3rd Annual Farm Clean-up Day!

Hello friends! It has been crazy over here! Between wedding plans and summer festivities it has been hard to keep up with my personal blog but tonight I want to spend a little time sharing the story of our 3rd annual farm clean-up day with you. 

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Above is a photo we took this past weekend in Amana. We surprised Grandma Carol with t-shirts that say CJ’s (Carol Jean’s) Crew. Please keep her and our family in your prayers!

Okay back to the clean-up day! My oh, My! We accomplished a lot. Our farm dates back to 1913. We celebrated our Farm’s 100th birthday, the year I graduated from high school. Needless to say, there is some clean-up to do.

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Megan and I began farm clean up days informally 5 years ago or so. We would come home for the summer and spend a few days cleaning the farm before our summer positions started. These short clean-up days made a difference but we wanted to do more.

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And with the dream of doing more, the annual farm clean-up day was born! We dedicate a whole day to one or two major projects. Our first year, was also the first summer Tyler and I began to hangout. I didn’t scare him away…he must be a keeper ;)!

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Most of you know we have cattle but did you know Grandpa Richard and Dad once had hogs? We have 1 large pig barn left standing but I can’t say the same for the one to the North. It went down in a storm a while ago and this year we picked this barn as our major project. It is so neat to learn about the history of the Ball farm!

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For me, it is always emotional to take down one of the barns but I know it will keep our farm more productive.We worked out a pretty slick deal! We rented a large container for all of the metal and they dropped it off and picked it up. A huge shout out to Dad, Megan, Tyler, Jake and Grandma Pat for helping with our 3rd annual farm clean up day.

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A couple weeks later we surprised Grandma Pat, with a new rock bed!

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Welcome to the Ball Family Farm!

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I want to wish Michael good luck at state this weekend! Can’t wait to cheer you on! ❤

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Braving the Cold for Calving Season

By now I imagined I would be singing April showers bring May flowers but instead I am shouting April snow storms go away! But as much as I would like to curl up next to our fireplace…time doesn’t stand still and we have spring babies arriving!

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It is important that farmers take good care of their livestock rain or shine! I feel very blessed to live only a few miles away from our farm. We try to help out as much as we can and it has been very busy keeping watch over our herd.

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We have 18 bred cows and 7 have calved so we are patiently waiting for the other babies to arrive. During the cold and windy nights we give the cows and calves a cornstalk bale to lay on. We also have a wonderful old hay barn that we open up for the cows to use as shelter.

Once the calves are born we tag and band. Read a previous post about preconditioning to learn about the care we provide the calf when they are born.

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Each cow is unique and we need to be cautious when handling their babies. The cows can be protective. It took a few of us to precondition the calf in the photo below due to the ma’ma’s concern, but we took care of tagging and banding him and he was soon reunited with the cow.

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Do you have questions regarding calving season? Comment below!

What is Bio-security?

Hello Picking Wild Flowers. Has is really been 3 months since my last post? Where has the time gone? Hey, at least I am writing you on the 2nd day of spring. We are inching closer and closer to warm summer days! Humm… what have I been up to? Well my wedding dress is in! I went to Missouri last week. We are preparing for calving season! Megan and I joined a bible study, and Tyler and I booked our honeymoon… so as you can see … just hanging out haha.

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Now on the work front. We have so many cool activities planned! Our hatching unit begins on April 1. Wish me luck as I hatch my first batch of chickens. We are also meeting today to discuss Ag in the Park! Eeek! I am so excited to experience my first Ag in the Park event! I have my monthly classroom visits in which I can begin discussing planting season! Speaking of… stay tune for a garden blog update. I have been neglecting my duties to inform you about my second year planting cut flowers! Now back to the topic on hand.

Pork farmchat promotion

Last week we conducted a Pork and Manure Management FarmChat® with Matt Ditch, a farmer from Center Point. He mentioned the word bio-security and I want to take a minute to dive a little deeper into what bio-security is and why it is important. Here is the link to our FarmChat® if you missed it.

Bio-security- procedures intended to protect humans or animals against disease or harmful biological agents.

Bio-security polices are a set of rules that one needs to follow when interacting with the livestock at a particular farm. For example, Matt mentioned he had a shower in- shower out policy. To see the pigs, we would have had to take a complete shower and put on new clothes and boots. This is for the safety of the pigs as well as for food safety. Pigs at that age or any age are susceptible to diseases. Our goal is to keep them healthy and happy. A healthy pig = safe food.

Washing off potential diseases and harmful agents is particularly important for those that have been at a different site. This could be a vet, truck diver, etc. Those who visit many pig farms in a month need to be extra careful. If a group of pigs does get a disease, bio-security allows us to contain it so we can treat it.

Matt receives his pigs between 20 and 22 days old. Piglets thrive in warm temperatures. Today’s modern day pigs barns regulate the temperature to meet the piglets needs. The barn is roughly 83 degrees Fahrenheit at that stage.  Not only does the barn keep the pigs comfortable but it can also keep them away from birds and wild fowl that may be carrying diseases.

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Here are additional ways farmers implement bio-security. https://www.pork.org/public-health/biosecurity-in-the-barn/

Every farm looks a little different. Some farms have different bio-security rules than others and it all depends on how many people visit your farm, how updated the barn is, and location.

If you have any questions about bio-security please don’t hesitate to ask.

GMO Decisions

Side Note: WOW! I can not believe Monday is Christmas. Where has this year gone? I Have many things to thank God for. We have had a few health concerns on both sides of the family but with those scares we have hope. The lord is watching over us. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas.

Good afternoon Picking Wild Flowers! A couple months ago I wrote a blog post about “Lets Talk Organic.” My love for agriculture has made me passionate about the issues that surround us all. FOOD!! We all eat. We all need food. We all have an opinion. I tried to stay pretty neutral last time but I received a note from a reader indicating that I just made things more confusing. I honestly believe in all types of agriculture. Diversity drives our world. Diversity of businesses drive the economy, diversity of schools/colleges drive education, diversity of people drive society, and diversity of farming methods drive agriculture. But because I want to be clear and concise, I will write this post with personal thoughts and opinions.

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Monday I presented a lesson called GMO Decisions to a class of Linn-Mar high school students. The purpose was to expose students to modern agriculture issues, scientific solutions, and the outcomes of those decisions, while discussing the sciences of biology and biotechnology.

I approached the students with the question- If you could solve any food problem what would it be? So I will ask you the same question. If you could solve any food issue what would it be?

Okay let’s start with the basics. What is a GMO? GMO stands for genetically modified organism. GMO is not a thing but rather is process. There are only 9 GMO crops currently on our grocery shelves. Arctic Apples (non-browning) have been approved but they are not commercially available yet.

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I view GMOs as the modern form of plant/animal breeding. Think back to the very beginning of domestication. Dog breeds are a product of selective breeding. Growing up we had Missy and Duke. Missy was an Australian Shepherd+ Blue Healer. Duke is a Yellow Lab+ Husky mix. Both of our dogs are a product of crossbreeding.

Lets step forward in time. We now have advanced breeding. Identifying traits on the gene level that are desired. For example, artificially inseminating cattle. We pick out a bull based on the pedigree. Will the bull be easy calving? Will the calf have horns? etc.

Is seedless watermelon a GMO? No, seedless watermelon is produced through crossbreeding + Colchicine. Colchicine is a naturally occurring flower chemical that intervenes with normal cell division. When added to seeds the female eggs produce twice as many sets of chromosomes. When we pollinate the new flower with an original flower we get a watermelon with three sets of chromosomes resulting in a seedless watermelon. Seedless grapes and bananas are the result of cloning and that may sound scary too but cloning plants is pretty easy. Many plants can be propagated by taking a cutting or by growing an offshoot.

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Grafting is another form of selectively growing food. Grafting is the process of transplanting a scion (desired fruit) to a stock plant (desired trunk/size). One student stayed after to ask me a few questions about grafting. Why do we graft? I answered with, “It takes years to grow a tree and trees grow to be very tall. By grafting we can decrease the height, thicken the trunk, or grow certain trees in climates they might not be native to (palm trees in Utah).” She also asked why people seem to fear GMOs but they don’t fear grafting. Grafting is similar to selective breeding. Joining two physical things. We fear things we can’t see and we can’t see GMOs but we can see a graft on a tree trunk.

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There are many benefits to genetically modifying-

  1. Disease resistance
  2. Increase in production
  3. Less food waste
  4. Environment tolerant
  5. No nutritional difference
  6. Insect tolerance (resulting in less pesticides)

Three ways to genetically modify-

  1. Silence a gene (turning off the light)
  2. Moving a gene (transporting a gene to a different spot on the chromosome)
  3. Adding a new trait to the gene sequence

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Now lets debate- LABELS

I am in favor of labels. I believe we have the right to choice but I only believe in labels if they are going to create clarification. Labels that are misleading make me so mad!! For example, diet pop! Diet pop is not healthy!

I have added a photo of Himalania Fine Pink Salt to this post. Why do you think I might be a little mad about this NON-GMO label? Salt does not have DNA meaning it can not be genetically modified. Every fine pink salt product you pick up is GMO free so why add the label? We are creating a fearful society!

This might be my longest post yet but stay with me! I have one more label to share with you. Take a look at this photo. It also has a NON-GMO label. Why might I be frustrated with this label? And it is not just because we raise cattle 😛

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Here is my frustration… How do we breed? Lets talk about the birds and bees. Meiosis is the process of cell division that creates eggs and sperm. We need both sets of chromosomes to create an offspring. Now tell me, how do we digest food? The DNA in our food is digested into 4 nucleotides and the protein breaks down into 21 amino-acids. Does our set of personal traits change when we eat a salad? No! Genes are passed down from our parents. GM food will be digested the same way Non-GM food is digested. Same goes for livestock. Just because a cow eats GM corn or soybeans does not mean it now becomes a GMO. Animals digest and breakdown food similar to us. Genetic makeups do not change by digesting food. Do you see livestock listed above as a GMO product? I don’t… so I don’t think meat/animal products should be labeled unless it contains a direct GMO food ingredient.

I am a christian. I believe whole heartily that God is leading my path and he has chosen me to teach agriculture. Want to know my honest opinion? GMOs are so cool! Science is cool! It is amazing the things we can do! God has provided us with the tools, motivation, and curiosity to explore his master piece. It is with his help that we even grow food! It is with Gods help that we have advancements in medicine! It is with Gods guidance that we trust in him with all that we do. I have experienced Gods love greatly this year.

Thank you for reading! Opinions are my own and do not represent the opinions of Linn County Farm Bureau.

Merry Christmas!

 

Meal Prep Fun!

You guys!! Do you want to make life easier? Do you like wine? and Do you want to have a festive girls night? Swap meals!

I am set for winter!! I literally have some of the most creative friends. What a fun way to meal prep! I am now stocked with country casserole, enchilada bake, manicotti, and shepherds pie. Food to fuel my body and soul through cold and snowy days!

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Kendra posed this idea to us and to be honest I jumped out of my seat with excitement! I am always trying to get on the meal prep wagon but life gets in the way! Am I right!?!? So this was a super fun and easy way to get meals on the table all winter long!

Food is such a precious thing but it can be confusing. Picking Wild Flowers has been my outlet for sharing my personal story about food and agriculture.

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Yesterday I attended a Women in Agriculture Leadership Conference and I left with inspiration beyond words! I am so blessed to work in an industry that is so passionate about where our food comes from. We are all eaters and we care about how our food is grown and farmers do too. How awesome is it that we live in a country where we have freedom to do so?

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Everyone has different values but those values are what make us who we are. Some of us have the opportunity to choose foods and others have certain diets due to allergies, diseases, food intolerance, and values.

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Conversations have become one way! We often listen to respond and not to ask questions. We need to listen, ask, listen, ask, listen, ask, share.

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So what are your feelings about food?

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Let’s Talk Organic

Well hello beautiful Picking Wild Flower readers! It has been a while but I am back and I have a interesting and fun topic for the blog tonight. Let’s talk organic! Who eats organic food? Who eats conventional? What is the difference between the two? Tell me do you eat foods with GMOs? What does GMO stand for? How about foods labeled as natural or contains no antibiotics? Food can be confusing and let me tell you… I am no expert. I just recently finished up a eight week fitness course at Next Level Extreme Fitness in North Liberty (which I highly recommend by the way) and I was encouraged to examine food labels. I soon realized that I consume a lot of salt and sugar. Two ingredients that were hiding in my daily foods. I am not sure how I will go lower two such prevalent ingredients but tonight I substituted rice for cauliflower rice- it is a start 🙂

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I decided to write this post after mom and I had a very interesting conversation when I met her for lunch today. We passed the new organic co-op in Iowa City and both mom and I wanted to stop in and check it out but we decided that we didn’t have time and we would another day. I am a person who believes in all types of farming. I think we need diversity to create a sustainable environment that will produce enough food to feed 9 billion people by 2050. I also believe in supporting local. Local farmers help the community thrive. It also allows young and small farmers to have an avenue. But if you are going to shop at a food co-op or if you want to buy organic from your local grocery store, make sure you have thought about all of your reasons for doing so. Be sure to understand that the nutritional value of organic lettuce is the same as lettuce grown conventionally. Understand that GMOs are only in 10 food items: corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cotton, sugar beats, canola, squash, papaya, potato, and apple. If you buy green peppers that say non-GMO, it is a marketing scheme and they want you to pay more because green peppers don’t ever contain GMOs (currently… science is always adapting and it is possible in the future).

Buying meat that says never been treated with antibiotics just makes me plain angry. If a cow or calf is sick wouldn’t you do anything to make it feel better. Tyler and I took our proposal picture 2 weeks before our herd had an outbreak of pink eye. That same cow in the picture was treated with the two medicines shown and if we were to sell her for meat she would need to go through a withdrawal period. We are not selling her but even-so it has been already been a month since she was on medicine and just like humans it passes through the body.

What about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism)? There are many benefits but to name a few: 1) the use of resources, some GMO corn crops can protect harvests in water-limited conditions better than conventionally produced crops. Other GMOs can also promote the use of no-till farming, which keeps more moisture in the soil. No-till also enables farmers to make fewer passes through the field using machinery, which means less fuel used and greenhouse gases emitted. 2) Fighting Pests and Disease,
Scientists are developing crops that look and taste the same as their non-GMO counterparts, but are resistant to insects and plant-specific diseases that can impact a farmer’s harvest. Plants with traits that protect roots from insect damage have an additional benefit of using water more efficiently. 3) Conserving Natural Habitats
GMO seeds can help farmers around the world meet the increasing demand for food by helping them make the most of their existing arable land, thus enabling them to preserve nearby habitats. (https://monsanto.com/innovations/biotech-gmos/).

Now lets dive into the label “Natural” for just a second and I mean a brief second… There is no standard definition for natural so what does it even mean?? I DON’T KNOW but it is supposed to be better for us… Humm…

I love discussing food so please ask me questions. I could talk about it all day!

Just remember that food is food and it is all about moderation. Don’t food shame!! It is not nice. ;P We need all types of farmers and I don’t have a problem with organic or conventional but I think we need to hear both sides and I believe we need both in our industry to make the agriculture world go round. Just be sure to read good quality articles and ask a farmer before you jump to believe every label you read.

Goodnight! Sleep Tight 🙂

 

Cattle get Pinkeye Too

Cattle get pinkeye too! Most years this is not a problem but just like when people travel… we occasionally catch an illness. That is exactly what happened to our 25 head of cattle. This year was the first time we rented the pasture up on the hill from my grandma. The cows were beyond excited to travel to their exotic new land! They went nuts! But with new territory brings new illnesses the cows aren’t immune to.

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We noticed a few cows had drippy eyes and while those few were in the pen being examined, the rest of the herd was catching it.

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Pinkeye is also known as infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) and is one of the most common diseases of beef cattle. It is a highly contagious disease, causing inflammation of the cornea (the clear outer layer) and conjunctiva (the pink membrane lining the eyelids) of the eye. Being that it is very contagious the whole herd was at risk.

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Signs of pinkeye include wet, red, and irritated eyes. Often times the animal blinks or squints a lot and a small white spot will appear.
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How does it spread? Pinkeye begins with irritated eyes. Tall grasses and weeds, dust, sunlight and wind can irritate the cow. Once the cow is infected, the disease spreads through face flies. The bacteria can live in the fly for four days.

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How do you treat pinkeye? There are a couple options to treating pinkeye. The first is to spray pinkeye spray into the cow’s eye twice a day. This is not very efficient if the cows need to be on pasture to eat. Spraying the cow’s eye requires getting them into the chute. The second option is to give the cow a shot of Liquamycin at the first sign of pinkeye.

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The antibiotic instructions are below. We gave each cow a shot of LA-200 according to the correct dosage/weight. Most of our cows weigh 1000-1500 pounds so you can see below we gave between 45 and 54 cc. The label also says to discontinue treatment at least 28 days prior to slaughter. If and when we decide to sell a cow, we are required to wait 28 days before doing so. The meat packing plant will check for antibacterial residue when they are slaughtered.

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The third option is to give the cows a shot of penicillin in their eyelid. This might seem painful but it targets the bacteria at the site of infection. Occasionally pinkeye can get so severe that it can cause blindness or can even be fatal. The fourth option it to spray the eye and cover it up with an eye-patch. Light can cause irritation and by covering it up it excludes the UV and eliminates flies from bothering.

We did the first and fourth option when we treated the cows two weeks ago but we were noticing the spread of pinkeye to other cows so this past weekend so we treated the diseased cows with treatments one-three. Pinkeye can be tricky to cure but hopefully we are finally ahead of it. Our main priority is the comfort and well-being of our livestock.

Dad said this was the time of year grandma and grandpa would go on vacation… not this year… our cows want to keep us on our toes.

Other resources:

http://www.beefmagazine.com/health/vets-opinion/busting-pinkeye-in-cattle-0401

http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/400/400-750/400-750.html

Our Proposal!

Our love story started a year and a half ago. I had moved back from Ames for the summer and was motivated to start running. Tyler’s parents live near Mom and Steve. I would often see Tyler hanging out outside. Everyday I continued to run past his house and again he would be working on his truck, hanging with friends, or just sitting on the patio. I have always been a big fan of his white truck and I asked about it to get his attention. It worked! Tyler would say our first date was to Kent Park but I wasn’t sure how committed I was at that point. But after our first official date to Phat Daddies… I had a good feeling about him. 😉

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And a good feeling it was! Here is the story of our beautiful, perfect, and completely appropriate proposal.

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Tyler asked me on Sunday if Zach and Rachel could join us for chores one night. I didn’t think anything of it because they had joined us earlier in the summer. On Monday night Tyler headed out to the farm to talk to Dad while I was at our Farm Bureau Annual Meeting. Tuesday was just a normal chore day or so I thought…as I was completely oblivious spraying the cows for flies.

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Tyler motioned over to Josie and suggested we spray her. I kind of blew it off and said I will in a minute. A second later he suggested it again so I was like fine lets head down there haha. To my surprise, Josie had something wrapped around her neck. I sped up to get a better look. I noticed the shape of the cow bell and assumed Dad was playing a prank on me. Josie is kind of an inside joke on our farm. She isn’t the most productive cow but she is the last cow from Grandpa’s herd and she holds a special place in our hearts. You can also tell from the photo that she is super wild!

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We got a little closer and I noticed writing on the front. I knelt down and read the words “Morgan Lee will you marry me?” I instantly got emotional! Tyler was on one knee by the time I turned around. I apparently was too shocked to stand back up after I read the cow bell because I am still on my knees in all of these photos haha.

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The whole moment was absolutely beautiful!! He put incredible thought into the proposal and having the cows involved meant so much to me. He knows me well!!

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A huge thanks to Zach and Rachel for capturing the moment. I am so happy to have photos to look back at. We couldn’t wait to tell all of our close family and friends but first we were treated to some ice cream!!

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We feel blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives. Thank you to everyone who congratulated us on our proposal day! We are excited to announce that our wedding will be October, 2018.

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Bring on the love, happiness, excitement, and anticipation as we plan our fall wedding! I can’t wait to marry my best friend.

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#HappilyEverHibbs 

The Hardships of Farming

The hardships… stories farmers don’t like to talk about. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this post but I think the world needs to know that farmers are people too and we make mistakes. Farmers are not perfect and I am not perfect. A couple of weeks ago my heart broke for one of our mama cows and her baby calf.

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We noticed that one of our new babies had scours. Scours is diarrhea that prevents the absorption of fluids from the intestines. Scours is common among new calves especially if the weather is nasty cold or scorching hot. We treat for scours whenever we see signs. Dad catches the calf and we give it a scour pill (Bolus antibiotic) which helps cure the diarrhea. Before dad left for vacation we gave this new calf a scour pill and put both the cow and calf in a pen close to the house.

Megan and I continued to check on the calf over the course of 24 hours. The calf seemed to be getting weaker and weaker. When the weather is really hot and calves are sick they tend to not nurse which results in dehydration. I gave the calf another pill by hand. Sometimes we use a wand called a pill pusher but the calf was pretty weak and putting the pill in his mouth wasn’t a problem.

Later on we went back to the house. I was looking over the bottle of scour pills and I noticed that they were expired. Usually one scour pill does the trick and I began to wonder if that was why the calf hadn’t seen any improvements. Tyler and I went to Theisen’s and bought new pills, a pill pusher and fly spray.

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Megan called to tell me that the calf wouldn’t walk very far. It was growing weaker by the day. She thought it was time to call the vet.

That morning I dialed the vet and told them what was going on. He advised that I try the new pills I had picked up and to give the calf some electrolytes. Electrolyte powder is like Gatorade. It should help keep the calf’s body hydrated. I thought I had all of my boxes crossed off. I picked up new pills, called the vet, fed the calf some electrolytes and called Tyler to see if he could come help give it a pill.

This time around I decided to try the pill pusher. Little did I know that there are two pushers. One for cows and one for calves. I had bought the one for cows… I had also bought the pill brand that Dad buys but instead of calf I bought cow. I might know what I am doing in theory but it is a whole different ball game when it comes time to purchase and act.

We got the pill stuck in the calves throat. At this point in the day I was hot, sweaty, and tired, but now I had a calf on my hands that was choking. I panicked. I started screaming, crying, and hyperventilating. I had know idea what to do. Tyler was rubbing the calves neck trying to encourage the pill back up but it was lodged to far down. I called the vet again and he said to bring him in right away. We backed Dads truck up to the field and loaded the 130 lb calf into the backseat. I hopped in and sat with him. Tyler drove us 40 minutes to the vets office. It was the longest 40 minutes…

The calf still had scours and was making a mess in the back of the truck but I didn’t care. I would clean it out later. All I cared about was the calf’s safety and health. All I kept thinking was this is my fault. In all my years of showing cattle, raising livestock, and studying agriculture; it has never been my fault. When we loss a calf it was due to natural occurrences. This was all my fault. Why did I not think to check for calf or cow pills? Why did I possibly think that pill pusher was for a calf? I thought I had all of the T’s crossed. But knowing what to do isn’t the same as actually doing it.

We got to the vets office and Dr. B looked down the calf’s throat. He couldn’t see the pill. He looked at me and asked if I would be okay with him doing a tracheotomy. The surgery only lasted 20 minutes and soon Dr. B was wrapping the calf in bandages. We went home with a two week old calf with a tube sticking out of his neck to help him breath. We put the baby back with his mom, but she began to lick his tube and we had to remove her from the pen. All seemed to be going okay and the chances in him surviving increased. We gave him a bottle and let him rest for the night. The next morning he was standing and walking around. I have never been so happy to see a calf walk!

But that night he seemed weak again. He was laying down with his head between his two front legs. He wouldn’t raise his head to eat. I felt so crushed. He was up walking around not long before. Megan and Tyler stayed to feed him the bottle and Dad and I went to check on the rest of the cows.

When we got back Megan and Tyler were outside of the barn. Their faces weren’t happy. The calf died drinking his bottle. Megan said he went peacefully. His breathing slowed and he stopped sucking. I was devastated. I have never felt so heart broken over the loss of a calf.

We put the cow back out into the pasture and buried the calf.

I was really hesitant to publish this post but I wanted all of you to know how much these cows mean to me. I would do anything to keep them happy and healthy. I have a lot of learning to do and after this instance I realize that fact even more clearly.

And on the 8th day God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker! So, God made a farmer!

 

 

Got Guts?

What is a ruminant animal? How many stomachs does a cow have? Can people digest grass? Linn County fair goers sought out the answers to these questions during Youth Day Thursday, June 29, 2017. This activity was designed based on the National Ag in the Classroom Matrix lesson “Got Guts.”

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A ruminant is a animal with a multi-chambered stomach. Cows have 4 main chambers- rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum.

To demonstrate the process kids digested their own hay with water, hot water and lemon juice.

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With each step came a new chamber.

  1. Cud, partially digested food from a ruminant animal which is regurgitated to the mouth for further chewing- “Chew” the hay and place in cup
  2. Rumen, good bacteria helps break down food- Add water and stir 
  3. Reticulum, sorts the particles and brings the large pieces back to be regurgitated in the form of cud- Pick out large particles
  4. Omasum, small chamber that helps with flow to abomasum- Add hot water and stir
  5. Abomasum, contains strong acids and enzymes- Add lemon juice and stir

ruminant hay

Starting with the dry hay and moving counter clockwise we can see the hay being digested through the 4 chambers.

Question: How many stomachs does a cow have?

Answer: One with multiple chambers! 😉

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Last summer I did a similar activity during 4-H vet camp and kids really enjoyed the hands-on portion of the lesson. This could easily be incorporated into a classroom. Make it a multi-unit lesson or complement another lesson by conducting this activity.

Would you like to see agriculture in your Linn County school? Contact mball@ifbf.org to schedule a classroom visit.