January 13, cold and snow.

We are coming out of the deep freeze today. Last Monday an artic blast hit us along with 4.5" of snow. Tuesday's low was -5 and when I was driving home from Salina last evening, my truck temp gauge went from -2 to -4. This morning, I got up to find +5 degrees with a blustery south wind. Luckily, there was minimal winds until today so little drifting happened. This is good as I have late planted wheat just coming up and sub zero temps would have killed it without the snow blanket. Forecast temps today are expected to be in the upper 20s which would now be shirt sleeve weather if not for the wind. Clearing ice so cattle can drink is now an everyday chore. A few of our ponds are very low and soon I will have to move cattle or build a new fence to the creek so they can get water. Jobs I have been doing are the normal cattle feeding, starting to work on maintanance of equipment, working on farm records in preparation for tax time and helping with the cutting of walnut logs. More about the walnut harvest in a future post.

Harvesting walnut trees.

About a year ago we were contacted by folks who harvest timber. They told me that the type of trees that make gunstocks have suddenly become valuable. About 18 years ago we harvested some trees for lumber. Now, the mature walnut trees that had some defects are valuable for gunstocks. I've been helping the loggers when I can (trimming tops and dragging logs). We finished up the home creek last week and will move on to the next farm when the weather and the loggers time schedule permits. I am hopeing that income from these logs will make up for a less than stellar 2010 year.

Picture of the group of logs gathered from the home creek. I was suprised how many trees we ended up with.

January 29, a stretch of warmth.

We've had a 3-4 day run of warm temps. Yesterday (Fri.) was the warmest with highs in the upper 60s. Now, we are heading in the other direction with lows forecasted next Wed of 0! The good thing about the warmth is we don't have to chop ice to water cattle. Also we've had a few calves (out of season) so warmer open weather was good. We took advantage of a open day today to move grandma's spring calving cows closer to home. This is a couple of weeks ealier than usual but due to an "errant" bull it looks like more calves could drop any day and there is a storm/bitter cold forecast in the near term. Water issues are looming large as we come out of winter. Several of our ponds are very low and have practically frozen dry. We are also having well problems. That will be the major problem we face this winter/spring.

Feb. 1, near blizzard ongoing!

I just got in from the morning cattle feeding---conditions are really nasty. Winds are sustained at 25 mph with higher gusts. There is light snow that has fallen all morning and the temp is 3. We've only had 1" snow accumulation so far and that is over a light glaze of ice that fell yesterday. Schools are closed so Liz & Jeremy don't have to do bus routes which is good. We are not going to get the high accumulations that will fall in eastern/southern Kansas which is good as we will not drift shut. This weather is hard on cattle---you can't feed them enough it seems as they have to burn moogoo energy to stay warm. Keeping open water will become a problem as temps dip below zero tonight and tomorrow night. Wheat may take the burn on this storm since there is no snow cover and extreme cold. Forecast is for warmer temps the end of the week.

Picture of snow drifting around bus and road grader. Quiz has just tested the depth of the snow with his nose.

Feb. 7, warm & cold.

We've had a streach of milder weather and now there is snow and cold forecast again for tomorrow. I moved my spring calving cows to the "calving" pasture last Saturday. I got my first real spring calf of 2011 yesterday from a heifer. Before that I got 5 calves in my fall herd in the last month---they were carryovers from the fall calving herd. I've been complaining about water issues which is a problem but the top soil moisture is ok for the moment. I'm reminded of that when it thaws in the afternoon and I try to traverse muddy wheat fields. Just hope we get some pond filling rains this spring. Grain prices are insanely high now. Of course, I have nothing to sell having sold my grain not long after harvest. Just wish I had all my 2011 wheat showing a good stand!

Moving my spring calving cows closer to home before they calf. I'll start calving these mature cows around Feb. 24. The 3 mile walk down the road takes about an hour.

Home at last!

The next oncoming winter storm makes for a red sunset.

Picture of my heifers feeding at the bunk. It snowed all day and is still snowing lightly when I took the picture. Snow depth this evening is 8" and the temp. is 2 degrees. Due to light winds the snow stayed on the wheat which is good cover/moisture.

The wind made some drifts but stayed light enough not to close roads.

Feb. 13, is spring here?

From Thursday onward the afternoon temps have raised 5-6 degrees a day untill today. Today our afternoon high temp was in the mid 60s! What a change from -13 degree low last Thursday. All the snow has melted except drifts and areas in shaded spots. Of course we traded snow for mud, but it's still moisture! Today, all animals and we humans took a deep breath of relief. For us the snow and cold took a toll. I lost 3 baby calves last week. Mom's feeding truck in in the shop with a broken spring. My feeding truck shucked its C-V shaft this morning. The "snow plow" tractor developed starter problems. At least our weather forecast is for an open warm week ahead. I'll settle for that. We should begin calving our mature cows in just over a week from now, so there is time for me to go to Denver next weekend for the storm chasers convention.

March 6, another potential winter storm.

Spring calving is reaching peak. I got 5 new babies yesterday and 3 more today. I've already reached the halfway mark for total calves. The weather has been coolish with one or two days per week warm. Now, the forecast is for freezing rain/snow for tomorrow and Tuesday. Not far west there is the potential for 5-9" of snow. Any way you cut it, the expected weather is terrible for calving on the farm. We need moisture but not ice or snow. Other things going on are: waiting for the walnut logs to sell. Should have that done this month. Doing severe weather presentations to groups the next couple of weeks in conjunction with severe weather awareness week. Also I would like to go watch our high school girls basketball team play at the state finals in Manhatten. This is the first Ell-Saline girls team to make it to the state turney. I'm also starting to fix pasture fences as well as till crop ground---the frost has just thawed out of the soil.

March 13, SNOW!

Around 4 pm it started sleeting with some snow flaks mixed in. I went to our fire training in Brookville and when I came out at 8 pm there was 4" on the ground. At 10 pm I just measured 5"! Well it IS moisture.

Liz snapped this picture at the height of the snowstorm last night. There were BIG flakes falling.

I snapped this picture of the same tree that Liz shot last night. The snow was VERY wet and stuck to branches and even lines like glue.

Liz's picture of snow on our deck.

Picture when I was clearing snow off the truck's windshield. Note the depth of snow on top. There was around 7" on all elevated surfaces where the warmer ground settled the depth to 5".

Snow loaded down the cedar trees to almost the breaking point. This snow suprised forecasters as 1-2" was forecasted, we got 5-7"!

March 27, more snow.

When we walked out of church at noon there was snow falling. It fell all afternoon and tapered off this evening. For a while, there was 2" on the grassy areas before it settled. At least it is still moisture. We keep getting light amounts of precip from time to time so top soil moisture is adequate. Ponds though, keep dropping water levels. Between fire calls, feeding cattle, doing storm presentations, I try to get some fence fixed and spring ground tilled. Calving for me, is practically over---40 out of 52 or so. As April comes in, the pace of things pick up. We'll go to grass with our cows from the 15th on to May 1. Spring planting is just around the corner too. I'm still waiting for the walnut buyer to arrive. I guess he's working the corn belt---getting logs there off so farmers can plant corn. He's scheduled to get here in two days if there are no other delays.

Another Sunday snow. What happened to the groundhog not seeing his shadow??!!

April 24, catching up.

I've been very busy with fires and storms the past month so haven't posted lately. I finally sold the walnut logs the middle of April. The total I got was not bad---more than I expected at the beginning but less than hoped for after we totaled the trees cut. Higher fuel prices cut into the price. I got to see one bunch of logs graded---it was interesting. Logs will be picked this next week. We're in the process of getting cattle put out to pasture. We finished Grandma's yesterday. We'll start on mine the middle of next week. The weather has been cool and dry. Pond water in a HUGE issue now. Our winter pasture ponds are down to a few hundred gallons. In fact, today, I drug a cow out on the muddy edge trying to get to water. My summer pasture in Saline county has about 40 days of water before I have to start hauling water. Our wheat looks good where we planted early last fall, but the rest is uneven---thin. Prices are extreme, both for grains and cattle. Weather and the cattle cycle are the cause. The cool weather has delayed the grass growth in the pastures. This causes the cattle to be restless---the grass is greener on the other side of the fence IS true in April. Net result, cattle getting out CONSTANTLY! Just one week to go and freedom from feeding cattle day is here! Jobs upcoming are prepairing farm ground for soybean/milo planting and starting the assalt on musk thistle.

After being graded, the walnut logs were stacked for pickup.

After each log is graded it recieves one or two stamped decals with it's grade.

An extra tag (red) on the log means extra value.

Some of the wheat has a spotty stand from dry fall weather.

Mary and James and the grandkids came last weekend to help with the cattle work. Here Lizzy is getting a ride on a cattle pannel while I was setting up the corrals.

May 2, freedom from feeding cattle day.

We got the last bunch of cattle taken to summer pasture Sat. evening at sun down. Today (Monday) I'm taking some odds n ends (cattle) to the sale barn. It has been a trying week---Jeremy has been sick and not 100%, a cow died after getting mired in the mud trying to get to water in the near empty pond, another cow went down while working a bunch and a calf injured it's spine and is unable to walk after hitting something in the shute. We had one hot and windy day this last week and after that we're very dry. My college roommate came to help with the cattle working and that was very helpful. Last Friday we set up the irrigation pump and laid a pipe line from the creek to a small pond and filled it so my last bunch of cattle could get water without getting mired in the mud. I worked some farm ground with the cultivator after church yesterday and there was not much moisture showing. Grass has greened up but not growing much due to the cold temps and meager rains---another potential problem that may have to be addressed. There is potential for frost/freeze tonight which could hurt the wheat that is beginning to head out. Wheat is short this spring and not looking as good as it did a couple of weeks earlier. Hope! This morning I'm seeing "some" indications of increased chances of moisture beginning in around a week from now---La Nina, although weakening, is still having an effect. I'm ready to say goodby to to her. Finally, as we were eating supper and watching CSI Miami last night, news broke in that special forces killed Bin Laden in Pakistan. Don't know if it will change much but vengeance is ours in the end!

May 8, in trouble!

We finished helping the neighbors work cattle this week so cattle work has ended for the moment. We may move cattle later due to drought but will hang on for the moment. The chances for rain that looked good before has taken a reality check as I look at the forecasts. The extremely dry (arid) ground to our southwest has its air lifted overhead as storm systems move in, effectively choking any rain chances we have going. Even as I type, there is good surface moisture in our area but that will go to waste for the most part. Add to that mid 90s temps and 25 mph winds for the next three days will pretty well end any chance of decent wheat yields---maybe to the point of little yield at all. Pasture grass is not growing and the cattle are restless trying to find better eating in the ditches (getting out all the time). My next problem is whether to "dust" soybean seed in the ground or wait for rain that is not being forecasted. I've been irrigating an alfalfa patch since I do have water in the creek for the moment. We will be cutting alfalfa soon as it has reached the point of not growing any more. Just not much fun in the prospects of farming lately.

This is my attempt to augment Mother Nature---irrigating alfalfa. I'm running 19 sprinkler heads pumping 175 GPM.

May14, hot to cold.

We went from 101 heat last Monday to running the wood stove today! High temp today was 58. Lows last night and tonight around 39! A cloud deck has saved us from a killing freeze so far. We are still WAY dry although lots of signs of rain for mid to late next week. We'll see.

May 20, good rains and sick.

We finally started to get some rains this last week. Totals from 3 storms totaled just over 2". This will make "some" wheat now, I just don't how much yet. I've picked up some kind virus and am really sick---up to the point where I'm inop to do farming. Sitting and typing here is an effort.

June 3, ponds filled.

We got 4.5" of rain in 3 hours from June 1 severe storms. This was both good and bad. Our empty ponds were filled, YEAH! We also had our newly planted soybeans under 3' of floodwater. I will probably have to replant soybeans after things dry out. We were in the middle of haying and that all got wet too. Mom nature's timeing sucks. Well at least we went from dry to wet. It just compress's my work time---we'll be harvesting wheat and planting spring crops at the same time. The virus I had affected my liver which was why I was so sick a week ago. That now has finally passed and I'm feeling much better.

The wheat is turning color---harvest is getting closer.

The ponds are full---YEAH!

Newly planted soybeans flooded----ARGH!

June 17, harvest still hasn't started.

We got a nice shower yesterday morning. I had intended to try testing yesterday afternoon. It also showered last night so not sure about today. All spring planting is done and it was drying out. The rain we got was needed to saturate the top 3 or 4 inches of soil where we planted. Normally wheat would be ripe by now and some is----but it is so uneven that one can find green heads in every field. Regardless it will all be ready in a couple of days. Wheat price is dropping 6 to 18 cents a day so hard to wait! I've been cleaning up musk thistle in pastures and moving hay off fields the last couple of days. Jeremy is working on combines and equipment while I hit the pastures. The weather is going to be unsettled through next week with a significant storm passing about Tuesday.

June 19, harvest begins.

We tested 3 fields Sunday afternoon. Moisture went from 11.6 to 17. Sunday night both combines were down and only one load was cut. More later.

June 20, second day of harvest.

We finished one part of Jeremys wheat, then moved to my home place. Jeremy's load was dry---12 moisture, good yield. I cut about half of the home pace this evening while Jeremy tried to adjust potential used header for my combine. My load tested 11.6 moisture 61+ lbs. Wheat stand is very uneven making constant header height adjusting while cutting. My wheat is very thin and short but suprisingly yielding in the mid thirty bu/acre.

June 21, 3rd day of harvest.

Got the "new" headder adjusted this morning on my combine. Jeremy and I started cutting in the morning. Grandma's combine then had it's "wobble box" come loose tearing apart the support framework. After a futile trip by Liz to the implement store, Jeremy dismantled needed pieces from my newly junked headder. Finally by early evening, we ran both combines together. We finished the home place and 2/3 of the Neel farm. All my loads were 11 moisture even though there are green drought stressed areas in every field.

June 22, 4th day of harvest.

I spent most of this day at the Salina hospital. Liz had her appendix taken out at noon. Jeremy cut today. I came home late to help. We got within 1 truck load of finishing Jeremy's wheat.

June 23, 5th day of harvest.

I went to Salina to get Liz over the noon hour. Jeremy was on his own till 3. We finished his fields and moved to my "seed wheat" farm. We got all the seed wheat cut plus finished a field which had the best wheat yield so far. We'll finish up this farm in the morning and move onto Grandma's. 5 farms cut and 3 to go. On the down hill side of harvest.

June 24, 6th day of harvest.

Finished my farm and cut off Grandma;s home place. Moved over to her Saline county ground. Wheat looks good there. Hope to finish her tomorrow.

Saturday, 7th day of harvest.

Had a good day today. We finished Grandma's Saline county wheat and moved back home. Cut a bunch off of my next-to-last farm. Jed B. came this afternoon and trucked for us allowing two combines to keep cutting. Jeremy replaced alternator on my combine---the only mishap. Sunday after church could about wrap it all up. The end is in sight.

Meghan took this picture of Jeremy cutting wheat.

Meghan's shot of another load getting filled.

Jeremy and his combine helpers.

June 26, harvest finished!

We finished cutting this evening. Combines and trucks are full. I got my days off by one in the prior posts. Harvest took exactly one week to complete. The last two fields I cut were really good yielders! Adding up scale tickets and estimating wheat left in all the trucks and combines totals out 38.5 bushels per acre on my total crop. It is still amazing the yield some fields made when the wheat was thin and only 12" tall. What a relief to be done. Now to marketing. Its always easier to market when one knows the amount of production one has. Today the weather was a killer. Temperature was 101 with a dew point of 69! We are really dry again! Usually a rain delays harvest a day or two but not this year. The price of wheat dropped .80 cents just this week.

July 1, the heat is on.

The weather has been hot and dry. High temps the last 3 days ranged from 103 to 108. I've been putting up alfalfa hay this week. The only time it gets enough humidity to bale is from 5-8 am.! So I've been getting up at 5 and going till 12 noon. I then siesta till 3 pm. and work till 10 at night. Crops and pastures won't handle this dryness for very long.

July 2, great rain!

We went to Topeka/Eudora for Lizzy's 4th birthday. When we got home Sat. evening we found 1.5" of rain had fallen. GREAT!

July 7, more rain.

We recieved 2" of rain the last two nights. It's always good to get rain in July. I had two fields of hay down and wet but now there will be a 3rd cutting. The milo especially has been growing like weeds and the grass is greening back up. Liz gets her other foot surgicaly repaired tomorrow and will be "down" for a while. This weekend will be a somewhat "milestone" birthday for me. Planning to see some friends and relatives Saturday. There will be a new "work truck" in future pictures. This week I purchased a 2011 truck and will fit a bale bed on it next Wednessday. Going back to the weather---just sooo blessed with the rain we've recieved. I could drive only one hour southwest of home and find much different conditions. A terrible drought has gripped southwest Kansas for a year now. Despair and extreame hardship confronts the formers there. We start slipping towards their dryness then get rain just in time. My heart goes out to those farmers in that area.

July 15, an old geezer birthday.

On July 12, I turned 60 years old. Six decades! Hummm! I can say at this time that the spirit is still somewhay willing, but the body just doesn't come through. Mary and Liz and Jeremy had a party for me Sat. July 9. Lots of people came and a good time was had. Only the heat dampened things somewhat. Talking about the heat. We are locked in to a summer high pressure where our daily high temps range from 102 to 109! There is no end in sight. Thand God we had 3.5 inches of rain last week or so or we would be in deep trouble. I drove my new pickup to Harper Kansas to have a new bale bed installed. My goodness it's dry down there! South of Lyons, there will be little or no spring crops raised and the grass is pretty well brown. We are finishing up working wheat stubble ground and putting up prairie hay/2nd cutting alfalfa. I may go into "siesta" mode where I work from 5:30 am. to noon, then lay out till 3 pm. and work till 10:30 at night. Humidity makes sleeping hard at night with a 82 temp and 68 dew by morning.

Mary and James came out to do my birthday, but first they went fishing. Here Lizzy caught her first fish at one of our ponds.

Not many people get hand gernades for their birthday! My friend poses with me with some inert gernades as Mary looks on.

July 22, the beat (heat) goes on.

We've had relentless heat day after day. Highs 102-108. The problem is the lows. Lows settle around 80 with dews mid to upper 60s. Bed time temps (11 pm) is usually 90, requiring air conditioning to sleep. We've been finishing up working wheat ground and putting up prairie hay. Scattered storms have brushed through the last two nights. Rain totals ,30". Crops are holding on but soon will fade as subsoil moisture is used up. The difference to this dry spell from past droughts is wind and humidity. In past droughts the wind blows from the southwest (very dry dew points). This summer it blows from the south/southeast. That brings higher dew points which makes the "feel" temp worse. So, endure is the word.

New truck in the yard. I traded my old feed truck for a 2011 chevy 3500 HD 4x4 cab & chassis. I put a new bale bed on it and it's ready to go. The air conditioner works real well too.

August 4, the heat is tempered with a nice rain.

A cool front passed two days ago, knocking high temps back to the mid 90s. Storms kept festering around the last couple of days, then hit us last night. This morning the rain gauge held 1.6" in it! Looking at the satelite pictures/animations the upper high pressure has been shunted into the south Texas/gulf area. After weeks of relentless heat (104-113) the crops and pastures threw in the towel and started to wither. Now, with this rain, they will come back and start growing again. Yields are hurt but at least we might produce something. Up to the last couple of days, I was wondering if this was the beginning of a "dirty thirtys dust bowl". Research showed that a combo of cold Pacific sea temps with warm Atlantic sea temps persisted during the dust bowl time. Thats what we've had last spring. Now the Pacific has warmed to "neutral" temps so don't think a dust bowl will persist, (don't tell this to folks in Texas, Ok. and southwest Kansas, they might dispute any ending of their drought). All in all we've survived pretty well, living on the edge of the drought. On other matters, I sold my fall calves a week ago. It was a very good sale. Due to the heat we were up at 5 am. and I was sorting cattle with a flashlight! We sold 90 head of calves and the best was when one sort of steers came into the ring filling it. There was 44 steers that weighed 750 lbs average. These calves came right off the cows. I've been striving all my farming career to achieve this goal of a majority of my steers averaging 750#. Genetics, weather and hard work came together this year for a good payoff from the fall cow herd.

Aug. 5, more rain.

We got 1.4" rain last night. Two night total is 3"! Lot better shape now for spring crops.

August 26, hot and dry has returned.

After rain and a cool down the middle of the month, heat has returned again! The difference this time is that the dew points ie. humidity is not as high. This reminds me of past dry spells which is scary. All summer long we've been on the edge of a 1930s drought. Very soon it will take lots of rain/precip to get a winter wheat crop to start. The later planted milo is trying to fill and is reducing yield every day. I went ahead and swathed all the forage sorghum as it is going backwards. I also have been putting up a small 4th cutting of alfalfa. In these dry times, every little bit helps round out the hay piles. The only nice thing about the dry air that we now have is it does cool down at night.

Picture of Salina's 5 pm. observation. Notice the 44 degree dew point. We've usually had 65 dews throught the summer making for heat indexes and hot nights. Is this a symptom of us going into a serious drought too?

Hummingbirds.

The last several weeks we have had a family of ruby throated hummingbirds feeding on our trumpet vine flowers. They feed and perch scant feet from our porch deck. After breakfast I lean on the deck railing and watch them for a few minutes. The male spends most of his time chaseing away his mate and kids from the nectar feast. He'll sit on a dead branch amist the flowers, sometimes 4 feet from me and watches for intruders (his family). The female and chicks will sneak in on the sides and feed until he sees them. Then with indignant peeping he drives them off to the near by trees. Sometimes while he does that, another one will slip in to feed only to be chased away upon the male's return. Sometimes in the "melees" they will almost fly into me. Their antics are fun to watch and brings a smile from time to time. A couple of days ago the male left---at least he's not around. The mother and two chicks were really working the flowers hard. Now, today, I haven't seen them either. It was fun watching them.

Picture of one of the ruby throat chicks resting on the dead branch where his father usually sat. This branch is about 4 feet from where I lean on the rail and watch. Nature at its best.

September 7, the heat is gone----but the dry continues.

Around Labor Day a cold front blew through cooling down the triple didgit high temps we've suffered under. Hurricanes moving up the east coast has blocked the pattern, locking us into this pattern. The winds are out of the north from the surface all the way to the top of the atmosphere. This opens the door to Canadian cold air to pour south. This pattern, though nice, is a dry one. I am becoming increasingly alarmed that the southern drought will overspread my area here in central Kansas. Cultivating wheat ground shows no moisture in the wake of the worked ground. We will need many inches of rain to support the start of the new wheat crop in October so time is running out! September 5, I got my first fall born calf so calving has started. I have started to swath any green weeds--prarie hay--grass. I'm thinking that if things are short for next year or lots of snow happens, the cattle will eat anything green given to them. This is manifested by stories from friends living in Texas who have nothing for their cattle to eat anymore. We may end up with some of our friends cattle grazing our winter pastures soon. God please send rain!

September 19, A nice rain!

Liz, Meghan, Jeremy and I made a short trip to the east coast for a wedding. When we returned there was 1.5" of rain in the gauge. This was enough to get the wheat ground in shape for planting next month. Also late planted beans and milo will benefit as well as "greening" pasture grass. This weather has been a mirror of the whole year. Just when we get desperate for moisture, a rain comes and saves us.

September 29, planting wheat.

Yesterday, (Wed.) I got my seed wheat cleaned. Last evening I planted most of my "no till with conventional drill" field as well as a patch of Everest variety in my seed wheat field. Jeremy cultivated ahead of me yesterday then I cultivated till 11 pm last night. Today I finished all of my home place fields. A cool front moved through today accompanied with gusty winds that whipped around dust as I was planting. Tomorrow I will spread fertilizer on another farm and plant it. I think I'm hitting enough moisture to get the wheat up but the warm windy weather will dry fields back out too quickly. We are starting to calf our older cows now so I hit the pastures every other day or so. Tuesday evening I checked a pasture and found twins that were newly born! After corralling moma and twins, I found two more babys which I tagged. Another cow led me to where she had calfed and I found twins again--but this time both were dead! I called Jeremy to bring a trailer to the corral while I was catching the cow that had lost her calves. I let the live twins cow and one of her calves back out into the pasture and took the "extra" calf home with the cow that lost her calves. I succesfuly grafted the extra calf onto the cow and will let her back out into the pasture this evening. I think I have some milo that is ready to cut and may test this weekend on the first of next week. My soybeans are not ready yet. They are still dropping leaves. Well, it's almost October and work is picking up on the farm.

Jeremy and I are moving one half of Grandma's fall calving cows to the calving pasture.

October 1, checking cattle with the grandkids.

Lizzy and I pose in the midst colorfull fall foliage as we head out in the pasture to check the cattle.

As we approached the cows, a young coyote was sneaking away. The dogs saw it and bailed off the truck and caught it. This picture catches me running up to help out.

The grandkids and I are throwing cubes to the cows to eat. Much fun.

The cubes are all thrown out and we sit and watch the cows eat the goodies.

>b>October 4, busy and still dry weather.

Hot and dry is the theme so far for this week. Got all of Jeremy's wheat planted today except about 5 acres. I also cut my first field of beans today. The hot and dry (dew points in the high 30s) weather is causing the beans to shatter on the ground. Yield on this field (probably my best field) will be between 20 and 25 bushels to the acre. Prices the last few days have been plumeting. There is rain in the forecast for next weekend with a pattern change. I sure hope so!!

October 8, lots of blowing but not much rain.

The south wind has howled at times this past week with warm temps. Wednesday afternoon, I was starting to cultivate wheat ground when I noticed smoke to my distant northwest. At first it looked like my rental pasture along I-70 might be involved. After a quick dash, I could tell that the fire was over the hill from my cattle. I went on to the scene as our fire district was called to help. The fire burned 1 mile and was stopped by cultivated ground. Thursday the wind avereged 30 with gusts to 40+! On days like this it is almost impossible to stop a grass fire. All day long I would do a 360 degree check for smoke every few minutes. In the past, we've had three fires in this kind of weather (winds). The first was in the 1970s in the fall. It burned 100 square miles from west of Brookville to west of Salina. It killed one person and hundreds of cattle. The second, happened right after my father died and was my first crisis managing the farm on my own. It burned 17 miles and stopped right up against my farm. The third happened in 1994 and burned/killed several of our neighbors cattle one mile west of our house. Thats why I'm nervous when the wind blows and the grass is dry. The forecasted rain for this weekend has been a fizzel for us. Only about .15" has fallen so far.

October 10, some rain.

We finally got a slow light rain all afternoon/evening Sunday. This morning the guage had .65". This is JUST enough to soak down and germinate the recently planted wheat. With another chance of rain tomorrow, doubt I will get back into the fields to finish up planting. I'll try to catch up with fall calving, then finish up planting wheat mid week. I have about 70 acres left to go with a little bit of double crop bean ground added.

October 19, freeze predicted.

I got up this morning and saw maybe some frost on a couple places. Tonight, we are supposed to get lows in the upper 20s. So, the growing season will end tonight. I have swathed some alfalfa in the last couple of days in anticipation with this freeze. The freeze will kill the milo plants and get the moisture in the heads to fall so we can begin cutting milo, probably next week. I have finished planting wheat two days ago so that's finished. Fall calving is 50% done at this time (60 in the book). We will sell our spring born calves tomorrow. I have been working on that since last weekend and hope the cattle will come in good tomorrow. The frosty morning will help with that.

October 23, cutting milo.

After the freeze last week the moisture in the milo has finally started to drop. Today the temp was 86 with a 20 mph wind. After dumping the last bit of soybeans at the elevator, I had a empty truck to dump milo into. The soybean yield was the worst I've had in my farming career. The relentless heat of last summer cut yields to the teens. I just broke even on the soybean crop this year. Below are some milo harvest pictures.

I'm cutting a field of grandmas. This field will be the best yielder for this year. The milo endured the dry and heat better than soybeans did.

Grandma heard the combine running so she drove out for a look. Can't sneak anything by her.

Building up a truck load.

11-11-11

It's kind of cool to write the dateage this time. The main item this week was the generous rain we recieved. 1.5" fell Monday and Tuesday! This is a good start. We still have serious water issues with some of our ponds and with subsoil moisture. Our wheat should go into dormancy in a little better shape. I finished cutting milo last Sunday afternoon so that job is finished. Yields were dissapointing but not as bad as the soybeans. All crop prices are high. We've made most of our cattle moves now so getting set for winter feeding. Fall calving has slowed to a few calves per week. We just finished helping our neighbors haul cattle. Calf prices continue to rise at our local auction to almost unbeliveable high prices. All commodities are so high that I wonder if this time period is the peak before the big fall in prices. A weak dollar really helps ag prices. Well we'll see.

We've had a lot of sirrus clouds streaming overhead recently. The clouds have made some spectacular sunset pictures.

I took advantage of a warm day and set up my irrigation pump to fill one pond from the creek. All the ponds in my winter pasture are very low. I filled this pond which will get me a few months of drinking water for my fall cattle herd.

We had a snow squall move through this day. It snowed off and on from late morning through most of the afternoon. The ground was warm enough that no accumulation resulted even though it snowed hard from time to time.

November 26, annual family coyote hunt.

We did our annual Thanksgiving coyote hunt today. We gathered at 9:30 and hunted till dark. We saw a total of 13 coyotes and got three. Although the drought has reduced bird populations, coyotes and deer are plentiful. This hunt was dedicated to my cousin who passed unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. He was always the "life" of the hunt when we went. We had a great time other than when I rolled my 4-wheeler in a wheat field during a chase. The only injury incurred was to my pride.

December 3, nice rain.

We got .75" rain this morning. There even was some thunder! Everything is wet and slippery. Temps were in the mid 30s. A cold rain is real hard on the cattle---I've been "doctoring" some fall born calves for puemonia. Now many calves will "scour" too. Well, we have this once every fall it seems. Grandma got home from the hospital yesterday after hernia surgury. I'll have to spend time helping her until she can lift ect again. Deer season is on now. Jeremys friend Adam shot a good buck and I shot a small doe. Today, I saw a good buck while feeding but he gave me a slip, maybe I'll see him later.

A wet/muddy yard is an unusual sight this year. At least our wheat will go into dormancy with the topsoil saturated. That was not the case a year ago.

I got this young buck deer just southwest of my house with my father's old army rifle. That fills my deer tags for this year---deer season is now over for me.

December 15, another week---another rain.

We got around 1/2" of rain yesterday. Temps were warm for the season---mid 50s! Again, not a drought buster, but chipping away a little at a time. We're wetter this fall/winter than last year so hoping this continues. We also had a period of cold weather where we began to chop ice for the cattle to water. That ice has now all melted. Fall calving has pretty well ended, maybe one or two to go. We've settled down into the winter feeding routein now and trying to prepare for Christmas.

December 18, winter storm forecasted.

The NWS forecast offices are forecasting a winter storm/blizzard for tormorrow, (Mon. through Tue}. Four to eight inches of snow are forecasted. Even much higher amounts are possible in southwest Kansas. Any change in the storm track will result in either little snow or over one foot! This has gotten my attention for sure. After church I will catch some "seller" cattle and haul them to the sale barn so Monday morning I can feed extra as well as put snow equipment on the tractors. I will also top off the firewood pile today. The storm center is still over south California so lots of chance for changes. We'll wait and see what happens. Could be a white Christmas.

Dec. 19, winter storm.

7:45: We've recieved .5" rain today. Around 4 pm. the rain turned to sleet, then snow. So far there is one inch on the ground, mostly sleet. We fed cattle extra this morning then got snow moving equipment attached to tractors and grader. Latest model guidence shows the heavier snows staying in western Kansas. We still could get 6"+ by morning.9:45----heavy snow falling---I'm going to bed.

Dec. 20, 6 inches of snow.

The cattle was really appreciating my feeding them this morning. Although the snow was deep, the temp. was 28. I try to feed hay that the cows eat as well as something for the calves to lay on.

The calves are trying to decide whether to eat or lay down.

This hay is better than laying on snow!

The dogs love the snow and won't miss a chance to ride along.

We had 3/4" of rain before the snow covered the ground. Mud under snow makes it more difficult to get around, but it is all moisture!

I'm really blessed with several places to winter cattle. Here, there is a good wind break and water is close.