July 1, 2007. WE ARE GRANDPARENTS FOR THE FIRST TIME !!!
Liz and I are happy to announce the birth of our first grandchild, Elizabeth Jane Fisher. Our precious grandchild came into this world just before 3 pm today weighing 7lbs. 1 ounce and measuring 19 inches, courtesy of James and Mary Fisher.
Mary and Lizzie
Grandpa and Lizzie
First picture together with both Grandma and Grandpa
Pre Christmas rain.
I haven't posted much lately since I've been working with my server to archive 2006 pages and start all over for 07. Need to start posting things before I forget what's happened. We were blessed with almost 2+ inches of slow soaking rains just before Christmas. The system did not have much cold air with it so it didn't freeze and made things very muddy and hard to get around feeding cattle. It takes all morning to around 1 pm to finish feeding cattle and with the short days leaves not much time to work on other projects. The main project we have going is rebuilding the sorting pens at "Grandmas" place and we work on it as time allows. Will post a picture or two later. I also purchased a used tractor in December which will become my primary tillage tractor and use my other large tractor on the swather and 30' great plains drill. This new tractor will help out my tax situation for 06 as well as providing 75 extra horsepower for heavy tillage. This also took some of my time in December to nail down the "deal" with this purchase.
December29-30. More rain and some snow on the farm.
We got 1.75" rain then 6" of snow from the huge year's end storm that devestated western Kansas and eastern Colorado. We were just drying up from the rain that fell the week before when this storm hit. Now things are muddy all over again! This moisture accumulation will really help the wheat and pastures next spring as most was soaked up in the soil and did run some water in the creeks and ponds. How different the weather has been compared to a year ago, its WET! Again there was not much cold air with this system and the snow melted fairly rapidly but very muddy!
Jan. 14, 07. Artic plunge arrives in central Kansas.
The long predicted cold air snap arrived the weekend of the 14 with an inch of sleet/snow/freezing rain making for slippery driving. Temperatures have stayed in the teens for high and lows throughout the period with our first sub-zero lows expected Tue. am (Jan. 16). All the wet weather the past 3 weeks or so have taken it's toll on our feeding trucks as we have to bring more feed to the cattle to try to keep up their body condition due to cool then cold/wet weather. Here are some of the repairs done in the last 3 weeks. Slave cylinder to clutch and ball joints replaced on '91 pellet truck---wires and shifting module, then broken tie-rod end on the "01 bale feeding truck----2nd gear in transmission replaced as well as 4x4 transfer box, then front right axle replaced on 2000 bale feeder truck. Yes, driving in deep mud and frozen ruts takes it's toll! Still I'm thankful that we didn't have an ice storm like what happened west and south of us from the last two storms. Before this artic outbreak we cut 6 pickup loads of fire wood to supply the 3 outdoor wood burning furnaces at "grandma's", Jeremy's and here at home. Thankfully it dried just enough for us to get back in the creeks to cut dead timber for firewood. When it's cold we burn an average around two pickup loads a week.
Muddy roads from pre-Christmas storm.
More mud from second storm.
Snow and water from New Year's Eve storm.
Snow drift north of house after 6 inches fell.
Cattle eating alfalfa hay in pasture.
Jan. 19, Working fall cows and calves.
I got my fall cows and calves worked this day picking the warmest day so far this week. Liz, Jeremy, cousin Mark and I did the vaccinations, retagging, de-worming and sorting around 65 cow/calf pairs. I pulled out 9 dry cows and one injured bull and transported them to the sale barn and new pasture. We got this job wrapped up in 4 hours. I was glad to find reasonable weather this day to get this job done.
Jan.21, A nice snow.
We recieved 6.5 inches of wet snow yesterday with no wind to blow it around. Temps. were in the high 20s so no bitter cold with this one. It seems to continue a winter pattern that is wetter than what we've had for many years. Hope that we will drive the stake in the chest of the drought that has been pestering us for a few years---at least I hope so. This has forced me to feed more hay to the cattle than I have been used to, mostly straw and "rough" hay to supplement for the snow covered grass in the pastures. If this winter trend continues, there won't be much hay bales left in the spring---I'm glad that I carried over alfalfa from last year and baled more wheat straw so won't have to cull cows for the lack of feed.
The main hay pile.
Part of the new fence project at "Grandma's".
Feb. 6, one day of spring after all that cold.
The long awaited forecast of warmth came into being today after a week of not reaching the freezing level. I took advantage of the nice weather and worked "grandma's" fall born pairs today. We "processed" 100 cows and 88 calves through the chute with cousins Mark and Brent and niece Tammy as well as a friend of Jeremy's came and helped with the "processing". It got into the 60's during the afternoon. I worked in my shirt sleeves---sure felt good! With all the cold weather we have had two extra time consuming jobs to do. One is chopping pond ice daily for cattle to drink and the other is fighting to remove strings that are frozen into the big round bales by melting snow. Sometimes I have to use the ax to break loose the twine from the bales!! The weather is already ushering in another artic blast tonight (Tue.) and forecasted temps are below 32 for most of the next 7 days. Brrr! Our next project is moving spring calving cows closer to home for spring calving. This way we can check them easier as they should start dropping calves in about a week from now. We usually reach peak calving the first week of March. Other projects are cutting firewood and fertilizing wheat. Just revelled in the warm temps of today, knowing more will come as the days are noticably longer now, (it is still light at 6:30 in the evening). Most all snow here is melted so cattle can go out and graze with out me feeding them "extra coarse" hay to supplement for the snow covered grass we've had off and on for the last month or so.
First calf born in 07, spring calving has begun.
Moving cattle closer to home for spring calving.
Feb. 13, more rain--snow, mud and cold!
Yesterday we received 1" of rain then 2" of snow last night. Due to frozen ground most of the rain ran off into the ditches, streams and ponds. Today the wind is howling and it is 18 degrees--tough on the cattle that are calving. We did get a baby during the night at "grandma's" but the mother "nested up" in some tall weeds out the wind and the baby was fine. When it warms up as expected next week (yeah!) there will be a colossal amount of mud to drive through to feed cattle. What a difference a year makes in the weather!
March is finally here!
March 1, is a milestone that I use and look forward to. It's 60 days until cattle go to pasture---a time that I can count the bales in the bale piles and divide by 60 and see what I will have left over, knowing that the chances of heavy snow covering the grass and requiring more hay to be fed decreases a lot. Spring calving is in full gear now, and will peak around March 10th. I will make some preliminary cattle moves next week as well as pulling bulls out of some of the fall calving pastures. Due to the wet fields, we haven't been able to fertilize wheat ground, or prepare a field or two for oat planting. Next week (March 5th) the weather is supposed to warm up and dry out so we should be able to start field and cattle work. We need to start going around summer pasture fences, getting them fixed before turning out cattle around May 1. So you see, the tempo on the farm is starting to pick up.
March 13, spring calving is in full swing.
It is the middle of March and we are reaching the midway point on spring calving. Mom's calf count is around 40 and mine is around 28. We're averaging about 4 to 6 calves a day. It rained a half an inch last Sunday so things are drying out again. Today's temps. were in the mid 70's and expect upper 70's tomorrow before a cool down at week's end. I will try to get into the fields to prepare some ground for oats planting,(only 3 weeks late due to wet ground). Friday, Jeremy leaves for a week of mission work in New Orleans so I will do all the feeding and cattle care and field work. Calving should be trending down by the time he gets back but there will be a tractor or two for him to work on to get ready for spring tillage. Forecast is for potentially wet conditions a couple of weeks down the road so need to get some field work done in these short dry periods.
April 1, Wet on the farm.
We received 4" of rain the last week of March which makes us in very good shape for pond water and moisture for crops and pastures. Our largest pond a mile north of home is finally full. The last time it was full I think was the year 2000!!! Anyway, we went from bust to boom, ie drought to almost surplus moisture. Most of March has had above normal temps, which has accelerated wheat and pasture grass growth. Our wheat here in central Kansas looks about as good as it has ever been at this time of the year! Ditto the alfalfa except the warm temps hatched out the alfalfa weevil larva and they devestated much of the alfalfa before we could spray due to rain and wet grounds preventing spray machinery from travel on the fields. There was a dry week in the middle of the month that I took advantage of and got a lot of spring ground chiseled or disked. The first week of April will be hectic for me. Monday, I take my pickup in for a transmission seal repair and cordinating the rest of the alfalfa spraying. Tuesday, is fence fixing, feeding and prefeeding for Wed. absence as well as church meeting in the evening. Wednesday, I purchase bulls for Mom, myself and Miller Trust, at the Beloit bull test sale as well as choir practice in the evening. Thursday, involved in special church service in the evening. Sunday, has Easter festivities. We will start to move cattle to summer pasture beginning April 15, and continue till May 1. I really start counting down days to "freedom of feeding cattle", the first of April---30 days or less!! Yeah! Fixing fence and working and hauling cattle will be the emphasis this month as well as overhauling the transmission on our loader tractor, will keep us plenty busy.
Final pond to fill up in home area----the last time it was full was 2000.
April 5, snow and cold on the farm.
An artic front moved across central Kansas April 4, through April 6, with 7" of snow falling on the farm April 5. Now the cold will really become entrenched! Due to a very warm March, the wheat has grown ahead of normal to the point that it is very succeptible to freeze damage. The only saving grace is the snow, now covering the wheat for the most part. If it melts this afternoon through tomorrow afternoon then we'll lose our entire wheat crop for this year as lows tonight and tomorrow night will drop to 17 as skies clear. This is shaping up for a disaster of sorts as we will lose late spring income and will try to hang on finantially till August when we sell cattle. Imagine that at your job, your employer stopped paying your wages for $30,000 til August and you will know what we on the farm are facing with this cold snap! It really hurts since we have a beautiful wheat crop in the making--probably a near record yield with all the moisture in place this year. Well, time will tell.
Calf born in snow/mud getting a "warming" on kitchen floor!
April 9, cold temperature readings.
We received very cold night time lows after the snowfall Thursday, April 5. Saturday morning low temperature was 19, (April 7), and Easter Sunday the low was 23. These record low temps really "smoked" the tender green vegatation including alfalfa and wheat fields! At least some of the taller wheat is laying down today, (Sunday). I don't know whether this is due to the freeze,or the weight of the snow that was piled on the wheat. It looks probable that serious damage was done to the wheat but we will have to wait at least a few days to maybe 2 weeks to tell if a percentage was damaged or it was a total loss. The pasture grass was was delt a setback too which means we will have to feed more again---just as we were lightning up on the hay we were feeding. A slow warmup is slated for the upcoming week as temps struggle back to almost normal readings for mid April.
Missed the Big One!.
April 14, We just missed the forecasted 12" snow yesterday as the low moved past a little farther south. We did receive 1.50" of rain and it is V E R Y soggy. I was going to work a pasture of cattle today, (the 14th) but that will be nigh impossible, so will try to pick that up during a dry time this next week as we work "Grandma's" spring calving bunch next Saturday. (April 21). The cattle are very agitated since the freeze burned what grass was there was and a cold rain is worse than 12" of snow because the hay that is fed gets "walked into the mud" as the cattle feed on it. Forecast now is for "normal" temps for next week and I am ready for warm and dry!
Wheat crop for 2007----GONE!
April 18, I was moving cattle when I met my cousin fixing fence along one of my wheat fields. He had the county agent look at his wheat and we looked at my field to compare what they had found at my cousin's fields. We found all large wheat stems had a white head, which was dead, as I had expected. I had always hoped that the late emerging tillers would not have been affected by the very cold temps we had and would make some yield for us. Looking at several of the late "emergers" indicated that the very top of those shoots were brown or white meaning the parts of the plant below were dead. So we really didn't find any plants that would make a live wheat head. The only positive thing we saw was a tiller or two starting to grow upward from the root, not even emerging above ground yet, which is late and has a poor chance to make a yield. This is a real disaster of sorts for us as I posted earlier, we have lost substantial income now and will have to wait till August to recive our next income. I had always hoped there would be some yield so 1) I could get some cash income, 2) I could get some seed for next fall's planting, 3) get some wheat to cover my forward contracts with the elevators. Now I will have to decide what to do with this situation. I will probably plant some milo, beans, and forage cane into some of the destroyed wheat but will probably leave a lot of wheat as is so to not get out of "sync" with my cropping rotation. I may cut some of the wheat for hay also. Just bummed about all this since we had one of the best crops in years in the making. Well, we survived the worst drought in my lifetime last year, we'll have to dig in and try to survive this latest "prank" from the weather.
Picture of freeze damaged wheat with freeze defoliated trees in background, no green at the end of April.
April 29, freedom from feeding cattle day.
I hauled the last load of cattle to summer pasture this morning, so no more feeding cattle every day, yeah! We've been very busy the last half of this week prossessing and "pairing" mom's, mine, and the Miller trust cows and calves. My roommate from Fort Hays college days came last Wed. night to help with all the activities. We worked hard, especially Saturday, getting in at 9:45 pm from a long hot day working and hauling cattle. At least this year we have water in the ponds and grass that will produce good grazing from all the winter/spring moisture we've received. All we need now, is a little heat which we've had the last two days to make the grass grow.
As for the freeze damage to the wheat, I have found "some" green/live stems in the fields! It seems that the first planted wheat got hurt the worst, (maybe around 15-20% stand) to wheat I planted 2--3 weeks later, (maybe around 30% of the original stand). Bottom line is that we'll get some yield, not much, but maybe enough to scrape by without borrowing "operating" cash for the summer. I at least, have a better feeling about "getting by" this year finantially than I did a couple of weeks ago. Upcoming activities are helping the neighbors get their cattle to pasture then finish spring farm-ground tillage before planting soybeans and milo around the middle of May through June as well as cutting freeze shortened alfalfa.
The 07 wheat crop, resurrected.
May 20. This year's wheat crop made good use of it's nine lives. After the early April freeze the wheat just sat there for several weeks then shot out some heads that are now filling with grain. What really suprised me was the extra tillers that emerged from under the ground, after the freeze that are just now filling the boot and or shooting a head. With this second "flush" of heads there appears to have an opportunity for close to some average yields on some of the wheat. Certainally this is much better than what it looked like a couple of weeks ago. Due to the excessive moisture that has fallen lately, field work has lagged and we are falling behind getting crops planted and hay put up. I did get some soybeans planted over the weekend (May 19) but they were "mudded in" so not the best situation for sprouting and emergence especially with rain in the forecast. Wheat harvest will be later this year due to the late heads just emerging which will be good--it gives us time to get hay baled and ground prepared for milo and forage sorghum before harvest, which should begin around June 20. All in all this year is the opposite of last year, we're mudding in instead of dusting in our spring planted crops.
June 14, impacts from the floods/wet weather.
I've been busy trying to get milo--beans--sunflowers planted and alfalfa put up that I haven't had much time to post on this page. The floods of May have limited our field work due to sandbars, scoured top soil areas, standing water in some of the scoured areas and just plain wet ground that won't hold a tractor. The saddest thing was we had dried out enough from early May floods to rework some of the fields in preparation for planting, when the "big" flood of May 24 came and scoured parts of the fields again. It makes me sick to loose top soil and I'm afraid to work fields in this wet pattern for fear of it happening again! The upshot of all of this is that we're about a month late planting spring crops and are bumping up against maturity dates on some varieties I have. As of today(the 14th)my milo , sunflowers, and soybeans are in the ground as well as most of the hay put up. I still have "grandmas" milo to plant in Saline Co. as well as all the forage sorghum to plant. Wheat harvest is still a few days away as it has turned showery and cooler. The floods and wetness has taken their toll on the frost damaged wheat and it doesn't look as good now as it did 3 weeks ago. Below average yields are definately assurred now and is reflected in the skyrocketing prices---$5.62/ bu. yesterday and going higher so far today. World supplies projected to be lower again and the US winter wheat crop is hurt as well as harvest on hold in Oklahoma due to rain. Looking at some extended forecasts seems to indicate a continuing wet trend which means a "log chain" harvest with quality issues with the grain----a long drawn out harvest. As Liz and I will be grandparents for the first time, (due date July 4) I told Liz that I'd probably be cutting wheat while she is "loving" our first grandchild. Well, maybe.
June 22, wheat harvest has begun.
We started to cut wheat yesterday afternoon---cut just over 800 bushels from 32 acres. The moisture was 12.5% and the test wt. was 57.5 lbs/bu. We spent a couple of dumps "setting" the combines and got them thrashing grain about the way we want them. Today we cut on Jeremy's fields getting him about 2/3rds done. The wheat is below average in yield this year so it takes a lot of cutting to get a truck load. We'll finish Jeremy tomorrow then cut Grandma's home area out, then move back on my wheat Sunday. I planted the last of the milo this morning and have one field of forage sorghum to plant before concentrating fully on wheat harvest. I began to have trouble starting my combine today so not sure what that means for the future, maybe a problem developing or maybe not. As I came in from choring tonight at 10 pm I saw lightning to the distant north. Just another question mark for tomorrow---well we'll see what happens. As for now it'
s late and I'm tired.
Harvest on hold.
June 23. We got 1.60" rain last night effectivally shutting down harvest today. Jeremy and I hauled yesterday's two loads to the elevator west od Salina and saw everybody cutting in that area. Of course, this makes me nervous, so I checked the wheat in western Saline county and found less mud/wet there. We moved a combine over there and I made a round around the whole field and found solid tracking, (no mud) and grain that was maybe dry enough. We'll go to church Sunday am then with the wind supposed to blow, start cutting in the afternoon. Need to get going with harvest since rain is back in the forecast Wednessday.
Logs and debris deposited in wheat fields from May floods.
More areas covered with flood debris.
Tree limbs laying in wheat fields from flooding, one has to be alert when cutting through these fields---when you run even a small stick through the combine rotor the rattle makes you jump in the seat.
July 2, wheat harvest still on hold.
The low system that has created all the flooding in southeast Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas has kept clouds and drizzle over central Kansas. The clouds break some around 2 pm and clear around 5-6 pm and then cloud back up at dark. Wheat moisture gets to around 14.5 at 6 pm then goes back up as the sun sets. We haven't cut wheat for a week now it seems and I still have two farms to go before I'm done. I would also like to put down hay but it would just lay there too wet so am impatiently waiting for a couple of days of sun.
July 4, Harvest is over!
We finally finished wheat harvest yesterday. Just a few acres of mud holes to go back to. Glad to get this behind us. Thoughts on all of this. 1. Happy to get some yield after the tremendous freeze of April---we could have had nothing so I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to get some cash flow now that may see me to cattle sales in August. 2. Just marvel at all the "shots" this wheat crop took---freeze, foliar disease from wet spring, floods that laid the wheat down, piled debris and weeds that sprang up from thin stands with wet conditions. 3. It was wierd when cutting the 07 crop----whether the stand was thick or thin, the yield was always in the middle twenties. 4. The wheat price, high but falling. It got up to almost $6/bushel but I didn't have much cut then. An example of what is and what could have been, 25 bu. x$5.25/bu=$131/acre---we had a potential the 1st of April of 50 bu/acre x $4,25/bu.=$212/acre, much better with fuel/fertilizer prices so high. Well, maybe next year will be better.
Moving 2nd cutting of alfalfa off the field.
July 30, Rain!
We recieved over 2" of needed rain last night after missing several oppertunities the last several weeks. I had started to irrigate milo during the last week since it was nearing the "heading" stage and had run out of soil moisture. The wheat ground we were working was dry and hard and the disc was not going into the ground as it should. This rain will "make" a lot of our milo and boost the soybeans and forage sorghum crops so hope that we might get a decent fall harvest after the wheat disaster. I did take advantage of the dry weather and got half of the native grass hay put up and all of the 2nd cutting of alfalfa. I would have been almost done with the "haying" but the gear box in the round baler broke and it has been in the shop for a short week. I sold calves from the Miller trust last week and really did well with them price wise! Because of that, I decided to sell our fall calves Aug. 9th hoping to take advantage of the higher prices and will be preparing for sale day as we have three different pastures to gather cattle from. Other activities we are doing now are reworking our spring born calves, revaccinating and "fly-tagging" them as well doing fly control on their mothers.
The upper level high has parked itself over the plains the past week, (Aug. 4th-11), creating stifling conditions in central Kansas. Compounding the stagnent heat was the rain that fell a couple times during the past week which raised the dew points into the 70s with high temps in the 97-101 degree range made one "sweat in the shade" just sitting. Luckily the milo, beans, cane, and pastures are not suffering much due to the 4.5" of rain recieved the first ten days of August. Activities on the farm include putting up the 3rd cutting of alfalfa, working wheat ground and selling "grandma's" fall born calves.
August 9, selling fall born calves at sale barn in Salina.
We sold our fall calves Thursday and had a good sale. The big challenge was the heat while gathering and hauling the cows and calves. We started catching and hauling on Tuesday morning, moving very slowly so to not over heat the calves. I've never hauled calves in two days early before and was concerned about the shrink they would have with the stress and the heat. Luckily they went to water and feed well and did not loose too much weight before sale day. The sale average was 704# at $1.18/lb.! This beat last year's sale, (680s# at $1.13/lb. Nice to have a good chunk of income after a wheat disaster and high fuel/fertilizer costs.
Goodby old paint, I mean tractor. (How I broke a tractor in half!!)
Due to a broken gear box on our big round baler, I had fallen behind in getting the third cutting of alfalfa put up. So around Aug. 20, I had a lot of bales on the ground because I had been spending some time preparing for "grandma's" fall calf sale Aug. 23. That sale went somewhat smoothly although she ended up missing a few cows and calves. Anyway, I was carrying big round bales off the alfalfa field next to our house to the bale storage row, one on the front loader, one bale on the back fork when crossing a small dip on the roadway there was a "thump" and the stearing wheel lurched up around 3 feet and the tractor stopped. I killed the motor, lowered both bales totally to the ground to ease the strain off the tractor which more or less "realigned" things and got off. I found that the bell housing had split in half, destroying the drive shaft in the process. Only the gas tank/top mountings(thin sheat metal) was all that was holding the tractor together! My BIG question was why was there so much weight in combo with a small dip to do this much damage. After investigating, (the bales were so heavy I could barely lift them with my pickup bale carrier to get them out of the way) I found two things. First, the implement dealer at my request increased the bale density setting while repairing the gear box thus making heavier bales that were the same size. I forgot I would make heaver bales than before. Second, due to the floods last spring, there is an abundance of foxtail grass in the older stands of alfalfa which dries out slower than pure alfalfa and these bales were soggy too! It all adds up to too much weight on too small of tractor. Jeremy was able to move the loader/mountings over to the 706 which is bigger and more powerful. I will "junk" the broken tractor(656) as the motor was running on 5 cylinders instead of 6 and the cost to replace the bell housing/drive shaft/gears and bearings plus redo the engine will exceed the worth of the total tractor. Anyways, I bought it used and got 18 years of service out of it. We recieved 2" of rain Aug. 24, which will really help the milo and bean crops as well as softening up the wheat ground for some final tillage to round those fields into shape. I planted some alfalfa today (Aug. 29) as we have some cool cloudy weather---the first touch of fall.
Broken loader tractor without loader----tilting and swaybacked!
A closer shot of broken bell housing.
Picture of me standing in one of my soybean fields, the wet spring/summer has made a thick healthy stand.
I drill my soybeans in 10" rows so this year the yield could be very good---making up for a poor wheat yield.
Some of my milo is doing well this summer too.
Another day at the office---cultivating wheat ground.
September 25, finally drying out.
We have recieved over 4" of rain the last two weeks which have effectively kept us out of the fields. We missed a rain last night by a few miles which helped. The wheat fields are just drying out enough that Jeremy was cultivating yesterday for the first time while I finished baling some forage sorghum (cane). Forecast is for dry weather for a few days so I have been swathing alfalfa and cane and will switch to spreading fertilizer in preparation for wheat planting which will commence around Oct. 1. During the wet time I got wheat seed cleaned and extra bought since our saved wheat was so shriveled that up to one third was taken out in the cleaning process and we also moved fall calving cows to winter pasture. We've been calving heifers for a few weeks and one of Grandma's cows had a calf today courteousy of the nieghbors bull. I really like checking cattle in the fall because of the pretty wild flowers that bloom at this time of year. I enjoy picking bouquets for Liz during this season brightening the kitchen with blue, yellow and purple flowers. Also today I walked out in my milo field (the first planted) and discovered the grain cracked between my teeth so I may test cut tomorrow.
October 10, a pause after more rain.
We recieved 1.50" of rain Oct. 7, which effectively put us out of the fields. We were in full swing planting wheat---about one quarter done and I cut two loads of milo, around 1500 bu.@ 12-14% moisture. Things are so wet yet that it will be two days before I can get to planting wheat again. We are beginning fall calving with our older cows so every other day Jereny and I check the pastures and tag the new calves. Also I have soybeans that are mature now so might start cutting them soon as the remaining milo is a little green (wet) yet. Lookng ahead we will start to sell spring born calves the last 10 days of October, first week of November and as rain is back in the forecast over the Oct. 14 weekend I've only a couple of days to get field work done this week. Our computer crashed a couple of weeks ago and I hooked up my storm chase laptop to post on the web site.
October 26, finally, dry!
The weather has turned dry for an extended time now so the muddy fields dryed out enough to harvest milo and beans and plant wheat. I have finished soybean harvest (that grain was the easiest to dry out first) and wheat planting is finally getting wrapped up, (only 2 farms left to do). We sold "grandmas" spring calves yesterday at lower prices (unfortionately) and will sell mine next Thursday. The milo crop is ready to cut but will postpone that till later. Our big push is moving cattle around as we are supposed to have cattle off leased ground Nov. 1. We also help our neighbor do the same thing as they help us do the same. There seems to be a ripple affect moving cattle---you have to move this bunch before you move the herds that needs to be moved creating more moving! Any way, due to wetness earlier, EVERYTHING is ready to do at once these last two weeks of October slipping into the first week of November. We've already had two "hard" frosts so the growing season is pretty well ended (alfalfa is still not killed). What is still blowing my mind is the high grain prices! RECORD high wheat, soybeans and to some extent, milo prices exist while we harvest bin-busting fall crops. That just doesn't happen!!! I still have to pinch myself out of a "dream" world when I see beans at $9.08/bu. and wheat at $8+/bu. milo at $3.50/bu (usually wheat is $4.00, soybeans are $5-6.00 and milo $2.00). Then I realize that each time I fill the 300 gal. gas and diesel barrels it costs $1800 (do this once a month) and we NEED these prices! Anyway, due to weather, a very busy time. I have some pictures to post here but too busy at the moment to do it.
You can see many pretty flowers while checking cattle in the fall.
More bright fall wild flowers.
Cow with new born calf laying in the grass.
Having a great fall soybean harvest!
November 9, milo harvest is over.
I finished milo harvest yesterday and will haul the last load to the elevator today. Prices continue to be strong. The reasons why this is, I think, are the correlation of grain prices to oil prices, (record high) and the weakening dollar, (makes grains cheaper to buy overseas). I'm afraid that an oncoming resession will hurt cattle prices in the future as we sell our spring born calves this fall the prices are trending lower than last Aug. when we sold our fall calves. The wheat is planted and slowly emerging so the stand is not like other years. The biggest task remaining is to "position" our cattle herds for winter feeding. This will take another week to do and then we can concentrate on winter feeding, (fall calving is almost done) and start winter projects. I will take tomorrow off (Sat.) to hunt pheasant and quail with the family and go see the "punkin" (grandchild) as well as attending a Kansas storm chaser get-to-gether. Nice to have a down day after frantic weather delayed fall farm work!
December 1, cattle moves are set for winter.
Saturday we moved "Grandma's" spring calving herd to winter pasture which finished the major fall cattle moves. I'm only 3 weeks behind doing this but finally got it done. We also put bulls into the "heifer" pastures as it was time for this to be done. Other chores as we approach Christmas are branding the replacement heifers and putting up electric fence on some milo fields. Fall calving is over except for a couple of cows for Grandma and a very few for me. Other than a 3" snow a week ago and some showers this weekend, we've been very dry and need some substantial moisture. The wheat crop looks good where we planted early (not many acres), but a lot of it has very meager stands that was planted late, (end of Oct. first week of Nov.). Wheat prices are going back up in response to dryness in the southern plains and poor stands in the central plains, (Kansas). Its wild that it was too wet to plant in mid Oct. then when we finally dried out enough to plant, cool soil temperatures and then dryness inhibited plant emergence. Seed wheat supplies due to the freeze last spring were short so many of us didn't plant enough seeds/acre that was required for such late planting. The bottom line from all this is we need perfect weather through spring to have decent yields.
Next to last group of cattle to be moved to winter pasture.
December 9, Ice and cold invades central Kansas---firearms deer season ends.
The weather has turned cold with freezing mist causing ice accumulations on all things. This has caused us to feed more hay than usual to the cattle. I'm sure glad to have all the cattle "positioned" in winter pastures before this icy weather hit! Although long term weather outlooks indicate warmer than average tempatures this winter, short term outlooks show cooler than normal for the plains. With all this flip-floping of the extended forecasts, how in earth do they know what global warming will do! Short answer, they probably don't! Deer season ends today with deer taken on the farm stacking up like this. Our friend Martin took a nice buck on opening day. Jeremy took a very nice rack Dec. 4. I took a doe Dec. 8, a clean kill at 225 yds., the longest shot where I've hit a deer. Not to be out done, Meghan downed a huge racked buck this morning! Friend Tim also took a doe today. My sister Jo hit a buck opening day and we spent half the day trailing a dwindeling blood trail one half of a mile until no more blood was found---a non fatal wound that clotted up. We make every effort to be sure that a wounded deer is tracked and found! Back to weather, I'm afraid that a potent storm will hit us Tuesday maybe taking out the power grid and stressing livestock so will be preparing for this Monday.
December 11, ICE STORM.
We have just finished up with a devestating ice storm here on the farm. Yesterday morning I bought one of the last portable power plants at Tractor Supply so Jeremy would have some power if we lost power. We did! About 1:30 in the morning the power went out but I waited until morning to get the portable generators set up and going. The first look outside this morning made me think of some tornado damage swaths I've seen---trees were de-branched everywhere! The 2.25" of rain made feeding cattle a muddy task today. The rest of the day was spent trying to clear branches off the roads so we and our neighbors could get around. Our little power plant has 2, 110 plugins so we run the wood stove fan, one lamp, a cell phone charger or fire pager charger, and alternating the frig. or the deep freeze. I shut down most all the other things to run the computer a bit so have to make this quick. We took pictures of the aftermath but will post when we get power back on.
Dec. 12, beginning the cleanup.
I started to move downed tree branches this afternoon after feeding. I got "Grandmas" cleared up enough we can use the gas tanks and get through the yard easy to do our cattle feeding. Just before noon, Liz and I went to Salina to pick up a feeding truck from the repair shop. On the way we saw many power poles snapped off from last evening's wind gusts (only 15 mph but enough with the tremendous ice loads). I then realized that getting power back for us is a long time in coming. The radio this afternoon said it may well take 10 days to restore power to all customers and I now agree. VERY depressing! Well, I hope the generators will last through the duration. Tomorrow the temps are expected to get into the upper 30s so hope to melt some ice off the grass so we don't have to feed so much hay so early in the season. Also fighting mud everywhere---we went from dry to wet in one storm. Local radio says Salina had the worst ice storm in history.
A cleared path through "Grandma's driveway.
Tree branches down around "Grandmas" house.
Cow standing in feed ring staying away from the ice.
Jeremy and Razzie after sucessful deer hunt.
Meghan, posing with her very nice buck she took on the last day of the season.
Dec. 13, ice storm thaw---still no power.
The tempature got up into the upper 30s with bright sun today melting a lot of ice off power lines and grass and making more mud! Cattle went out and grazed for the first time since Monday. Unfortionatly 6" of snow is forecast for Friday (tomorrow) evening/night so cattle and power crews will get little respite. I know that the weather pattern is different, but its kind of like last year---just a month earlier---going from dry to extremly wet. Hope to get power back tomorrow as there is power just to our north but a few poles need to be set first. Here's hoping!
December 14, 9:30 pm. Heavy snow storm!
Snow started to fall around 4 pm. and now I just measured 6.5" with 10" expected! Still have no power here and now with this snow I don't expect to get on till maybe Monday. 10" of snow on top of mud makes much stress on cattle and trucks that carry feed to the cattle as well as the farmers themselves. I will need to set up tractors and snow plows/blades in the morning so we can get around to feed easier although we will need to feed much more hay than usual.
Cow in ice prison.
Ice covering the grass---more hay needed!
I have to detour around downed trees to get to the barn!
Sunday December 16, lots of snow and still no power.
We got up yesterday morning to find 11" of snow on the ground! Jeremy put the blade and bale carrier on our two big tractors as there is mud under all the snow! We spent all day getting around feeding and opening up roads. Today, feeding was easier but it is taking a lot of bales since the grass is covered. We have seen no power company trucks since Thursday so thinking no power for a while---I finally asked my chase partner to bring out his power plant and we now have some more lights and heat from the furnaces plus hot water to take a bath. Still, having no power is starting to be a drag especially making the rounds filling generators every ten hours or so.
December 17, power is back!
We got our power back this afternoon. I shut down the generators at 4:15 pm.! We've been without power just a few hours short of a week.