Saturday, June 28, 2014

U Is For United

It's June dairy Month! The barn doors are open, 
so join me on my daily A to Z journey 
to learn more about dairy. 

U Is For United

We have had a lot of rain here in Minnesota...and I mean a lot! Rain can be a farmers best friend, or worst enemy. Yes, crops need rain to grow, but farmers also need dry weather to get those crops out of the field. Besides the weather being a bit uncooperative, perhaps you remember that we are going through quite a few transitions lately due to some serious health issues of my in-laws, who are also our farming partners. You can learn about our changes "in the blink of an eye".

Farmers are like a community. We are united. We look out for each other. We come to each others rescue when someone is in need. You may know the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." The same is true of farming. It takes a community to raise a farm. With the help of our neighbors, the Sorg family, while Sara, Michael, and I miked the cows and did chores- Farmer John, 4 men, 4 tractors, 2 choppers, 4 wagons, and a payloader put up 40 acres of haylage.

Haylage is green, freshly cut alfalfa that is cut a few days earlier, then chopped to be served to our cows later. Since we have had so much rain lately, this is a good alternative to baling hay which requires that the alfalfa be drier. This video shows the chopping process. You will also see a second tractor, chopper, and wagon pass in front of the camera, as we were able to have two choppers going at the same time (thanks neighbors)!

Once the haylage leaves the field it is stored in a concrete bunker until it is fed to our cows. The haylage is  tightly packed, using a tractor, or, in this video, a payloader. This reduces the air from causing the haylage to rot. The end of this video shows unloading the wagon that just came from the field. After it is unloaded, the payloader adds the haylage to the pile which is being packed.

*Typically when we do not have our neighbors help, and equipment, unloading is done slightly different. Usually we use a blower to unload the wagons, and our tractor to pack the haylage tightly in the bunker.
The final step is to cover the fresh haylage with a plastic sheet, weighed down with discarded tires. This is again to keep the haylage from rotting. We only serve healthy food for our cows!
John is starting to unroll the plastic. Yep, I'm supposed to be helping. 
Thanks to our neighborhood of "united" farmers, we were able to finish our 40 acres of haylage in about six hours. Without additional help, this project would have taken permitting.

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