Monday, April 27, 2015

Dollop & Scoop – No. 17

Calves in hutches

spotted Holstein dairy calf

Our pens for the newborn calves are full, so we're housing a handful of heifer calves in hutches for the time being, including this cutie, who we named Ice Cream. Our automatic calf feeder pen is almost at maximum capacity, as well. At least we're almost to the end of what has been a crazy spring calving season, so we'll soon return to normal housing rates. The new calves will move to the automatic calf feeder pen. And the weaned calves who will move outside as soon as the bigger heifers go out to pasture. We're thinking the pasture should be ready in a couple weeks – sooner if we get some rain.

Every day is Earth Day

dairy farm scene with pasture and pond

In case you missed it, Earth Day was last week. And I know it sounds clich̩, but every day is Earth Day on dairy farms. We are always assessing our impact on the land and searching for ways to lessen our footprint. Since we bought our farm, we've taken many steps to protect soil and water and reduce our energy consumption (both electricity and fossil fuels) Рwe utilize no-till planting as often as we can, and use minimal tillage when necessary; we collect all of the manure from our cattle and all of the runoff from our yards and use that for natural fertilizer for our crops; last year we reseeded the banks of one our ponds to reduce soil erosion, we also use grassed waterways to allow water to travel without eroding soil. I can list several other investments we've made, but the point here is that we take conservation of all our resources very seriously. This land, this earth, is only ours for a short time; we want to leave it in even better condition for the next generation of caretakers.

All smiles

Dan took his First Communion on Sunday and we celebrated with a family gathering afterwards. As special as First Communion is, this family picture we took is even more special to me. It is so rare to get a picture in which we are all together, all dressed up, all looking at the camera and almost all smiling. What's more, everyone is really smiling – not the fake smiles that we so often use. I don't think Glen has smiled this big in front of a camera since the day we got married. What's really important here, though, is that some day our children will look back at this picture and see the true joy of our family. Not everyday is picture perfect or blissfully joyful, but we are happy. When we take pictures with fake smiles or no smiles, it doesn't capture the true happiness of our family.

Have a joyful week, friends! And use your real smiles!