Dairy Excel: Good ol’ days could’ve used a loader

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The year is 1958. The place is the Henry Weilnau farm on state Route 601, Norwalk, Ohio.

The time is about 5:30 a.m., when Dad would wiggle my big toe, not say a word, and expect me to follow him to the barn.

Before the bus. My chores before catching the 7:30 a.m. school bus included: feeding and watering the chickens (40 hens and two roosters, mom would collect the eggs later); feed and water the pigs (six or seven sows with piglets, one boar, and three pens of finishing pigs).

I also had to feed and water the horses (two draft Belgians used for pulling contests at local fairs, two riding horses, my 4-H horse “Ike,” and the Shetland pony); and finally the dairy cows.

We milked between 100 and 110 Holsteins cows, five Jerseys, and one Brown Swiss (seemed big then).

I remember a pen of 15-25 dry cows, a pen of 10-20 springing heifers, a pen of young heifers, three or four steers and the heifer calves.

Feeding, too. My morning jobs included feeding corn silage or haylage and hay. We had a 60-by-16 concrete silo with unloader, and a 45-by-12 concrete silo without unloader and a pit silo.

We would scope shovel the silage down the long wood feeder from the silos. Hay was dropped out of the mow into four hay feeders around the barn.

We had about 75 free stalls and a manure pack that needed bedded for the rest of the cows.

Parlor talk. Each morning I would stop in the milking parlor to talk with Dad before running to the house to get ready for school. Our parlor was a flat, six-stanchion parlor with gutter.

We would milk three cows at a time and rotate the other three out while bringing in another three. Amazingly milking only took about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

We dumped the milk buckets from the milking directly into the milk can strainer and the milk ran into the cans. The cans were lifted into the cooler and the milkman picked up the milk daily.

Manure management. We scraped the freestall barn daily into a big manure holding area. The manure was hauled to the fields three times each year – in early spring, summer, and late fall.

The manure hauling days were great because I drove the “big” Oliver diesel tractor on the spreader, since Dad always loaded the manure with the tractor and loader.

In the field. We raised corn, wheat, oats, hay, and sugar beets, and we also grew peas, lima beans, and sweet corn for the cannery in Norwalk.

We also grew the dreaded one-acre of potatoes, which had to be picked up by hand after digging.

Finally, I even remember the equipment we used: a Super 88 Oliver diesel tractor, and 88 Oliver gas tractor, a Ford 8N with Wagner loader, a Fox one-row silage chopper, an Oliver hand wire tie baler plus an Allis-Chalmers rake.

All the above was accomplished on about 400 acres.

Times remembered. Memorable times stand out in my mind: I always looked forward to riding with Dad to Toledo to pick up a load of beer malt to feed the cows (sure did like the free beer samples)

I skipped school about twice each year on a Wednesday to accompany the cull cows and/or pigs to the Cleveland Stock Yards, which was very exciting.

Most interesting were the few times we went to Amish Country ( Holmes County) to visit with Dad’s Amish friends.

Things sure have changed!

Oh, what I wouldn’t have done for a skid loader back in 1958!

(The author is an agricultural extension agent in Stark and Summit counties. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

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