Jun 26, 2012

Summer Time

This year has been one of unusual events. I'm not saying that we haven't done the things we would normally accomplish during the summer. It is the fact that the season came so soon.
When it was close to oh....mid May the winter wheat was already turning shades of golden yellow. This was very surprising to many farmers around the area. We had a very warm and mild spring, with not much rain at all and so the wheat was ahead of schedule.  On a normal year we would expect to see the wheat begin to change at the end of May. The wheat was changing fast with warm weather and little rain, and so the pastures had already also greened up in early April. We didn't put our cattle out early though since the circumstances of the grass becoming sparse if we had a dry summer again were possible. But back to the wheat, we were fast approaching the summer wheat harvest whether we liked it or not. It was coming and upon arrival it would seem to become fast and furious.
When the winter wheat was ready to be thrashed, combined, or cut, which ever you would like to call it, it was May 28th. Many of you may know May 28th as Memorial Day, on which we remembered, but we also worked. As you may know the farmer and rancher's work never ends because they are without day light or because it is a holiday we work all the way through them. The day was one that started slow because we only had one combine operating at that time.  Our second combine was presently in the shop having repairs done so that it would be ready when it was time to harvest. Well that didn't work did it?! We continued to harvest and on Wednesday May 30th we were caught in mid harvest. There was a line of storms coming our way. During harvest we are somewhat reluctant to see thunder-heads in the distance, a sign of storms coming, but then yet again being dry this spring we were rejoicing as well. The storm that was on its way was packing a punch, it was heavy rain and hail as well as straight line winds. All of those combined together was a disaster waiting to happen, especially when the wheat crop was ripe for the cutting. Thankfully there wasn't any major hail or winds that came near us. We did receive some much needed rain! Although the rain didn't accumulate much it brought cool weather which was awesome. This gave Katelin time to check pastures while it was cool and comfortable. While checking pastures others were working on making some last minute repairs and getting things set for when harvest would resume. Soon harvest was back underway, and things were going fast. There weren't any major breakdowns thankfully but everything continued to roll on.

Mark and Co-pilot Sarah

Warren and Co-pilot Jenna

Grandpa Ron driving grain cart

Waiting in line to dump our wheat.

Cutting into the night

Sleeping Trucks

Moose and the new rock at Mark's house

Grandma Dora Driving truck.

Trying to beat the storm (talked about in the blog)

Nathan driving truck

Warren and co-pilot Kyle

Trying to stay cool

See the heat?

Barb driving big red

Baler coming to bale the dropped straw.

Moose even got to take a load into town.
As for the overall harvest, it was a good one.

Right now we are trying to stay cool, as it is a scorcher outside and over 100 degrees currently. We are keeping the air on and keeping the animals as cool as possible. The ponds seem to take the worst of it, since there has been little rain. We did receive a couple of inches that came in two rains. This helped the corn and beans but didn't give us much runoff into our ponds.  We are continually checking the pastures to ensure that we have adequate water for the cattle.
It has been a fast and crazy summer already and who knows what the rest of summer will bring. Hoping that you will stay cool and enjoy your summer!

May 11, 2012

Springing Past Spring!

So the past month of April has flown by without me knowing! It has been a whirl wind of busy schedules, meetings, gatherings, working cattle and moving cattle to summer pastures.  It has seemed to be an unusually warm if not hot spring this year. Temperatures around the state of Kansas were even breaking records! The family has been keeping busy with all of the changes around the farm. We have shipped out almost all of the cows and calves to their summer pasture except a few cows that are still lingering around the farm waiting to see when it is their turn to be put out to grass. The cows are very happy to be out to pasture, which is much better than being in the dirt lots where they are held for the winter season.  We were fortunate enough to even receive some much needed rain while shipping out.  Last year we ended up having a summer drought which hit more of the Midwest than just Kansas.  We are still trying to catch up with the rains that we missed from last year.  The corn has also been planted and is now up and growing, we were a little worried that it might have been too long in the ground and had not received any rain, that is when we got a nice slow rain. We didn't receive a lot but it was enough to get the corn up and on its way.  The wheat has been pushed along since spring has been so warm.  The heat and winds have pushed the wheat to head (the grain holding part of the plant) early. Even while at college Sarah noticed the difference in the wheat and how it even started to change color.  The winter wheat has been moving right along and some are thinking that harvest is going to be earlier this year since everything has seemed to be pushed up in progress.  We even have cut our first cutting of alfalfa, and it has been raked, baled, and put in the barn to keep it dry so that we may be able to sell it to other operations.  So as you can see things have moved right along with the time! Right now on the farm we are planting Milo (sorghum) and Soybeans for our fall harvest.  Since time has flown by and the cows have been out to pasture for a while now it is time for them to be checked.  When I say I am going to check the cows at such and such a pastures it means that I am going to make sure that they are all healthy and that they can get water, these are two of the most important things when checking the herd.  The very most important thing is that I count and make sure that all the cows, calves and bulls are in the correct pasture. If I have a count that is off then we have a problem. This is why we brand our cattle with a specific brand that is registered and no one else will have.  If we have more cattle in our pasture than what there are supposed to be then they usually belong to a neighboring pasture. The next step is to locate the culprit and where they got through.  If we have less cows and calves than what we are supposed to have then the next step is to find the hole where they could have gotten through.  I also would make sure to call the 'boss' Mark/Warren and let them know what has happened.  Usually there are no major problems but there are those occasions where we do have them. When we don't have any problems we put out mineral for the cows so that they can supplement their grazing, that is just like us taking vitamins and minerals.  The cows love to see us bring the mineral out and depending on the pasture they might seem to run you over to get some. After seeing the cows we scour the pasture for any unwanted weeds such as thistles. (If you want to learn more about thistle problems in pastures see my previous post.)  It is always a joy to get out and see how the calves and cows are doing as well as enjoying the peaceful tranquility of the prairie land. I hope that all of your springs have been enjoyable and that the time hasn't flown by as bad as it has here! Enjoy and blessings to you!

Mar 13, 2012

Is it spring yet?

I am guessing that many of you are sick of the dreary and dead winter as I am! And this past week has given us a little taste of spring time weather! Mother nature sure didn't disappoint this time with forecast of 80 degree weather!
At this time we are finishing out our calving season, and things haven't gone as smoothly as we have wanted. Every year there are challenges.We had started calving some of our cows out on stalks this year since the weather hadn't been too bad and we didn't have a very good fall crop year due to high heat and low rainfall. These cows were then shipped to their next home, a winter pasture, that has tall heavy grass that the calves can hide in to stay warm from any random spring snows or wind. This past few weeks have seemed to have more wind than anything which is not uncommon for Kansas, but this can have a negative effect on the new calves. If the calves stay out in the wind more they are likely to get a thing similar to an inner ear infection in us humans. So we have to check them daily to ensure that they are staying healthy. If a calf was to have a some what of a head cold that would make them slow in following momma cow we were sure to notice and treat as soon as possible. By the next day the calf should be up and moving faster and not holding their head down. So enough about the treating...how about some pictures?! This is what I love...go and feed and get my handy dandy...phone camera out! HA! Hope all is well!
Moose loves to ride on the four wheeler when we are doing chores.

He is a great driver!

Sarah's 2nd Heifer that is bred.

Katelin's 2nd Heifer that is bred.

I wish you could see how cute this baby is. Below #56 is momma!

Don't they look a lot alike?

On winter pasture after getting some cubes, the cows were very happy.

Our one and only pure hereford. His name is Harold Jr.

Harold Jr. such a cutie.

After feeding time...look at those butts.

Jan 23, 2012

The Surprises of a Unplanned Weekend

During the weekends when Katelin is home we rely on her help a lot. It is always nice to have that extra pair of hands, which know how to run the tractor, fix fence, catch calves, and drive gooseneck trailer. Well last weekend we had a surprise that wasn't needed per-say. 
Twice during this weekend we had unexpected surprises, we will begin with Saturday. In the morning Mark, Barb, and Katelin got up and while Mark headed out to chore we women worked on some breakfast and got other things around such as laundry and dishes. Once chores were finished here at the house dad came in to grab some breakfast and head off to chore at our other locations.  Lunch was made and once Mark came home we ate. I (Katelin) got ready to have a long list of things to do from Mark (dad), which always seems to be longer than the day will allow and today was no exception. The list was something like this...move 15 bales around to the pile (where we grind them for feed), water the hill cows, and fix the hot wire fence in the pasture.  Seems simple enough right? NOT and it never is! Moving the bales and watering was easy yes but the next task ha!  Once I (Katelin) went out to the pasture with Moose in tow, we started in search for the elusive hot wire fence....that was mysteriously lost...for a short period.  While walking to the east I thought to myself I bet this is going to be a great big ball of wire and not going to be fun at all... Well to say the least, I found it...and yes it was a great big ball of tangled mess of wire UGH! It was a pain to even start to get apart...and well I had to call reinforcements...meaning Mom (Barb) and after about 3 hours of where does this one come out...where did my end go? And oh just cut it already!!!!!! Finally we got it all done and strung back out and hooked up to the juice (electric fencer) and we had power! Thank Goodness! Then back to chores and to get ready for a fast and furious Sunday morning.
Sunday morning came and Mark started off at Merle's while I started feeding at home.  It was all going according to plan until I saw a calf that wasn't getting up to eat. The calves usually jump at the chance to come and get food before momma does. So I kept feeding until dad came back from the other two places where he chores.  I had him come and take a look at him since he still hadn't gotten up.  Once the calf was up we could see there was definitely something wrong. It looked like a big volleyball underneath his belly nail.  We caught him and dad and I put him into the chute to see what it was. Well neither of us had any idea about what was wrong nor was there anything we could do until after church. So we both headed back to the house to clean up and get ready to go to church. 
Once the church service was over we came back home and tried to decide what we were going to do with this calf.  Finally dad thought he probably better use the emergency vet line to see if they could at least diagnose the issue and if it wasn't anything big then we would all feel really bad for making our wonderful vet come in on a Sunday afternoon while he should be taking an afternoon nap. But if this large volleyball like mass was something of larger issue we would need the expertise of our great vet. So we hooked up the gooseneck trailer and loaded the calf, then dad looked at me and said go ahead and go. Off I went to Bluestem Veterinary Service in Holland, KS about a 25 minute drive, over hills, rough roads, and through twists and turns, really wasn't that bad except for the bumpy roads part between the county line and Carlton ugh I hate that road.  Anyhow back to the volleyball issue, once I arrived at the vet's buildings we unloaded and got the calf into the chute so that the Vet, Mr. Barton could have a closer look.  He got that face, the face that no one ever wants to see when things like these happen. He gave me the diagnosis..."well it could be a couple of things, one which I think it is, is an umbilical infection. This is where the calf has an infection from the day that they are born from their umbilical cord and it stays up in their gut and just kind of rots away there. And the other it could be is just a growth,  which finally dropped from his gut." And then came the even better news...I hope you can hear the sarcastic-ness of my voice... Mr. Barton “And I think we need to keep him over night no food, or water so that his gut is smaller in the morning. I would like to have him put under general anesthesia so that incase something happens to move or come down I can go straight into surgery instead of having to put him under and wait." Great...was my thought. So the calf was to spend the night without his momma, and he wasn't happy. And neither was my father when I called to give him the news. Great just great. Just what we need on a Sunday. That was some of what he stated. So I came back home with an empty trailer hoping that the calf would be ok and would make it through the surgery.
Monday morning came and we waited to hear back from the vet. Eventually we did. He was up and kicking, but the vet had let us know that with this type of cut, could become infected if he didn't heal right and could become to be a problem.  So off I went again to pick up the calf and a couple other things which we needed to stock up on.  The calf was so happy to see his momma that even before he got off the trailer they were talking to each other...well Moooing. He was happy and so was she. When they finally were in the pen he went straight to getting his breakfast which he had missed out on.  They both are now happy and the calf is still healing from his wounds, but it has been over a week since he has had this surgery and is alive and kicking, oh he even decided he was going to go on a little journey and get out of the pen where we had him in.  He was more than happy to get back with momma when I put him in.
So all is back to normal here on the farm. We are calving our spring cows out now, so that means babies! Boy are they cute. There are now 8 total from our heifers and the cows. The babies are all running around and terrorizing their mothers. It has been beautiful weather here for the past few days in the high 40's and lower 50's which has been nice for the calves but it does affect them as well. Hope all is well at your end of the rope. And remember faith like a mustard seed can move mountains. Happy Trails.

Dec 21, 2011

Christmas Time

Christmas time around the farm is keeping us busy.  This past Monday we had a nasty winter storm come through Kansas, luckily we didn't receive much snow but mostly rain. This put a major damper on things...literally. After the sun went down the rain turned to sleet/snow. Although it didn't turn out to be too much it still made things difficult for feeding the cattle. Most of the cows that were on winter wheat pasture or grazing stocks were let into a pasture so they could seek some refuge from the storm.  Now things have began to melt and are getting muddy. But here are some pictures that were of the beauty of the storm.

We are all looking forward to getting together with family and friends over this holiday.
And a warm wish for you and yours to keep safe, happy, and remember the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season. The birth of our Lord, Jesus, in the manger.

Dec 13, 2011

December 13th

See what Katelin has  in her Korner...it's some random thoughts for the day!

Nov 7, 2011

The Changing of Seasons

This fall has become a blur of events many of which are still keeping us busy. The farm is still much alive and running as we are finishing up harvesting the fall crops of sorghum (milo) and soybeans. As well as harvesting we are preparing for the next year's wheat crop, with sowing our winter wheat into the fields. While the farm keeps on rolling the cattle part of the operation is in full swing. We are getting ready for this upcoming winter season. This is the time where we are getting our cows off of the summer pastures on which some have calved on (fall cows). Our cows are usually very hungry for some candy when we go to bring them home or to just check on them (cubes or cake is what we call it). Soon the cows from our pastures will be filling our pens, winter pastures, and wheat pastures. Once the cows and calves are at home we will vaccinate them with boosters as well as working the calves giving them similar vaccinations and preparing them for the possible harsh winter that might be coming.
This weekend Mark and Warren also have been prepping some heifers for next years calving season. They will be artificially inseminating them with the semen finishing up this week. We do this so that we can select bulls who have a different genetic line than the ones that we have on our farms. There are many pros and cons to artificial insemination such as, selection of sire, breed, and birth type (new sexing semen) but as well as cons being more processing time, veterinarian costs, and lower conception rates.
            This past week the weather has been great…up until Saturday it was WINDY! The family gathered up to catch some cows and bring them home. It isn’t always fun and games though, the wind made choring a real pain…dust flying everywhere and there wasn’t a thing you could do about it. Although the weather changes around the farm we continue to work. Sometimes the weather is unpredictable such as today. We began the day with sunshine and a few clouds, and the day turned into a rainy and windy day. The rain came as a welcome sign as we have been dry throughout the entire summer; this makes us able to start to play catch up.
            Well hope all is well with you and yours. I will try and keep the blog up to date…more than I have been! We did feel the earthquake from Oklahoma, nothing really happened except some vibrations, glad we don’t have those more often.