Great Gift Ideas

Today is the birthday of one of my children’s great-grandmas.  (They have three, which is pretty neat).  Great-grandma Gert is 89 today and she is ringing in her birthday with her NEW iPad from her son (my father-in-law) and her first introduction to the internet.  How cool is that?  Awesome gift.

IMG_5569

The gift from us to Grandma. Not quite as fantastic as a new iPad, but oh well. I tried to help her get a few apps on her iPad, but didn’t know her password and she didn’t either. I’ll try another day.

My kids have accumulated a lot of gifts over the years and these are some great ideas, in my opinion.  A great gift for a boy is a tractor WITH a loader.  In this photo below, Vince is playing with a skidloader.  Having the option to scoop and dump makes the toy so much more interesting.  I know that my boy is really into farming more than most, but just about any boy loves a loader tractor.

IMG_5160

Especially when Vince was younger, if is was too cold to play outside in his sandbox, he loved to scoop rice, dried beans, tiny stones, or even snow inside the sink.

A great gift ideas for girls is Color Wonder markers by Crayola.  If the marker touches anything other than the specific Crayola paper, it doesn’t leave a mark.  Not even on walls!  I really like to pull out our Color Wonders for in the car on a long trip.  Even Vince, who dislikes coloring, will play with them for a little while.

Another great idea for a boy or a girl, is something my sister, who works for the Post Office, recently mailed to us.  A BEACH BALL!

IMG_5503

$2.58 to mail this. No box or wrapping needed!

She wrote our address on it, and did a few drawings on some of the stars.  We left the stamp on it…for now anyway.  I’m pretty sure you could do the same thing with a pool noodle.  Great gift idea, especially if the child isn’t expecting it.  Shout out to my sister!

Thanks for reading!

Finally, a smartphone

Earlier this week, I bought my first smart-phone.  I had been using the same flip phone for about 7 years.

IMG_5543

They didn’t want to give me any money to trade this in, I guess.

Why I waited so long:

1.  It took 2 trips to the store and a total of 3 hours to get a new phone.  I figured it would be like that.

2.  Joe has NEVER (up until this month) been able to go 2 years without ruining his phone.  Skidloader oil pans, the creek that runs through our pasture, manure flumes, you name it.  We have used the trick of taking a wet phone apart and putting it in a bag of rice overnight (it really does work!) but Joe’s destruction of phones still kept up a fast pace.  So, he was always getting a new phone for himself when my contract was up.  So expensive without a contract renewal.

3.  I didn’t want to be one of THOSE moms.  You know, the type that isn’t even noticing what her kids are doing because her eyes are glued to her phone.  Or worse, when the kids are so mesmerized by the phone that they don’t see the world around them.  When we were at the baggage claim at LAX last summer, there were oodles of kids everywhere sitting in a stroller staring at some movie, totally missing out on the guessing game of what suitcase will come out on the baggage belt next.  That is tragic in my opinion.

IMG_5534

The iPhone5. With a fuchsia otterbox.

There were so many phones to choose from, but I decided to get an iPhone because we have a iPad, so it should be easier to get the hang of and there are some advantages with syncing stuff.

The biggest advantage for me will be ease of texting.  I should hopefully be able to get a 3 sentence text out in less than 5 minutes now.  I’m just trying to keep up with these younger folk.  Also, the navigation with maps on Joe’s phone has always been handy when we are together.  I did get an app for a shopping list and am looking forward to that.  I’m sure there will be a million other advantages as I learn my way around.  I would love to learn what your favorite little known app is.

As far as farming goes, we will see how handy it is.  Joe uses a flashlight on his phone often.  I need to look into that.  Getting back to my last post, the technology will soon be there to use the smartphone with the cow’s tag to access all her milking and reproductive data.  We have the technology on our iPad to remotely watch planting or harvesting in a field in real time, so that is possibly an option as well.  Maybe it will cut down on the number of times I bring meals to the wrong farmers in the wrong field or need to call for directions for which exact driveway on which part of which farm……

One final fun feature:  No longer will I receive a text from Verizon saying that somebody sent me a photo or video and I need an internet connection, a password and 20 minutes of my time to access it.

Time flies by so fast, technology is always changing, and I’m just a busy mom trying to keep up with all of it.  Maybe with my smartphone, I’ll be smarter and more efficient in the future.  Where have the last two years gone?

100_4548

March 19, 2011

IMG_5528

July 16, 2013

From transponders to RFID at our dairy

**** 10/28/15  —   All of our transponders are now sold.

At our farm, we recently transitioned over from using tranponders to RFID.  In the photos below, the transponder is the blue plastic piece the size of my palm and the RFID is the small circular tag next to her yellow tag.

IMG_5381

IMG_5387

The biggest reason for using either of these is to collect information that is sent to our computer so we know how much milk each cow is giving each milking.  Healthy cow = lots of milk.  Less milk than average means we need to find her and figure out what’s going on.  Also, the information that is collected over time is very valuable to us in many other ways.

We had been using transponders since we first built a milking parlor in 2001.  RFID is new to dairies since then.   Wikipedia describes RFID (radio-frequency identification) as the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects.

These are the advantages of RFID for us:

1.  We tag them once shortly after birth and are done.  Since transponders are attached to a collar around their neck, and their necks grow significantly in the first 2 years of life, we couldn’t put transponders on at birth.  Instead, shortly before she gave birth to her first calf, we’d put a transponder on her.  Also, it takes quite a bit of time to put a transponder on as you have to weave it in and out of a metal piece  (think of something like an ’80s belt).  As the years go by, the straps harden and fray making the job pretty time consuming.  Way more complicated and just not as efficient.

2.  Each tag costs less than a transponder.  The rest of the RFID system is more, but it is easier to justify the cost with more cows that we’ve recently added.

3.  More accurate readings.  RFID reads to each stall in the milking parlor individually, but the transponders read them more as a group.   Before, if the first cow put her neck through the reader to enter the parlor, then changed her mind and backed out, all 20 cows in that milking group would be misidentified.  With RFID, that doesn’t happen.  I hope I making sense here.

IMG_5382

We’ve got a pile of them!

One of our long-time employees, Eddie, and I had been laughing about the joy we would see to watch these go up in smoke some day.  Just knowing that we would no longer spend so much time, hauling these transponders around and then working our fingers sore to manipulate the strap and get them on.  However, that isn’t very responsible and they do have resale value.

Do you know some farmers looking for some DeLaval transponders?  $5 a piece.  I’m sure they’ll love them;)

Our July 4th tradition

I have some super neat photos to post today.  My family doesn’t have a ton of traditions but one of them is a 4th of July photo.  It started 7 years ago when Vince was a baby.  The corn crop was looking phenomenal that year, and Joe suggested we take a photo of Vince in a corn field to remember it.   The photos aren’t from a super stylized shoot.  We usually run in and run out before the mosquitoes carry us away.

IMG_5393

Corn looked awesome in 2006

My husband’s family has a kid’s clothing store, so after the first year, I have made a point of getting some red, white, and blue clothes.

 

IMG_5402

 

 

They both look so young!

IMG_5397

I chose this photo because it is the first year my husband started to wear the special prescription glasses that also block the sun. He had suffered some injury to his eye in a farm accident the previous winter.

My husband getting a phone call on the 4th of July?  Must have been a problem at the farm!

IMG_5398

Our neighbor has a really neat white fence.

 

IMG_5400

So blessed!

100_5336

With 3 kids, a great fast photo is just not going to happen.

IMG_2140

Last year on the north side of our grove.

No photo of us all today yet.  It will happen though.  It’s tradition!  Thank you to all who have served our country.  We live in a really great place.