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Posts Tagged ‘beef’

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Last night on our way to the Illinois Farm Bureau Commodity Conference we needed to grab some supper. Chad and I based our drive through choice on the fact that Culver’s has a thank a farmer ad campaign. I’m a fan of most fast food chains, but last night I wanted to thank Culver’s with my hard earned farming dollar.

So thank you, Culver’s, for supporting farmers and the FFA program!

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I was debating what blog topic to write for the Illinois Farm Families website this week. While I was out helping Chad feed the cattle on one of the unusually warm days we’ve had, I thought about how much easier it is to care for all the critters when the weather is warm. But, then I got to thinking about the terrible heat of the past summer and decided that each season has it pros and cons. My preferences are spring and fall! For winter things would go a little smoother when if we didn’t have to worry about frozen waters, cold calves, heaters not working, etc. In the summer things would go smoother if we didn’t have to haul water, worry about overheated animals, or storms that cause power outages.

Hogs in their climate controlled building eating feed

Hogs in their climate controlled building eating feed

Our hogs are raised in climate controlled buildings. There are sensors that we set to control the temperature, air flow, fans, and ventilation. We make adjustments as the hogs grow. We are raising a group of wean to finish pigs right now. They require a little bit more TLC at the beginning. They were started with special feed mats and heat lamps to get them growing well. As they have matured, the mats and lamps have been removed and they are eating out of the regular feeder in each pen. This winter we have not had to worry about frozen pigs, bedding them down, slopping through the mud to feed them or trying to keep them cool in the summer. Hogs can’t sweat and can get overheated easily. It has been 15 years since we switched to feeding out all our hogs inside. It was an excellent choice for us and the hogs are all the more comfortable for it.

The cows laying in extra straw that we rolled out for them

The cows laying in extra straw that we rolled out for them

Our cattle are pretty easy to care for, but there are challenges in the winter and the summer. In the winter we deal with frozen automatic waters and hydrants, the cattle require extra bedding in their shelters and extra feed to keep them warm and full. Newborn calves can have a harder time keeping warm and when the weather yo-yo’s it is harder to keep everyone healthy – cattle and people included. We are still hauling water to the wells in the winter and we have to keep our water trucks unfrozen to do that. The summer months we need to keep the cattle cool. The bulls don’t always breed as well when it is hot – just too hot to do their business. The summer drought kept the grass from growing much. We started feeding hay a lot earlier, feed prices went up, and we hauled water to the wells.

Drought year - no grass growing

Drought year – no grass growing

We love what we do, even with all the challenges that are faced. Raising livestock is rewarding. There is nothing like seeing a newborn spring calf running and bucking through the pasture, or sitting in pen with little piglets chewing on your boots. The pros definitely outweigh the cons in raising livestock.

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Its days like today that make me dread the rain. It is about 33 degrees rainy, misty and windy. Days like these make it hard on our outdoor livestock. It is easy to get wet and chilled and like humans, that makes your immune system work harder. It is muddy and sloppy, one degree colder and at least things would be frozen. Now on the other hand, our wells are really low from lack of rain throughout the summer and fall. That means any moisture we get is a blessing, so I shouldn’t complain! Easier said than done.

The hoop!

Today I am thankful that a few years back we built a large hoop building to feed cattle in. We have cows and calve them in one pasture and then when the babies are weaned they get moved into the hoop. They have the hoop and the pasture next to it, but today they are penned up in the hoop with fresh bedding, fresh water, and plenty of feed.

The cattle playing with their straw bedding.

If we would open the gate, they wouldn’t go out. They like the hoop!

The calves are dry and content, just the way we like them. If they were out in the pasture with no shelter, there’s a pretty good chance that some of them would not feel good in a few days and that is never fun.

Our hogs are pretty well off, too! They live in a temperature controlled environment with the same amenities the cattle have; they are dry, fed, watered, and safe from predators.

Happy pigs.

I forgot to mention predators with the cattle. We have a lot of coyotes around here and they are hungry. We lost two baby calves this fall to coyotes, but I digress. The hogs also have fans and sprinklers for the really hot days during the summer.

The horses tend to be out in the weather the most, but this seems to be by choice. They have a couple of barns they can go in and there is hay inside for them, but they stand outside and eat anyway. I’m sure they know what they need to be comfortable, smart critters. At least all of our animals have the shelter they need to stay safe and healthy, so there is another blessing!

Chad and Lana draining a field.

Farmers deal with precipitation and lack of all year long. That is nothing new, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be frustrating at times. Growing our crops is extremely dependent on the weather. Too much rain and you can’t plant because of the mud and too little and the corn won’t grow. We have had times when we have to dig drenches to help drain the fields.

The past few weeks we are having some field tile put in to help with the wet spots. There is always work to be done!

In need of tile!

Getting the tile!

So, back to work for me on this rainy nasty, blessing of a day! There are always jobs to do inside. I hope you and your animals stay warm and dry.

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Here we go!

So for my first post,  I guess I’ll start of with a little background on myself and our family farm.  My name is Stacy.  I am married to Chad and we have two daughters, Lana and Bridget.

Here we are this summer with some of our cows.

We farm near the town of White Hall, Illinois, with Chad’s family.  Our daughters are the 7th generation of Schutz’s to farm.  There are five of us families that all farm together: Chad and I, his parents, uncle, brother, and cousin.  In 1842  the Schutz brothers came to the US from Germany and settled and farmed in Greene County.  We still farm the land they settled on.  Personally, I think that is pretty awesome…what a heritage!

All the generations of us working together!

Picture time this fall.

On our farm we raise corn, cattle, hogs and soybeans (some years).   Each person does many jobs on the farm which could be caring for the  hogs and cattle, the machinery, field seasons, working the soil, building and machining, bookwork, or even delivering meals to everyone.  It is nice to have people that can fill in if we have to be gone.

Livestock is the part of the farm that  we (Chad and I) enjoy the most.  We enjoy producing meat for our own families to eat, along with the rest of the world.  We are lucky and get to have the majority of the critters at our house along with our horses.

I am a stay at home mom/farmer.  It is a full time job to raise our daughters and do whatever is needed on the farm daily.  I don’t think any of my days are ever exactly the same.  You don’t always know what may be needed.  It ranges from weighing hogs, feeding cattle, driving a tractor, scooping manure, running to get parts, helping fix a piece of equipment, to feeding a bottle calf.

~ Feeding Annie the bottle calf ~

As a grain and livestock farmer, I feel responsible for helping the consumer to understand where their food comes from.  And as a mother of two little girls, I understand the need to make sure what I am feeding them is safe and healthy.  I hope to use this as another tool to do that.  I am really looking forward to sharing our lives with you and answering any questions that I receive!

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