If you’re going up into the haymow to throw down straw and you think you need five bales, throw down six.
    If you’re switching cows and you need 12 open stalls, let 13 cows out.
    This (n+1) way of operating was originally Glen’s thinking, but it has become a mantra on our farm. It has saved us countless extra steps and a lot of time.
    Without fail, it seems, as soon as you slide the haymow door shut, someone will remember they needed a bale of straw for a calf pen. Or, you’ll chop straw into the stalls and come up a little short at the end. Having an extra bale of straw in close reach makes everything easier.
    When switching cows, it always seems like there’s one cow left on the walk and the only open stall is a spot she doesn’t like. Having an extra open stall gives her a choice and makes getting her into a stall a whole heck of a lot simpler.
    Last fall, we poured a new cement curb and replaced the dilapidated fence along the north side of our cow yard. The new fence is wonderful – no more cows jumping over the fence. But even more wonderful is the new layout of our cow yard.
    We had to move the feeder wagons and gates around in the yard to accommodate the curb and fence construction. We also brought in a couple extra gates to make the temporary setup work. You can never have enough portable gates. The next time we order more, I’m going to order (n+1).
    Anyway, when we put everything back in place inside the cow yard after construction, we ended up with three pens instead of two, thanks to the extra gates.
    We use our cow yard for switching cows, so, in the past we always needed two pens. We also use our cow yard for working dry cows and loading them up to go to our remote pastures. It turns out having three pens in the cow yard is far better than two.
    Glen’s (n+1) mantra has even made its way into the house. If I’m making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and think I need five, I always make six. When I bake cookies, I always make a double batch – there’s no point in going through all the work for only two dozen cookies.
    By the time you read this, our county fair will be in full swing. During the past couple weeks of fair preparations, I realized we need to apply a little (n+1) before next year.
    If you think four pairs of clippers are enough, you probably need five.
    Between our three kids, two nieces, and one nephew, we had to start clipping show cows and heifers in shifts because there aren’t enough clippers to go around.
    Even Daphne decided she was going to clip her calf by herself this year. We have a longer blade that fits on our small cordless clipper, so we put her to work with that. She was proud as a peacock by the time she was done.
    If you think you have enough rope halters, find one more.
    Since we worked with the show cattle in shifts, we didn’t realize until a couple days before the fair that we didn’t have enough rope halters for all of the cows and heifers to be haltered at the same time.
    Thankfully, we found a couple of rope halters tucked away in an old show box, so we didn’t have to buy any at the last minute.
    I think there will be a couple of (n+1) show equipment items under the Christmas tree come December.
    P.S. Don’t tell Glen about this column. When I told him I was writing about (n+1), he said with mock dismay, “Hey, that’s patented.”
    P.S.S. Perhaps an (n+1) way of thinking will make farming easier for you, too.
    Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have three children – Dan, 11, Monika, 8, and Daphne, 5. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at sadiefrericks@gmail.com.