewing the feet, then body.  Here I added the curled ribbon by using an embroidery stitch to keep them in place.  Whatever you use you don’t want a child to be able to pull them off!  Next add the head, followed by the wool on top of the head, keeping ribbons out the the way with straight pins.

Baby Chick Page 

Lift the flaps, and then lift again! make this page lots of fun!

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 background felt
  • Light brown felt
  • Redish-brown felt
  • White felt
  • Yellow felt
  • Orange felt

Start by sewing the body to the background, followed by the neck, beak, and comb.  Make a double layer of the wing and attach it to the body with a straight pin.  Then pin the wing back up and out of the way to arrange the eggs and chick.  Next, make a double layer of the cracked egg shell and sew about an inch of the top and bottom to allow the chick to show through.  I added eyes to the chick with a Sharpie and used fabric glue for its beak.

Hauling Hay Page

Use your pick-up to bring hay for the cows!

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

You’ll need:

  • One 9×9 background felt
  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • Cording
  • Eyelets with setting tools
  • Three colors felt for trucks
  • Brown felt for hay
  • Six small, black buttons

Cut, pin and sew ribbon into desired path.  Next, following the directions on the package, insert an eyelet into each end of the ribbon.  Then, cut truck shapes from each of the three colors.  Add two eyelets to each truck where you want them to set on the track.  Cut and sew a double layer of hay bales.  Before sewing a double layer of the trucks, slip a hay bale into the back of each pick-up bed.  Now sew on the button wheels, being careful not to sew through the space between the eyelets on the back of each truck.  Then, thread the cording through the eyelet in the ribbon, through the eyelets on the back of the truck, and through the last eyelet in the ribbon.  Add knots to the end of the cording and use an embroidery stitch to finish off the edges of the ribbon, making sure to catch the cording in the stitches.

(Cording and eyelets can be found in the notions section of a craft store.  Everything in the pictures I purchased at Hobby Lobby.)

Daddy's Tractor quiet book tutorial

 

Last I added a pocket for any extra pieces, made small button holes down each side and attached them with book binder rings through them.  Easy to slip in and out with new pages as your kiddo grows!

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

What You Don’t Know About Farmers

If a picture is worth a thousand words then the message a film can convey is simply amazing.  Which is why you need to see this movie.  You might be amazed what you don’t know about farmers.

FARMLAND

FARMLAND Teaser Trailer 2014 from Farmland on Vimeo.

It’s available for purchase at Wal-Mart tomorrow, March 3, 2015.  You can also get it from Netflix on DVD (not streaming) or upload from iTunes, youTube, Amazon, and several other stores.

This is how food is grown in America.  FARMLAND documentary

I highly recommend it.

The documentary follows the stories of six young farmers and ranchers of all shapes and sizes.  There’s the “One Woman Farmer” growing produce in the northeast, an organic farmer handling everything from seeds to bar codes in the southwest, a poultry producer, a cattle rancher, hog farmer, and a row crop guy.  And their stories are real.

Really, really, real.

These are the problems we face.  These are the decisions we make.  This is what our life looks like.

This is how food is grown in America.

That’s not something you don’t want to know about.

Categories: Animals, Family, Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What They Mean, 12 Food Labels Revealed

Learn the secrets behind common food labels  {www.daddystractor.com}

It’s bad enough that serving sizes are distorted (who drinks a third of a bottled beverage?!) and vitamin B has one hundred names, but then you must contend with things like “hormone free” chicken.  Sounds like chicken I want to buy, but did you know?  All chickens are hormone free.

That advertising was nothing but a gimmick.

So what can you believe?

Here a few common label mysteries revealed.

Fresh: Since 1998 the definition of fresh poultry means the meat has never been kept below 26*.  Since freezing is 32*, this means the meat can be frozen, but it won’t be rock-solid at that temperature.

Natural: This indicates nothing has been added, like coloring or preservatives.  It also means the product hasn’t been changed significantly, so it is much as it was when it was harvested.  A label saying “natural” should also tell you why it is natural; i.e. “no preservatives added.”  This label only applies to meat or eggs.

No Hormones: As I’ve already mentioned, the USDA prohibits the use of hormones in pork, poultry, and goats so this label isn’t allowed unless it says “federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”  This label can be used on beef if the farmer can provide documentation to the USDA that it is true.  The same is true of No Antibiotics for all meat.

Organic: This label is made standard by the USDA.  There are products farmers are allowed to put on foods that are labeled organic, so don’t assume it means no fertilizers or pest control at all.

Free Range: This indicates that the animals lived in a building with constant access to food, water, and the outside.

Cage Free: Similar to Free Range, but without the constant access to outside.

No Chemicals: You should actually never see this label because it isn’t allowed.  Everything is made of chemicals.  Remember water– H2O?

Grass Fed: For this label cattle must get most of their diet from grass, but can be supplemented with grain.  It doesn’t have to be organic, so that would be a separate label.

Pasture Raised: This label means very little since there are no standards or certifications for it.

Humane: Again, a label that is not standard or regulated, therefore is up to the interpretation of the packaging company.

Locally Grown: Yet another non-standard label.  Look for more information, like the town, farm, or milage to verify this one.

Not all labels are equal.  While labels are monitored by the USDA, they allow for other programs with their own standards.  So if you wanted to make your own certifications for “natural” you could put that label onto food, but it would need to have your program’s name on it, like “Certified Smith Natural” or whatever.  Small farmers can also be exempt.  A neighbor with two steers can call his beef “organic grass-fed” as much as he wants to.

So be aware and Happy Shopping!

Categories: Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Resolve to Learn about Antibiotics

I’m grateful for antibiotics. I’m even more grateful when I don’t need them. I try hard to keep my kids out of the doctor’s office, but when my son came down with scarlet fever, I was grateful to live in a century where a quick stop at the pharmacy dealt with a once life-threatening condition.

Same goes for the animals in my care. First I’ll take good care of them– food, water, shelter, etc.. But when they get sick– really, truly sick, they get medication.

For Lizzie it happened when she was just a few weeks old. It was super cold out and the poor little lamb got so, so sad. See the heartbreaking eyes.

sick little lamb

And just a few weeks ago Harriett started limping. At first it was minor, but a day or two later it took her ten minutes to stand up. So she got a shot.

Resolve to learn about antibiotics

Then there are the baby chicks who get starter feed with a low level of medication. Baby chicks die seemingly without cause and I’m not happy about loosing a single one.

Resolve to learn about antibiotics

These are backyard animals, but the same principles apply for livestock producers.

This may surprise you, but healthy animals are good for the farmer too. Sick animals require more time and money. If you don’t like co-pays for your family of four or five imagine vet bills for herds of four or five hundred (or thousand!).

That doesn’t mean antibiotics are never used. But perhaps understanding when they are used will help you make the right choices for your family.

Resolve to learn about antibiotics

Farm families eat the food they grow as well!

For one rancher it might make the most sense to give all the animals some level of medication in their feed when they are weaned from their mothers. This is a decision a producer/friend of ours makes because 10-12 days after this transition the calves often become sick, even die.

A friend whose calves are born in the fall rather than the spring gives medication when they are young to help them through crazy temperature changes—you know, the ones that make everyone sick.

Here’s the nice thing though. Repeatedly I heard from livestock producers that keeping an animal from getting sick resulted in an animal more likely to stay healthy later.   Then they can grow for the next 9 months to a year before butchering with very little need for more medication.

Resolve to learn about antibiotics

Did you also know there are regulations about how soon after being given antibiotics a steer can be butchered or milk from a dairy cow can be sold?

But every farm is unique, every farmer different. If you’re a farmer leave a comment about what works on your farm. If you’re not, resolve to learn about antibiotics and join the conversation. Maybe you’ll come to a better understanding of what it takes to get food to the table.

 

Don’t miss Resolve to Learn About Your Food in the New Year

and Resolve to Learn About Organics

Categories: Food | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

The Disaster

Last spring I ordered meat chickens, thinking that filling my freezer with delicious, home-grown chicken would be a fulfilling and useful endeavor.

the chicken disaster  {Daddystractor.com}

I was wrong.

We’d planned for a while to get a fridge for the basement for the extra eggs (they can be stored forever) and then the freezer could host the meat chickens when the time came.  Expect the time came long before we actually purchased the fridge, so the huge birds have been eating us out of house and home, literally going through a bag of feed in three days.

But the fridge finally is in place and now all I had to do was butcher 22 roosters.  Brian came home early to help, since wrangling 3 kids and a large knife is not a safe practice.  I am very, very grateful for his help, since he ended up killing more than half of the birds while I plucked.  And plucked.  And plucked.  And plucked.  Until almost midnight.

I did everything you’re supposed to do.  I dipped the birds in hot (not boiling) water to loosen the feathers.  I started with the wing tips since they are the hardest.  I tried not to cry when it got dark and I still had a pile of birds at my feet.

To add to the disaster I will add that I also lost the photos of the event I took for the blog.  That would be more upsetting in and of itself expect that I lost the photos because I’ve lost my fancy DSLR camera.  And even that is put in perspective because I took off my wedding ring to butcher the horrible creatures and it, too, is missing.

I should also clarify that we only butchered 12 of the birds.

Which, I suppose, gives me a second chance at taking photos.

If I find my camera.

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

I’m a Farmer and I’m Voting Yes on Amendment 1 Part 2

Follow the Butterflies.  Um, no, that’s not it.  Follow the… paper trail?  I’ve got it!  Follow the money!  If you really want to know what’s going on, follow the money.

In my last post I told you why I’m voting Yes for Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1.  And before I continue I should probably tell you where the money comes from on the “Yes” side.  Here ya go:

Missouri Farmers Care, Missouri Soybeans, Missouri Corn Growers, Missouri Farm Bureau, MFA Incorporated, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Pork Association,  Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Columbia Chamber of Commerce, FCS Financial, Missouri Grocers Association, Missouri Veterinary Medical Association, Missouri Dairy Association, MFA Oil, Missouri Egg Council, Missouri Equine Council, HUNTE, Missouri Family Network, MoFed, Missouri Sheep Producers, Southwestern Association, United Producers Inc., Missouri Electric Cooperation, Missouri Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association, Mo Ag, The Poultry Federation, American Soybean Association, St.Louis Agribusiness Club, Missouri Levee and Drainage District Association, Missouri Association of Meat Producers, United All Breed Registry  

Plus a whole host of private individuals I will not be typing out.

Family Farmers are voting Yes on Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1

The Gerkes own a vineyard and winery and they will be voting Yes on Amendment 1!

Want to know who is supporting the “No” side?  I like this graphic.

Vote Yes on Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1

But HSUS? Aren’t they the Human Society of the United States?  Don’t they help puppies or something?

According to their own financial report HSUS took in $169,900,291 in 2013.  Again, according to their own report they helped118,328 animals.  Sound odd yet?

Family Farmers are voting Yes on Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1

This Future Farmer of America will be voting Yes (or at least her parents will!).

Almost 6 million went to “management and general,” and 25 million went to more fundraising.  Just under 55 million went to advocacy and public policy!  That’s one third of their budget, in case you forgot your calculator.  And what are they advocating for?

The end of puppy mills, they say.  The end of factory farming.

But if you follow the work they’ve done you’ll see it’s much more than that.  They want to be rid of farming all together.

Don’t believe me?  Then take it from the horse’s mouth.  In a speech in 2006 the vice president of farm animal issues said “We don’t want any of these animals to be raised and killed… unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of waiting until we have the opportunity to get rid of the entire [animal agriculture] industry.”

The director of Animal Cruelty Policy (that thing they spend 55 million a year on) once said “My goal is the abolition of animal agriculture.”

HSUS isn’t a human society that takes care of abandoned kittens.  Last year they sent about 1 million dollars to local animal shelters.  Out of nearly 170 million.  They are a lobbying organization with millions to spend– against farmers.

So that’s where the money leads you.  And maybe, if you thought the wording was too open ended or the proposed amendment was too extreme, maybe you’ll understand where we as family farmers are coming from.

Maybe you’ll support us.

Family Farmers are voting Yes on Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1

The Kelleys raise cattle on their family farm. They are voting Yes!

Family Farmers are voting Yes on Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1

The Hursts are a muli-generational farm family whose grandkids love helping in the greenhouses. They are all voting Yes!

Family Farmers are voting Yes on Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1

Help make sure this little guy can come back to 8 Story Farms someday, join his family in voting Yes!

Family Farmers are voting Yes on Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1

The Gregorys are voting Yes on August 5th as well!

Family Farmers are voting Yes on Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1

This little guy is already planning to come back to the Whitt family farm, so his parents will be voting Yes!

 

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

For the Fun of It

It’s almost like a baby kitten hissing at you.  Or a little lap dog barking like the vicious attack dog he thinks he is. But somehow a mostly-grown bantam rooster learning how to crow is much funnier than any of that.

You can really hear it at the 17 second mark when one of the “regular” roosters and a bantam crow at the same time.  Makes me laugh every time.

The bantams (or banties as we call them around here) were hatched in April, so they’re pretty much the equivalent of teenagers.  They won’t get much bigger but they will likely fill out a bit more and it won’t be long till they begin laying eggs and being grown-up chickens.  They are, however, about half the size of a regular hen.  And everything small is adorable.

bantam chicken on Marshall Farms

Really. cute.

And funny.  Just thought you should know. 😉

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Why I Gave My Goat a Pedicure

My goat is currently styling the latest in white painted hooves and my lamb is showing off a french manicure.  I’d like to tell you it’s because I follow all the current fashions, or maybe because I’m using some great home remedy to protect against disease or something.  But actually it all has to do with the black mold in the bathroom.

Why I gave my goat a pedicure.

This color really goes with her outfit.

Our back bathroom has been disintegrating since the mid 60s, so the surprise was from the shock of actually falling when the shower tiles I was leaning against collapsed into the wall.  This led to the discovery of black mold behind the tiles and the complete destruction of that bathroom.  After much sanding, scrubbing, and bleaching we began replacing everything from the wall studs on out.  We put in a new shower, flooring and tile, added wiring for more outlets, and put up bead board.

Why I gave my goat a pedicure

The finished result!

We picked bead board that needed painting.

Yup, wait for it, it’s coming.

On one of the rare, few days that has felt like spring my mom and sister came over to fly kites with the kids.  There was lots of going in and out of the doors with Fanny, Harriet, and Lizzie leaping for joy to have company in the yard.  My mom and I were talking in the front yard when Brett came bursting out of the house to tell us all three animals were inside!

Why I gave my goat a pedicure.

Don’t let that innocent face fool you.

We followed Brett through wide open garage and back entry doors, to find Lizzie the lamb standing on my newly tiled bathroom floor, front hooves in the still-wet paint tray.  Of course as soon as she saw me Lizzie jumped up from her half-finished spa day, scattering newspaper in all directions.

I managed to get ahold of her collar, but this “little” lamb weighs close to what I do.  The best I can do is to pull her as quickly as I can off the back entry and out into the garage and slam the door behind her.

The goats were nowhere in sight, but I finally discovered them at the other end of the house by the bedrooms. They, too, were rather skittish so it didn’t take much to convince them to move.

Why I gave my goat a pedicure

She thinks she’s cute.

Moving in the right direction was a different story.  First we ran the circle that is the office and living room.  Next mom and I had to take opposite sides of the island to get them back to the entryway, and then, if you can believe it, we hearded them right into the closed back door and on into the bathroom!  Fanny managed to avoid the paint tray but Harriet not only stepped both front feet into the deepest part, she also skidded enough to slosh paint all the way up her hooves, completely covering both of them in primer.

Why I gave my goat a pedicure

She did such a nice job. I always think its harder to paint the right hand…

Thankfully Harriet is smallest of the three animals and I was able to pick up her front end and walk her to the re-opened back door and deposit her in the garage before running for a rag.

Fortunatly, all’s well that ends well and the back bathroom as well as the animals are all fine.

But the garage will never be the same again.

Why I gave my goat a pedicure

Categories: Animals | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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