February 01, 2023

From the Barns: Back up and running

It’s hard to beat straight heating oil when it’s minus 8 and the wind is blowing, especially when six or eight diesel engines must start to get the cattle fed. That didn’t happen and $500 worth of fuel filters and several diesel baths later we finally got everything running and the cattle fed. No electricity at the house was how Linda greeted me when I got home — great!

Several calls to the electric coop’s answering service and several trips by the line crew got us back up and running. We could see the lights were on at the feedlot, so we assumed all was well there until the next morning when I discovered all the waterers had gone off in the night and were frozen clear to the ground. Nuts! By O-Dark-Thirty we had all the water back on and headed to the house — no disasters there! Success!

With any luck that was all of winter and it seems so, since by the following week we were preg checking cows in our shirt sleeves and 65-degree temps. Climate change at its best! Other than the little weather hiccup, winter has been great.

Feed costs are what they are, but the fed market has moved higher to compensate for the high-priced feed. We may not make any more on cattle, but at least we get to handle lots more money. What’s that saying? What we lack in profit, we can make up in volume. I’m not sure I follow the logic, but whatever?

We’ve weaned one bunch of calves and have several more groups revaccinated and ready to wean, while some other bunches are awaiting revaccination. Every time there’s a break in the weather and/or a day off school — so we have extra help — we gather a pasture and get through another set. Some cow groups are still out gathering whatever they can find and the others are in the corn silage mode. We are not in a hurry to wean the corn silage calves. They and their mothers are eating what they would be weaned or not, so adding a little more age doesn’t hurt them any.

I hope to head to some pastures yet this winter and clear some more Russian olives and locust brush. We bought a new skid loader with tracks and it seems to be a great investment. It will certainly go places our old, wheeled machine would not. That could also be a bad thing considering the operator, time will tell. I like to go out and clear brush when the ground is frozen, but the bulldozer on steel tracks can be problematic if the slope is questionable at all and I will admit I’ve had to call for reinforcements a few times when things have gone a little sideways. I’m hoping the new rubber tracks on the skid loader will help solve this issue. We will see!

Steve Foglesong

Steve Foglesong

Astoria, Ill.