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kansasfarmer's blog

September 2009 - Posts

  • Some days you just want to throw up your hands and walk away.

    Ever have one of those really disgusting days?  I know anyone who farms has.  Mine was yesterday.  Driving down the road to check a fence(I had noted a large fresh cowpie in the road the evening before) I was greeted with a number of my replacement heifers standing in my soybean field.  These were from a piece of land with good fence, luckily they readily followed the pickup back through the gate on the other side of the road.  I assumed one of my watergaps had washed out in the previous rain and started for it, the cattle turned back toward the road and in just a short time a few were back in the road, upon closer inspection I learned the reason for this was a big bale of hay was sitting on my fence.  My neighbor has been hauling bales across the river on a 2 ton truck,the steep incline shifts his load and he loses about 2 a day.  One had landed square on the fence, flattening it.  As luck would have it, my bale bed would not work because one of the hydraulic lines ruptured, prompting a near fire under the hood.  I could not leave with the heifers standing ready for another escape, lucky we live in the cell phone era, so I called the neighbor to request aid removing his bale from my fence.  He promptly responded with his brother, who I had not really visited with in years(they are a few years older than I am and we have known each other always.). While catching up, I couldn't help but notice how old they both looked, causing me to remember how old I am getting...that didn't help my mood. (They weren't having that great of a day either, the reason the brother was there was to investigate an accident the previous day involving their father and 3 power poles, took the electric company the better part of the day to sort things out).

     During the escape, I had noted one cow that belonged across the river, and she had left the mob and crossed back over.  No doubt, she was the layer of the cowpie in the road from the day previous.  I forded the river and started along the fence back west, to discover the high water had dropped a tree on it, just big enough I could not remove it without cutting it up.  I had thought about bringing the chainsaw, but for some reason did not, so I returned home to get the saw, and cut up the tree and mended the fence.  I then headed to a 3rd pasture where I am calving heifers.  2 had calved, and had hidden the calves.  I am worried about coyotes and searched with no luck for the calves.  I decided to leave and come back later, so I went to the repair shop where my silage cutter was supposed to be getting the air conditioner fixed, and a new battery.  As it turned out, the battery was not the problem, the starter was, and I also was suffering from a bad hydraulic pump.  Happy to learn what I thought was a $250 trip was turning into a $1000 trip, I went back to the 3rd pasture to discover one of the very pregnant heifers had jumped the fence from one nice green field of brome, to another nice green field of brome she wasn't suppose to be in.  She came to the gate, I opened the gate, she turned around and ran the other way, I followed in the pickup.  Round and round she went, until finally rather than go through the gate she jumped over the fence, well, she gave it her best effort really, came up a little short and flattened that fence, so I fixed that, and still didn't find the two new calves. 

    So I went to the 4th pasture, where I have 55 fall calving cows.  Standing in the middle of it was one new calf bawling his head off.  I called the cows up and everyone ignored him, I piddled for an hour and a half trying to figure out what was going on. During that time no one showed the slightest interest in him, he was gaunt like he had never sucked, but his nose was wet and his tongue warm, and he had lots of energy.  Not knowing what else to do, I loaded him up in the front of the pickup with me, I could not tie his feet because my rope was hanging in the barn.  I drove home with him trying to figure a way out of the pickup cab, and urinating all over everything, which made me feel confident he had sucked.  I don't have many orphan calves, and couldn't find my calf bottle, and my milk replacer was very old, so Amy and I jumped in the VW and headed for Emporia to buy a calf bottle and milk replacer(by now it is 7pm), I figured it was a good excuse to take her out to supper(might be dinner in the city, but it is supper to us).  I ordered something new, which I rarely do, and hated it.  Returned home, fed the calf after the usual ritual that goes on with trying to start a calf on the bottle, and went to bed.  I guess days like that make us really appreciate the good days, but when you really look at it, I am doing what I like, and nothing really terrible, it wasn't that bad of a day after all.

  • The new calf.

    Fall calving is once again upon me.  Time goes racing by, it seems the cows just went to grass, soon it will be time to bring them off of it.  Each fall and each spring I calve between 10 and 15 heifers, over the years by selecting low birthweight Angus bulls I have pretty much bred most of the calving trouble out, and no longer bring my heifers into any kind of pen to calve.  Still, I get a little nervous anytime I use a new bull, since these heifers are bred to a new bull I have paid somewhat closer attention.  Sunday afternoon the first heifer calved unassisted, however she hid in a draw and it took about a half hour to find her.  I was alarmed to see a big coyote about 15 feet from her and the new calf, patiently watching.  I had my 7.62 rifle in the pickup, unloaded, and the coyote evaded me without me so much as getting off a shot.  On Monday morning the heifer was back with the group, with no calf, and didn't seem overly interested in looking for a calf.  I couldn't find the calf or any sign of it, and became concerned the coyote had returned for a nice beef supper.  Tuesday I was relieved to find the calf flat to the ground hiding, when I tried to tag him he jumped up and ran like the devil was chasing him, straight toward a large blackberry thicket.  Without slowing down, he leaped high in the air and plunged straight into it.  Rather than back out, or turn around, the little dummy pressed forward....I was afraid he would get tangled in and die, so I went in after him, getting stuck by thorns about 1500 times it seemed.  I could finally grab his rear leg and flip him around, back out we went, he much wiser than before with a very bloody nose.  I was able to tag him then, and mopped the blood off my own arms where I had been pricked.  Bottom line of it is, regardless of what the animal rights people think, we work very hard in animal agriculture, for some very ungrateful animals. 

  • Cool nights slow crop developement.

    It is the main story throughout much of the prime corn and soybean areas of the almost cold weather slowing the development of a crop that in many cases had a slow start anyway due to late planting and cool wet weather to begin with.  My own corn crop is not in any danger from frost, the only issue with it will be will all the rain cause the grain to sprout on the cob before it can be harvested, and harvest will be late, perhaps not starting before the middle of October on corn.  The soybeans are loaded with blooms and pods, but seem to be at a standstill from lack of warm weather and sunshine.  Sitting on the front porch yesterday evening with my wife enjoying the cool north breeze after an inch and a half rain I uttered what must have been a first for me during the first week of September...."what we need is 3 weeks of hot dry weather".  If nothing changes there is every indication we will have a long and trying fall harvest, that will no doubt run nearly to Christmas for some.

    I learned from both my father and my 7th grade Kansas history teacher that "the weather in Kansas goes from one extreme to the other".  Perhaps that is our best hope, if we could go from a cool wet summer to a warm dry fall.  That might be too much to ask, but why not hope for it.

  • Defeated

    We were completely and utterly defeated in our attempt to keep the emergency services funded at 2009 levels for 2010.  The commisioners absolutely had their minds made up and would make no retreat in their budget cuts.  Appears the waste of the road and bridge crew will continue as they were only cut 1%, whilst police, ambulance and fire were cut from 12% to 21%.  Not a thing to do but throw them out next election, in the meantime I guess the public better hope we stay crime and fire free, and there is no need for rush trip to the hospital via ambulance.  We (fire) discussed briefly simply not going to some fires, I doubt we will do that because of the trouble it will cause. 

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