Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Week Three...New Additions

     This week was the start of the summer season and the 90+ temperatures.  For the most part it was an easy going week because of the heat. The cows where not having it with the heat and they spent most of their time laying inside the barn. When this happens more hay is needed for bedding.
  I started incubating chicken eggs on 6/22, the farms current egg layers are getting old and will need to be replaced with new pullets (A hen under a year old). Most of the eggs will hatch mixed breeds in 21 days.  Thirteen of the eggs in the incubator belong to the farms Easter Egger hen that roams the farm with a rooster of the same breed.
     The cows are due to have calves in 2-4 weeks, but we had our first calf born on 6/21 when the temperature was almost 100 degrees out. When a cow is ready to have there calf the first thing they do is try to move far away from the herd. This cow was doing just that by laying out in the pasture in the hot sun while the rest of the herd was laying in the barn. We knew she was ready and we had to start timing when we saw contractions. If a cow is in labor for over two hours then that usually means there is something wrong and a vet should be called. Jeanmarie called the vet to inform him of the cow going into labor and he was in the area so he stopped by. We placed the cow in the squeeze chute, and the vet pulled the baby calf out.  This was my first time seeing a live animal birth.  It was an exciting moment and the feeling you get when the baby calf was born was indescribable.  It is important that the mother cow nurses within six hours. The baby calf receives colostrum from the mothers milk, which contains antibodies that protects newborns from disease.
     I finished the week out doing some general farm cleaning, weed whacking along fence lines, and started building the second chicken tractor. Also we have a new piece of equipment on the farm, a round baler. Now baling hay can get done twice as fast.

Easter Egger nest

While laying down fresh hay this cow decided to lay on top of the entire pile.  She is known as the "Diva" of the herd

First calf of the summer

New round baler

Happy Cows

Monday, June 25, 2012

Preparing for Winter.... Week Two

This week has been an action packed week with many things going on at the farm. For starters, Jeanmarie and Greg had an appointment to drop off two steers at the butcher so I was able to tend to the morning chores on my own. That was exciting! Then I was able to finish up working on the first chicken tractor we started. The weather this week has finally cooperated to allow us to begin haying. This is an important part of the farming operation since the hay baled needs to last them through the winter season. This is a grass-fed only operation. We started off with cutting the hay down with a discbine. Then throughout the rest of the week the hay was tedded. Tedding is a process that basically mixes the hay and breaks up clumps using a machine that looks like a rake to aid in properly drying the cut hay to the ideal moisture content. Hay should have a moisture content of 15-17% before it is baled. Any higher than that and the hay will get moldy. After the hay is tedded it is then raked into windrows and is ready to be baled. As the hay is being baled the baler shoots the hay into a hay wagon. The wagon is then moved from the field to the hay elevator where it has to be unloaded. Stacking hay is a lot of hard work. The temperature inside the barn was hotter than outside. The first two wagons where not that bad but more and more wagons where being dropped off in front of the barn. I lost count how many we unloaded.

There is a saying on the farm “ There are two seasons in farming, winter and preparing for winter”

Cutting the Hay
Hay after it has been cut

Finished the first Chicken Tractor (Minus the tarp for the roof)

Hay Baler

Helped unload about seven of these

Load hay onto the elevator

Helped stack hay in this large barn

Monday, June 11, 2012

Week One at Tullamore Farms

     This is my first week interning at Tullamore Farms, a grass-fed beef and pasture chicken egg farm located in Stockton, NJ.  I am working with Jeanmarie, the farm owner and Greg, a farm hand; they are both amazing people with a lot of knowledge to share.   The farm has about 147 acres of hay and 35 acres in cow pasture. I learned so many things on just the first day that I don’t even know where to start.  I will begin with the morning chores, which take place every morning.  Before starting anything, you need to make sure you unplug the electric fence which detains the cattle .  After that’s done, we have to check on the chickens and unlock their cage so that they can walk around on fresh pasture.  After that, it is time to move the cows to fresh pasture simply by removing the temporary fencing. It is very important to check on all of the cows to make sure they are all healthy.  Some things to check for are extremely runny noses as well as any cow that strays far from the herd.  The cows are comical; they know what time you are coming, and if you are taking too long to walk out to the pasture and move them, the entire herd starts mooing.  After moving the cows we check to make sure they have plenty of straw bedding and enough hay to eat and fresh water.

Coop for the Egg Layers
Beginning To Build the Chicken Tractor
      Now that the morning chores are done, the rest of the day is spent doing general work around the farm.  The past few days Greg and I started building chicken tractors.  My project for this internship is to raise pasture meat birds from start to finish.  So far, I have been building chicken tractors, but I will also be assisting in planning, ordering, and selling at the farmers market.  

     On a side note, Greg started teaching me how to drive a manual farm truck.  It is a little difficult, but I will eventually be able to drive it with practice.
     Greg and Jeanmarie are constantly checking the weather, it’s a very important to know if rain is coming.  They have about 147 acres of hay and they have to cut it and bale, and they can only do that when there is no rain.
     I finished the week out visiting the farmers market.  I walked around and looked at the other vendors, and got a feel for the customer base.  There were a lot of organic and grass fed farmers at the market.
     Greg and Jeanmarie are anxious to start cutting and baling hay so hopefully I will be experiencing that next week