Austin's picture of me driving to the other side of the burn where the fire was burning it's highest.
April 16, rain, boom or bust.
For days now, forecasters have predicted heavy rain for this weekend. We desperately need moisture now for the wheat and pastures. The best scenario is a upper cut off low to our west pulling up round after round of rain. That is happening out in western Kansas now. The possibilities are: 1. heavy rain moves in and over us, saves our butt. 2. we get brushed by rain and get enough to hang on another week. 3. the upper low moves enough north to dry-slot us and we get nothing. At least, western Kansas, especially southwest Kansas has gotten number one. They need it too. We'll work cattle most of the day today as rain bait. Hope it works.
April 17, rain!
We got 1.5" rain last night the almost best case scenario for us---farm saver. Possible more rain tonight before upper low moves over and east.
April 18, more rain.
We got over .5" of rain last night, bringing the total to around 2.5". We were so dry that it all soaked in. The creeks didn't even get muddy.
April 20, a gift that keeps on giving.
The upper low that has given life saving rain to Kansas still sets in Colorado. It lifted another area of rain across our farm last night. We got .80" of rain. The low moves across Nebraska and out of our influence today. There are still slight chances for rain next week but warmer temps and breezy winds.
May 2, Not done with cattle yet.
It rained 2.25" last Friday which stopped us processing cattle and hauling them to summer pasture. I guess I'll take the rain over cattle work since we had all the dry weather over winter. One problem with the cattle this year is ticks. They are horrible on the cattle. When there are 4 or more on a cow/calf ear the ear swells to twice the normal thickness. I've seen more than 20 on one ear! We've been double banging the cattle through the shute. We spray a contact spray that kills all ticks sucking blood as well as using a systemic insecticide that kills extra ticks up to 3 weeks. The hail storms of April 26 caught 3 of my wheat fields north of home. The hail adjuster will check them mid week. Soil moisture is good for a while and most ponds are full/near full. We will finish working cattle for us tomorrow then help the neighbors do their cattle the rest of the week. After that I'll be thinking about planting soybean around the 12th as well as beginning the usual assault on Musk thistle in the pastures.
May 16, more rain.
It's 11:15 pm. and I'm just finishing up prep for procedures at the hospital tomorrow. It rained off and on all day and really poured for a while tonight. Radar storm total is over one inch so far. The last three days I planted all the soybeans on my place as well as some oats replant and some no till forage sorghum. We'll move bulls to pasture in a couple of days then with farm ground wet, will begin "search and destroy" missions on musk thistle. Weather lately is way cool and will remain so into next weekend. Soil moisture at this time, is good as we had 1.25" a little over a week ago too. After a warm/dry winter, mom nature has evened things out with a wet cool spring. What will summer be?
June 4, dry and busy-busy-busy.
The weather has shifted into a summer pattern??? Dry northwesterly flow has chased away rainfall and the fields are drying out. I've swathed lots of fields of alfalfa and now am baling some. We've got most of our fields worked and am awaiting crop service to spray them so we can plant beans and milo. I've been planting forage cane since we don't spray those fields and I want to get that much out of the way. The wheat fields are pretty well turned yellow. I'd say 5 days to test cutting at the least so I really feel squeezed. Forecast is for temps in the 90s next week with little rain---great ripening and harvest weather. I just hope we don't get locked into this pattern where it doesn't rain when we need it in a couple of weeks. I still remember the statement last January, that Larry Ruthi made about the spring weather. He is the director of the Dodge City NWS. He said "I think that the rain will shut off the end of May/first of June". With that said, I think that the summer will be normal to below normal temps and dry. Hopefully there will not be a "death" ridge of high pressure developing over the plains which would spike temps.
June 8, Salina's high temp was 96 today with a strong south wind.
June 9, do I want it to rain, or not to rain?
We have all the milo feed and beans in the ground except grandma's Saline co. ground which is somewhat wet yet. Some of the last planted milo and feed won't emerge until a gentle 1/2" rain falls. I also have some alfalfa down that Jeremy wants to sell so certainly don't want rain on that. Our neighbors say that they will cut wheat tomorrow afternoon so they don't want rain. Our wheat is 2 or 3 days away yet. I'm just a little afraid that the rain pattern is over and later that would not be good at all. PS. Liz just got home and said she saw a distant neighbor west of Salina cutting. Just as concerning is my health. Something still is not right. My bought with the Dr. a while back didn't find anything so I guess I'll have to have him do a closer look. Soon, I'm afraid I'm going crash, then well see. I know I can't go like I've been going.
June 12, cutting wheat.
I got home from church and tested 4 fields for moisture. Two fields were 14%, one was 13.1 and my first planted field tested 12%. Of course that is just sticking the header into one point of the field and maybe represents the field as a whole. I went ahead and cut off my field and we'll see what it really is field wide when we dump. Looks to me that it is going to be hit or miss (not many fields with dry moisture) for a few days. Lots of green berries in the bin and hoping there is enough dry berries to cover the wet ones. Liz came out and took some pictures. One is below.
First round of the first field. I guess harvest begins.
June 13, no cutting.
My load cut yesterday was 13.1 moisture with 57# test. Disease ravaged my blend or at least one variety in my blend thus the low test weight. There was clouds and less (little) wind today so Jeremy doesn't want to try his field. Just need a couple more drying days.
June 14, cutting again.
Jeremy retested some fields at noon and they were dry enough to cut. We finished off his farm and cut one field of grandma's. Moisture was still dicey but upper 90s with wind and lower dew points and no rain that was forecasted made for drying weather. I think one more day, then about any field can be cut. Forecast is for 100s clear through to Tue of next week. Harvest in full swing.
June 15, A rain interruption.
The moisture from yesterdays loads was dry so I thought I could cut about any where. Afternoon temps went crazy with moderate winds. Forecasters, as well as models indicated some widely scattered thunderstorms this afternoon. That was before temps soared to 106! The extra heat caused numerous storms to form and all were severe warned from time to time. We were rained out at 5 pm. Before the rain, we cut off Jeremy and my farm. Then we cut off most of another farm that was hail damaged. I just wish that we could have gotten a little more rain since we couldn't cut. I wonder what will happen tomorrow, with the extra moisture and temps forecasted again 106. Wheat yield is not good this year unlike most other folks who sprayed fungicide. I don't have enough tickets to figure yield yet but it has been a weird season for growing wheat this year.
June 16, slow start and picking around.
I had a funeral to go to this morning and got back around 1:30 pm. We moved to my next farm and encountered green wheat. We pulled out of there and cut off the rest of my home place then cut off most of Grandma's home place. This evening I looked at another farm and it should go tomorrow. Weather was blazing sun, (temps in the mid 90s) high humidity, (dew points 75) and breezy winds. This dried the rain we got yesterday but produced the swim able air today. When we get my next farm done (probably my best wheat) we will have Grandma's Saline county ground to do then go back and pick up a field here and there and be done.
June 17, bad day good day.
Jeremy left on vacation and like I thought---things went delta sierra. First, I ran a load to Salina that we cut the day before. I blew a tire on the truck---scared me to wits. Then while moving headers to a new field, the steering bolts on my combine broke bending the support part of the hydraulic cylinder. After a countless long time the hired boy and I got it off and I spent time straightening the support cylinder. Upon remounting the bolt holes would not line up. It was after 4 pm before I gave up and used a smaller bolt and tightened everything up. The hired hand was cutting and almost had the field cut. I helped finish the field and took a load to the elevator. We moved one combine to my seed wheat field and I finished it at dark. The weather was beastly---temp 103 and dew point of 72. Felt like 111. I'm beat but another farm is done.
June 18, no cutting.
It rained a little during the night---enough to settle the dust was all. Today was cloudy and very humid. I dumped a load at Salina and took the other truck to get the blown tire repaired. I searched for a suitable field to cut but the kernels mushed between my teeth. It rained in the area but not around home here. Somewhat cooler temps with high humiditys kept things from drying out.
June 19, broken down.
After cutting 7 acres Sunday afternoon, I discovered my machine had a breakdown. Lucky to not catch combine on fire.
June 20, down and slow.
Jeremy not home from vacation to fix my combine yet. Kept having trouble with Grandma's combine. Finally figured problem to Grandma's machine late. Move3d to her Saline county ground and cut off one of 3 fields. Hope to finish hers off tomorrow then only 3 fields left back home.
June 22, END IN SIGHT!
We finished grandma's Saline county ground and moved home. Had reel problems with Grandma's combine that Jeremy fixed today. We then cut off my last two farms. Jeremy moved to a patch he had we'd forgot and cut a couple loads. Should finish tomorrow. YEAH! Today was hot and dry with temps topping out at 104 with gusty winds. Chance for rain tomorrow.
June 23, harvest over.
Jeremy finished his wheat this afternoon. Harvest is over. I concentrated on hay today. Rain moved by just to our south. Temps were cool and dry with clouds and sun. Winds were light. The wheat market is as low as I've seen it for many years. Maybe 30 years. Farmway price bid is 347 when I looked. We'll loose money on wheat raising this year.
July 2, finally, a good rain.
After many weeks of hot and dry weather in June (good for harvest though), we got around an inch of rain last night. Today is cloudy and temps in the high 70s. I stepped in because the weather alert tone for a thunderstorm watch so we might get a little add-on. We got two barely half inch rains the middle of June that helped spring crops hang on. The wheat stubble ground was so dry in places that the chizzel popped out of the ground and just scratched the top. We get this second rain and things will be better for a lot of July. I did rainy day chores today like taking mineral to the cattle and mowing grass and working in the garden. Pictures below.
Been a while since water stood in the yard.
Picture of one of my milo fields. Too dry in the tractor tracks for the milo to come up when I planted it. Well the two 1/2 inch rains sprouted the remaining seeds so I have milo that is 8" high, milo that is 4" high and milo that is barely 1" high. Probably won't cut this until frost happens next fall.
Picture of a spade full of potatoes in my garden. They did real good this year. I planted cobbler and kennebeck as varieties.
After taking the garden hose and washing the mud off the newly dug potatoes, I'm letting them dry before sacking them and placing them in storage.
July 22, heat is on.
After a cool/somewhat wet July beginning, a "ring of fire" high pressure system is our dominate weather maker. Yesterday's high was 104 with a dew of 68. This afternoon as of 2 pm. the high was 106 with a dew of 66. I actually see a thunder shower about 20 miles to my north as I came in to get a drink before going out again. This is great haying weather so it's been almost constant hay field work. I'm basicly smacking into prairie hay now and still have a lot to do before now and vacation. Next week we sell our fall born calves so very important time on the farm. Forecast is for more normal temps and rain next week. I'll sure be ready for that.
August 6, back from vacation.
Liz and I got back from the east coast Friday. We found cloudy and cool weather with highs in the 70s. We didn't get much rain as the soil is still pretty dry. Our fall calf sale last week went pretty well except price which was down a dollar a pound. Average weight for all calves (steers and heifers) was 677#. Average price was 1.47. So, now we are in August, I've got to get Grandma through her cataract surgery and sell her calves as well as finishing haying.
August 12, hot and cool with no rain.
It seems that we have 3 days of hot temps and 4 days of cooler temps a week. Yesterday, the high temp before the front moved through (pre frontal compression) was 103 with a dew of 72!!! Today, the high was 83. We just missed a rain by 3 or so miles, so hurting in the moisture area badly. Forecast is for mild and no rain. I still have a lot of hay (alfalfa) to mow down and am starting to put down sorghum as it takes longer to dry down. Also still have some weeds in the wheat ground still clinging to meager soil moisture that needs to be cleaned up. The cooler episodes of weather has helped the milo and beans hang on. Milo is heading, beans are poding, and since we missed this rain, both will start to go backwards each day without rain. Up to now, a tremendous yield potential could have been had, but that's slipping away. One good thing is the hay supply. After this cutting is over, I should have a good bit more bales than last year.
August 17, now hot, then cold.
Today, the high temp was 99. A cold front is forecasted to arrive in two parts beginning Friday with a chance of rain. I cultivated some of my wheat ground today and turned up no moisture. How the milo and beans are hanging on is a wonder. Must be the last bit of sub soil moisture. Medium range models show a blob of precipitation for next Wed./Thursday. Just as we are selling Grandma's calves. This week is highlighted with Machinery breakdowns. I've been running to get swather parts and order other parts. One of my tractors has a generous radiator leak with the A.C. sporatic. Grandma's 50 year old tractor gave up it's engine. I'm still trying to get alfalfa and prairie hay and forage sorghum put up in this hot and dry time. Breakdowns are slowing me down.
August 19, finally, there was rain.
A cold front fired a line of storms this afternoon. This time they held together and we got much needed 1.25". It was so dry that the wheat fields looked like no rain fell. There are still cracks in the ground so we need more rain to soak things up.
August 28, cooler to normal temps and more rain.
We've received rain almost every night lately. Not a lot of rain, but very helpful loading the top soil with moisture. We've been doing some fence rebuilding while rained out of the fields and digging fence post holes shows no/little moisture in the sub soil. Milo is pretty well headed and soybeans keep podding. Good yields seem assured. What is bad is the prices. Spring planted grain prices are plummeting carrying wheat with them. Wheat is in the $2.70 range---so low one pauses to think they would even plant this fall. Soybeans were the only crop to make money and that will be in trouble by the time of harvest. Cattle prices are down $1.00 per pound from last year. We farmers have had it good for many years but you non-farmers try reducing your pay check by 1/3 starting now and see where you get along. That's what we're facing. Next year will be even tougher.
August 30, cloudy and wet continues.
Cloudy and cool continues with afternoon and night time rains coming from this tropical air mass over us. So far, we've not had one of the big flooding rains yet, just .30-.40" a 24 hr. period. I'm writing this while I wait for a model to load (checking out the first week of Sept.). I got my first fall calf born this fall to a heifer so that is starting. I'm also waiting for dry weather to finish cutting the last few fields of alfalfa. Weeds are also coming in my wheat ground. I did get the alfalfa planted so rains on that is great. Wish I'd planted more now. Well, check the model and then out the door this morning.
I planted short maturing milo here so as to roll it back into wheat. Note the prolific pigweed growing in the milo. Pigweed (amaranth) is a huge problem in all crops this year.
Now with the rains, beans are doing well. This field is pretty clean of weeds too.
This field is around thigh high but high population per foot of row. Picture is close-up of the pods on a plant. I did get a minor pod drop from the heat and dry weather that occurred a few weeks ago.
September 7, warm, humid and windy.
We got around 6" of rain a week ago at the very end of the large rain event that occurred. It was cool after the rain and then slowly warmed up again. I tried to get the rest of the alfalfa cut and baled as well as keeping up with weedy wheat ground. Today I gave up with the cultivator and will have to re-disc some wheat ground that has thick weeds in it. Forecast is for rain the end of the week then cool and dry for the weekend with more rain possible for the mid next week.
Sept. 13, warm to cool.
Today a cold front moved through and it was cloudy with temps in the 60s. This morning a line of thunder showers passed and it only rained for about one minute. The forecast is for 3 or 4 days of cool temps with increasing amounts of rain after tomorrow. I got all the alfalfa baled that needed it during the last few days of warm and windy. Also I've got the wheat ground in pretty good shape, ready for fertilizer then planting. I'm also over half done calving heifers so happy about that. I also have been fighting my stomach and after talking with my Dr., I'm back on antibiotics and steroids. Activities on the farm are Farm Management meeting, seed wheat cleaning and positioning as well as getting combines ready for fall harvest. Also I have a dirt contractor building terraces on our new farm. This is the lull before the busy time. The first week of Oct. we plant wheat, harvest soybeans and milo, start fall calving in earnest and bale forage sorghum.
Picture of the contractor pushing up the beginnings of the terrace.
Picture of one of my first calf heifers with her and two other calves. Over half done calving heifers now with the main herd starting around the 5th of October.
September 30, planting some wheat.
The weather lately has been cool and dry. I've got all the alfalfa baled that is ready to cut. Forage sorghum that's remaining is in the wind row drying. I had most of our continuous wheat ground spread with fertilizer per soil tests taken 2 weeks ago. Normally, we spread our own fertilizer to save some costs. This year I had it applied so we could work the ground and plant, hopefully completely panted in a week. Soybean harvest is close then we sell spring born calves in October. Milo has enough "green" in it that we'll need a killing frost to dry down the grain. Talking about milo, we had real pests materialize, hurting our milo crop. First, there was lots of pigweed in the milo we couldn't control this year. Second, two insects were really hurting yields. Sugarcane aphids and corn head worms have cut yields. Well, $2 milo doesn't bode well to ANY yield losses. I have started to plant some wheat. I planted a couple of small fields (clean) with a couple of new varieties that I want to look how they do on our farm and maybe use them in a future planting blend. They are Gallant and Winterhawk. My blend for this fall's planting is 4458 and Grainfield, both West bred varieties. Now for the forecast I'm looking at. There is a fair chance for rain Monday-Wednesday. Actually, we could use some rain for the wheat ground helping germination of the newly planted wheat. Rain is not so welcome for the cane hay and the soybean harvest. We'll see what happens. Another alarming thing I see in the weather is a hurricane moving up the east coast of the US. The models have just started this from previous solutions that showed the hurricane track farther out away from the coast. It is still a few days away so hopefully the track/strength will deviate. Again, time will tell. We have lots of friends and relatives who live along the east coast so I'll watch with interest what unfolds.
October 10, somewhat wet.
We got around one inch of rain last week amongst hail and tornados. In between rains we got a lot of wheat planted and forage sorghum baled. Hail knocked out beans from the pods on a couple of soybean fields. Some of our wheat appeared to be crusted over and needed a softening shower. Last night, I ran a couple of hi-resolution convective models. They showed a strong signal for isolated storms right over us. At 5 am. and again at 9 am. rain moved over our farm leaving .30". I think a lot of wheat came on through today. I made a pasture check and found 6 new baby calves which I worked and tagged. I also got one field of soybeans cut yesterday and hauled to the elevator today. I'm planning to sell spring born calves the 20th. Lots of things going on, just glad to get moisture this fall. Lots of time our droughts started in the fall.
October 28, thoughts on this fall.
This has been a strange Fall season weather wise so far. While I am trying to finish up wheat planting, bean cutting and milo harvest well as moving cattle home for the winter, the weather continues warm/hot with little rain. We really didn't have colorful tree leaves this year, they just fell off. The pasture grass is cured, with a undercoat of green cool season annual grasses. The grass curing came from being seared by sun and wind, not a killing frost. We've had one light frost this month. Alfalfa and the early planted wheat are growing well yet due to constant high temps in the upper 70s and no frost. The late planted wheat will come up spotty due to topsoil drying out. Fall calving has passed the mid point with 64 calves on the ground. Even though the temps are high, the cows are acting like there is snow on the ground---they're eating every thing we give them so the grass must be giving out on nutrients. We sold our spring born calves the 20th and 27. Prices are really down---I think we hit the low in the market the 20th. The 27, the prices were some better at the auction. I've got 10 cattle moves to do between now and the 1st of November which makes me a somewhat nervous wreck. I've just got to plug along till the moves get finished. At least weather will not interrupt what I'm doing.
November 7, life giving rain.
After weeks of above normal temps due to persistent high pressure, a long forecasted shower event happened last night and today. Only .25" was forecasted, but a blocked pattern made the rain persist and we got around .65". This is very important as the last few planted wheat fields were too dry to germinate the seed. Now, that will happen. Also, in a couple of days we will maybe get our first killing frost. This is important as our late planted milo is not drying down and a freeze will help. I have been afraid that we were drifting into a drought, (It seems a lot of our droughts start in the fall/winter)and we may still be doing that, but at least we'll start with a stand of wheat going into the winter. At this time, we've got most of the cattle moves done (YEAH), and fall calving is 3/4 done. This is a big relief as we can now settle into a winter routine. We have 3 fields of milo left to cut but is still too wet in the grain. All this work is good but is a trial for me as I battle stomach ailments from pre-existing conditions. I find I'm loosing energy to the point of being 60% of energy normal. I'm also 6 days off a month of steroids and the extra super expensive meds aren't helping much. Throw in two episodes of severe stomach flu (I hardly ever get the flu-bug) and life is sometimes not fun. I've got regular Dr. checkups the end of the month so hope to convey my sorrows and see if there is something else going on. Looking ahead, a possible weather pattern change will occur in around 10 days. Exactly how this will go (due to a input from the Madden Julian Ossollation) is unclear as of now but a trend towards cooler and maybe wetter weather is coming.
With the abnormally high temps we've had so far this fall, the wheat crop keeps on growing---too much I know. The plants are so far advanced I'm concerned about winter kill when it does freeze back. One lives long enough, you see new things. I'd say 70% of the wheat in our area is vulnerable to deep freeze temps.
This wheat was planted the first week of October (normal planting time for here). Very lush.
I used a pop can to show how tall the wheat is. Pretty tall and rank.
Monday Dec. 5, cold and snow forecasted.
A cold front moves through tonight then a upper low moves over producing maybe 3" of snow. After clearing, with snow on the ground, temps will make a run towards 0 Thurs. and Friday mornings. This will test the advanced wheat unless snow will not blow away and blanket the wheat. We'll see. Last Saturday, we ended up with a surprise .45" rain/drizzle which is enough to help the wheat as the former had used up a lot of moisture during it's rapid growth. Next, a busy week. I have two Dr. visits this week sandwitched around branding heifers and prepare for our tax situation with Farm Management. With this weather change, my experience is, even though it's been a warm fall, the pendulum swings to the other side eventually.
December 16, the pendulum swings.
For the last week, temps. have been below to well below normal. Daytime highs struggle to make 32 due to almost constant cloudy skies. The cause of all this is a large trough located in the central part of the country with a closed low over northern Canada (polar vortex). Concern shifts to tomorrow and Sunday where we may get a bit of snow but below zero temps. This will be hard on livestock, machinery, wheat and people. Fortunately, due to fast winds aloft in the base of the trough, Temps will rebound quickly. The damage may have already been done. At least we have to endure two days of extreme cold. This cold air came from Siberia not the artic north of Canada where I have kept track of daily temps. For now, it looks like this is the last of the extreme cold for a while. Normal temps would feel warm in the coming weeks if the sun can shine occasionally.
Merry Christmas to all.
Today was a wild weather day. Temps were in the 60s and we actually had severe weather warnings. We also got .55" rain. Last week, we received 2" of snow with a -9 degree low one night then -2 the next. This burned the wheat back but there was enough snow to keep the wheat alive. We weren't ready for quite so low temps and hoping no radiators got cracked. We found that our income taxes were nasty as the commodity prices fall. It's worse for us when farm income declines than increases. We're on a regular cow feeding routine now and I'm still getting a stray baby fall calf. After the first if January, we'll put bulls out and sell a few cull cows. Otherwise, we have to put a new final drive in my combine, work on my big tractor, have a pasture or two sprayed for musk thistle (if the price is right) and cut fire wood.