Monday, March 16, 2009

Patiently waiting

Either our second child will be a productive procrastinator like his or her mother or he or she will be one of those headstrong children who requires buckets of patience – and his or her lateness is part of assessing our level of patience.

Yes, we are still waiting for our baby to arrive. It's only been a week since our baby's due date came and passed, but I swear this last week has been one of the longest of my life. We didn't have anything planned for this week – the calendar is nearly blank – because we figured we'd be spending this time adjusting to and getting to know the newest member of our family.

In contrast, the three weeks prior to last week were booked nearly solid with appointments, meetings, and other must-do-before-baby tasks. The dramatic reduction in activity level made this week seem to pass all the more slowly.

To make matters worse, not a waking hour went by without a phone call from a family member or friend calling to ask if anything was happening yet. Thankfully, not a single call has come in today. I know they all meant well, but I was about two phone calls away from turning the ringer off and changing the message on the answering machine.

The good news is that each day our baby delays its arrival the odds that it will come the next day dramatically improve. To my knowledge, no woman has remained pregnant forever and the vast majority of late babies come within two weeks of their due dates, or so they tell me. So, here's to another week of patience practice.

Monday, March 9, 2009

The tank runneth over

Apparently, problems can be categorized as good problems or bad problems. If that's the case, then we've been blessed with a couple of good problems: one, we ran the bulk tank over on Thursday morning and had to switch to every day pickup, and, two, we're running out of places to house baby heifer calves.

We figured when we moved to this farm that we'd outgrow the bulk tank sooner or later. Being eternally optimistic, we actually thought it would happen quite awhile ago, but it seemed like, for one reason or another, the cows just weren't milking the way we expected them to. But, now, we're firing on all cylinders and the girls are really milking. This hardly seems like the time – in terms of our national dairy supply and demand crisis – to be happy about running the tank over, but this just happens to be when everything finally fell into place for us.

The same is true for our heifer calf situation. For our first three years farming, we averaged 35% heifer calves. Our first year, our bull calves sold for $200 a head and they made a huge difference in bottom line at the end of the year. Last year, however, was a different story. So, last spring, during a long string of bull calves, Glen said we can either sit around and complain about all these bull calves or we can do something about it. And do something about it he did: sexed semen went into every heifer with a good, natural heat plus a handful of cows.

He even went so far as to breed Gerene – a fifth lactation, third service, 120-plus days in milk, heck-of-a-good cow – with sexed semen. She was showing great standing heat, Glen said. I told him he was nuts. She settled, though. If the odds are in our favor, she'll deliver her first heifer calf ever later this spring.

Our first gender-selected heifer calf was born a month ago. Since then, the heifer calves just keep coming. And, like the bulk tank, we're running out of places to put them.

I guess we'll be looking for a bigger barn in the not-too-far-off future. And a bigger bulk tank, too.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Any time now, baby

Our income tax returns are filed. Our balance sheet and year-end analysis are printed. Our 2009 cash flow is projected. The baby can come any time now.

And, get this, (drum roll, please) I even have the 2009 filing-to-date completed and the Quicken entries started. It's amazing how much easier it is to categorize transactions when you can remember the actual purchase or deposit because it happened just a few weeks ago – not ten months ago.

Folks, this is history in the making. Usually, we set a date with Jim, our farm business management instructor, to do all of our year-end financials and then I'm up late for three days in a row before he comes. And, then, I'm lucky if I have all the information Jim needs when he gets here. This year, everything went off without a hitch. Maybe it was the urgency of the deadline. Some of it, though, is that we're actually becoming better record keepers – which makes sorting things out at the end of the year a whole lot easier.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll keep up with the record keeping after the baby comes – and knowing how much easier is to keep up is really good motivation – but if I don't, at least I have a start.

So, any time now, baby.

(Actually, I really wouldn't mind if you waited until Monday so that we can move heifers as planned on Sunday.)