Tag Archives: cows

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?



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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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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.

Click for Source

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.



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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.



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Flock of Seagulls – Our Cows Hate Them

Our cows HATE flocks of seagulls.

No not these guys (maybe they do, we cannot tell for certain):


These guys: Flocks of Seagulls birds


Strange noises can easily frighten our cows. Especially, when the noises come from above. This time of year seagulls migrate to their warmer winter homes in huge flocks. Their flight noises make even us look, but to a cow they are pretty scary.

Cows don’t think to look up when frightened. They see best to their sides and down. So loud and strange noises from above can spook them and send them running to the barn or through fences. Flocks of seagulls and fleets of hot air balloons scare the cows, but gaggles of geese don’t. That is because geese are around all year and are common place for the cows.

So now that I have that frightening picture of the Flock of Seagulls band in your head, remember that is how our cows feel when a flock of seagulls fly over them.


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Hard Work Pays Off in 4-H


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!

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Who is Your Farmer?

Did you know that by visiting the Organic Valley website you can learn Who Your Farmers are? By typing in your zip code you can find a list of Organic Valley farmers in your area. Since Organic Valley tries to sell everything as local as possible, these farmers really “are your farmer.”

Take a look at what we do on our farm:

Visit the Organic Valley YouTube page to tour more family farms like ours.


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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I wish I was a Dry Cow

Well I am still at it. Yep, this is the longest I have been pregnant. Erik was 4 weeks early and Jonnie was 3 weeks early. Uffda (hey I am from MN, I can say that). Being 38 and half weeks pregnant is rough.

Yesterday, I finally announced that I was done working on the farm. I have been gradually cutting my hours (thanks to our wonderful part time worker Ben). Even though, my work isn’t too terribly hard, bending over to feed calves and crawling in and out of their hutches, has really been rough on my back the last two nights. The night before I woke up and could hardly move. Yesterday, I had to wrestle three calves to get them on the bottle holders. I felt that in the morning.

dry cows on pasture

Dry Cows On Pasture

Today, I was wishing I was a dry cow. About 60 days before our cows give birth, we let them on a “maternity leave.” They are no longer milked, are put out to pasture and allowed to lounge around for two months. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? This dry period gives them the opportunity to be as healthy as possible when the calf is born.

I hope to get a few days of R&R (haha) before the baby comes too. Lisa was super kind and found a deal on pedicures she is sharing with me. I cannot wait to go get one with her and my two sister in laws (Sarah and Sam) tonight. Painting my toe nails has been next to impossible for the past few weeks. I still have a list a mile long of things that I would like done before next Monday (shampoo carpet, make a bunch of cookies to freeze, make a few strawberry pies, etc) but those things will wait if I happen to decide a nap sounds much better (if the boys allow it).


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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Dairy Farming in a Storm

Yesterday, I posted two pictures Tim took on Saturday. In case you missed it:

storm, farm, pasture, tornado, organic

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

We were enjoying a fun day at my parents’ celebrating our oldest’s birthday. Clouds started to appear in the sky and Tim suggested that we should make our way home. Tim doesn’t like to mix feed in the rain. Once we started on our way, we heard on the radio that townships in our county and neighboring counties were under a tornado warning. Hail, strong winds and funnel clouds were being report. Tim’s reaction was “ohh &*%$” , I drove a little faster.

We all know being outside in severe weather is a bad idea, but what do dairy farmers do when you have to get animals taken care of? This particular storm came at the most worse time. It was evening chore time. The first priorities were: getting equipment in, shed doors shut and getting the cows in from pasture. If the animals are out on pasture, we normally just leave them out there. That is the safest place for them. Cattle are pretty smart. They will find a low spot and usually lay down and wait out the storm.

We needed to get our milk cows in on this day, because needed to get them milked. We had no idea how long the storm was going to last and it is safer to get them in early than being out on the 4wheeler in the middle of the storm. The cows must of known something was up because as you can see in the second picture, they are all waiting at the gate to come home.

Once the cows are in, chores proceed as normal. That means, fighting rain, hail, wind and lightning to get everyone fed and cared for. If we know the storm is going to be short, we sometimes will wait on calf chores. But, if not, we buck up, put on our rain gear and head out. I have been feeding calves and seen the barn (200 feet away) be hit by lightning. (Talk about scary).

The safest place for us farmers to be in a tornado is our milking parlor, a three foot deep concrete pit. Milking goes on no matter the weather, we are more reliable than the post office. If the new fences have been put up before the storm, the cows are let right back out after they have been milked. Liked I said before, it is safer for them away from buildings and in a low pasture area.

Luckily, this particular storm just delivered marble sized hail, pouring rain and 60MPH winds for about an hour. None of the funnel clouds ever touched the ground. We know this will not be our last storm of the season.

I am such a worrier when it comes to storms. I hate knowing my husband is out there and not home safe. Tim is a true farmer and will protect the lives of his animals before his own. I knew Tim was frantically trying to get tasks done before the storm hit, so from our basement I was text messaging him weather updates. It really was the only thing I could do to help.

Meanwhile, the boys and I had a good time looking through the boxes of baby items under the basement stairs. It kept our minds off of what was happening outside.

Again, luckily this was a small storm (comparatively). We count our blessings that we were safe. Many others have not had that same fate this spring. We pray for everyone affected by all the terrible storms that have happened recently.


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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