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January 31, 2011

To Market, To Market

To sell a load of fat pigs!

We normally sell hogs on Wednesday's and this week I got invited to go!  Yeah - a date - normally Josh hauls the hogs but Chris needed new Red Wings and so he said "Hey wanna go sell hogs with me - I'll treat you to lunch" - of course I jumped on it - seriously who could resist an offer like that!

This load was sold to Tyson and needed delivered to Rushville -

We start by marking (the orange mark on their backs) hogs that are at market weight (we sell at an average of 260 pounds - it takes a pig appox. 6 months to reach market weight) and load them into the trailer - we can haul about 34 at a time - we sell 55 loads a year!

Once loaded up we headed to Rushville - once there we unload, each hog is given a tattoo.  They each receive the same tattoo that is then put on our paperwork it will stay on the hogs all the way thru processing - we are paid on grade and yield, the tattoo allows the processor to grade each hog individually for muscling, leanness, % usable product, and trim(damage and discarded) if necessary. The more muscled, less fat hogs are worth more. To us and the packer.

Once weighed as a group they are put in a pen.  They will be loaded onto a semi the same day and these hogs will be hauled to the Tyson Plant in Logansport Indiana.

We will receive our check and paperwork in less than a week.  Our checks always come with our yield and grade breakdown for each hog and then the average for the load - this information helps us keep a close watch on how our hogs are growing, if we need to change genetics to meet market demands and if our feed rations are nutritionally balanced to grow our hogs.

All in all it was a great "date"!

January 29, 2011

"I feed horses all the time"


You know the song "I hear voices all the time"?  Well for about the first 10 times I heard this song on the radio I thought he was singing "I feed horses"; seriously it all made sense to me:

"I just can't help but hear'em Man I can't avoid it" - Of course, when livestock is hungry they "bawl" and you really shouldn't avoid it - you should go out and feed!

"My Dad sayin' work that job but don't work your life away" - feed the horses but get out of the barn when your work is done - have some fun!

"And Granddad sayin' you can have a few but don't ever cross that line" - it's ok to drink and have fun but you still have to get up in the morning and feed the horses so just watch how much your drinkin' and don't be passin' out somewhere!

"My Dad sayin' quit that team and you'd be a quitter for the rest of your life" - because I played the whole season of ball I learned that even when I don't want to I have to go out and feed the horses!

"And Mama tellin' me to say a prayer everytime I lay down at night" - come on that just makes sense

"And Grandma say'n if you find the one you better treat her right" - if you find a good horse you better take care of it!

"And just when I've lost my way or I've got too many choices"  I feed horse - when you are confused just do what you know  - feed the horses!

Quite frankly I could go on and on - I looked up the lyrics and can come up with a "feeding horse" scenerio for every line - while not overly directly clever they all make sense to me!  When I hear this song now it still sounds like he is saying "I feed horses all the time" and have been known to scream at the radio "For the love of Mike just feed them, we feed hogs and cattle everyday and don't have to sing about it!"  I will admit that the actual lyrics of the song have a great message I just can't help but always think about horses!

January 25, 2011

Gestation Crates - The Good

We use gestation crates! Crates are individual stalls that allow us to provide each sow with individual attention, nutrition, and observation, and reduce competition and injury from aggressive sows.

This morning I was walking thru the gestation barn and came across this poor gal-

She doesn't feel good!  I can tell by looking at her and the feed trough in front of her.  While the rest of the sows in the barn are busy doing this:

EATING and licking the trough clean, her feed is still there.   We run the feed lines in the gestation barn twice a day - morning and evening - and in between we run water thru the trough so they always have constant access to fresh water.

Now if this sow had not been in a gestation crate but in an open pen with other sows we may not of noticed that she wasn't feeling well - especially based on the fact that she left feed because the other sows in her pen would of gladly eaten her share that she left.  So we gave a shot of Flu nix (anti-inflammatory) and some penicillin.

When we check on her a little later she was up and eating!

 Now two things would occur to me if I were that sow in a gestation crate -
 1. My feed is still here and now I can eat it all!
b)  I am glad to have my space when I am not feeling well - I can lay down and the other sows aren't bugging me, laying on me or nosing me!

 Just sayin' that's what I would be thinkin'!

Now I know you are waiting for the Bad And The Ugly - but there aren't any just ask that sow who is now on her way to feeling better!

January 23, 2011


Every once in a while in this house we have to go back to basics - Basic Training or Boot Camp as we call it around here!  It usually happens about once a year, we tend to lose our rhythm, get lax on chores, don't show enough respect for each other - all the things I consider important in a family structure that carry you thru life - so that is when we head back to Boot Camp - basically it comes down to written daily chores, homework deadlines, animal feeding responsibilities and the such - and during Boot Camp there are no warnings if it is not done you are grounded!


*Be ready when the bus shows up - It doesn't matter what you are or are not wearing the bus goes to school and you are too!  (also: the bus passes our house twice a day you better be on it both times unless you need to be at school early or late for an activity the bus is your transportation!)

*Bring your homework home - plan wisely I will not take you back to school because you forgot a book or paper!

*Homework is to be done by 7pm and backpack ready to go for morning - if it is not done by then you go to school without it done!  I will allow for extenuating circumstances - ballgames, being in the field, etc.   If you need help I am always here to help - but I have been to school so don't ask me to do your homework for you - I will be glad to check the paper for mistakes but I will tell you how many mistakes are on the paper but not which ones are wrong - figure it out on your own!

*If it is your night to feed - don't try to trade, don't try to get out of it - just get your butt out to the barn and get the job done!  NO EXCUSES - if your afraid of the dark, do it before it gets dark or man up; if you have already taken a shower and are wearing pj's that's just too bad - your going anyway!  You should go to bed every night knowing that your animals are just as comfortable as you are and that you have done your best to make sure of that!

*Don't ever say to me "BUT I DIDN'T GET THAT OUT WHY DO I HAVE TO PICK IT UP!" -
because I will say to you: I cook all the food in this house but I don't eat it all;  I wash all the underwear in this house but I don't get all of it dirty;  I don't own all the animals but I help when you need it; Dad earns all the money but he doesn't spend it all on himself; - then you will not only pick up what I asked you to pick up but whatever else I see that needs done you will do!

I consider these very basic household rules and I think that we sometimes just get out of the rhythm of them and need to be reminded!

I am adding a new one to this particular session:  Feeding with Dad!
All my kids love to go down to the barns with Chris and feed but it is pretty much random - for fun- thing - this Boot Camp however it is going to be a requirement that once a week you have to go down and help feed and check the hogs every night - I have a couple of reasons: a)I think it will be good quality one-on-one time with their Dad during the winter - spring, fall and summer this isn't a big deal because they ride with him all the time in the tractors!  2) I think they are all old enough to understand and realize how much work and how many hours this lifestyle that we love really takes!

So TEN-HUT I am headed to inform and rally the troops!

January 20, 2011

If I had to commute . . . .

farther than my laundry room, the walk out to the barn or the quarter of a mile to the hog barns - I would be exhausted!  I drove to the north side of Indy today, I am not afraid to drive in the big city or on interstates - advice from my Dad and Chris "it's the other drivers that you need to worry about, as long as you are paying attention and being careful" but it was snowing and icy today and well:

I grip the steering wheel at 10 and 2 - very tightly!

I am not sure I breathe!

I talk out loud to myself and other drivers around me!

I CAN SING ANYTHING - I normally sing in the car but when I am nervous I seem to know the words to every song on the radio and can really belt them out!

I stopped at the truckstop and there were several customers who did not speak English very well and I immediatly thought to myself:  "If they can't speak english they probably can't drive in snow and ice"!  I have no idea what one has to do with the other but it was a legitimate fear in my mind!

Now I have to do it all over again and get home - you have no idea how glad I am that I don't have to do this everyday - here's to hoping that everyone on the roads right now speaks fluent English!

My hats off to all that commute everyday - God Bless You!

January 19, 2011

The Man Loves His Cattle. . .

well and his kids, and his wife who all love the cattle as much as he does - but we aren't the ones who have to drive the 4430 down the road on a cold and wet Indiana day to put out the round bale for them - he does that for them and us!

*photographers/authors disclaimer - I have not posted many pictures of our cows because cows in Indiana in the winter just aren't pretty - others out west post the most beautiful pictures of cattle in the snow so pretty and clean - that just doesn't happen in Indiana so I decided to "embrace" the mud and 2ft of manure and my dirty, muddy cows that I love so much and take pictures of them and post them for the world to view - did that sound convincing?

Here he is driving down the road - these pics are straight out of my camera and taken in the afternoon - a grey, cold dreary day - I followed him down the road because it was so foggy and dark we were afraid someone wouldn't see the tractor!

Awww Yes - OUR COW HERD - from left to right there is Maggie, Mary Anne and Raye of Sunshine- all 3 were bought as heifers and shown by the girls at the county fair - they are all 3 bred and due in early March.  You wouldn't know it but there is a lovely pad of concrete under that 2 foot of melted snow, mud and manure!

We try to store as many round bales in the barn as we can - it makes for a crowded barn in the winter but keeps the round bales so they don't get as wet and they don't rot as fast.

They love getting a fresh bale!  This is My Cowgirls Shorthorn steer - Shortie (clever isn't she!)

Raye of Sunshine aka our buffalo gal - Herefords get the curliest hair - so pretty in the winter not fun to groom for shows!

Our beloved 4430!

We love our cows - they are definitely a hobby but one we have fun doing as a family!

January 15, 2011

SOCKS - you heard me!

 I said it out loud!
That is a dirty word at my house - mainly because we never seem to have enough! I admit I have been known to hide if I know someone is looking for socks because inevitably they will require my help!

Where do all the socks go? Some have the theory that they disappear somewhere between the washer and dryer - but quite honestly I have caught them other places as well - the yard, the garage, my truck, the barn, the showbox - and not just 1 or 2 random socks but quite frankly enough socks to cover all the feet in a small country!

Seriously this is what it is like at my house - my children have taken to not worrying about if their socks match and often don't worry about socks at all!  My Lil' Farmer learned to wear his work boots without socks and My Midget thinks socks are overrated with any kind of shoe!

At some point with all 3 kids I have had this exact conversation:

ME: DON’T go out in the barn barefoot you will step on something and hurt your foot ~

KID: I am not barefoot I am wearing socks!

Right before Congress I sent the kids out to the barn to clean out the showbox (yes we do this before shows not after like you should!) - they came in with various random items some of which being 5 socks! 5 different socks - not 2 pair and a single; not 1 pair and 3 singles - but 5 single socks - Seriously what happens to the match’s?

Matter of fact it has gotten so bad around here that for the past 5 years the #1 top present in this house at Christmas is the brand new package of socks I hand everyone on Christmas morning - it is talked about for weeks before - while looking for socks for school you can hear some kid say "How many more days till Christmas - because Mom will be giving us socks!"

January 11, 2011

Happy 15th Cowgirl!

WOW 15 - it is so hard to believe!  I could not be prouder - I remember the day we brought her home from the hospital and Chris said "Now what?" we talked how it was harder and more paperwork to buy a car than bring a baby home from the hospital - she didn't come with an owners manual or anything!  On the way home from the hospital we had to stop at Wal-Mart and buy a space heater because we didn't have forced heat upstairs in our house and the bedrooms were too cold for a newborn.  She spent so many hours in the tractors with me, Dad and Grumpy - she slept on the floor of the cab all curled up in a ball and was always covered in dirt.  I remember I cried like a baby when she got on the bus to go to Kindergarten and she was so excited.  I still laugh out loud when I think about the fall that she was riding in the combine and drank a whole Mt. Dew and was literally bouncing off the windows from hyperness and Grumpy kicked her out!  Her first year of 4-H she walked her steer 400 foot by herself from the trailer to the cattle barn while everyone else was parking trailers right next to the barn and parents were unloading animals.  She crys every year at the livestock auction - no matter what steer she sells, how much trouble that steer gave her, no matter how much she claims she hates that steer - she still crys.  I love her sarcastic dry sense of humor.  I am proud of the fact that she is always on the honor roll - she has to work really hard for her grades and she knows that and puts the time and effort into them.  She is caring and is not afraid to tell us she loves us (I know she loves her brother and sister even if she won't admit it) - I could not be prouder and can't wait to see what the next year brings her way!