Thursday, December 18, 2014

Vaccinating Cows

Getting vaccinated is not something reserved for humans. All of our cows and calves also get vaccinated and have their booster shots to make sure their immunity stays current. Keeping our cows healthy is good for them and good for us.

You're Sixteen, You're Beautiful, and You're Vaccinated

cow 16
Sweet Sixteen

Our most recent heifer that calved and entered the milking herd is #16. Previously she was only identified by her ear tag, but now she has a "big" number, also. The big blue number is the one we will now use for her record keeping. We escorted her into the headchute to restrain her for her safety as well as ours.

She received a vaccination to aid in the prevention of diseases caused by infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine virus diarrhea (BVD types 1 & 2), parainfluenza 3 (PI3), and bovine respiratory syncytial (BRSV) viruses, Leptospira pomona, L. hardjo, L. grippotyphosa, L. canicola, and L. icterohaemorrhagiae. That's ten in one dose! My children might wish their pediatrician could be so efficient.

Also, we poured on her back a liquid dewormer that will prevent internal and external parasites. After that she was free to go back to eating and relaxing until the next milking.

Our calves are vaccinated when they are a few months old and wormed when they are ready to go out on pasture. They will receive regular boosters for the rest of their time on the farm.

Now, if only I could convince my wife to get vaccinated for her flu shot this year.....

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cows In Space

I opened the gate and called to the cows in the pasture. It was time for them to come in and eat lunch. Most of them stood up and took a few steps. Thinking they were on their way I proceeded to feed a group of calves that were in a nearby barn.

The cows, however, didn't move. They stood silently. Were they doing some kind of protest? Were they pondering which Christmas special to watch on tv? I noticed their ears and eyes pointed to the heavens and it was obvious what they were doing. Cows, as you know, have an excellent sense of smell and hearing. What they had to be doing was "sensing" one of NASA's new spaceships, Orion, circling the globe.  

The spaceship was unmanned for this trip, but one of the future goals of the new craft is a trip to Mars. Of course, when the astronauts are on board they will definitely need some milk. What are their options? As impractical as it is, the first choice is to take a real cow with them.

Monkeys and rats have made the trip so why not our bovine friends? While one little girl did take a baby calf into her house to snuggle with, a cow in space does bring its own issues. Cows need room to move, lots of food to eat, and let us not forget about waste. Then you have the issue with the milk. Raw milk for the astronauts? No. The last thing you need is a group of astronauts getting sick from an E. coli outbreak or having renal problems.  They would need to pasteurize the milk. More equipment and more work for them. We might not be ready for a cow in space.

As a kid I remember the astronauts drank Tang.

I also remember that it was the yuckiest thing I had ever drunk at the time and if that was what it took to become an astronaut then there was no point in me thinking about becoming one. Thanks but no thanks and pass the milk, please.

Due to it's perishable quality milk might not have an option for early astronauts, but today you definitely have more options for your dairy cravings. Ultra High Temperature pasteurizing allows milk to have a long shelf life. You can find conventional milk as well as organic milk on the shelf like this.

Coming soon nationwide is a product called Fairlife Milk which uses a new version of UHT and has a unique twist on milk's inherently good properties by increasing the protein and calcium while lowering the sugar content. Perhaps the biggest impact it will make is that it is lactose free making it a perfect choice for those with inherent lactose allergies. Does it taste delicious? I don't know, but I can't wait to try it.

Cows in space? Maybe not yet. Milk in space? You betcha! All systems are go!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Football To Farming

If you are looking for another way that the internet can change lives then you can look no further than former NFL player Jason Brown. You see, after quitting football he did research on YouTube to become a farmer.

You can find out how to do thousands of things on the internet. In the movie The Next Three Days, starring Russel Crowe, the main character learned how to make a bump key for opening doors and other less than scrupulous skills by also watching YouTube videos.

I go to YouTube for various reasons. I want to listen to a particular song. I want to find out how to do something simple which in one case I ended up being schooled by a prepubescent boy on how to skin my daughter's Mindcraft game characters. I've posted several videos myself, too.

What have watched and learned on YouTube? Have you learned enough to want to make a major career change like Jason Brown? Or are you still watching funny cat videos?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pebble Smartwatch For The Farm?

For a while now I've been looking forward to getting an iWatch, or as it ended up being called, an Apple Watch.

Reserved for Apple Watch

When the Apple Watch was actually shown this month, I ended up being underwhelmed. The more I thought about it the more I realized that even if I wanted to spend close to $400 on a watch, the Apple Watch couldn't survive life on the farm.

Big, bulky, and expensive. That's a good description for a tractor, not a watch.

I decided to reevaluate why I wanted a smartwatch to begin with. Pulling my iPhone out of my pocket to check to see if I had a call, message, or notification has started to get old. Often, I'm on a loud tractor or around mooing calves and don't notice the rings, beeps, or chirps. When I've been expecting a call I've even carried my phone in my hand while I worked to keep me from missing it. That's not always safe for it or me. With the onset of winter and extra layers of coats and gloves keeping abreast of those messages and notifications will be darn near impossible.

Most of the time being late to a conversation or message isn't a problem. However, when my wife texts and I don't respond, well, that's not a great situation to be in.

I realized that I didn't need a full blown computer on my arm. What I really need is something practical. Something that works well. Something that solves my problems. I decided what I really need is a Pebble smart watch.

  • The Pebble displays notifications (texts and calls from my wife won't be missed!)
  • Is highly water resistant (which is a must for farm life!)
  • Readable screen in daytime (I'm always outside)
  • Replaceable bands (in case I catch it on something)
  • Scratch resistant screen (I'm rough on things)
  • Battery lasts for 5-7 days (!)
  • Affordable
  • Last, but not least, it tells time. 
Can the Pebble survive the farm, the cows, and the chores? Can it deliver on the notifications when I need them most? Dear Pebble, this is your chance to find out. I volunteer to put your watch through the paces in the demanding job of dairy farming. Dusty silos, spraying water, spattering cow manure, greasy tractors, and much, much more. Send me your smartwatch and I will gladly test it out as only a farmer can. If you are interested please contact me here.