FarmingFriday

 First Snow

It snowed about an inch on Tuesday, but it melted by the afternoon. We are still combining corn, so they had to wait until about 5 pm to start harvesting for the day. It snowed an inch on Wednesday too, and they had to wait until evening to start again.DSCN7378

It is possible to combine corn with snow on the ground, but it needs to be about 20 degrees or colder. If it is any warmer, the snow will melt and “plug” the combine. John tells me that they try to avoid combining in snow if possible, because snow is very abrasive and hard on the equipment. Who knew fluffy, puffy white snow would be hard on a big ol’ combine?DSCN7382

Harvest of Knowledge Conference

Today, I am speaking at the Harvest of Knowledge conference in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The organizers planned a full day of speakers for this agriculture-focused women’s day out. I’ll be speaking at noon about fixin’ up our farmhouse and sharing the So God Made a Farmer’s Wife poem. Each of the ladies gets a copy of the bookmark version of the poem. I can’t wait to spend the day with them.

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What are we feeding the heifers? 

We started feeding the Red Angus heifers a mix of cracked corn and pellets. (She’s thinking…Uggggg, stop taking my picture while I eat. Don’t you know that’s rude?)photo 1The feed was delivered to the farm from the local grain elevator. It costs us $.08 per pound. The price of cattle feed fluctuates based on the current price of corn. It makes for interesting dynamics between farmers, cattle feeders and ranchers. Sometimes, when one is making money, the other is losing money.

We ordered a mineral tub to help meet the heifer’s nutritional needs. It’s sort of like a human taking a multi-vitamin and protein supplement. To eat this, they lick the brown stuff. When full, these tubs weigh about 225 pounds.photo 3

Here is the heifers’ current diet and feed costs:

  • Free choice (this means, as much as they want) access to soybean field that was recently harvested, $0
  • Free choice access to long stem grass hay, $150/ton
  • Mineral tub, $94
  • 3-4 pounds per head, corn and pellet mixture, $.08/pound

This brings us closer to the all-important number that every cattle woman ‘oughta to know about her cows or livestock: the cost per head, per day. As easy as it may sound, this number is hard to track. I have not added in the water bill, electric bill (for heating the water), or any of our time. Most cattle people love cows and hate keeping records, so they don’t keep track of their time. Some say, “I don’t keep track of my time because I already know–way too much!”

I probably won’t track my time, but we do have a general idea. It’s important to know our expenses, because it will help us determine if the heifers make a profit or not.

There’s a few things a simple feed cost analysis misses. We can’t put a dollar sign on everything. There is no way to calculate the feeling of being grounded because these animals depend on us for daily care. When I was planning for my trip, I asked John if he could feed the heifers while I was gone. It is nice to know that someone, or 42 red-headed somethings, would notice even if I was gone for just one day.

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