The sand mixing with snow shows how dry it is and how little snow we've received.
I've been snowed the last few days. Sunday, Grandma tripped in church and cracked her pelvis. Today, we heard from her Dr. no surgery was required but a lengthy stay in the hospital/rehab before she can live at home. At the same time, Liz caught the influenza bug and was down during the same time. So, I'm doing double duty somewhat for two right now.
Jan 19, a quick word about the weather.
Seems like the storm moving in is looking a little bit stronger. Forecasters are a little unsure how much snow will fall due to temps. That MIGHT mean more rain/drizzle on the south end. About the last 3 storm systems to move through Kansas have traveled right through the center of the state. To get good rains/snow for central Kansas, one needs the low center to travel east to west through northern Oklahoma. In the spring time, you can get isolated heavy rains here when the upper low is in Nebraska but the jackpot storm is the north Ok. storm. Models tonight show another storm traversing Kansas in a week so keep hoping for a more southern track. PS. A storm can be too far south also (northern Texas southern OK.) and miss us for precip. For now, with the current storm, people living close and north of highway 24 have the best chance for meaningful precip. although models show a dip in the precip through Concordia almost down to Salina. We'll see how this plays out.
Jan 25, big warmup.
The high temp today was just below 70 with a stout southerly wind. It was a Red Flag day but our area had no wildfires. The ice has just about melted on the ponds and the snow/rain we got on Monday has all evaporated. We took advantage of the warmness and worked my two pastures (around 90 pairs) of fall born pairs. We'll do Grandma's fall pairs Saturday. Extra time has been spent with Grandma as she developed a blood clot in her leg while starting rehab on her cracked pelvis. As for weather, after looking at several things in the week to 2 week future, It looks like a cool down is in store. The precip. looks to be in the normal to just above normal area for this time of the year. Seems to me as dry as it is, the preciup will struggle as it has the last several months. Sooner or later though, we will get bulls eyed by a storm that has the right strength, the right moisture load, the right path, and the right speed to hit the jackpot of precip we need so badly. This seems to happen on a storm that at first, doesn't look so good, "hiccups", then produces. If the pattern continues, then the precip door remains open and good moisture falls. Hope it happens soon.
Feb. 3, weather at a glance.
Lately the weather pattern has fallen into it's same old theme. A Hudson bay low pinwheeling around in Canada and a ridge off/along the west coast of the USA. These two highlighters give us strong northwest winds aloft which passes cold fronts through every 2 to 3 days and will put a cooling trend for Kansas and basically dry. This pattern is maintained by a base state La Nina with the MJO at strong levels. The MJO has to move to a more favorable place to change this but the dryness seems to persist well into Feb. On the farm, we will start calving heifers soon then our older cows around the first of March.
Feb. 12, warm for a few days.
I caught the stomach flu and now am just getting over it. Also I've been busy with Grandma as she transitions from rehab in Salina back to her home. In between, Jeremy and I have done some cattle moving. The weather has been cold and mostly dry---just a few places in the state has received more than 2" of snow. We got to around 50 degrees last Wed. then struggled to best 30 for a few days (lows in the low teens to single digits). The forecast is for increasing temps till Thursday when we go below normal a couple of days. The GFS model shows a large trough moving into the southwest US. This may portend a pattern change. Even now the ridge around the west coast has moved out into the Pacific. The Hudson bay low moves a little more east. Some forecasters are picking up on this but it is still 7-8 days out. Supporting this is the CPC 6-10 day outlook and the 8-14 day outlook. Both outlooks show cooler than average with precip. increasing to above normal at the 8-14 outlook. The MJO is still strong but decreasing in intensity. So---maybe by the end of the month Kansas could start getting beneficial precip. We shall see.
Feb. 16, a life changing event.
I haven't posted anything for a while since on this date we got a call from KU Med. with a liver transplant offer. The call came in at 6 am. and we had 5 minutes to deliberate whether to accept or not. The timing was right for me with farm work so we accepted, grabbed things and was on the road at 7. My meld score had been updated 5 days before and increased to a 20. Boom! We got the call. Time was critical and we drove into the Kansas City campus at 9:30, the fastest I've ever gone to KC. By 11 am. I was in surgery. 21 days after surgery, I'm at home (March 7). After being on the transplant list for better than a year (low meld score) I'm starting a new phase with my life. I've still got 3 to 4 weeks of recovery before getting back into the swing of things (Farming) and will take anti rejection drugs the rest of my life. (Though not as much as I'm taking now.) My almost miraculous recovery is due to the prayers of many as well as that I wasn't real sick going into surgery. Many liver transplant people cant even walk into the hospital pre transplant time. I'm so blessed. Please sign your donor card and give someone the chance at extended life. You can extend your legacy.
March 17, maybe rain?
A strong low pressure system is going to move through the area tomorrow (Sun.). The track of the storm is favorable for rain here in central Kansas. The two downfalls of this is that the storm environment will be moisture starved, and the storm itself is moving pretty fast. (not a sustained precip event. The good factors are the favorable track, and good wind shear/instability aloft. We should get some rain, but not inches of rain.
PS to the March 17 post.
We got around .3" out of this storm with a little radar return showing over us again. The surface low was 25 miles too far south. Just south of our area down to Rice county got a lot more rain. (Up to 4") Still, it's RAIN! I fertilized my wheat a few days ago so this rain will activate that. As for my health, my recent blood work is normal so the new liver is working. Today the home Dr. removed the last of my staples holding the surgery cuts. That area is sore but slowly getting better. Today, I pressed my weight lifting limits a little so will lay low and watch the weather channel this evening. The cattle were restless today with the rain and snow falling. This was what caused me to work harder than usual to feed them well. In a couple of days, we need to start moving some cattle around getting ready for spring. High forecasted temps. for the end of the week will be around 75.
March 22, a little bump in the road.
Yesterday and the night before I really felt bad, like I was getting the stomach flu. By yesterday afternoon I was better. With the recent transplant, one never knows what's going on but I radically switched diet after seeing my GP Dr. and the only blood test that's low---magnesium. Upon feeling bad, I cut the greens I'd been eating so I don't know if that was it or I caught a passing bug last Sunday in town. That's the curse of anti rejection drugs---low immunity when being around people. That's a balancing act I'll have to figure out. Otherwise my surgery cuts are healing slowly and it seems it will be another week~ before that heals up solid. On the farm, we're about 1/2 done spring calving. We are moving some initial groups of cows/calves around to get ready to go to summer pasture the end of next month. We got a lot of field work to do and I'll start on that in another week after the surgery cuts heal tighter. Love the rain we got last week and there are prospects for more off and on this next week. Hope so.
March 31, the state of Ag. in central Kansas.
We keep missing out on the rain chances. Showers all around---mainly east of us though. Thank God we got the rain a couple of weeks ago. I am some amazed how the wheat has responded to the rain we got. Although not bin buster stands, for the most part, the ground is covered with a fair stand. An inch of rain, then 70 temps for a week would do wonders for the wheat and pastures. Cattle have April-it is---the grass IS greener on the other side of the fence. With continued cool to cold temps the cattle want multiple bales of premium alfalfa and cubes or they smash the fence and go to any green they can find. I'm continually fixing fence. In-between-times we have gotten over lots of spring farm ground with the chizzle and disc. Well, April is here. Only 28 days of feeding cattle. I can start the countdown to freedom of feeding cattle day. What we need is rain and warm temps. Warmth really won't come until the end of next week at the earliest. I am ready for some global warming. As for my transplant recovery. Each day gets me a little bit better. The outside incision is healed but inside underneath still hurts. Even with this, the blood tests show the new liver working fine. It's really weird to have all my liver function numbers in normal range for the first time since the 1980s! Again, I'm so blessed.
April 5, what's going on, on the farm, a pictorial.
While feeding cattle, I brought the camera along to catch images of Ag.
Due to the extreme cold weather for late march/early April, we've fed more hay than usual. This pic. shows one of the dwindling hay piles.
We are still getting spring born calves. This picture is of a pair where the calf was born yesterday.
A cow's view of Heaven and Hell. Hell is the brown grass pasture they reside in. Heaven is the greened up wheat field adjacent. Only 5 strands of barbed wire separates Heaven from Hell. Hummm.
Picture of a spring fed pond. Still pretty full yet. Run off water ponds are a lot lower showing the effects from the drought.
Cows feeding on a bale I just rolled out for them. Again, due to cold weather lately we are feeding more hay than usual.
Picture of greening brome grass in the road ditch. Cows and calves reach through the fence to grab a mouth full. A 400# calf or a 1200# cow is more than a match for a strand or two of barbed wire. Through the fence they go.
Another Heaven and Hell picture. Only this time the green side is alfalfa.
Picture of my woodpile. The cold weather means extra wood must be added constantly to heat the house. Todays high temp was 74. Tomorrows high forecasted at 38. Tomorrow night's low is forecasted at 14!
April 7, cold, snow/sleet.
It snowed and sleeted last night. About 1/2" on the ground this morning. 7 am. temp this morning was 15. Thank goodness our winter wheat is behind growth so normally we would loose our wheat crop at this time of the year but not this time. We get a little precip progged in the forecast for the next couple of days with a continued warm up. Big storm moves through next Friday according to the model but we get dry-slotted with no precip. Hope this storm's path changes in the next several days as models are not written in stone this far out (week). We are getting into a time where we process cattle for summer pasture. Work load picks up. That's tough as I keep over doing, working on the farm. I've strained my surgery incisions inside and hurt a lot. I've tried to lay low for the last few days so the surgery area can heal and solidify. It's hard to not work when one feels so good. My new liver is working fine according to the weekly tests.
April 14, snowing and blowing.
After several days of 60-80 temps., I woke up to snow on the farm. We moved up working a pasture of cattle to yesterday to miss this storm. Pictures as I fed cattle below.
As I did morning chores, I snapped a pic of our tulips sticking out of the snow.
Quizno is laying on the driveway with snow collected on one side of his body from the horizontal falling snow.
I pull out on the road to the pasture to feed cattle and find visibility to 3/4 mile due to falling snow and some haze. After having warm days before, the ground is warm enough to melt snow on the bare ground. Grassy areas accumulated snow easier.
Tried to feed hay to the cattle in protected areas from the wind. The temp. is around 28, and wind around 30.
I rolled out wheat straw bales for the baby calves to lay on. Here, they piled on the dry straw right after I rolled it out.
Snow about covers the vegetative parts of the crops but little needed moisture is occurring. This alfalfa field needs moisture in large quanities.
The snow has covered the meager areas of green pasture grass. More hay needed.
The wild sand plums are beginning to flower. It's too cold. No wild plum jelly next summer.
Drone picture of us working cattle yesterday at the pasture pens. Much better day yesterday weather wise.
April 15, still cold.
Tonight's low temp is supposed to get down to record levels. Don't know how much damage the wheat crop has sustained. No grass in the pastures either due to drought and cold. Picture below shows a telling tale. The trees have not begun to leaf out yet and it's the middle of April. Whow!
April 21, a miss.
The much bally-hoed chance for meaningful rain for us failed to materialize. The models started out a week ago, (all together) bulls eyeing central Kansas with up to 2" of rain. Then the models 4 days ago shifted the track to the south which was not good. Two days ago the storm track shifted back north a bit, but not enough. The track was 35 miles too far south with the 1" total. We got around .20". So the drought continues to almost the catastrophic range. There is little greening in the pastures for cattle to eat and wild fire danger continues any time the wind blows. The wheat looks steam-rolled by several record freezing events with little moisture left. I haven't really seen conditions like this at this time before---we're in uncharted waters.
April 22, wrap-a-round assist by Mom Nature.
After getting .20" of warm advection rains, I thought the precip was over. The models showed diffuse returns over us but nothing definite. Then the upper part of the low moved through with wrap a round precip yesterday afternoon/evening. We got around another .30" for a storm total of around .50". Now, there is enough rain for the pasture grass to grow some and will help the wheat (if still viable) and alfalfa. It's funny to be giddy over 1/2 an inch of rain but in a catastrophic drought it's cool to see water puddles in the low spots.
April 28, processing cattle to go to summer pasture.
We finished up working most of my cattle and hauling them to summer pasture. I took my camera along and snapped some pictures as we worked through the day.
Going out to gather cattle and bring them in to the corral for processing.
Cows and calves are now gathered into the barn lot.
Now the cows and calves are separated in different pens prior to getting their shots and parasite control.
Releasing the last two pairs from the stock trailer to pasture. Freedom from feeding cattle day.
Pictures from May 11.
In route to help neighbors work cattle, I took this typical picture of scant water in run-off ponds. We got .75" a week ago but nothing this week. So far, it just can't rain much during our rainy season. I'm thinking more that we will be hauling water to our cattle by mid summer.
Picture of Doug and Jeremy getting ready to work the calves while Virginia finishes up paper work on the cows we just ran through the chute.
We are letting the calves mingle with and find their mothers before letting them out to summer pasture.
This baby calf found it's mother. Ready to go to pasture.
I finished planting a field of soybeans in the afternoon. Here, I was returning with a few bags of seed to finish this field. Planting deep to try to hit moisture.
Picture of my wheat heading. Note that this field is pretty uneven, a usual occurrence for wheat this spring. I have some fields of good wheat stands and other fields that are THIN. Yesterday I checked a head and found live berries, thus little freeze damage.
I checked cattle in my Saline county rental at sunset. This pasture is across the road from the bomb range headquarters.
May 18,and then there was rain.
We got 1.2" of rain last night from multiple storms that moved through. This is the first time it's rained more than an inch since last October. There is a chance for more today and tonight as well as more chances early to mid next week. I'd love to get another inch on top of this one today to start "mining" some soil moisture as well as getting a little run-off into our low ponds. Now, wheat will fill grain in the heads and the alfalfa will start growing again (it got to around 3/4 height and had quit growing). My soybeans are planted and will benefit from this soaking. Most of our forage sorghum is planted also. I needed this rain for the milo ground. There should be another flush of weeds to come up which I will till out before planting milo. I can switch farming emphasis now for a day or two from planting crops and doing cattle work to clearing musk thistle in pastures and equipment maintenance. I know I'm making a big deal out of a paltry inch of rain. When one is in Ag. and in a severe drought, any rain is a monetary gift.
June 6, catching up on Ag.
Time flies and I've been very busy on the farm. I'm within one field of finishing the first cutting of alfalfa. Bale total on this first cutting is around 60% of usual. All the milo and soybeans are planted and are up. It's turned very dry again, (even after hail and .60" rain last week. We miss close rains more often than getting wet. When one gets one rain every 2 weeks with no subsoil moisture there are no lasting effects on crops and pastures and ponds. Pastures are green but very short, kinda crunchy when you walk on them now. With daily temps in the mid 90s, the wheat has matured very fast. With all the cold in April holding the wheat plants back, I figured harvest to start the 20th of June. Then watching the crop turn, I figured harvest on the 15th. Now, I'm sure "some" test cutting will begin west of Salina in 3 days! Although this crop has used up some of it's 9 lives due to extreme drought, freezes, heat and hail, the later planted wheat caught enough rain in May to still have a fair yield potential. Especially the variety, Monument, planted after soybean harvest looks really good yet, (extreme heat non withstanding). All early planted wheat is short and thin, but the heads are large but with shriveled berries. At current pace, I think we'll try cutting in about a week. In my farming career, I've only seen one year similar to this one. We were hauling water to cows in August on that one.
Hauling the last bales off a alfalfa field. Drought and cold cut yield by 40%.
Another chore to do is killing musk thistle. I found these plants just maturing but not shedding seeds yet.
While looking for and digging musk thistle, some of my fall cow pairs came up looking for a free handout. Pasture grass is green but short.
Picture just west of Salina of drought stressed wheat that is almost ripe. This picture was taken in May!
Picture of dry forage sorghum that's some weedy. It rains, the crop greens up and grows for 3 days then uses up the available soil moisture and just folds leaves and waits for the next shower. That's how this spring is going.
June 9, You know it's dry when-----?
I'm finishing up baling the first cutting of alfalfa today. It's been dry enough that I bale just after sunrise (when the highest humidity occurs) to keep leaves not to fall off racking or baling. The last couple of days its so dry that the alfalfa leaves shatter off in the early morning anyway. I awoke to thunder at 6 am. this morning and we got a "light" shower. I was baling 4 hours after the shower quit. Just enough moisture to stick things together then 2 hours of sun to dry excess wetness and baling was perfect. I am now done with the first cutting. Usually rain is the hay-mans worst nightmare but not so much this spring. I hear reports of test cutting around the area. This activity should increase through the weekend and go full bore the middle of next week. As to my recent transplant, blood tests have prompted the Dr. to reduce somewhat, my anti-rejection drugs as well as sending blood samples every two weeks instead of every week. Farming emphasis is centered in combine prep as harvest nears.
June 10, HOT!
Going home from church this afternoon the car thermometer showed 103. Wind up to 25 mph. Wheat will ripen fast. Saw a few machines cutting west of Salina as we went home. I checked wheat again this evening. Still a lot of green in the good yielding fields I checked although with this heat the grain will shrivel. I found a couple fields that I might test tomorrow afternoon. I really need to haul some bushels to the elevator so I can pay due spring bills. So, I don't need rain to do that but we desperately need rain for this drought. It's really getting dry.
June 11, first day of harvest.
The temp rose to 103 today, with a south wind around 15 mph. We worked on combines all morning and headers into the afternoon. There was nasty humidity also. At around 3 pm., I took the combine to two fields and cut two samples to take to the elevator. The moisture was 11.1 on one and 11.5 on the other. There were green berries in both samples but it was still dry. Test weight was 58 and 59 #. A line of storms "tried" to form over us but we got only a few sprinkles then the storm died and we kept cutting with two machines. We cut 36 acres and got 2 truck loads. We quit cutting an hour before sunset as our neighbor called that cattle was out and we tended to that till dark. Storms have now formed in ernest south of us and moving away, a usual occurrence.
Evening forming thunder clouds forming looking south. No rain from them for us.
Tuesday June, 12. Second day of harvest.
Today began cloudy and very humid. I had "Grandma" duties today and in-be-tween times I dumped my first load to the elevator as did Jeremy with Grandma's load. My load tested 13.8 moisture at 59.5 weight. Jeremy's load was 12.4 at 61+test weight. I figured moisture problems would be high so we didn't cut till late afternoon when some sun shone for a while. Jeremy cut a load off of another two fields on Grandma's while I started on my home place. After cutting my first 3.5 acres, the feeder chain drum froze and shucked the keys holding the chain together. The chain came apart, spewed out on the header platform. It was too late to go for parts so my cutting was done this day. Tomorrow could be cloudy and there are lots of green heads in the fields yet so we will be hunting and pecking for dry grain in the fields. A slow day.
June 13, third day of harvest.
The weather was very cloudy and humid. We spent all morning and part of the afternoon getting parts and repairing my combine. The sun started to break out around 2ish. We went out to the field around 4ish, me, to cut on my home place and Jeremy to test a sample on one of his fields. He called back that his field tested 15.3---too wet. While I finished up my small acreage on the home place, Jeremy searched for a "dry" field. He claimed to find dry wheat on one of my farms, moved his machine there and began cutting. I followed and it was apparent to me that part of this field was too wet also. We "patched" out hopefully dry parts of this field, cut a truck load and quit as humidity came up just before sun down. Tomorrow, at the elevator, will tell the wetness tale.
June 14, a good day.
This morning started with full sun and a southwest wind at 25 which mixed out the dew points to 59 in the afternoon. Otherwise DRY! After dumping loads that were all dry, we started cutting around 10:30 am. Temp. rose to 103 by 2 pm. and moisture in the wheat was no problem thereafter. We cut a grain cart load of "seed" wheat off my farm then finished off 60% of that farm (one of my better yielders). We then cut off a field co-farmed by Jeremy and I, then finished off Grandmas home place. We finished another Jeremy rental an hour before sunset and called it an evening. Acres cut=around 70, moisture in the afternoon=10%, yield ranged from around 24 to 42 bu/acre.
Picture taken before start of cutting this day.
As I start to go to cutting wheat, I snapped this picture of Jeremy fueling Grandma's combine.
I tried to show the short wheat and stubble. Most of the time when cutting, you set the platform head on the ground, then bump it up just off the ground and cut.
Action picture of Jeremy and I dumping our loads in the grain cart. This wheat will be used for planting the fall wheat crop.
Jeremy's drone picture of me starting the first round of the morning.
Friday June 15, steady as she goes.
We started cutting later than usual today. Todays high was 101 with a 30 mph south wind. Climbing up and down combine ladders the last few days, carrying misc. stuff while we serviced combines and cut wheat has caught up with me today. All areas of my surgery incisions hurt, so I'm wearing my "flack jacket" and backing off today. We did move to another Jeremy rental and cut it off then moved back to my partially cut farm and finished it at sunset. Jeremy's wheat was hail damaged and not too good. My patches we cut this evening was some of the best we've cut. To say the least, all trucks, grain cart, and combine bins are full tonight. Acres cut=around 56 acres. Yield= from 20 to 55 bu/acre. Moisture of grain=dry.
June 16, 5th day of harvest.
After dumping last night's loads, we started cutting on my next-to-the-last farm this morning. Things went sporatic as Jeremy had hydraulic line leaks and sickle bearing problems with Grandma's combine. We finally used expanda-foam on my combine radiator area preventing the constant plugging of the radiator. High temp today was 99 with wind south at 30. Morning dews dropped from 65 in the morning to 59 in the afternoon. Wheat cutting weather. We finished in the afternoon and Jeremy checked his last rental---it was too green yet. So, we moved to my last farm and cut a truck load plus 2 dumps in the grain cart of Monument variety for seed for next season. Acres cut = around 47 acres. Yield = around 47 bu. per acre. Moisture=very dry. I'm down to 29 acres to cut and Jeremy has one farm to go and Grandma has one farm to go in Saline county. Then we're done.
Sunday June 17, a short day.
Due to church commitments today, by the time I emptied trucks, it was late afternoon before we started cutting. Jeremy re-bearinged grandma's combine sickle drive. Due to a more northern movement of an incoming low pressure system, temps were back to 100 with increasing dews (67) and south winds at 25. We did finish my last farm this evening. We'll move to Grandma's Saline county ground tomorrow then last, Jeremy's Lincoln rental that is to green. Can't wait to get wrapped up but the end is in sight. Acres cut=29, yield= close to 50 probably 48 bu/acre. Grain moisture is very dry. Forecast is for scattered rain Tue-Thursday and cooler. We need tons of rain as future prospects for the farm looks bleak. I'll be hauling water to cattle in one week as is.
June 18 7th day of harvest. Nagging issues slow harvest.
Lets see. A list of what went wrong today. First, I had to give blood tests this morning for KU Med. Then I paid some June 15 due bills on the 18th. We wanted to move to Grandma's Saline county ground. The header trailer had a flat, no spare. The other header trailer almost broke in half. Grandma's combine had a dead battery. Then, mid afternoon, a stray shower passed through the Saline county ground and we had to wait an hour for the sun to dry the wheat heads out. Last year's floods destroyed the creek crossing and we had to bring the skidder over to repair before crossing to cut. We finally got to cutting and finished at sundown. Now only one farm to go. Acres cut=39, yield = around 25, moisture=don't know yet till we haul to the elevator.
Tuesday June 19, harvest over.
Moved from Saline county to Jeremy's last rental in Lincoln county. Problems= burst hose on my combine, went to Salina to fix it. Flat on rear tire of my combine, grabbed a tire off the old junker combine and got by. We finished cutting around sunset as storms tried to move in. Acres cut=70. Yield= 20 bu per acre. (more drought and hail damage). Moisture=12.8. No rain fell only cooler air came in.
June 20, it did finally rain.
We got .90" on a second line of storms during the night. Now, we need to keep getting rain on top of this to have a lasting effect. There is more rain forecasted in the near future.
June 26, rain keeps trying.
The much forecasted chances of rain for last weekend came with a whimper---until today. Saturday, we only got .25". Monday, we got .25". Not much there to dent a drought after inches of rain that was forecasted. Very depressing. Yesterday, I swathed 3 fields of alfalfa due to Wed. through Friday forecast of 100 degree temps. Then, overnight, it thundered (grass got wet). Forecasters claimed today, as we transitioned from cool temps we've been having, to warm temps. (warm advection), scattered storms could result in the morning. That exactly happened. A storm popped up just west of us and for once, moved directly over bringing .70"! .70" is lots better than .25" and will green us up in the crops and pastures for a few days. There seems to be a chance of rain for next weekend too. If I'd only known---I'd cut alfalfa earlier.