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Posts Tagged ‘cattle’

Happy Spring

No. 151 and Harlie making acquaintences.

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Wordless Wednesday

Expecting another winter storm…we may have tractors get stuck in the snow when we are trying to get all the livestock fed…

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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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And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the township board.” So God made a farmer.
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“I need somebody with arms strong enough to wrestle a calf and yet gentle enough to cradle his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife’s done feeding visiting ladies, then tell the ladies to be sure to come back real soon and mean it.” So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, then dry his eyes and say,’Maybe next year,’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from an ash tree, shoe a horse, who can fix a harness with hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, during planting time and harvest season will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, up in another 72 hours.” So God made the farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place. So God made a farmer.

God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to help a newborn calf begin to suckle and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower in an instant to avoid the nest of meadowlarks.”

It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, brake, disk, plow, plant, strain the milk, replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with an eight mile drive to church. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh, and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his family says that they are proud of what Dad does. “So God made a farmer.”
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Author Unknown

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After attending the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders Conference this weekend, I thought it would be good to touch on the child labor laws issue that has been a real problem for family farms.  My husband Chad wrote to our government officials about his thoughts on children being allowed to work the family farm.

Lana drying off a newborn calf that was too cold

Lana drying off a newborn calf that was too cold

I’d like to share his comments with you and throw in some pictures of the kids on our farm.

Lana and Bridget painting the new horse fence

“I’m a sixth generation farmer from Illinois, living in the same community that my ancestors settled in the mid 1800’s.  I feel very blessed to be able to raise my daughters in a place that has such deep roots.  We are not a large farm, but we are a corporation for business reasons.  We utilize help during the summer to put up small bales of hay, mow, work on fence, work with livestock, and any other odd jobs that we try to get done during the summer months.  A lot of the time the ones who are looking for a very flexible work schedule, are kids in high school. 

15 year old Blane helping with cattle vaccinations

This is a great opportunity for us to be able to help them out when we need a few extra hands to work while the weather is good, as most of the farm labor we use is all our family.  We always keep a close eye on them, and would not ask them to do a job if we did not feel that they were capable.  While they are here we watch over them not like an employer, but they are watched as if they were our own kids. 

I understand that the proposed rule would not allow my daughters to work on our “corporate farm”.  Our girls are ten and seven, and have been around livestock their entire lives.  They are both very skilled at being around both hogs and cattle.  I love them both very much, and want them to learn some of life’s lessons that can only be learned by being out on the farm following me around just as I did with my dad and grandpa. 

Bridget working along side her Grandpa!

I find it very interesting that when we have people out helping with livestock that our girls are telling them how to move around the cattle, where to stand, what tone of voice to use with them, just things that unless you’ve been raised around it you don’t understand. 

Niece Monica relaxing after unloading feeder pigs

Bridget with her chickens

 We have nieces and nephews that just love coming to the farm.  My niece from Arizona comes and spends a few weeks in the summer with us.

 I know that farming is a dangerous occupation, and that there is risk with having kids out on the farm.  I also realize that there have been several accidents recently, as when they happen it really hits home.  But I feel that it should be the parents’ responsibility to be sure that their kids are kept safe.  Whether my girls choose to work somewhere else or on our farm until they are eighteen, I will always be sure that it is a safe environment, as I’m the parent and ultimately responsible. ”  Chad Schutz

It is truly important for kids to be able to be responsible for something and to learn how to work.  As you can see from the pictures, it can be fun, too.

Lana feeding Annie the bottle calf

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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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