Tuesday, August 17, 2010

By the Sign

Things are going to get noisy here in a few days. Joe is getting ready to wean calves, and both parties (mama and calves) will not be excited. The bawling, constant and loud, will commence once these little guys and gals realize what's going on. I could not be more excited, considering I have a sleeping toddler whose bedroom is directly across from this noisy pasture. However, I have no choice, because the sign said to start, and that's all there is to it.

Seriously, we go by the elusive "sign." Joe is very cutting edge in other aspects of both the cattle and grain operations of our farm. We use GPS systems to navigate both the planting and harvesting processes; Joe receives grain market updates via text message, and there's something about a micro chip in our purebred cattle, I think. . . either we have that going, or it's coming (need to research that more!), among other things. However, when it comes to processes such as weaning, Joe heads to the good ol' Farmer's Almanac.

Unlike my father-in-law, we don't have the paperback edition. Instead, to make this old-timey farming tradition more Generation-X, Joe heads to the online version. Just by clicking, you can not only find out what days are the best day to wean, cut hair to retard growth, etc., but you can also take a Smartphone Survey and get a "free almanac collection of charts and guides."

Honestly? Does this seem for real? You're basing a decision off the sign of the moon, but you're getting it sent to your smartphone? To me, it seems a little off, but that's farming: mixing the old timey with the cutting edge.

I guess that's what makes farming appealing to all walks of life. We still do some chore work and unloading of grain with my dad's old John Deere 4020 he bought in the 60s and then re-bought (something my dad tends to do . . . ask him about my college car that he bought twice.). However, our combine and most of the other new tractors can drive themselves with the help of Autotrack steering. This allowed me to make a huge farm wife mistake in my first season of this gig. . . thinking that Autotrack would allow Joe to eat shrimp pasta for supper while he cut beans. Just because the tractor drives itself doesn't mean the farmer is up there playing solitaire on his laptop or watching a DVD. The guys still have to pay attention.

Regardless, the juxtaposition of old and new makes farming something that has and will stand the test of time. New farmers will come and embrace the technology, teaching the older ones. . .much like teaching my grandparents how to run their satellite TV remote. However, the more mature farmers will know that trends come and go, but going back to what has withstood all the trendy technology is some times the best.

For now, I'll wait for that blessed day when the sun, moon, and stars all align and shut my windows, as to not hear the bawling calves.


  1. My dad stands by weaning on the full moon - calves and mama's alike are MUCH less noisy!!

  2. I thought you would be interested in this article.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/17/illinois-farmers-look-to-_n_685557.html I'll have to tell you a Mark Pearson joke about the Big O sometime.