Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Stress Management: Coffee and Wine

Starbucks hasn’t returned a single e-mail of mine about the creation of an espresso machine that runs off the PTO on a tractor. Seems like a missed opportunity. But there’s got to be another way I can steam milk and brew espresso on the run? Maybe I’ll just cut out the middle man and start eating coffee grounds. Eat enough of those and you’ll become an accidental go-getter.  
We’ve been burning both ends of the night here at Jones Farms. I sincerely hope that last sentence now has you humming the lyrics to ‘That Summer’ by Garth Brooks. On top of corn season, we’ve got hay to tend to this time of year. The conditions have been perfect for baling hay all week…. Right around midnight. So Dad and I are a bit worn out, especially since it seems like every piece of equipment we’ve tried to use in the last two weeks has broken down faster than a Biggest Loser contestant at a donut convention. Thank God my father is a pretty skilled mechanic, and I’m really good at driving to pick up parts. I’m trying to learn more about our equipment, but it all takes time, I suppose. 
This time of year we typically feel a little overwhelmed. After our first few cuttings of hay and we get the corn off to a good start and get into an irrigation rhythm, we collectively catch our breath and the daily activities turn into a steady hum for the rest of summer.   Luckily I have a great stress management program in place for the days that get a little intense. I won’t bore you with the details, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: it involves wine. 
As I look over our herd records, I feel a little anxious for the upcoming months. For the size of our operation, we have a lot of cows scheduled to calve during summer. While more babies and more fresh cows is a good thing, it does mean we’ll be spending more time making sure cows calve out properly and transition well, and more time in the calf barn. 
With my time being split between the farming, calf management and the whole host of other time-consuming activities it takes to help this place purr like a kitten, the last thing I want to worry about is colostrum inventory or whether or not a calf got fed adequate colostrum. 
We typically try not to use colostrum from first-lactation heifers since it’s usually lower quality, but this time of year we don’t always have a choice. When our inventory depletes and we have more first-time heifers calving than cows, sometimes we have to dip into heifer colostrum. This is why it’s great to have LIFELINE Boost on hand to bump up the solids and serum protein in lower-quality colostrum. 
When we have a lot of calves, sometimes we completely run out of colostrum, and that’s why I love having LIFELINE Rescue on hand. It’s a complete colostrum replacer that’s nutritionally equivalent to maternal colostrum. I’ve used it on many calves and seen great success with the product, especially when combined with other products in the line.  
It’s not a secret. We’re busy all year long, but this time of year we really rock and roll. The good news is that I truly love being part of this business and I have the privilege of working with my family every day. And we still kind of like each other, which is more than I can say for many folks who work alongside their loved ones every day.