January 10, brutal cold on the farm.
The cold and stormy winter continues. Luckily, we missed the deep snows that southern Kansas got, but the north door is open. Pond ice is 10" thick---takes a lot of chopping to get water for the cattle. Feeding extra hay to the cattle to comphensate for the cold weather. Again, thankful that we have no deep snow/drifts to fight. Due to the cold weather we are burning a tremendous amount of fire wood---the chain saws are really busy. Whenever the weather warms up we will work our fall calving cattle. I think 32 degrees will be shirt sleave weather.
Picture of the coldest morning in SEVERAL years!
January 15, warming up some.
The icy winter grip has moderated some. We worked our fall calving cattle as well as grandma's when the temps were tolerable. At the end of the month, I got 3 early spring calves courtesy of the neighbor's bull---all were fine as the temps were "normal". Below are some pictures.
Jeremy is bringing up calves to get their vaccinations.
Liz finishing up ear-notching calf in shute.
The first calf born in 2010.
I have this thing about taking pictures of sunsets.
February, moving cattle home.
Around the first week of the month we move our spring calving cows closer to home before they start to calf. It takes about an hour to walk the cattle 3.5 miles to the birthing pastures. When we brought my cattle home, a cow started to have her calf and jumped the fence into "grandmas" pasture. 3 hours later when I went back to check her (and fix the fence she broke) she had had twins! The weather in late January was cold and FOGGY! With all the melting snow just to the south of us, we have had many mornings with patchy dense fog---humm, a January fog freezes a February dog as one saying goes---we'll see. We are happy about getting periotic January/February thaws, the pond ice has thinned to about one inch, allowing the cattle to drink with out us chopping 10" ice every day.
Moving cows home.
Leading the cattle home with the old feed truck.
March 2, taxes due and a breath of spring coming.
We in agriculture have to pay our Federal/State income taxes by the end of February. Always a rush to get all the paperwork in to the accountant on time. I also hate to pay lots of taxes. I mean the way the system is set up, if you go into debt to buy machinery/land for the farm, its deductible and little taxes are paid. If you don't borrow and pay off debt instead, you get taxed more. Short version--one is penalized for trying to reduce debt. No wonder so many people in this country and the government are broke. We're beginning spring calving now and the weather forecast for the week ahead is WARMER! Wichita weather station broke a record of not reaching 60 degree for more than 3 months now! The ground has thawed out enough that I was able to drill some corner post holes to repair some fence. Still to wet to do any spring tillage although I can't because my primary tillage tractor is in the shop to redo its engine.
March 11, cooler and wet & muddy on the farm.
We had some spring weather at last, the first week of March---March came in like a lamb. Monday, a storm came through and dumped .60". Yesterday we got another .70" so the conditions we have for feeding has gone from slippery to slogging when we go to feed. Spring calving is proceeding---slower for me for some reason but Jeremy reports a good pace for grandma's cows. It had dried enough that I chizzeled some bean ground last week and was glad to have that done before the rains. I've had a rash of funerals to go to this week, mostly aquaintances. It seems true that funerals come in threes or at least bunches. Work to do in the near term is repair tractors and equipment since the temps are warmer (you don't freeze laying on concrete floors), working on fencing and spring tillage. We also repositioned some cattle last week---the first moves towards going to summer pasture.
Feeding cattle in the mud makes a "brown" truck!
New dog on the truck. Quizno, a pup from Jeremy's litter is learning to ride in the back with the "old" dog, Pinky.
March 19, 66 degrees yesterday, snow today.
7 pm. We are currently getting moderate snow and the ground except roads are snowcovered. Forecast is for around 3". Yesterday was sunny for the first time in a long while and the temps soared to 66. I took advantage of warm temps and dry roads and worked a small bunch of Grandma's cattle and hauled them to pasture. I also got the oats planted. Today the sprayers topdressed the last of our wheat with grass chemical and fertilizer. The moisture will be great for that. Calving is continuing and is near half done. I got a pair of twins 3 days ago which was nice. Spent this afternoon feeding extra, fortifying the cattle before the cold, snow and wind hits. Tomorrow we have two weddings to go to---oopps the bride slipps on the snow!
Picture taken towards the barn of the accumulating snow.
Snow still falling but bare ground is warm and is melting so far.
April 20, working cattle, going to summer pasture.
We are in the middle of processing cattle and taking them to summer pasture. This work began April 15 and will conclude April 30. We still have to help the neighbors do their cattle the first week of May, then work shifts to prepairing farm ground for spring planting (soybeans&milo). The weather has turned mild and dry. We've missed some rain opportunities lately which is good I guess but I don't want that to become a habit and start a drought later. Last Saturday James & Mary & grandkids came to work grandma's cattle. They really noticed the lilac bushes, which are blooming profusely around the house. We got some pictures taken of the grandkids and all the flowers and with time I'll try to post some pics below.
Picture of Mary and Lilly inspecting the lilacs.
Picture of the pretty lilac bushes in our yard. Does a cool and wet spring make pretty lilacs?
Picture of Jeremy pouring insecticide/de-wormer on grandma's cattle.
Due to a torn ACL, James was elected Chief babysitter and cattle tag recorder working grandma's cattle.
Picture of Jed and I "working" grandma's fall born calves.
April 22, rained out.
We got 2.60" of rain last night/this morning. This kept me from working cattle today and maybe mess up grandma's cattle Saturday. We were getting dry and I was concerned the dryness would continue. Not now. I'm so glad we got my spring born pairs worked and out to grass yesterday. I'm typing this and watching The Weather Channel livecasting a tornado outbreak from western Kansas to Texas. Just out of my reach to chase. With more rain, all cattle work will be put on hold for a few days
May 17, short update.
Weather through the first half of May had been mostly cloudy and cool. Liz and I have used the wood burning stoves several times during May as the house temp. stays from 59 to 65. Crazy! Got my trucks fixed and back last week as well as my biggest tractor from an engine overhaul. I got one field of soybeans planted Friday and will try to plant another field today as mid week is forecasted to be wet. We will haul bulls to pasture today or tomorrow depending on fieldwork/weather. Haying is almost impossible with cloudy/damp weather as well as short alfalfa stands. This was due to weevil resistancy to pyrethroid insecticides causing us to respray fields when the larva kept chompping on the alfalfa. Wheat looks good---about a third filled even after a frost scare. I haven't done much about musk thistle in the pastures yet as I have been trying to catch field work. There are lots to take care of and I'm waiting for a rain out from the soybean planting to move on to this chore.
Fishing with James and Mary and grandkids Memorial day weekend.
A picture says a thousand words. James is happily showing Lizzy the big fish her mom caught. Lizzy is afraid of the fish. I'm grimmacing after untangling the line from the moss and removing the hook from the fish's mouth. Lilly is discusted and trying to avoid the attentions of Quisno the pup. Pinky is wanting to bite the fish!
June 4, BUSY.
Been busy planting milo, putting up alfalfa, destroying musk thistle and fixing repairs. Jeremy and Meg are on their honeymoon---Liz is back east, so I'm home alone this week. Leave the house at 8:30 and get back in at 11 at night. Don't have much time to post much. It has turned hot and dry---todays high was 96. Wheat harvest set to start around the 15th.
June 14, a nice rain.
After a week of hot humid weather, we got 1.35" of rain Saturday/Sunday. See storm chase page for more on the weather. The first cutting of alfalfa is completed as well as all the milo is planted except my sister's wildlife milo. The rain will delay harvest a couple of days---thinking we'll try test cutting Thursday or Friday depending on clearing skies. Been waiting to be rained out so I can finish killing musk thistle in the pastures. Worked all day on that today and probably all day tomorrow. Really needed this rain and it came with little wind and no hail which is excellent on the ripening wheat.
June 18, wheat harvest has started.
We started cutting wheat this afternoon---at least Jeremy started as I was still planting forage sorghum in Saline county for grandma. It was very hot this afternoon, topping out at 97. We finally got two combines cutting at 4 pm and cut off most of the home place. Two loads delivered to the elevator tested 61+ pounds at 11% moisture. Approximately 1500 bushels were cut. I have one field to plant for grandma then 3 small patches for myself. (Forage sorghum). All the milo is planted and I swathed the last of the first cutting of alfalfa in Saline county. Hopefully we will finish my home place tomorrow and move on to other farms. We got some "bugs" to iron out in the wheat truck tomorrow and some patch work to do on one combine. Just been so busy with a late wet spring we're "fixing on the fly."
June 20, rain slows harvest.
A thunderstorm hit about 8 pm. giving us .40". We had just finished Jeremy's wheat when it hit. Glad to get this much done after family and out of state friends dropped in after church. When it dries out we will move on to Grandma's wheat then finish with mine. It always seems to have a one day delay due to rain during harvest. This will give us some time to get caught up hauling wheat and fixing or fine tuning combines ect. We've cut about 1/4 of our wheat at this time. Yields so far are just average.
June 24, the worst harvest.
The harvest of 2010 will go down as the worst harvest for me ever. The big wheat truck is now in the shop. My combine has been down for 3 days now and we left "grandma's" combine on the county road tonight with a broken hydro fitting that Jeremy already fixed once. We've been cutting for a week and have cut 150 acres---only 50 in the last 3 days. The landlords insist on hauling wheat 40 miles round trip to Cargill elevator with waiting in line for 3 hours---common. I finally gave up and had my cousin custom harvest all of one farm and a half of another as I'm beginning to wonder if I would ever get it all done. That helps! The weather was hot&humid but yesterday and this morning was cooler. Hot tomorrow, then cooler the end of the weekend is forecasted.
June 26, harvest is over.
We finished up cutting on my last farm last evening at sundown. Still have some wildlife plots on my sisters' and the oats is a couple days from full ripe. Jeremy got both combines going Friday and it was amazing how much wheat can be cut while short hauling and only slight malfunctions with combines. We're doing this for wheat that is worth $3.59.
We recieved a scare this afternoon. Jeremey's wife Meghan, and a friend were involved in a "head on" car accident. Glad they were belted up and ended up with bruses and effects from air bag deployment. The other driver was not seat belted and was potentially seriously hurt. Meghan's vehichle appears totaled.
July 5, benificial rain.
We recieved 1.30" rain yesterday, (Sunday) and it was very needed. Crops, lawns&gardens and pastures were beginning to show moisture stress. My milo and soybeans look very good up to this point so hoping for a good harvest this fall. I got most of my 2nd cutting of alfalfa baled and had started on grandmas before I quit in anticipation of the upcoming rain. We haven't done much work on the wheat ground yet as I need to burn several fields to combat cheat grass and it has been windy or raining. I have NEVER seen so much double crop beans and milo and sunflowers planted after wheat! No-till air seeders were going right up to July 4th---a result of very low wheat prices and fair milo/bean prices. Jobs upcoming will be working on equipment, finishing the 2nd cutting of alfalfa, working wheat ground, working spring born calves and putting up prairie hay. Well, its raining hard again as I type this morning so Mom nature rules!
Fishing on the 4th of July.
We have lots of deer here in central Kansas. This doe is feeding on my soybeans at near sunset.
Picture of Quiz standing in my soybeans. They are doing well with recent rains and cooler weather. Hoping for a great harvest with this field.
It's mid July and haying season. Temps have ranged in the 90's but dews are in the mid 70s making drying the hay a little different than uaual. This picture is looking out the tractor window at some fairly hefty windrows of alfalfa.
Baling alfalfa on "Grandma's".
July 19, heatwave!
We've finished a week of intense heat and the heat continues. Temps have been around 98, but the dew points have been in the low 70s! I was going through two changes of clothes per day due to sweating. Now the dew points are dropping as things dry out but that will allow temps to rise into the 100s. The forecast is for at least another week of this heat. Thank goodness we had subsoil moisture so the crops are hanging on.
After a year of working on my irrigation pump motor, then dealing with priming issues, I am now watering crops again. Here is the first set sprinkling soybeans on my best looking field of beans.
July 29, sale day.
We sold our fall born calves today. I got up at 5:30 to start the roundup. We sold 86 calves out of three pastures. Everything went A-OK with the roundup and hauling and the sale went lots better than last year. The mid 500# steer price was insane--- $1.30/lb. The heavier weight steers and heifers brought lots lower but still dollared out well. Ave. weight was 695 lb. at $1.12. For you non-farmers---I get 60% of my yearly income on this day.
Picture of the cows coming over the hill down to the catch pens early in the morning.
Cows and calves are all in the catch pen, ready for sorting calves from their mothers.
August 7, hot n dry on the farm.
It's been very hot the latter half of July and early August. Last week the high temp was 109! Due to this, moisture is scarce as we missed two rains---one near Salina and one near Lincoln. Milo is headed and trying to fill. Alfalfa has quit growing. Soybeans are drying up except in the bottom ground. I can water only one field and have been doing so. Pasture grass is drying up enough that it could carry a fire in most places. Outlook is for at least another week of hot&dry weather. As a side note, wheat prices have risen rapidly since harvest due to dryness in Russia/Europe. I sold my wheat at harvest and bought a call option and rode the market up a dollar + then got out too soon. Well, we've had some wet years recently so have to expect some dry times too. Would love to get a "jackpot" inch of rain now to make some milo and bean yield, but thats not going to happen it looks like.
August 23, the heat and dryness continues.
The heat and I guess I can call it a drought, continues for us. A week ago we had thunder and showers two or three times but could get no more than .15" total. It seems like this weather pattern gives us 5 days of above normal temps and 2 days normal temps. I'm amazed at how the soybeans have held on for so long---I guess there was good subsoil moisture to begin the growing season. Now, the creek bottom beans are curling up in the afternoon so will give up their yield soon. My wheat ground is in poor shape---cloddy and trashy as I worked most of it early then it dried hard as rocks. I went ahead and cut and baled all the forage sorghum as it quit growing and had plenty of heat to dry out. We sold grandma's fall born calves last Thursday and the prices were a bit higher than when I sold mine 3 weeks ago---money sorely needed. I thought a month ago we had enough hay for winter feeding. Now, I not quite so sure as the alfalfa is just setting there and I like to have some square bales ready from the 4th & 5th cuttings to cover November and December feedings. I will try to start taking some "dryness" pictures and begin posting them soon.
August 24, Rain and cooler weather.
We got .90" of slow rain last night and much cooler temps today as a welcome cold front moved through. A nice reprieve, but we will need much more rain for the pasture grasses and wheat ground in prepairation for fall planting.
Dry Bermuda grass in our yard.
Dry lilac bushes turning brown.
Some trees are taking the dryness harder than others.
The alfalfa quit growing and is very short in places.
The upland soybeans are stressed and very short although the bottom ground beans are still hanging in there. The .9" we got will help the bottom ground beans fill pods.
The upland beans have few pods due to the dryness.
September 15, BLESSED RAIN!
After 2 1/2 months of dryness and heat, we've recieved 2.5" of rain the last two nights. This rain will green up the grass, restart alfalfa, and especially help get wheat ground prepared for planting in 3 weeks. Just a huge sigh of relief.
September 22, cutting milo.
I test cut some milo yesterday and it was 13.6 moisture. Today I planned to cut in the afternoon. I made a round and scooped a sample and took it to Westfall and it tested 15,8!! I realized that I had just cut through a very weedy area before I dipped the sample. I went back and cut another round, but this time I scooped the sample while cutting in a weed free area and had that checked. It tested 13.8. So I cut a tandem load and will see what it tests tomorrow. This milo was early planted and survived on subsoil moisture and made the best stand of any field I have this year.
Cutting the first field of the fall.
This is my best milo field. If we would have recieved rain in late July there would have been much higher yield.
A picture taken looking in the combine bin thats nearly full while I was cutting.
September 27, cool morning.
We woke up to open bedroom windows and 44 degree temps this morning. BRRR, not used to that! The weather has turned cool & dry for the forseeable future. I will try to cut milo & beans for a few days then turn to wheat planting. Moisture in the soil may become an issue again as planting progresses to mid October. Grain prices are extremly high right now but our yields cut by drought last summer will produce "average" income at best, so these high prices are needed!!
October 3, frost on the bales!
We woke up to ice on the car windshields this morning. There was frost on the grass in the low areas for a half an hour after the sun rose. I got 50 acres of wheat planted yesterday and we moved the combine onto grandma's soybean field. I will try to cut that after church today pending alternator problems with the combine.
October 9, dry again.
I am really getting worried that a new drought is beginning. Since mid July, a high pressure ridge has dominated. Its like a horror movie---a low pressure system will flatten the ridge for a day or two then it arcs back up over the mid USA. This has been going on for the last 3 1/2 months. Experience has taught me that past droughts start in the fall/winter and hit hard the next spring/summer. Hope this is not the case this time but there is no subsoil moisture and the ponds are dropping steadily.
November 12, finally, rain.
After going two months without rain, we got 2.4 inches of rain last night as predicted. This rain should be enough to germinate wheat that has not come up and help the wheat that has already come up. It will also really help settle the dust in the pasture and the feedlots to reduce the chances of dust pneumonia. At this time, we've gotten most of our fall cattle moving completed. We will be transitioning into winter feeding schedules.
November 15, hunting season begins.
Last weekend our family got together for the beginning of pheasant/quail season. For the most part the birds were safe from us. We found birds in places where we wern't expecting them to be---probably because of the wonderful cold rain that ended the day before season started. These things we discovered while hunting: quail population is good, pheasant population still low, deer population, high, with bucks actively chaseing does while fawns were milling around everywhere. Early in the evening some of the guys went up to Jeremy's for a rifle shoot. The highlight of this was me getting donked in the forehead with ejecting brass shells while taking a picture of "rapid fire". The next hunting get- together will be around Thanksgiving for our coyote hunt, then on to December 1, for opening of firearms deer season.
December 2, firearms deer season.
I haven't posted for a while as our internet was down for several days. We had a quiet Thanksgiving day doing really nothing. We have the cattle pretty well placed for the winter and finally are in a routine of feeding. Fall calving has dwindled to the last few cows to calf. The weather for this La-nina winter so far has been changeable but dry. Two days of cold/windy, then warming for 5 days a week. Deer season started yesterday. We had a small group of hunters hunting. Jo got a nice buck on her property located just out of our home area. Jeremy's friend Tyler shot a fair buck and I got a coyote as well as a doe. More friends will arrive to hunt this weekend and I will probably help them as best I can.
Picture of my sister Jo and the nice deer she harvested.
December 16, deer season is over, getting ready for Christmas.
Firearms deer season ended last weekend. Jeremy got three does and I took two. Several other doe and small bucks were taken by friends. We tried to not shoot our promising bucks (ie 3 by 3s--4 by 4s racks) this year so they could grow better racks next year. Also, by taking does, we will keep the deer population in check. The weather has continued to be DRY and seasonal. Pond water is still dropping and will become a problem in some of our winter pastures. Tomorrow, we brand our replacement heifers, a chore I let slide a couple of weeks. Mary and grandkids are coming this weekend to decorate the cedar tree I found deer hunting then Lizzy will stay with us next week for the first time by herself. James & Mary will spend Christmas with us before traveling to western Kansas to see James' family.
Picture of the second doe I shot this season. I had just backed up to the hydrant to wash down the inside of the body cavity then I will let her hang in the shed until tomorrow when my friend will get her and process the meat. This was a "clean" kill with a well placed shot to the neck.
I snapped this picture while feeding "grandma's" bucket calves at her barn. I ran back down to my pickup, grabbed the camera and ran back towards the barn and shot. Around three minutes later, the rose color had faded.
Merry Christmas to all who checks on my website.
After exchanging gifts Christmas morning our family marched out on the cold steps and shot this picture.
Restoring the old school house.
Liz and Jeremy are restoring the old one room school house that I attended for first and second grade. The school house sits between our house and "grandma's" house. Yes I walked to school each day but only a quarter of a mile. Jeremy is just finishing up the roof when he finds time and Liz paints and works the windows. Next, they will work on portions of the flooring that will need to be replaced. I wanted to take the family picture on the steps of the school house but got voted down by chilly family members.