Sunday, August 9, 2009

Two weeks later

I'm going to get this blog up to speed. After the first few days on the farm, I got into the routine pretty easily. I work pretty slowly, which is expected, since it's pretty much genetic, haha. I hope I'm worth it to have around though. Typically there's two people in the parlor, but with me, there's three and I don't think I really speed up the process any. Cows only move as fast as they want. Dave could leave and get other work done, but he's much better at being a cow pusher just because he's bigger and stronger than me and Nicky.

Other than being in another country, things are pretty routine and boring around here. Mornings we milk, then break for breakfast. Mid to late morning involves picking up newborn cavles on the pasture.

Typically, the night before, Dave checks the springers and makes note of who has calved, and will mark the calves with the mom's eartag number. In the morning, we'll go out with a 4-wheele
r (quad) and trailer and pick them up. If they've cavled earlier that morning, we'll leave them on the pasture for a day with their mom. To a farmer in the US, this just seems crazy! But it's nice to see mother nature doing her job. Calves are trailered back home, put into a pen, iodine on their navels, and a brass tag in their ear. No calf hutches here!

I remember when I was in Mexico, I saw group calf pens, and the calves looked pretty sickly. These calves are healthy and pretty hardy since they have to compete for their food. I guess if there was a contagious illness, it would spread pretty fast, but Nicky spends quite a bit of time out there, so if something did happen, I'm sure she'd be there to segregate the sick calf and treat it. I guess no matter how calves are raised, it's all based on management and getting things taken care of before they become an issue. In the US, the feeling is keep calves sanitary and sterile. It's like a pig farm in my opinion. In New Zealand, I get the feeling calves are raised to be exposed a little bit to the elements, challenge them a bit to make them more hardy. Since milk production is not a concern, that makes sense.

Anyway, in the early afternoon, I bring the milkers up to the feed pad to eat corn silage for about an hour, and then at 3:15pm, they go up to the shed (aka milking parlor) so we can start milking by 3:30pm. We finish up between 5:30pm and 6:00pm. Nicky and Dave do other chores, but my day is pretty much done at that point.

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