Challenges and Blessings

During my evening cow check the other night I saw a cow that I knew would have a calf by morning. She's a big mature simmental so I assumed everything would go smoothly.

When I checked on her the next morning I was met with bad news. She was standing over her calf which hadn't made it. I then saw another calf about 30 feet away which hadn't made it either. She had thrown twins and neither of them lived. What a Monday. This created an interesting situation in that we are currently bottle feeding two other calves. So I began prepping the corral to get her up and commence Operation Bottle Calf Transplant. My wife is a teacher and had been off the entire summer but it just so turns out that it was her first day of in-service and she wouldn't be available for any of the excitement that day. The plan to get the cow into the corral went smoothly as our entire herd loves feed. This smoothness changed as it started to rain. Once I got the other cows sorted back out of the corral I went to grab some hoses and tubs to allow me to get her some water. By the time I got back she had began pushing the cattle panels around and noticed some daylight where there was a depression in the ground. She stuck her head under the panel, lifted it up, and pushed her way to freedom. The rain began to fall harder. I jumped back in the truck and grabbed some fence posts and a post driver. I pounded a few fence posts in for support and did a much better job this time of setting up the cattle panels. So began feeding time 2.0. Again she likes feed so this wasn't all that difficult. Sorted the other cows and I was back where I had been 45 minutes prior. I then used the opportunity to get some colostrum from her that I could freeze for future use if need be. Being an inexperienced milker (this was my first time) I thought I did pretty well. At this point I needed to get back to the office for a meeting so I dried off and headed back in.

Later that afternoon I conned a couple of guys from work to help me 'Transport' the two calves from their pen to the corral. Since I don't have a trailer handy, this involved two of us each grabbing a calf, jumping in the back of the truck, and keeping them from jumping out while being driven to the corral. There were of course manure casualties encountered along the way. Once we got them into the corral I was able to get the cow into the chute and convinced the calves that there was food in that big cow.

Over the course of the day I experienced many frustrating moments. I wouldn't describe myself as a patient person so farming has been a great way for me to grow in this area. As I looked back on the day I tried to think of the good instead of the annoying.

Blessings that I didn't think about while driving fence posts in the rain because one of my cows had lost two calves and had escaped my previous attempt at containing her in the corral:

  • I have a job with the flexibility to handle various issues that may arise on a given day.
  • It rained and we desperately needed it.
  • Helpful friends willing to give a hand when needed.
  • Facilities that allow me to access the underside of the cow to milk it and attempt to get the calves to feed.
  • My kids are being raised on a farm where many life lessons (life and death, responsibility, patience, persistence) can be learned.

Ultimately the cow accepted one of the calves on day 6 which I counted as a win. Everyone is currently doing great.

So the next time you have somewhere you need to be and you see the neighbor's bull has broken into your heifer pen, try to remember...well maybe that was a bad example. Just don't forget to count your blessings as you encounter the challenges associated with farming.

Happy farming,
Kyle

Navigating Your Settings

The settings are an important part of managing your livestock with HerdOne. They make managing and reporting on your livestock easier and more precise. They also allow you to use some of the livestock specific settings and enable or disable Widget Settings on your dashboard.

Once logged in to your account, you will see the dashboard screen. On the left is a list of pages that can be accessed to manage livestock. At the bottom is the 'Settings' menu item. Once clicked, two sub-menu items will appear. The 'Default Settings' page allows you to set default related to your livestock livestock as well as widget preferences on the dashboard. The 'Contact & Items' page allows you to manage contacts, item expenses, and bills of sale.

Default Settings

In the default settings page you are able to manage many of the default livestock settings such as your preferred livestock type, breed, herd, and form of ID. It also allows you to set value preferences for 'Ideal Sale Age', 'Gestation Period', and 'Age Considered Adult' for specific livestock types. This can be especially helpful if you manage multiple livestock types. There are built in defaults if these are not set. For example, the Gestation Period if not set by you, defaults to 283 days (https://beef.unl.edu/pregnantcows) which is the average gestation time for most cattle.

Preferred Values

Setting the 'Default Values' allows you to configure the default values which will be auto selected when you go to the 'Add Livestock' page. This saves time and effort, especially during the initial push to get your herd entered in to the application. The example below shows the settings and how they are implemented when you navigate to the 'Add Livestock' page. Notice the Type, Herd, and Breed are auto selected based on those default preferences.

Livestock Specific Settings

Another setting that can be edited are the livestock specific settings. You can change the Ideal Sale Age, Gestation Period, and Age Considered Adult. These settings are used throughout HerdOne in algorithms which help convey information back to you in a meaningful and personal way. For example, the 'Animals at Selling Age' widget on the dashboard utilizes the Ideal Sale Age value to calculate the number of livestock to include. Some settings are not automatically set for certain livestock but can be changed. These settings will need to be set after adding a new livestock type.

Widgets

Enabling and disabling the widgets that can be seen from the dashboard also occurs here. By default the Livestock Summary, Finance, Age, and Birth widgets are enabled. Ultimately, you have the ability to show any combination of widgets you like. Additional details on the information conveyed in these widgets can be found in the details portion of each widget on the Dashboard.

Contacts & Items

The Contacts and Items page allows you to edit any contacts that you have utilizes throughout the application. This includes vendors and customers that have been input through the Sales, Purchases, and Expense entry processes. If a contact is no longer needed, it can also be inactivated here. Once inactivated, it will no longer show up as an option in the Customer/Vendor specific dropdowns throughout the application. This exact process is used in the Expense Items and Bills of Sale sections as well.

Happy Farming

Head, Heart, Hands, Health

"I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world."  

I have recited this pledge for the last nine years of my life. Joining the Outdoor Adventures 4-H club at 9 years old was one of the most cultivating decisions of my childhood. 4-H has taught me so many things about myself and about the community around me. I have had countless doors opened for me through 4-H. Being able to participate in county-wide events as well as travel as a club around the U.S. have been some of my best memories as a kid. Being in 4-H for so long and participating in so many events has allowed me to gain friendships that will last a lifetime.  

My Head

Through my years in 4-H I have learned a countless number of new skills. Participating in events like the Benton County Fair has taught me the responsibility of raising and maintaining a show hog. Each year my Dad and I would travel a couple hours away from home to go pick out the perfect hog. I would tell my Dad what I thought the "perfect hog" should look like and then we would pick one out together. I would then spend the next three to four months feeding, washing, and walking my hog. I learned how to properly feed accurate portions, so my hog would be the right weight come show time. I would practice walking my hog so when it came to show time it would stride out just right for the judge to see all its best features.  

         

For the last three years I have acted as President for the Outdoor Adventures 4-H club. During this time, I conducted meetings and different club events. As president I would have to speak to the club as a whole and be able to answer any questions thrown my way. This improved my public speaking skills as well as my personal communication skills.  

My Heart

Through the years, I have gained a large number of new friendships through 4-H. I have had the opportunity to attend events like 4-H Summer Camp where I met other 4-H members from across the county. We participated in team activities that allowed us to learn about our peers. Being able to communicate with my peers properly has helped me outside of 4-H in all kinds of ways. I have been able to use these skills in jobs, school, and team sports.  

I have also had the opportunity to become very close to the adults that make everything in 4-H possible. These bonds have helped me tremendously this last year while applying for college and scholarships. The adult leaders of 4-H have offered to be references and even write me recommendation letters.

My Hands

One of the biggest parts of 4-H is helping the community. Each month our club does some form of community service, whether it be cleaning up the park, donating water to the football team, or working a 5K race. Being able to give back to the people around me has been one of my favorite parts of 4-H. Over the years our club has done the most community service in the entire county.  One of my all-time favorite community service events was dressing up as the Easter Bunny and taking pictures with all the kids at the city Easter Event.