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June 20, 2012

The Seeds of Success

On a livestock farm we would have nothing without semen, so it is kind of important – it has been the topic of conversation more than once at the dinner table, heck it has been extended on my dinner table!  My kids have used the term semen and artificial insemination since they learned to talk, although a lot of good that did me when it came time for “the talk”!  My kids loved to play with spirettes for toys (they would use them as pointers) when they were younger; my dogs think that CIDR’s, once removed from the cows are chew toys and leave them lay around the yard (yeah we’re classy like that)!  Once every five weeks we have boar semen delivered to our house, my kids think nothing of it when I holler “semen is here run out and get it”, they just take off and know exactly what to do with it (put it in the cooler)!  My kids know that cattle semen can be frozen but boar semen cannot  (did you?), they also know that it should be rotated in the cooler and willing to take care of that when asked.

The hot weather plays havoc on breeding and now a days most of our breeding and semen care supplies are kept down at the hog office but today I walk in the kitchen to find this:

I tweeted: 

"Yes people that is my kitchen table, Chris, a microscope & boar semen-doesn't this kind of stuff happen in all kitchens?"

It reminded me of the good ol' days and all the stories I could tell about semen!

The cooler in the kitchen:  When we first started with artificial insemination we (and believe me I use this term lightly  – well never mind I won’t even use that term) Chris collected from our own boars.  A boar can give off as much as 120-250 cc per “time”, that is a lot – and there is no sense in wasting all those little guys on just one lady!  So boar semen can be extended – and one dose of boar semen can be extended into about 20 doses depending on the count (and yes that means counting the little swimmers in a sample)  the more swimmers the more doses – just spreading the love around!  However boar semen cannot be frozen like cattle, it must be used fresh, it will keep for 7-10 days after extended in a cooler at 60-65 degrees.  So once collected – Chris would bring the sample into the house (that’s right) whip out all his handy dandy semen extending equipment and set-up his lab right on our kitchen table (seriously people I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted to), the girls would come running they loved to look at the sample swimming around under the microscope!  Once extended and put into dosage bottles they were placed in the temperature controlled cooler that sat where else but between my cabinets and my stove – it did serve dual purpose as the girls could stand on it and help me cook!

Kindergarten Pick-up:  We used to mail order our semen (I know right – and that isn’t even the best part of the story) – boar semen has to be fresh and so it was delivered UPS Next  Day Service and had to be delivered by 10:30am – one day I am sitting in the Kindergarten pick-up line waiting for Emi Lou to come out and our UPS man pulls up to deliver a package to the school – he sees me – waves – comes over to my truck carrying a white Styrofoam cooler and says “Hey Jennifer glad I saw you here – this is going to work out good, I won’t have to drive out to the house on these mornings so that I get it there on time and then drive back to town for deliveries!  Will it work for you to just take the semen home from here?”  I said “That would be just fine Kevin – we may be the talk of the Kindergarten crowd!”  And so every 5 weeks her whole Kindergarten year I would get a white Styrofoam cooler delivery from the UPS man while sitting in the school circle lined up for pick-up with all the other Moms – I only had two mothers finally get brave enough to come up and ask me what kind of delivery I was getting at school in a cooler – I told them straight up it was semen – I think they would of believed me more if I told them it was drugs or black market body parts!

I got a million of ‘em but the most recent actually happened at a blogging workshop with my friends The Real Farmwives of America!  Meggie who writes Hoosier Farm Babe Tell Tails said to me:  “The other night I was reading your blog when my husband looked over my shoulder and said ‘Hey I know them, they bought semen from Bill Arthur when I was working there!”

Now a days we just keep a white stryofoam cooler on our front porch so that on delivery day there is a cool place to put the semen when it is delivered and then we take it down to the hog office and put it in the electric cooler- without it or if it goes bad we have big problems!

You see, like it or not, we are known for our boar semen stories – one could say I have a million of them swimming around, I can tell a few semen tails’ tales!


  1. Only 999,999 more I can't wait to hear them:)hug cool pics of girls cooking B

  2. I just love reading your posts. I wish I could have had you in one of my very first English classes. You would have put a smile on my face because I know you would have taken each assignment and made it your very own. This one ROCKS! hee hee!

  3. I am a new follower. Love your blog. I have ready several posts this evening and have enjoyed all of them! I always love finding new blogs that are written by 'real' people especially ones in the ag community!

  4. Wow, I didn't know all of that. I learned something new about semen today.