Well the crops are FINALLY out!!! It took a little while longer this year because we had a pretty wet fall, but we got them out!
But this doesn’t mean we’re done with work on the farm. It means we move onto the next things that need to be done.
After harvest we make corn stalk bales. They are exactly what they sound like. They are big round bales made of the corn stalk residue left in the fields. This requires chopping the corn stalks down, raking the stubble, baling it into the bales, and then loading the bales up and putting them under roof for winter storage. Why do we do this? Corn stalk bales make excellent bedding for our cattle during the cold months approaching us. It provides a thick, soft layer of protection for our animals. It can even be used as a feed source for cattle. The roughage is great to add with a source of protein (such as alfalfa hay or corn) to their diets.
Another task that needs to be completed after, before, or during harvest (depends on how the season goes) is weaning and vaccinating the calves from the spring. Calves become too big for their mothers and need to be weaned from them and put on a better diet that helps them grow. In the fall the calves are given a wormer (takes care of worms that they may have picked up from being in the pasture), a 5-way vaccine that takes care of most respiratory issues the calves may have, and some farmers use something called an ‘implant’. An implanted is put into their ear and releases hormones that help them grown bigger, faster. The hormone only last for 100 to 400 days depending on the implant. (Cattle can not be put into the market with this hormone in place. It has be out of their system for 30 days before they can be processed.) Implants are also not put into heifers that are going to be kept as cows or bulls that will used for breeding. The bulls calves that aren’t going to be kept as breeding stock will also be castrated at this time. On our farm we work the calves (give them their vaccines, worm, implant, and castrate) before we wean them. It’s too much stress on an animal to work them and then wean them. So after they’re worked we put them out with their moms for another two weeks and then wean them.
So after those two task are done then we move onto the next. On our farm we like to start getting prepared for calving season before it hits us in the face. We get out our record book and look to see when everyone should be due, who will calve first, and make sure we have a list of cows that we need to be on the look-out for. Some cows have no problems calving, but some have some issues we need to assist with (large tits that the calf can’t grab onto or had a rough birth last year). We like to be prepared and ready for those babies! It’s our favorite time of year and we like things to run smoothly.
Those are our top 3 things we like to get done after harvest and then it comes down to taking time to get things done that have waited all year. Like our taxes. Cleaning the shop. Washing the tractors. Organizing the machine shed. Just simple things that need to be done.
Harvest is always a fun time of year, but it’s always nice to be done and move onto the other things on the farm!