Story and photos by Joseph L. Murphy, ISA member communications manager
After glancing at the TV one last time Duane Ohnemus pulled the laces of his leather boots tight. The TV is the first thing he glances at when he wakes up this time of year and the last thing he sees before going to bed. While most of America is watching the morning news or a recorded mini-series, Ohnemus is watching a live feed of cows in the barn.
Ohnemus, an Iowa Soybean Association member from Milo, and many other farmers and ranchers across the country are in the midst of the 2016 calving season —a two to three-month process that demands constant attention and braving harsh weather.
Duane Ohnemus climbs into his tractor while moving hay to feed his cattle.
A video feed of the barn provides the ability to keep an eye on his "maternity ward” while saving trips to the barn for emergencies. He is quick to say that the technology helps, but it will never replace the welfare checks that are needed to make sure cows are progressing in the birth process, and calves are healthy.
“Normally one of us wakes up in the middle of the night and flips the TV on to check it,” Ohnemus says. “Hopefully, that makes it so we don’t have to go outside to the barn. You can get pretty grouchy this time of year from the lack of sleep.”
On this chilly day, Ohnemus pulls his hood over his head while he walks across the farm yard but is thankful that the weather is mild for February.