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.

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