I believe I wrote about a similar subject a while back but decided to write about this again since I took a spill last evening and am now nursing my sore body back to whatever it is to feel normal. We have had such a mild and warm winter and it has been so pleasant, but now, here in Illinois, a cold, and I mean single digit cold, has finally arrived. I miss the warmer temps but I am glad for the freeze, I just hope it stays long enough to kill the bugs and insects so we are not over run by them this summer.
As, I mentioned earlier, I took a spill last evening while trying to get some hay for my goats. I am not sure exactly sure what had happened but it was right after dusk had settled in and the ground was frozen and all of the sudden, I was falling to the ground and hit it hard. I am so lucky the pitchfork landed away from my falling body so I didn’t land on it. It sure seems strange that three days ago we were wading in mud and now the ground is frozen hard as a rock.
The weather can change things so fast and the fact that it is so difficult to walk on frozen ground where cattle have recently trod that I am guessing I either lost my footing and tripped over a frozen pile of, well you know, or I had a spell of vertigo. Whichever it was, it was not fun. So in light of all of this, be careful of the changing weather and the ground surfaces. I always feared ice, but now, well I fear frozen manure, how funny is that.
Have a great day everyone and now that we are getting things better organized, we will be posting more.
Most of us assume that when individuals such as farmers and homemakers work at home; they have a very simple and easy life. Well, that is not the case. Working at home doesn’t mean that challenges and deadlines aren’t a part of their lives just like everyone else. They face them everyday and it could be as simple as being interrupted by excessive phone calls, upset and crying or sick children, nothing going as planned, the overwhelming feeling lack of social contact, and too many projects that need their attention. Working at home can be very economic for some and it works out well, but it can also be frustrating when there are other distractions at home that we do not have to deal with when we work away from home.
On the farm, there is always something to do. Livestock needs to be fed grain and hay on a schedule, morning and evening, a ample supply of water must be available to them at all times, if one is under the weather, so to speak, it needs the necessary attention to get it back to good health so it can return to the herd. Having a vet on speed dial is pretty important when an animal goes down, depending on the illness or injury, it may need immediate attention and professional help. Animals go through stress, as well, when they become sick or injured, so it is imperative that we remain calm while tending to them. The barns and shelters must be kept in good shape and dry for the livestock to have a place they can go out of the weather so hauling manure is a job that must be done on a regular schedule and the fences must be strong enough to turn cattle and horses so that they stay contained within their boundaries. If you have close neighbors, it is not a pleasant experience when you have a few stubborn head of cattle that like to test you and push the fence. People don’t like unwanted animals in their gardens and yards.
When the time comes for breeding your herds, keeping a record of the day the bull or stud went in with the cows or mares, is extremely important. This goes for goats, sheep and other breeds as well. By knowing when you put them together, you will have an idea of when to expect the birthing season to begin and can prepare your barns or make the necessary arrangements for the events to come. Records are also important in keeping track of vaccinations, days bought and sold, births, and injuries and illnesses. I keep track of when I de-worm my goats, when their hooves get trimmed, when I change feed and minerals and etc.
It is a wonderful life, living and working a farm. It has its stresses and challenges on a daily basis but, on the flip side, it can be a peaceful and calming life. Every job has a place for schedules and time management and that includes those jobs at home, it really doesn’t matter what you do, we all have them. Life does feel a little simpler on the farm when out working with Mother Nature and God’ creations but it is LIFE, and with that there is never a dull moment.
Here are a few tips to remember to help your animals deal with the heat.
- Always keep a water supply available to all animals by using waterers or buckets
- Have a place of shelter for them to get into out of the sun and heat
- If they have to be confined, place a fan in the barn/building to keep a constant air flow
- If possible, feed later in the day or early in the morning, the animals will be more apt to eat when it is cooler
These are just a few tips that we use here on the farm. Our animals get overheated and thirsty just like we do, so take care of them as well.
What causes a bull or a cow to go blind? It is not always caused by an injury; it can be caused by allergies or particles in the air that irritate and by irritation of flies and insects. If not treated quickly can cause blindness.
I am talking about a form of Pink – eye, an acute contagious conjunctivitis marked by redness of the eyeball. The symptoms are redness and swelling of the eye and some can even get ulcerated spots on their eyes. This actually causes temporary blindness. They will run into fences and walk in circles due to confusion. They can get lost from the herd and if cornered can become dangerous due to lack of sight and fear of the unknown.
This particular form must be treated medically by an antibiotic spray (that you can purchase from you local veterinary) given with an antibiotic injection. We use LA – 300 Antibiotic (also purchased from vet), this is one livestock medicinal item we keep on hand in our medical and farm supplies. Both of these, the spray and the injection, given together will help your animal heal and recover quickly with less risk of total blindness. Most will recover with 100% of their vision restored but, there may be some that will not fully regain their eyesight back at 100%. Depending on how long they had the infection and how severe the infection will determine what damage was caused.
It is most imp0rtant to treat your cattle and livestock as soon as you notice any signs of irritation or redness of the eyes. It does happen to the best of us; we work the farm; planting fields, away from the livestock , maybe at a second j0b and do not notice the changes right away. They, also, do not just creep up overnight either, so to speak, so it is no wonder that it can get away from us, at any given time. We just have to do the best we can and as soon as we notice a problem; we tackle it head on and give it our full attention and care.
There is not one single thing that can prevent this particular infection from occuring in your livestock but as a preventative measure, keep your pastures cut low enough during the growing season so that your livestock are not fighting the tops of the grasses and weeds to feed on the grass available to them. As a preference, we try to keep ours cut no shorter than ankle length when we mow the pastures. This allows the grass to contiunue its growth and kills most of the weeds or, at least, causes them to grow at a slower pace allowing the cattle enough grass to eat during the spring, summer and fall seasons.
It’s official, Spring is here. It is calving season at our farm. It actually started the first of March and we now have 9 little ones on the ground. It seems that it always takes longer when your are anticipating them.
Before the season starts, we make sure our tack and livestock supplies are ready at hand. We never know when we have to saddle a horse and go check the herd. Our cows make a trip to the house every other day or so. It is then when we start to see the little ones up close and get a head count of just how many we have. If any of our cows don’t come up or we haven’t seen them within 5 days, we saddle a horse and ride.
We have to keep our gear in good condition so that we can use it in a moments notice. For our saddles, we use saddle racks to store them when not in use. This helps keep there shape and off the floor. Same as with our ropes and bridles, they have their own assigned place in the tack room for each animal. Keeping the leather soft with oil is a great way to maintain your tack. This is good for you and also for your animal.
Not keeping your tack in good condition could cause problems not only for you financially, due to having to replace them but, also for your horse to keep them from getting sores from gear that just don’t set right on their back or in their mouth.
It is definitly that time of year, mud everywhere. It is a nuisance to walk outside to the car or to the mailbox and have your feet covered in mud. It gets all over your car and it ruins your good shoes. But what can you do, not much.
Out around the barn the mud is much worse and it can become a problem. If you feed outside the barn the mud will just continue to get more messy and harder to get around in. It is hard on the cattle and hard on you. Then when it freezes the ground is so uneven that it is difficult to walk on.
So, what do we do? I don’t know about everyone else but, the one thing we do is move our feeders around every few weeks to keep the mud from becoming a problem. If it does become an issue, there are times when we had to just haul in more rock. There are some areas around here that I know are 10 inches or more deep with rock that has been built up over the years.
The other way is to feed on concrete but that can also get messy and pretty quick. Then you just have to clean, clean and clean. And if not careful, it can get pretty slick. I know that when it does get in that condition it can be hazardous. The concrete can be as slick as glass and a broken leg can happen pretty easily.
Another thing we do is drag the ground area around the feeders. When the ground is still muddy yet a little frozen, we pull the drag behind the tractor and even out the ground. Now, I don’t do this myself, but Al does on a pretty regular basis. He usually does this at the same time he puts out hay for the cattle and horses.
We do the same procedure around the hay feeders. They are easy enough to pick up with the tractor and move every time we put out a new bale. This keeps the area from becoming too much of a mess and the grass will grow back come Spring.
Everyone does things differently but this just might give you another idea. I do know that a drag is a must on the farm and an important part of our farm equipment. We have ours made from 5 old tires, halved and attached together in a triangular shape with a chain that hooks to the tractors hitch. It does a great job.
On most farms or ranches you see several out buildings. Some are for the hay and feed storage and some are for equipment and repairs. Others may be for livestock, whether it is for just the purpose of feeding or for holding them in stalls.
Most farmers/ranchers I know and have talked to have a barn for their cattle and livestock. Most of them are used to feed, not to contain them. We rarely contain our cattle in the barn unless we are vaccinating, sorting or working them for some reason. Cattle do well out in the open but, they do need shelter from the weather. In the summer, it is good to have a place to get out of the heat and away from the flies. In the winter, it is good to have a place to get out of the wind, cold and wet weather. They will withstand most all weather but do like to have a comfortable break from the worst of it just like we do.
Our Longhorns roam the pasture year around but we have a specific area where they are fed and they have one side of the hay barn for shelter to get them out of the weather. If the barn is too far away when a storm hits or it is too hot, we will find them down in the valley in the trees down by the creek. They are pretty smart animals.
Another reason to have a barn for your cattle is so that you can work your cattle safely. It is not always necessary that you personally have to have one but, at least, have use of one available to you.
So, no, a barn is not necessary but shelter is. It can be considered as a part of your lifestock or farm supplies. Make sure they have some kind of protection and they will be happy.
If you have animals you will have to have some type of livestock feeders to feed them. Now, I do not mean cats and dogs, I’m talking cattle, horses, goats, sheep, pigs and such. Depending on the animal or animals you have will tell you what size you will need.
Goats, sheep and pigs usually need a low feeder where the trough is low to the ground or sits directly on the ground. This makes it easy for them to reach. Horses and cattle, unless babies, can be higher. High enough so that they do not have to eat off the ground and low enough that they can easily reach without struggling to reach their feed.
Once you have determined the size, how high and how many will be eating from this one feeder, you will need to purchase supplies. That will include lumber, treated or non-treated, some 2×4′s and 2×6′s, strong sturdy posts and some screws. How much of these will depend on the size of the feeder you want to build. Then you get your measuring tape, saw, hammer, if using nails, drill and begin to build. I am certain that if you do not have an idea of how to do this you can find instructions on the internet or contact your local farm bureau. It will take some time but in the end well worth it.
On the other hand, you can purchase livestock feeders at any online or storefront farm supply company. There are several to choose from, all shapes and sizes. If you are not one to build things or work with your hands, then this may be the way to go. Check out our website by clicking on livestock feeders and look around. Click out our affiliate “Barn World” and you will also find some feeders and ideas there.
The question has been asked so I will do my best to answer. I am no expert when it comes to building things. I have tried my hand at tables, benches, cabinets and gates. Those projects turned out okay but far from professional. They did do the job they were built for but, I did learn a few things along the way.
To begin with, you need to know exactly how you want your barn built. Will it be a Pole Barn, all open inside; will it be built with a hay loft as a second upper floor or just on one or both sides; will it have stalls to board horses and cattle or will it store farm equipment? In other words, you will need a floor plan or blueprint. Are you building this yourself or hiring a contractor?
If you are hiring a contractor, he/she can help you determine exactly what you will need in the form of materials like posts, screws, bolts, nails, hammers, drills, saws and etc. The right kind of lumber makes a big difference. It is, of course, your preference on what type you use but do make sure it can withstand the weather and if it is treated or not. They will also be able to help you with the type of roofing materials you will need.
One of the best ways to decide what you want is to look around your neighborhood. Look at your neighbors barns and decide what layout you like. Look through farm magazines and online to see if anything catches your eye. Visit your neighbors and see how functional their barn is and if it will meet your farm needs. Then the next thing is to jot down your thoughts on what you like and dislike. This will help you determine what you will need in order to have a fully functional barn for your farm.
When thinking about the layout; think about how you will use the barn. For example; we have 5 stall on one side of the barn and 4 on the other. The south side with 4 stalls also has a head shoot. That side of the barn is set up for sorting and loading livestock, whether it be cattle or horses and on the outside is a catch pen. The north side with a feed room, where we store our livestock feed, vitamins and supplements and 5 stalls is used for our horses that we put up every evening and if needed we will use these stalls for the bulls in the leasing/breeding season. It, also, has a sorting corral outside. Our stalls in the center of the barn are directly across from the other so we can run the horses straight through the barn to their pasture. It makes it easy to move them if we need to. Above the 5 stalls we have a hay loft and it is easy to feed the horses hay in the winter. The rest of the barn is open to the roof for storing big hay bales, farm equipment and whatever we need to keep out of the weather. In the front center of the barn up by the head shoot is our tack room with saddles, harnesses and all other tack close at hand. For us, it works quite well but, even now we can think of things that we could have done differently.
So, all in all, you really just need to know what you want, talk to your neighbors and ask to see their set ups, check out magazines and online, speak with contractors and carpenters on what they would suggest as to their preferences for the materials and then go from there. Then if you are ready to start your project, grab your wallet and go for it.
Photo is from Tri-County Barns. distributor of Barnmaster Barns, Inc. in Texas.
If you do not live on a farm or if you have never been on a farm this question is not that silly. I was always told that no question is silly if you do not know the answer. To someone like me, the first time I was asked this, I was surprised. It seemed so funny that y0u wouldn’t know what is around a barn.
I guess the first thing most of us would say is animals. Whether it be horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs or whatever livestock we raise. Then, of course, there is the feed, horse feed, cattle feed, salt blocks, minerals and cat and dog food. Also, there is the hay for the animals to eat and straw for their bedding.
Then the next thing would be the equipment, such as, tractors, wagons, combines, disks and maybe plows.
Of course, there would be all the neccessities of farm life such as fencing supplies, shovels, rakes, pitchforks, manure spreaders, buckets, log chains, hammers, wrenches and all other kinds of tools.
It may be surprising what you find out around the barn. You might find lumber, where someone has been building something or horse shoes lying on the ground where they have just finished shoeing a horse, halters and bridles hanging and saddles on saddle racks in a tack room. There will be lead ropes and sorting sticks and sorting paddles used for herding the livestock. You might even find a skull or two of bulls or deer.
There is just no telling what you may find. I do know that a farm is a great place for a treasure hunt.
Any how, these are just a few of the things you will find on a farm, out around the barn.