L&A Family Farms

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Posted 2/26/2014 6:33am by Brian Lau.

As I went outside Tuesday morning the actual temperature at my house was a – 23°F. Once again I was lucky the ATV started and the chickens were fed and watered. The cattle were also fed and ice chopped. All of the animals made it through the dangerous cold. The next item on the agenda was to start cleaning out some of our landlords’ and families’ driveways. I used the tractor and the blade to do this job. Everett went with me to do the shoveling, in the places I couldn’t get the tractor. The tractor we use is almost too large to use in most driveways, but we use it so we can leave the blade on all winter, plus it is big and powerful enough to go through most drifts. The driveways we cleaned out were spread out enough that we had a lot of road time. It was 2:30 before we got home. We ate a late lunch and a brief warm-up time, then back out to do the evening chores. I felt extremely exhausted and I blamed it on over exertion in the deep snow and cold temperatures, but little did I know that in a couple days I was going to come down with the flu.

Posted 2/25/2014 6:30am by Brian Lau.

      On Monday morning the DJ’s on the radio and the folks on the TV were telling us to stay inside due to the extremely cold wind chills and the drifted roads. Times like these are when you really wonder why you have livestock. Even if you want to, you can’t stay inside, because the 150 head of cattle and 700 plus chickens are counting on you to feed and water them. At 7 a.m. I bundled up in several layers and outside I went. When I looked at the thermometer it showed negative 18°F at my house. The wind was still blowing, so I am sure the wind-chill temperature was much lower. Fortunately the 4 wheel drive ATV started; I had been wandering if it would at these temps. I use the ATV to transport the buckets of feed to the chickens. The bad news was the snow had a crust on it and the drifts were deep enough that the 4 wheeler kept getting stuck. I called Kevin and he brought our large tractor with the 10 foot blade on it to clear me a path to the chicken houses. We keep the farm equipment and tractors at his house. The chickens were fed and they had all made it through the cold temps except for one of the older hens.

     I then cleaned out my driveway so I could get my truck out and get the tractor we use to feed the cows. The cows and calves are currently being wintered at my house while the steers and heifers are up the road at one of our other farms. Kevin cleared the road between our houses so I could maneuver more easily in my truck since the township snowplow had not made it by yet. We had both of the tractors plugged in and luckily both of them started. Baleage was put out for the cows at my house and I found a dead calf. The nighttime temps must have got the best of him. The rest of them looked fine and were glad to get their breakfast. The ice was chopped on the pond for the cows to drink, since that is the only water source on these pastures. Our next adventure was to go the other farm and feed and check the steers and heifers. We took both tractors because we knew we would have to blade out the lane since it is notorious for drifting shut. On the way we encountered a huge drift in front of our neighbor’s house. Kevin used the blade to open the road enough so we could get through. We encountered several drifts as we made our way to the farm. In one place we had to drive across the ditch and into a field to get around an abandoned car left on the road the night before. Kevin opened up the lane and we fed the steers and heifers and chopped ice. All was fine there so we headed back to Kevin’s house to put the tractors up. I loaded up the chicken feed for the next day and headed home to gather the eggs and carry water to the chickens. By the time I got these chores done it was 12:30. On a normal day, these chores would have been done by 10 a.m. Fighting the cold and the deep snow definitely slowed us down.

     After lunch I warmed up and rested for a while before I went back out. I used the tractor and blade and pushed more snow at our house. The wind was still drifting the paths shut. I went up to check the cattle and chop the ice again. I had to take the tractor because the lane was drifted shut again. On the way home I pulled out an Enerstar power truck that was stuck in a snow drift. He got stuck trying to get out of my way. The road was only one lane and was not passable. When I got home to gather the eggs, I realized I should have done it sooner. It was so cold the eggs were already starting to freeze. When your warm fingers grabbed the eggs, you could hear them pop and crack. We ended up having 29 eggs cracked because they froze. Since the roads were still closed I took the tractor and picked up the kids from the grandparents. By the time the day had ended I had spent over eight hours out in the cold. So much for listening to advice on the radio and TV.

Posted 2/24/2014 7:13am by Brian Lau.

So far this winter can be summed up with four words: COLD, COLDER, WIND, and SNOW.

Remember what the weather was like on January 5th, 6th, and 7th? Sunday started out with heavy snow. It was a wet snow to start with and it was sticking to the trees, fences, and power lines. Needless to say, it was quite beautiful to look at. The cows were fed in the morning since church had been cancelled and we had Christmas with my in-laws in the afternoon. We were not able to put out a day’s worth of hay like normal, because the snow was coming down fast and it would have been covered up before they ate it all. The eggs were gathered and off we went to spend a day with family and enjoy Christmas. The snow kept coming down and the winds started to blow heavily. Luckily Andrea’s parents just live a few miles from us. At 4 o’clock Andrea and I started to head home to do the evening chores and process the eggs. It was a good thing that we own a 4 wheel drive pickup. We were able to get home, but we had to plow through some deep drifts to do so. By the time the chores were done, the tracks we had made in the driveway coming home were already drifted shut. I knew then we were home for the evening and the kids were going to spend the night with their grandparents and cousins. Also shortly thereafter we learned that the county had shut down all county roads. Kevin put out another bale of hay in the afternoon to help keep the cows’ rumens full so they could survive the extremely cold temperatures that were forecasted for the night. As the evening went on into the night, the winds howled and the snow was blowing sideways every time I looked outside. The drifts continued to get deeper and deeper behind our vehicles.

Posted 2/19/2014 7:24am by Brian Lau.

Wow! Hasn’t the winter of 2014 been crazy so far? In the winter months you continually have to focus on the big picture of why you do what you do as a livestock farmer. While there are days filled with tremendous struggles, there are also days filled with great joy, but doesn’t this describe life in general? My goal in 2014 is to take you on a journey and give you a glimpse of what it is like to live on, manage, and try to be a financially successful diversified farm. I will not guarantee how frequently the posts will come, but I hope to paint a picture that will show you what is involved in raising sustainable quality foods.

Posted 4/16/2013 5:22pm by Brian Lau.

Greetings,

I want to personally welcome you to our new website.   I hope this will be the first of many future blog entries.  The reality of running a diversified farm will probably get in the way at times, but our goal is to each take turns and give you some perspective on the daily activities of our farm.  Who knows?  We may even climb on our soap boxes and get political or controversial from time to time.

 Our expectation for this website is to keep you up to date on the happenings at the farm and make sign-ups for our CSA packages and our new Buying Club much easier.  The online store will allow you to easily place an order for on farm pick-ups, home deliveries, or to simply add extras to your CSA.  CSA members from previous years will notice a few changes to the sign-up procedures and packages.  We have had to make some changes to be able to utilize the features of this site.

Please let us know if more explanation or clarity is needed in the sign-up process.  This website and features are new to us also, and we will be making changes as the needs arise.  Please bear with us and help us as we go through this process.  Your questions and feedback are always welcomed.

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