New Title – The Best One Yet!

Everyone has told me that being a grandparent is the best. It makes parenting worth the effort when holding your grandchild for the first time. Dan and I got that experience in May. Our daughter, Jaclyn, delivered a beautiful baby girl. We were blessed to get to meet her 5 days later. Jaclyn, and her husband Rich, live out of state so we will need plan for those opportunities to spoil this little girl. We have purchased a pack and play and borrowed a baby swing to use when they come to visit. We have not decided on what names we will want to be called since she may decide for us. I am in love with social media and the ability to see photos and videos of her as she is growing and changing. How blessed we are to have this technology that allows us to be a part of her life even when we are miles apart.

When Dan and I started our family, we lived a distance from our parents as well. I recall finding pleasure in watching our parents enjoy our children and the children interacting with their grandparents. It was a special bond. It continues to be that today. Of course, family are excited to see us, but the grandchildren are still revered as the most “special”! I look forward to each opportunity to spend time with all of them.

It has been fun watching them be smitten with their newborn. I feel she closely resembles her mother as an infant. I may be partial, but comparing baby photos, I am convinced I am correct. Parenting is such an adventure from the moment you hold that baby you are deeply committed to protecting them and loving them unconditionally for eternity. It does not take but a moment to know that this little baby has changed your life forever.

They have a 10 month old Golden Retriever named, Ciggy. There were concerns initially on how he would react to this new family member. Their fears have been erased as you can see. He is calm and patient with her and appears to be anxious for her to start moving around more. He is looking forward to being a big brother to our grand-daughter.

The two cats, Charlotte and Virginia, are slowly accepting the interruptions that come with having an infant in the house. They have taken longer to adjust but are showing more interest in coming around to investigate. I think they have come to terms that just like the puppy that was brought home, this baby will not be leaving anytime soon.

Pets certainly have opinions about the changes in a household. They seem to accept change. Some with ease and others with remorse. There is no way one can predict how pets will react when changes come. The best we can do is try to continue other routines as usual and hope for the best. Rarely do I hear of a situation that did not turn out favorable in regards to a new family addition. It seems that most pets are thrilled to have additional attention and belly rubs. I have heard many of your grandchildren stories over the years and hope that you will be gracious enough to allow me to share about mine!  I am sure she will be the smartest and most amazing of all!

Do You Know Cattle?

May is Beef Month across the nation so Dr. Jim Pottebaum is the guest blogger this month with information about Cattle. At Winterset Veterinary Center he sees both hobby farm and beef producer’s cattle. We hope you enjoy this article and support our local beef producers by eating Beef.

That hamburger or steak that you’re enjoying came from a commercial cattle farm or ranch near you. But there’s more to the story. Cattle originally were three separate species: Bos Taurus (cattle), Bos Indicus (Zebu) and extinct Bos primigenius (Aurochs). Now there are nearly 200 breeds registered around the world. Cattle tend to interbreed—yaks, gaurs, bison-beefalo, are examples. The largest bull recorded weighed 3840# in 1955, a steer was 4720# in 1910. Cattle in India are revered and respected and processing them is forbidden.

Iowa ranks 7th in the US for cattle numbers—3.65 million head (Texas and Nebraska lead), and adds $6.8 billion to Iowa’s economy and provides 28,590 jobs in the industry. The most popular dairy cattle are Holstein, producing 75 to 100# of milk per day. The most popular beef breed is an Angus cross which is very well suited to pasture grazing in Iowa.

The Madison County Cattlemen is a strong group of producers here that promote beef, volunteer at many events, help provide free entrance to the County Fair, and give out many many scholarships to youth in the county.

When the entire DNA genome was mapped in 2009, the industry could focus on improving traits for best practices—more milk, more tender beef, more efficiency, etc. Very specific traits can be improved through AI (artificial insemination) and embryo transfer.

With the increases in acreage properties, the Low Line and somewhat exotic breeds have become favorable. These animals have become more of “production pets” than ever before. Australia developed this breed, and has been adopted in the US since 1997. Average commercial beef calves weigh 75 to 80# at birth, the lowline breed average 42-50#. Mature cows are 39 inches tall and weigh 800#. They have a quiet temperament, easy to raise, extremely efficient, and produce high quality meat. They average 30% larger ribeye area per hundredweight than any other breed with excellent marbelling.

The appeal to people in the country with a few acres is that they are an affordable project for kids while grazing extra acres and ties families to farming as their grandparents or parents did. Cattle production has advanced in huge amounts over the years, and the best is yet to come.

When you enjoy a tasty steak or grill burgers, thank an Iowa farmer!

Rabbit Agility

Rabbit Agility is an activity we enjoy doing with our rabbits. It consists of several obstacles such as jumps, weave poles, teeter-totters, and bridges set in a circle, and is a timed event. We started training several years ago as a 4-H activity.

Any breed or size of rabbit can be taught the different obstacles in the agility course, but we have found that some rabbits are more athletically-inclined than others. In the above photos, our large Flemish Giant, Duncan, is hopping over the bridge obstacle and through the  window jump. Rabbits must wear a leash and harness, and move voluntarily through the course.

Marshall constructed a new set of agility obstacles for the Madison County 4-H rabbit exhibitors in 2016, and it was selected for the Iowa State Fair. Each day during the Madison County Fair, rabbit exhibitors are invited to practice the course with their rabbits in preparation for competition during the rabbit show.

Our best agility competitor, Tommy, is a breed of rabbit called Tan, which is considered a “running rabbit” breed. With practice, Tommy will move through the obstacles on his own, and really enjoys the physical activity. Other running rabbits breeds include Rhinelanders, Checkered Giants, and English Spots. Running rabbits are energetic and athletic, but generally not snuggly.

Marshall Eddleman, Madison Co. Shooting Stars 4-H Club
Heather Jamison, Madison Co. Fair Rabbit Supt.

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