Tag Archives: cattle

Now that is what I Call a Winter Storm on the Farm

Yesterday and last night we had a major winter storm. The day started out with light snow. Then it moved to rain. We had over one inch of rain before it turned back to snow/ice over the night.

This is what Jon and Lisa woke up to:

You can see the weight of the ice damaged some trees and a river is running through the back yard. Some of our calves got spooked last night and were out this morning. We are not sure what happened, but the sound of the breaking trees might have done it. Also, our dog, Boo, completely chewed through the wall in our mud room.

A kind of day like today calls for only one thing:

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There is Hope for Tim’s Wedding Ring

Remember this post “My Husband Doesn’t Wear His Wedding Ring”? In the post I mention that Tim lost his first (and very expensive) wedding ring while working with calves. I am sure the ring is now in one of our fields waiting to be eaten by a cow.

There is hope that we might find it though. Today there is an article on Mail Online  titled Wedding ring eaten by calf  three years ago is re-discovered… inside cow’s stomach at butcher’s shop.

The farmer lost his ring while feeding calves. A calf sucked it off his hand. When it was time to butcher the fully grown animal the farmer asked the butcher to look for the ring. Low and behold, it was there!!

Cattle swallowing metal objects is actually a bad thing. There is even a name for it Hardware Disease. This is when a metal object is swallowed and it is pushed through the rumen to the reticulum. The reticulum is one of the compartments in the bovine stomach, and its function is not well understood. However, the contractions of the reticulum force the object into the peritoneal cavity where it initiates inflammation.

To help prevent an infection, cows are sometimes fed magnets to prevent the metal objects from piercing the stomach walls.

 

So here is to hoping we find Tim’s wedding ring…someday.

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Murphy’s Law on the Farm

Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

What reminded me of this old adage was my father, Jon, taking off the weekend to go to a Superbowl party with my uncles. You see whenever he leaves the farm for a weekend something or multiple somethings will invariably go wrong. It’s a running joke said with only a half smile and cautious glance around that as soon as Jon leaves the farm expect the unexpected.

Our cows are generally fairly well behaved. They seem to know when Jon has left the farm though and that is the time they choose to do their annual escape and visit the neighbors trick. Three years ago they decided to run laps around two of our neighbors’ houses in a figure-eight pattern at 2am for fun. It is a good thing we have wonderful neighbors who weren’t only forgiving but had a blast rounding up 100 cows in the dark with me. Two years ago they went for a romp through a drainage ditch to get to a neighbors sweetcorn patch. They had only begun to start detasseling the corn when I caught them in the act and rounded them back up to put back in. Unfortunately, the poorly maintained ditch crossing I was bringing them back across was not where I thought it was resulting in a waterlogged ATV and a very unhappy me. This last summer the cows decided that they wanted to visit town. Yes, that’s right, they went to town. They must have visited at least 10 neighbors’ yards during the wettest spring we’ve had in a long time. No one was happy with them after that prank. They seemed to be pretty happy with themselves though and spent the rest of the afternoon napping on a hill. It seems no matter what kind of fencing a person puts up cows will always find a way to go have a good time if they really want to.

Cows are not the only thing on our farm that follows Murphy’s Law. Our farm equipment is a far more common offender than the cows who, like I say, are generally a well behaved bunch. We don’t have the newest tractors and implements on our farm so some breakdowns are be expected, however, they seem to occur at the absolute worst times. I’m sure any of you who rely on some kind of equipment to get a job done from a combine to an inkjet printer are very familiar with this phenomenon. We log over 1000 hours per year in our skid loader. Needless to say it’s a very important piece of equipment and without it we really can’t do many of our chores. For some odd reason our skid loaders have a tendency to burst hydraulic lines during Christmas. I could understand it happening once and calling it coincidence. The odd part is that it has happened twice now with two different skid loaders. I’m not talking the little hoses for the hydraulic cylinders that move the bucket. No, those ones could be made at Carquest, it was a big one both times that supplies the drive motors to make the loader go. Those are special hoses and must be purchased from the Bobcat dealer which is tricky during the holidays.

My favorite example of Murphy’s Law as demonstrated by our equipment was the meltdown of our Case 970 tractor’s engine. I started it to let it warm up and came back 5 minutes later to find it wasn’t running anymore. Turns out it wasn’t running because the engine had seized up due to a lack of oil. I would like to say its my fault for not checking it often enough but it wasn’t, it was so much less likely than that. After the local technical college students took it apart I found out the cause of the engine failure was the oil pickup tube falling off the oil pump after 20+ years of apparently being firmly stuck there.

Nothing major has gone wrong (knock on wood) this weekend and Jon gets back tomorrow afternoon. Here’s hoping our luck has improved and it will stay that way. What great stories do you all have about Murphy’s Law?

Tim

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Zweber Farms in 2011

What a year 2011 was.

We had a record of over 60 inches of snow. The cows could walk right over the fences. Remember when they took for a walk in the woods?

cows, storm, pasure, organic, rain, tornado,

When we had all that rain! We never thought we would get corn planted. In the summer came the extreme temps and sever storms. Remember when Tim took this picture minutes before a tornado touched down?

Sam winning Grand Champion at fair

The summer was filled with exciting events. Hannah was born and Sam won Grand Champion at our county fair. She then went win Honorable Mention at the State Fair.

BigFoot At World Dairy Expo-The Boy's Favorite Stop

Hannah being a beach bum on vacation this year

It wasn’t all work and no play. We went on a short vacation and then headed to World Dairy Expo in October.

chicken, jonnie, summer, 2011

Don’t forget all the funny stories about our pigs and chickens throughout the year.

It was a very memorable year. Thank you for making it so wonderful.

Happy New Year!

The Zwebers

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Cow Kisses: Wordless Wednesday

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Flipped Calf Hutches: Wordless Wednesday

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Strong winds or did we do this on purpose? Leave a comment with your guess.

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Traveling with Kids & Cows-Family Friday

When Tim and I first had kids I thought traveling with them would be such a hassle. I was completely wrong. While our traveling experiences are no longer the same as pre-children (get there as fast as possible and relax), they are just as wonderful. Now we enjoy the trip just as much as the destination.

Hannah being a beach bum on vacation this year

Traveling with kids takes a bit more planning than just packing the suitcase. Now, several weeks before our trip I scope out destinations to stop at every two hours or so. I use Google, the Traveling with Children’s blog, and of course the state’s travel website. We travel to Wisconsin quite a bit for both vacation and the World Dairy Expo. TravelWisconsin.com is very valuable (plus they have a great smart phone app). South Dakota Tourism also has a great trip planner that I have used. But I always get the best info when I directly email the travel bureaus. For FREE they send you maps, help you plan your trip and give you information about great local events you cannot find on the websites. We have visited city festivals, a Cattlemen’s Rodeo event, explored a waterfall, ate artisan pizza in an historic barn and met some memorable people too.

Eating pizza at Stone Barn-click for website

At the beginning of the month we traveled to Madison, Wisconsin for the World Dairy Expo. This was a last minute trip and getting a hotel room was next to impossible, but thanks to our friends in social media, we got to stay with the lovely Dairy Carrie. I also prepared for the day we were going to be at the Expo. Three kids under 5 is tough when Daddy wants to talk to agriculture salesmen. We kept the kids busy by having them find international visitors (they get to wear a red ribbon) and marking countries off on a map. We also visited the tractor lot more than once. We planned a full day for the kids, so that they would sleep the five hours back home that night.

BigFoot At World Dairy Expo-The Boys' Favorite Stop

Traveling with cattle is not that much different. Lots of preparation needs to take place before the trip. Today three of our springing cows and two heifers were sold to an organic farmer in Ohio. Ohio is at least a 12 hour trip from here without cows. For both short trips and long trips with cattle, safety and health of the cows is top priority. We make sure the cattle are in good health (they were checked by a vet today). The cattle are loaded calmly on the trailer and not over crowded. For long trips (like to Ohio) cattle must be fed and watered regularly. If the cattle are milking (which none of ours were) a portable milking unit is brought along too.

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Cattle can even travel internationally (we have never done it). Here are some photos  and a video of cattle being shipped from ND to Kazakhstan: Cows On A Plane photos & video.

Do you travel with children or cattle? Please share your tips and tricks to make the trip enjoyable for all.

Emily

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Until the Cows Come Home-Wordless Wednesday

 

Photo by David Nevala

I had to post one last pasture picture of the season. Tim is bringing our cows in for their evening milking.

Emily

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Miley’s Story Continues

Dr. Bob Davis, DVM (aka Doc) visited our farm on Monday to check on Miley again and assess why she didn’t respond to the treatment we gave her. If you remember from a previous post Miley became extremely ill about a couple weeks ago. We tried treating her with organic remedies first, but quickly realized it was more serious than we could fix with those. We then moved to using an antibiotic called Nuflor with an anti-inflammatory drug similar to aspirin. At the time Doc thought Miley had pneumonia. Giving an antibiotic was the most humane choice at the time.

Well, it turns out she doesn’t have pneumonia. It is much worse. Miley has an endocarditis which is a fancy term for an infected heart valve. How did she get an infected heart? We don’t know and neither does the vet. Doc said last he saw this was 5 years ago when there were a number of cattle who had it and hadn’t see it again till now. The most likely cause of endocarditis is an infection elsewhere in the body that gets into the bloodstream. We never saw the clues if she did have an infection before she became ill the other week. That is the trouble with cattle, sometimes they don’t show when they are ill. Many animals don’t show weakness/illness as a part their defense mechanisms. Sheep are very well known for this.

So what do we do now? That is what we asked Doc, feeling a lot less hopeful for Miley’ s future. He decided we should try to do a very aggressive and sustained treatment protocol of penicillin to try to kill the bacteria infecting her heart. The chances of this working aren’t that great but its worth a try. The challenge is that we need to kill the bacteria so her body can repair her heart and fight off reinfection. Doc said that many times you will think the cow is better but then she gets ill again because the infection returns. It is very hard to cure an infection in the circulatory system of a cow because the bacteria causing the issue get distributed to every organ of the body. In other words the causative organism has a lot of places to hide from antibiotic therapy vs. a confined skin infection which is an easy target.

Hopefully the treatment will work. She is still eating well and getting around fine which are good signs. She doesn’t like getting shots but I guess she’ll have to put up with more of them if she’d like to keep living. As far as what we plan to do with her if she gets healthy or if she gets worse I don’t know yet. We’ll have to address those decisions as they come up.

FYI, we continue to dump all her milk. Like stated in the pervious post, she is no longer considered organic. Right now our main concern is her health and well being.

Tim (with some help from Emily)

Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy.  We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterand YouTube.

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Hard Work Pays Off in 4-H

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Today was a first for the Zweber family. Samantha’s 8 year old cow, Ashley, won Grand Champion at our county fair. This means she had the best 4-H dairy cow at the fair. It is a nice way for Sam to finish her 4-H career.
Sam always works extra hard with her animals. She is involved in every step of the process. From telling Tim which bulls to breed to her cows to doing chores to fitting (making them look pretty) her animals.
Now she will go onto the MN State Fair and compete against 4-Hers from around the state.
Congratulations Sam! Your hard work has paid off!
Emily

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