Working with the Ozark Landtrust

The other weekend I had the pleasure to volunteer with the Ozarks Regional Land-trust to survey a small pond site that is important both as a historical monument and as a safe harbor for endangered species. Knowing that I would enjoy it and that I needed to gather volunteer hours for my FFA American Degree, my uncle Gregg Galbraith invited me to help survey a small lot owned by the Ozarks Land-trust to help understand how they can better the environment for both Ozarks cave fish and Arkansas Darter fish which are both endangered.

Me marking the water level of the pond.

Me marking the water level of the pond.

Our job was to measure and map out the current lake and get elevation readings so that the Land-trust can decide if they need to raise the water level any. I worked with a man named John who was in charge of the project. My job was to stand at points on the pond bank and hold a pole so that we could trace out the current bank. John would look through a small telescope and read the numbers on my pole to measure elevation and distance. Then I put on some waders and walked through the middle of the pond measuring pond depth.

Sarcoxie pond landscape 2

It did rain on us a little but it was interesting to see how John could measure distance and bearing with that little telescope and be able to plot out points on a map. After we had the pond mapped out we were able to tie in our elevations with a designated point in town that is a official elevation marker. I had a blast working with John and I really learned a new side to conservation techniques that I had never been associated with before. I hope I will have the chance to work with the Land-trust again to help preserve some of our world’s diminishing beauty.

Who Needs a Farmer?

In my public relations in agriculture class at Missouri State University we were given the challenge of making a impromtu video showing why America needs a farmer. I paired up with Rusty Corkran and we quickly made this video in Blair Shannon dinning hall. It’s a little rough and could have a little more effort put into it for sure but I think it does a good job about representing farmers. Hope you enjoy!

Beef Cow Playing Milk Cow

Spring time is always busy at Tumbl’n T Ranch where I live. This is when our momma cows have their calves. We have to constantly watch the herd in case one of the cows has a problem and needs our help and to keep track of the calves. Usually we are not needed that often but every year one particular cow always needs a helping hand.

This cow is my own named Eragon for the white circle in her forehead. Like the rest of our cows she is a beef cow and therefore only raises one calf a year and should only produce milk to feed that one calf with little to no extra. However Eragon has a genetic disorder which causes her to produce up to four times the amount of milk needed. This causes problems for both Eragon herself and her calf. See her calf has no hope of ever drinking that much milk in order to relieve his mom of her load but his instincts tell him to try and get all the food he can. So he ends up drinking too much milk and giving himself the scours. As for Eragon, her large amount of milk stretches her udder and becomes painful for her and if the milk is allowed to sit there long enough it will begin to go bad and cause a disease.

Eragon beef cow, over large udder

Eragon beef cow, over large udder

This is where we the farmers come in. Every year we keep an eye on Eragon and when she pops and the baby comes out we get to work. First off we spend about an hour moving Eragon and her new calf up to the corral where we can more easily work with her and make sure that there are no problems other than the milk. Then we drive to a local dairy farm and buy two or three fresh born bottle calves. The term bottle calf means that the calf has been separated from the cow and is being raised off a bottle. I take these calves home and for a short period separate all the calves from Eragon with a panel. She can still see the calves but they cannot nurse her during this time.

My Dad helping a dairy calf to nurse

My Dad helping a dairy calf to nurse

After a while Eragon begins to get confused as to which calf is hers because they have all rubbed up on each other and smell alike. I then let Eragon into the pen with the calves and give her a bucket of grain to make her stand still and eat. The natural born calf usually goes right up and starts nursing because after that separation the calves are ready for dinner. However the dairy calves have never been with a momma cow and wander around looking for food. I gather them up one by one and guide them to Eragon’s udder. I usually have to make them move their heads up and put a teat in their mouth and manually release some milk into their mouths several times before they get the idea.

Happy Jersy calf thats been adopted to Eragon

Happy Jersy calf thats been adopted to Eragon

After several of these sessions and several days the calves all are pro milkers and know their place at the dinner table. We generally keep them all in the coral for about a month to make absolutely sure that all the calves are getting their fair share of the bounty. After we are confident everything is going good they can all be turned out to pasture to join the herd. Eragon and her calf are saved and three bottle calves find a mother. It’s a happy ending for all thanks to a farmer.