Melody & Oscar Fruth

Diary of Melody Fruth, Week 3 – July 18-24, 2011

Week 4

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jeremy was here bright and early to help feed this morning. Then Chris and Oscar gathered the round bales of straw from Jeremy’s and brought them to the farm here.  After feeding at the other farms, Chris mowed grass.

We got a new bucket for the skid loader today and Oscar used it to clean out the barn at Jeremy’s.  He spread the manure from the barn over the wheat field there.

In this hot weather keeping plenty of fresh water in front of all the calves is really a concern.  We haul water to Jeremy’s farm and to JB Mann farm and it takes about an hour to fill the water tank on the back of the truck.  So it can get very time consuming.

Jeremy left in the middle of evening feeding to attend a Swine Committee meeting for the Butler County Fair which is coming up next week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Very hot today, but supposed to get hotter later in the week.  If the weather doesn’t break soon with some rain, our corn is really hurt.The guys hauled manure at Jeremy’s today.  Chris had some difficulties with the skid loader and got stuck in a wet spot by the edge of the barn.  Oscar pulled him out with another tractor.

Brubakers delivered the three tons supplement that Oscar ordered last week and put it in the bulk tank.  That was so much easier than handling bags in this heat.  While they were unloading it, I ran fresh water for the calves here.  Oscar and Cody went to Brubakers to pick up some fencing boards and panels to complete the fence in Jeremy’s west pasture and mend the corral here at home. He had planned to rake the hay this morning so the dew would preserve the leaves on the alfalfa, but ran out of time.  After lunch at PJ’s he raked the hay even though it was pretty dry.  The baler was broken so a neighbor baled the hay onto the ground.  A friend drove the tractor pulling the wagon and Oscar walked beside and picked up the bales and threw them up to Chris where he stacked them on the wagon.  Very hot work for this very hot day!

After supper we waited until the sun was almost down to do the evening feeding so it would be a little cooler.  Today seemed to take a toll on the cattle.  Even though they were in the shade and had plenty of water, they were noticeably stressed by the temperature and humidity.  We got a very tiny shower while we were feeding, but it really wasn’t enough to show in the rain gauge.  I think it evaporated as steam when it hit that hot glass of the gauge!  As I type this tonight I hear thunder in the distance.  A shower would make a great difference, and I left the windows down on the truck to encourage the rain!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

After morning feeding Oscar had a chiropractor appointment in Middletown.  I went along and we took the opportunity to have lunch at Crackerbarrel.  Today was so hot and humid and it is predicted to be even hotter over the next few days.  We are concerned for the calves in the tarp barn.  The calves in huts have the option of being inside their buildings in the shade or outside if a breeze is blowing.  The ones in the barn have no option.

We have had a couple box fans blowing air through, but decided to look for a larger, industrial-strength fan to move more air.  Lowes was sold out so we ended up at Tractor Supply where we bought the last one they had.  It has two speeds and really moves the air.  The tarp barn was built last fall so this is the first summer we have used it for calves and we are still getting everything fixed up just the way we need it to be.

While Oscar and I were in town, Jeremy was meeting with the owner of Finkelman Realty.  We have rented a farm in Jacksonburg from them for a number of years and we are interested in renting it in the future.  We want to conserve the land so that it will remain a productive farm for many years to come.    Jeremy showed the owner the places where sod waterways need to be built to keep the land from eroding and valuable soil lost.  She had to sign the paperwork that will give Farm Service Agency permission to create the waterways.

I spent some time and some money at Kroger’s today.  When I was putting groceries away I noticed that it was getting dark outside.  It’s been a long time, but I did recognize the condition as storm clouds.  The thunder and lightening started and then the rain came!  It didn’t last very long, but .3” is better than nothing.  Since it came in the evening the crops can make the most of it before the sun evaporates it away.

Thursday, July 21, 2001

After morning feeding, Oscar and Chris went to Jeremy’s to work on the fence in the west pasture.  We would like to move some of the larger calves from our place over there where they can graze and take advantage of the trees for shade.

After lunch, Chris fed the larger calves here at home and made sure everything had water.  It is just oppressive this week—one day hotter than the day before.  Oscar let Chris go home around 2:00 because it was dangerously hot.  He and I were planning to work in the house for a couple of hours. About that time I went outside to check on the basset hound, Buddy.  He has plenty of shade but sometimes he gets twisted up and/or spills his water.  When I got to the shed where he had been tied, I found an empty collar.  He had slipped out of it and was nowhere in sight.  Oscar took the gator and went toward the woods.  I took the car and started down the road.  Since we live on a state route, we have lost many dogs to the traffic here, and I suspected Buddy would be the next casually.  Since it was so hot, not very many people were outside, but I asked the few I saw to keep an eye out for him.

I went east as far as Madison Food Market stopping at any residence where I heard dogs barking and looking with dread in the ditches along the way.  No Buddy.  I went west toward Jacksonburg with my car flashers on watching the ditches and calling for him.  About halfway to Jacksonburg I saw him.  He was trotting toward me in my lane with his ears flopping and a big grin on his face.  Fortunately the oncoming traffic stopped, I hopped out and opened the back door, and Buddy jumped in.  Whew! Dodged a bullet that time.

So much for getting some work done inside.  Buddy’s disappearing act took care of that!

Friday, July 22, 2011

First thing after feeding this morning, we moved 20 calves to Jeremy’s west pasture.  These 300 pounders took off running when they left the trailer, so I guess they like it there.  It will certainly be cooler for them under the trees.  Before we let them off the trailer, Oscar vaccinated all twenty using a pistol grip syringe.  In the small confines of the trailer the Holsteins really have the upper hand (or foot as it were).  They step all over your feet when they are milling around like adolescent boys whose feet are growing too fast for their coordination.  They are also clumsy because their eyesight is not very keen they tend to stumble into and over things.

We also vaccinated 30 of the smaller calves in pens.  This necessitates Oscar climbing into each pen and cornering each calf.  Working like that in this heat really takes its toll.

After lunch more feeding and much more watering.  We hauled a load of straw home from JB Mann’s farm and bedded most of the bucket calf pens.  We left Chris hauling manure at Jeremy’s to go to Indiana for the weekly calf pick-up.  We thought we were picking up five calves, but the calls kept coming in and we brought ten home.

Most of our calves come from Amish dairies.  When we pull in the lanes, barefooted kids come running from all directions.  They are always excited to see our blue truck and trailer because we make it a habit to have plenty of Starburst Fruit Chews on hand.  They are also excited to see us because the children are the ones who have to feed the calves twice a day. If we take one or two away, their workload will be lighter.  I don’t think the Amish adhere to child labor laws. Since back in the winter one little three-year-old girl has always been the one to greet us when we arrive at her farm.  She would come running with her little three-corner scarf and boots on and show us the calf to load up.  She then ran back to the house with her Starbursts in one hand and the check for the calf in the other.  She has been doing this for months now.  Her scarf and boots have disappeared and she now sports a little home sewn dark colored dress and bare feet. I finally met her father a few weeks ago when we arrived at milking time. (I guess he is the recipient of the checks I have been writing.)  I still don’t know her name because she does not speak English yet.  She has learned only a few words like “candy” and “thank you.” The Amish certainly adhere to the philosophy that no child is too small to shoulder an appropriate responsibility in the family unit.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Today started with feeding the new baby calves on the livestock trailer.  We were worried that they would get hot overnight so we opened the doors and put wire panels in place so the air could get to them.  We did not have the pens ready for them so after we fed everyone else we had to move some of the older calves around to make room for the new babies.  This week will be difficult because it is Butler County Fair week.  Jeremy is an adult advisor to the junior fair in the swine department. So we are short handed.  Also Chris is involved in showing animals.  So it is just Oscar and I.

It is exhausting to try to keep all of the calves watered in this weather.  Today is the seventh day in a row that the temperature has been above 90˚ and the heat index above 100˚.  Today we were able to get Brad to come help for the day.  He has had some experience working on the farm before so he was able to contribute right away. This afternoon we had a rain shower that delivered .3” of rain.  It got really hot and steamy when the sun came back out.  Showers are predicted for tomorrow and I hope we get a good soaking.

After feeding tonight Oscar and I went to Germantown to Legends to listen and dance to classic country music.   This is the first time in several weeks that we have been able to get away to attend. 

Sunday July 24, 2011

Jeremy and Chris were at the fair all day today.  Luckily Brad was available to help.  He was here bright and early to help with the feeding.  Sundays usually are a little more relaxed than the rest of the week unless something very pressing is going on.  The key word today is RAIN!  We got a little over three inches this afternoon and not too much wind so it is all good!  This will really make a big difference in most of the corn.  The bad news is our roof in the family room leaks.  Who knew?  It had been so long since we had had any rain to speak of.  That will need to be fixed, but for today I was happy just to set a bowl beneath it and let it go.  I might not be so laid back if it is not fixed by winter.

Since everything outside was soaked including the dry feed for the calves, all that had to be scraped out of the feeders and replaced with fresh feed.  We usually just give the damp feed to the larger calves.  They don’t seem to mind, but the babies don’t like it.  Also everything had to be bedded so they would have a dry bed tonight.  Since the temperature has dropped 20˚ I imagine they will sleep better tonight and so will we if we can open the windows and get some fresh air in the house.

At least I have options when it comes to temperatures.  The Amish do not.  I noticed as we made the rounds on Friday that some of them had pulled mattresses out on porches to sleep outside.  Their houses are mostly new. They have moved to Indiana from Pennsylvania buying vacant farmland in many cases and building houses for their families.  They build them with many more windows than most modern houses so they can take advantage of the natural lighting and breezes.  But a heat wave like this one must make the upstairs of those houses oppressive.

After the evening feeding Oscar hooked up the livestock trailer because Jeremy will be hauling some hogs to the locker in Camden first thing tomorrow for some friends of ours.  Nothing beats fresh whole hog sausage unless it is our own T-bone steak which is what we had for supper tonight!







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