Sometimes I get feedback that the Eden Shale Farm is not realistic. If you read this article every month I see how you might formulate that opinion. With limited space to write I tend to highlight the positive and successful projects that we have been working on. However, if you have visited the farm you will quickly notice that this is a real operation with real challenges that we work to overcome every day. Let me give you a few examples of what has went wrong this past month.
Pinkeye, one of the more frustrating health issues cattle face on an annual basis. For the past four years we have been using a cultured vaccine that our vet created for our area, and we have had 100% success with no pinkeye issues at all. But this year has been another story. This summer we have treated at least half of all the cows and calves for pinkeye. It has gotten to the point that the herd doesn’t want to come to the barn to be sorted and treated anymore. And I don’t blame them, they are not the only ones tired of the process… (Picture 1)
Another recent project causing frustration was one of the water harvesting locations. This particular system has a 3,000 gallon tank that uses a solar panel and control box to pump water up to another 3,000 gallon tank that discharges directly into a tire water tank. We have been having electrical issues with the pump. First, it was not pumping water up to the secondary tank when it should. After fixing a short in the wiring, we came back to the system the next day and the pump had not shut off when the upper tank was full. Upon further inspection we found a different connection that was loose and there for not communicating with the control box. As of now everything is back together and functioning properly (fingers crossed).
Continuing with water issues, we had the Ritchie water trough in the bull barn start leaking. Upon further inspection the thermostat went bad and did not turn off the heating element, which managed to fall from its mount down onto the rubber inlet hose creating a leak. The heating element also unknowingly melted two wires apart and when Greg first reached into the wet mess to pull the heating element free he was shocked by the 110v water. We flipped the breaker and turned the water source off and this one is still on the list of things to fix before we wean calves next month.
Another pesky foe at the farm is the ground hog, and we seem to have our share of them too. They are around several of our buildings, but they created a bigger problem at our main working facility. We have a box scales in our alleyway right before the head chute. The groundhog burrowed under the scales and mounded up enough dirt beneath it that the scales were not floating free and therefore would not weight properly. The barn barely had enough room to allow us to lift the scales about 6 inches with the tractor and rake the dirt and debris from underneath. After cleaning and resituating the scales back on the concrete pad they were weighing accurately again. In all, we cleaned a full tractor bucket worth of dirt from under them. I don’t wish ill will on anybody, except groundhogs (and maybe wasps)! (Picture 2)
This month also had a couple of minor breakdowns. The bush hog lost a large bolt that holds the main deck to the running gear. Two pipe wrenches, an adjustable wrench, and one pry bar later we had it back up and running.
The Gator had to have some maintenance recently as well. After 13,000 miles of farm use it was in need of all new upper and lower ball joints. $1,000 later it steers like new! (Picture 3)
As with any farm each new day will present challenges, but prioritize and address them one by one and before you know it, you have gotten a lot done.
For the 2022 spring calving season at Eden Shale we had 92% of our calf crop born in 45 days. That does not happen by accident. It takes planning, preparation, and a whole lot of effort in getting the cows bred (preferably on the first heat cycle). Below is a list of cattle work we have completed in managing our spring calving cow herd at the farm.