A day in the life of a farmer Chuck, his wife Karen and his children Madison and Drew.

Posted by Karen McCullough on

While life in the city maybe busy, here on the farm it is extremely busy, in the spring time for sure.  Babies, babies, babies everywhere.  See, we own and operate a ranch of 150 cows and that's a lot of mama's having babies.  Then of course, it is also a busy time for our mama dogs also to be having thier litters also.   Each day of our lives are centered on taking care of young babies.  We are so very blessed to do what we do and know it is extremely hard work, but to see the baby calves bouncing in the sun, or the baby puppies playing with their siblings, just makes one's heart so full, and we know it is worth every minute of it.  

This life on the ranch doesn't come without it's ups and downs though.  Last year here in Iowa it was extremely hot and dry, so getting enough feed put away for the cows, for winter was a struggle.  On top of that, we have had a late winter, and it has been cold so it has required allot of feed for the cows.  This makes it pretty worrisome for farmers and we just pray we will have enough.  During calving season my husband Chuck, wakes up every 3 hours to go check to see if there are any new babies.  If there are, he makes sure they are doing well and are warm and that they have gotten up and nursed for the first time.  This is extremely important because the first milk is called colostrum and it is packed full of nutrients.  They have to receive this first milk within the first 12 hours of being born, or sooner is better.  If they don't receive this they will die.  Chuck also checks to see if there are any mama cows having trouble delivering their babies.  If one of them are having trouble, he has to assess the situation and decide, whether he can help, or if it will require a vet.  Once the baby calves are a couple days old they are turned out of the barn, if they are doing well and if the temperature is warm enough.  Then, they are monitored everyday to make sure they are healthy and growing.  If a baby calf gets sick it is so important to treat them right away or they will die.  We have to always be watching to make sure they look energetic and that they don't have diarrhea or pneumonia.  On top of all of this, every cow needs fed, all 150 of them, plus the calves from last year in the feed lot, which consist of about 120 of them.  This takes allot of feed!  They are in the corrals being fed like this, during the winter months, which usually starts here at the end of November and hopefully done by the end of April.  This year 2019 though however, it is lingering on and the grass isn't growing like usual, therefore they are having to stay in and be fed at least a month longer.  This is why we are waiting on spring and warmer weather and green grass.

 The dogs on the other hand, they LOVE the snow and LOVE to go and play in it, all of them think it is so much fun!   Everyday we enjoy spending time with our great pack and they look forward to a game of fetch, soccer, or just a good old brushing and bath.  We have a great grooming facility which believe it or not is there favorite room.  We have two children that are homeschooled, Madison age 13 and Drew age 11.  They diligently work on their school work in the morning and are finished school around 1:00 pm.  We then have lunch and head outside to feed, clean, and play with dogs and help with the cattle.  We keep schedules of what litters need to be weighed and dewormed or vaccinated.  Each dog is monitored everyday to see how they are feeling and if they are soon expecting or have a litter they are monitored constantly.  When we are not with them we have camera's on them that let us check in on them to make sure everyone is happy and doing great.  After we play a couple hours with the adult dogs we then head to everyones favorite time which is puppy play time.  If the sun is shining and the litter is old enough we will bring them outside to teach them fetch or just to run, run, run!  They love this and so do we.  This is where we monitor them and not only make sure they are feeling good but also if they are shy or not sure of humans then we will makes sure and spend extra time with that pup so they know they are loved and humans are okay.  See when they are born their eyes and ears are closed for the first 14-15 days then they begin to be able to see slowly and hear slowly.  Loud sounds can scare them at first then they start to get used to hearing all different noises.  A mama dog cleans up after her puppies until they start eating puppy food which is anywhere from 3 weeks to 4 weeks.  Until then we don't have to pickup after them...but after they start on food...oh boy they go to the bathroom allot!  We have found the very best way to keep them healthy and clean is to use wood shavings.  So each litter has their area where they sleep and there is a dog box then in this same area about 10' by 10' where they eat and sleep.  They also have a play area which is 10' by 10' where they also learn to leave their nesting place or sleeping area and do their potty away from where they eat and sleep.  We have all kinds of toys for them to play with and chew on.  Tunnels and hiding areas that they can have some great times playing hide and seek with their litter mates.   Puppies only start playing really good at about 5 weeks old and this is usually when mom will wean them.  We monitor them constantly at this stage on how they are pooping (I know gross right) but it is extremely important to gauge their health condition.  We give probiotics to them all the time to keep their little tummies healthy.  We love each one of these babies like our very own until they are placed into their new families arms to become part of a new family.  Even after that they will always be special to us after all we seen them take their first breath of life!

Each week we try and take updated pictures until they are 6-7 weeks old and we try and to do videos that are posted to http://www.youtube.com/maineaimranchdogs.com of each litter.   This can be time consuming but fun also and we know how important it is to the new families to watch their babies grow up.  The pictures are taken outside in the play area if possible but if not we have a studio area set up with good lighting to show their colors well.  Taking the pictures and video is the fun part the many hours of editing and watermarking is the time consuming part.  So usually after a full day of making sure all the animals on the farm are healthy we return inside for me to make supper and everyone wind down about 7:00-8:00 PM and then once everyone is bathed and fed I start working on my computer and updates.  It takes about 30 minutes each pup...so a litter of 8 would take about 4 hours just to have them on the website and facebook pages and where ever else we advertise.   

When we have a mama having her pups or whelping we have an area downstairs in our house that is setup for her to be all by herself to make sure she is comfortable and there are no distractions.  We have a camera on her at all times and also we have a bedroom right next door that I sleep in and catch a few zzz in-between puppies being born.  Every once in a while we will have a puppy coming backwards then we have to assist but usually that ends up that we have to make a trip to the vet for a c-section.  Once a puppy is born we make sure it is breathing and doing well that it stay warm and starts nursing as soon as possible.  If a puppy doesn't get colostrum within the first 12 hours of life they will most likely die.  If a baby looks like it is weak or it is a big litter and some need bottle fed then we feed every 2-3 hours through out the day and night.  On a c-section litter we almost always start by bottle feeding them.  Once mom is doing fine and babies are all growing and doing great we then move them into the puppy pens so they have room to play and start learning how to potty train.

As you can see allot goes into raising animals and our family is very blessed by God to have the knowledge, the gift, talents and resorces to look after them and take care of them.  The first job for the first man Adam on this earth was to look after God's animals.  After all they are God's creatures and we so enjoy watching them grow and becoming that special family member in other peoples lives.  We pray about the health of every puppy and calf, also about the homes God places them into and we don't do an extensive interviews because we trust God to prepare each home and to bring the perfect home for each pup.  If you would like any information on purchasing a pup or would like to visit about anything give me a call 641-344-5548 or email maineaim@grm.net.