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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How Do Cows Stay Warm in the Winter?

I am definitely not a winter person.  I prefer the warmth and sunshine over cold and snow.  I'm sure you've driven by farms and have seen cows with a light dusting of snow.  Have you ever wondered how cows stay warm in the winter?

While some people think that it is best to keep them indoors, it's actually the opposite.  Beef cattle are able to produce a lot of muscle and fat, unlike dairy cows who are great at making milk, but have very little muscle and fat.  This muscle and fat serves as an "insulator" for the cooler temperatures.  Luckily, since they are outside all the time, they have a chance to adapt to the changing temperatures.  While the weather in the Midwest can be very moody, very rarely do we go from 85 degrees one day to 25 degrees the next.  It's a gradual change, so they have a chance to adapt.  Also, just like other animals, cows develop a winter coat in late fall and early winter to help keep them warm.  They will also huddle together in a group to stay warm.

So, what do we do in winter to make sure the calves are comfortable?

We check there water and feed several times a day.  We want to make sure the water doesn't freeze.  There are heaters on the water tanks to help prevent this from happening, but just like everything else, sometimes these break.  Also, if we have had a substantial amount of snowfall before feeding time, the bunks are shoveled out before the cattle are fed.  We like for them to have a clean dry plate to eat off of.  


Since they are using more energy to stay warm, there feeding rations may be changed to accommodate them. 

We've had a very mild winter thus far, but it has also been very wet.  We make sure that the barn is kept clean by removing as much manure as possible.  Also, dry bedding is a must.  When it is wet, the cattle are given fresh straw in the barn often.  As my husband says, "I like to have clean, dry sheets on my bed."  There you have it.  Our cattle are treated just as well, if not better than we are!

The calves have a barn that provides shelter to get them out of the elements.  It is an open sided barn and you can see the windows in the back.  Those help provide a breeze in the hot summer months while the barn provides shade.  We also have an older barn that some of our calves are able to seek shelter in.

Cattle are able to adapt to the cold weather, much better than I can adapt to it!  Stay warm everyone!


Friday, December 4, 2015

We Are an Elf on the Shelf Household...

We have an Elf on the Shelf.  In fact, we have three.  Crazy, I know!  One is enough, trust me, but there's a reason we have three and I'll get to that in a second.  The Elf on the Shelf has gotten a lot of slack in the social media world.  It happens every year.  For some people it just seems silly to have an elf come in to your home for four weeks out of the year to make sure kids behave.  For others it's just good ole Christmas fun.  And now psychologists are saying that we are teaching our kids that it's OK for the government to spy on them.

Below is a picture of our three elves taken by B on the morning of their return this year.  (L to R): Snowflake, Charlie, and Maddie

Elf on the shelf marshmallow idea with woody from toystory - snowball fight!:

For us?

It's tradition.
It's seeing the look on the girls' faces each morning when they finally find them.
It's fun.
It's a special part of Christmas for us.
It doesn't take the place of discipline in our house.

Our girls know that they are expected to behave at all times.  The Elf on the Shelf is just an added bonus.

Elf on the shelf ideas. This mom even created a facebook page for their elf. Lots of cute pics. This one is hilarious to me for some reason.:

Our first Elf on The Shelf arrived about 5 years ago on Black Friday.  B and Mel were super excited.  Through the last five years he has toilet papered our Christmas tree, hung upside down from a kitchen light, found his way into the Nativity scene, taped himself to the wall, found a straw and helped himself to a bottle of syrup, and many more things.  When he's not into mischief he is just hanging out on a shelf somewhere in our home.

Last year, two more elves joined our family.  Why?  Maybe I'm crazy...and trust me, at 11:00 at night when I not only have to move 1, but 3 elves I think I'm crazy too, but my kids look forward to this every year.  It's become a tradition, so I thought someday when the girls leave home and start their own families (I'm not trying to rush time), they may want to carry on this tradition with their own kids.  So, while the magic of Christmas may fade as they get older, hopefully this is just one of the many Christmas traditions that we do as a family each year that they will hold in their hearts forever.


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