- Van Wert
Diary of Cathy Minges - Week 1 - December 1-5
Wednesday, December 1
What a blustery day with snow flurries flying about. Hope you enjoy reading about our small beef cattle farm. Show cattle and farming seem to be in Allen's blood and he enjoys all the hard work it takes to make this a viable business. With a full-time off the farm job, it means week nights, weekends and holidays are taken for cattle and farming needs. Allen does daily feeding of the cattle before he goes to his job before work and after work, Monday- Friday. Didn't have to be to work until 7 am today so did work around 6 this morning. We have two cattle sales this month that we are selling cattle in and these cattle are kept and fed in different lots from the other cows. Round bales of hay are out all the time for the cattle and grain is fed in the morning and evening. We feed a grain mixture of corn, oats, molasses, supplement (vitamins and minerals), cottonseed hulls and beet pulp; we supply our own corn and have the mixture ground at a nearby mill. We also feed Showmaster Feeds for our sale calves. The biggest difference in that is the corn is steamed rolled in the Showmaster versus cracked corn in the mix from the mill. At this time of year, we feed about 200 lbs. of feed daily plus hay. We bale around 300 round bales and about 200 square bales of mixed alfalfa hay each year and that is fed to our cattle. The alfalfa gives protein for the cattle and using a mixed hay gives roughage. The round bales are 4' x 5' and equivalent to around 25 square bales. This works out great for us on the baling end of it and the feeding end.
Allen was home from work around 4 pm. Waiting on mail today to make sure health papers from Dr. Krum arrive. The health papers verify the steers (a steer is a neutered male calf) we are showing/selling at the Hoosier Beef Congress this weekend have been examined and are healthy. Allen finished loading everything needed for the show/sale in the trailer. Allen and Scott finished clipping and got the calves tattooed. The ink tattoo is placed in the calf ear and will match the registration papers. Each breed asssociation has a farm prefix that is part of the tattoo which identifies the breeder. These three are the last of our steer calves to sell this year and we are hoping they do well. The Farm Bureau office is closed on Wednesdays. I keep Cole, Scott & Sheri's son on Wednesdays to help them out. We ideally like our calves born in February or March. We begin selling the calves in September and our last one, a heifer (young female) will sell later this month at the Holiday Classic sale in Zanesville. Selling club calves has worked out well for us. It is a lot more hands-on work but have a better profit margin per head than any other way we have sold cattle. Allen finished feeding, in the house and ate supper around 8 p.m. to finish the day.
Thursday, December 2
Allen fed cattle before he left for work. After work he went directly to Scott's to check heats for him. Scott will not be home until after dark. He has several cows that will be bred A/I (artificially inseminated) and this is how you know when a cow is ready. A female will give off certain signs letting you know when they are in "heat". The signs will help you determine which cows will be bred. "Heat" is the period of time that occurs, on the average, every three weeks (18-24 days) in sexually mature, non-pregnant female cattle, when they are receptive to mounting or riding actively by other cows since we A/I our cattle. A "standing heat" or physical mounting occurs within the first 12-18 hours after the onset of heat. The best time for breeding is near the end of standing heat or 6-10 hours thereafter.
Scott called from Indy. The steer calves weighed in between 640 and 680 lbs. Scott unloaded the trailer then got everything set-up for tomorrow. Scott's wife Sheri had class this evening after work due to the holiday weekend. After I left work at the Farm Bureau office, I picked up Cole and stayed at their house until Scott arrived home and finished his evening chores. Sheri would not be home until around 10 p.m. When I arrived home around 8:30, Allen had finished feeding and had to put some round bales out. We rent a pasture down the road and he had to check the water tanks there due to the cold weather. We have to haul water to this pasture. There is a small creek that runs through it but has been dried up for months due to the drought conditions. The drought has been very hard on the pastures too. We were near 10" short this summer/fall in rainfall. The recent rain has helped bring that number down some. Seems like it is always dark when the work is done since the time change and shorter days. Brought pizza home for Allen's supper.
Friday, December 3
Allen fed cattle before work. Scott had cows to breed this morning then left for Indy for the cattle show. Allen worked today and our kids got the steers ready for the show to help him out. Depending on how well the cattle do in the show will determine where they sell at in the sale. Wyatt at the barn first and fed our calves. Scott, along with our daughter Carrie and Wyatt got the calves washed and groomed for the show. Scott showed the steers and we were very pleased with how they placed. They will sell well in the sale tomorrow. Here is a link of the All Star Sale catalog if you have any interest.
Carrie and Wyatt have several calves at the Hoosier Beef Congress that they have sold and will be showing in the Jr. show on Sat. night and Sunday. This is the largest prospect cattle show in the nation. After work Allen went to Scott's to do his chores since he was helping us out, then back home to do chores at our place. Took a round bale down to cattle on pasture before he left. Then he was off to Indy for the cattle sale tomorrow. After the All Star Show that our cattle were in, Wyatt and Carrie started clipping on their calves that would be showing Saturday and Sunday. Scott helped and they clipped until around 11 pm. Back to hotel for some sleep before another busy day Saturday.
Saturday, December 4
Allen went to the fairgrounds around 6 am to get calves fed early. Sheri had class again today at Greensburg, IN and I was going to keep Cole. We were going to travel to Indy for the sale but due to snow falling, decided best not to travel. I met her at our usual meeting place, halfway between their place and ours to pick up Cole. Roads were not bad, Franklin Co., IN is the true test. They are always the worst roads around. I do the barn work when Allen is not here, fed the cattle in different lots and checked the water for all the pens to make sure they had plenty. I picked the pens to help Allen out so not so much to do when he arrived home later. He does this every morning and every night to keep the pens clean in the show barn. We put in an automatic waterer a few years ago and I truly think that is the best improvement we have ever made. Cuts down on the work time and works much better in the cold weather. It also keeps fresh clean water available at all times for the cattle. The automatic waterer can accommodate three lots; the other lots have water tanks. Cole and I cleaned around the house and did laundry, paid some bills and did some paperwork. Allen called, cattle sold very well and he was pleased. To celebrate a good sale and in appreciation for the kids helping us with the calves, Allen treated them to ribeyes for lunch at the IN Cattlemen's booth on the fairgrounds. Meet Sheri to drop off Cole. He and I have spent a lot of time together this week but glad I can help out when Scott is away helping us with the cattle. Allen arrived home around 4 p.m. and it was still snowing. He thought we had 3-4 inches, more than what they had at Indy. Out to do chores. He put down bedding for the cows in the barn and put a bale of corn stalks for cattle in one lot. We use mostly corn stalks for bedding. With the cold weather, he wants the cattle to have good bedding. We bale around 60 round bales of stalks each year. Allen put out some round bales of hay, picked the pens, then fed cattle. Dark again when he got in the house.
Sunday, December 5
Allen decided to go deer hunting so fed cattle before he left this morning. Returned home around 9 a.m. then took a round bale down to cattle on pasture. Checked water and made sure cattle are all doing well. We will be bringing them home soon for the winter. Allen's birthday is today so we met Scott, Sheri and Cole in Harrison for lunch to celebrate. We were talking about a new requirement this year at the Hoosier Beef Congress. All steers and commercial heifers were tagged with 840 compliant RFID tags or electronic identification (EID) tag by the IN Board of Animal Heath at no charge in an effort to promote the further use of EID technology with cattle producers. The ear tag is placed in the ear of the calf and identifies the producer and premise origin of the cattle. Many county fairs in IN have started requiring these tags. Seems like IN is much further along on the cattle premise ID program than Ohio. I went Christmas shopping in the afternoon and Allen went deer hunting. Tired today after all the work getting ready for the sales the past three weeks. Two trips to Terre Haute for pictures, along with all the clipping on seven head of sale cattle have kept them busy. Finished feeding when he returned from hunting. Made homemade potato soup for supper and watched a little football and our favorite show The Amazing Race before calling it a night. Carrie called around 8 p.m. to tell Allen happy birthday and said they had just got home from the cattle show. Their cattle did well in the shows and they were tired after the big weekend, off to work tomorrow. Wyatt had chores to do and Carrie was going out to check on her chickens and eggs. She was hopeful that they did not freeze.