Take Your Daughter to Work Day

Life in the Farm Lane

12/16/2013 5:30 AM

Take Your Daughter to Work Day

We’ve all heard of “take your child to work day.” Well, last week my dad did his own version – take your daughter to the barn day.

It’s hardly uncommon for children to be seen in the barn with their parents. But I’m not exactly a child, having one of my own who loves trips to the barn himself. On top of that, I work at Lancaster Farming full time and rarely make a trip to the barn during “normal” business hours.

But last week was a little different. I had some time off from work, and my dad was elated to find out that my “off” time coincided with two cold and busy days on the farm.

Ovsynch and presynch are incredibly useful tools on the farm, but when you’re breeding cows, you don’t typically think about how many calves could be born so close together. That scenario is exactly what’s been playing out on the farm where my dad works. Seventy fresh or treated cows to tend to at one time is a bit much – so much so that there weren’t enough headlocks for them all at once.

So after breakfast, I layered on the winter clothes and headed for the treated pen. I got the clean end of the job, walking in the feed alley to look at cow ear tag numbers while dad was behind taking temperatures and administering medications.

After pulling a backward heifer calf – yay … one more to add to the fresh pen – we headed in for lunch.

Back out to the barn, but this time I had to chase around a dozen or so Jerseys. Every six to eight months, I have a classifier come to the farm to score my Jerseys, a tool I use in marketing. Thursday just so happened to be that day.

Though the majority of my cows are overly tame and basically just put their heads in a halter, I have a handful that have never been shown and run at the sight of a halter. And of course two of my highest scoring cows happen to be ones that I had to chase around the freestalls for half an hour before they let me catch them.

Classification went pretty well – two new excellent cows and several first-time very goods.

Friday morning wasn’t too much different, helping my dad treat animals again. But after that, I got a bit of a cardio workout. My show heifers are raised in a separate facility down the road from the rest of the herd. When those heifers are close to their calving date, I walk them from my barn to the farm’s calving pen. So one at a time, I walked a Holstein and a Jersey to their new home at the milking barn.

After lunch Friday, I actually got to get a shower and get off the farm, but only for farm purposes of course. I had to travel across the county and pick up a new calf hutch. My favorite Jersey heifer was due with a heifer calf that day, and I wanted to be prepared for Romance – the new calf. I may have been prepared, but Romance was unfortunately dead at birth later that night.

But my drive in the SUV pulling the trailer of course couldn’t be a pleasure. Nope, cold and rain. It’s pretty hard to hook ratchet straps around a calf hutch when your fingers are frozen.

That seemed to be the theme of my weekend too – bad, snowy, wet, cold weather. My dad went away for the weekend and left me in charge of feeding and caring for our show heifers. Typically not a problem, but last weekend showed just how mean winter can be.

I was smart enough to know that if I didn’t unhook the hose from the water hydrant, it would freeze and I wouldn’t be able to water the animals the next day. So I unhooked it and drained all the water out. Thought I did good, right?

Wrong. Apparently I either didn’t drain the hose well enough or the nasty rain/ice/snow storm we had Saturday night was too much for the hose to handle. It was frozen come Sunday morning’s feeding.

All the pens still had at least some water, so I attended church and then came home to deal with the mess. I’m just thankful that my dad taught me to be resourceful because the original hose (which was hooked up to an automatic water float) was still unusable. So I found another and had to manually fill all the water tubs so my girls didn’t die of thirst.

My four-day escapade in the cold was a pain in my butt, but it’s no match for what farmers like my dad and husband go through each and every day this time of year. Thank a farmer today – and then give them a hot drink and a blanket! 

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