High Grove Farm Journal – September 2023
Oct 05, 2023 (Westby, WI)
By Jessica Rogers
Autumn is here in all its colorful splendor! This cozy season holds a special place in my heart. Not just because of the beautiful scenery and yummy comfort foods but because many years ago now, we started up our dairy farm in the fall! I’ll always remember all the hard work it took and everyone who helped us get ready for the big day of bringing the cows home.
Hi, I am Jessica and thank you for stopping by! I am Westby Cooperative Creamery’s Farm Ambassador and each month I share what our family has been keeping busy with on our small family dairy farm. My husband Drew and our three children, Carter, Caleb and Laney, all work together milking around 50 Holstein cows. And let me tell you, dairy farmers stay busy!
Thankfully, this time of the year makes for beautiful “working weather” with cool temps and nice breezes. The kids and I have had several “cleanup days” in September where we all pitch in and clean out the farm’s extra buildings, around the pastures and yard and gather up any stray bale wrap or twine that’s been left behind. As you can imagine, it’s easy to have things pile up! Well, I have been in quite the mood to clean up around here after a busy summer and harvest, but I think the kids are definitely getting tired of it now. Their groans have grown louder when I ask for their help.
A dairy barn is a heavily utilized building on a farm, and it takes a lot of abuse from these large animals. Drew spent part of the day welding a giant, heavy-duty hinge for the door on the back of the barn where the cows come in. This poor door has been fixed and rehung several times a year since we started farming at this place, but the cows are so hard on it. Sometimes they try to come in the doorway two at a time! Their back hips get stuck as they both realize they won’t fit, and the door and its hinges take the brunt of it. Well, this time Drew took a long piece of iron and welded the hinges right to it, then he used bolts to attach the huge hinge to the door frame. I think it’ll hold up now.
The leaves have just started to fall here, and we have two crops left to harvest on our farm. Drew planted oats in the corn fields after the corn was taken off. We will harvest these oats as a forage – the stem and all (not as a grain) and bale them wet wrapped up in plastic. The cows or heifers will be fed these throughout the winter. We also have third crop on our Sorghum Sudan fields yet.
The cows are doing good and most of the large group of heifers that were going to calve in are all done and milking now. We are still grazing but only minimally after the drought. We’re giving the pastures a chance to catch-up before a long winter.
It’s felt so good to have the extra time to clean and get some projects done around here but there’s lots left to do before it gets cold. We wrote up a list of projects for October and there’s more on the list than there are days in the month. Uff!
However, the feeling of cold weather coming is a great boost to get all these projects done on a farm. I really enjoy sharing with you each month. Thanks for virtually visiting the farm and happy autumn to you all!
-Jessica Rogers is a Westby Creamery farmer-owner who is sharing glimpses of farm life with us.
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