Getting Through A Blizzard

We were returning from visiting the boys’ cousins. We left early to try and beat the snow storm. After finally reaching our exit off the interstate, we couldn’t get through the drifts on Route 10. So we turned around and headed back toward Lincoln. On the way, we came across this guy stuck in a drift in the middle of the road. The boys hopped out and pushed him out in their tennis shoes and sweatshirts.
car stuck in snow

car pushed out of snow

We checked in to the Holiday Inn Express. The boys wore their Carhartts and boots to walk to Steak n Shake for supper. The next morning we made it home after the roads were plowed but they were still drifting. The car thermometer said -11. And the wind was brutal.
After lunch we headed out with the truck to see if we could get to the new cattle barn. The road to the east that we usually take was drifted shut. So we drove around to see if the road was open to the west. After jumping some big drifts we made it.

cattle barn snow blizzard

We left the truck running on the road since no one would be driving by.

feeding cattle snow blizzard

Theo is feeding the heifers and Zadok is checking the waters. William threw straw down from the loft and fed the cat.

Harvest Summary Video

Harvest Summary Video


harvesting corn, beans; raking the last hay for the season; using a backhoe; finishing a field talking about yield mapping in combine; newborn calf & cow; putting the corn head in shed; attaching the inline ripper to tractor; inline ripper at work in bean stubble

Harvest Hustle

farm kid on grain bin harvest     This is what is called spotting on a bin.  Z is waiting for me to back the auger up and he will give directions to put the grain auger exactly where it should be.

filling grain bin with corn by auger wagon


We use a 600 bushel wagon as a “catch” “bin” when we put corn in the drying bins.  Corn goes from combine (generally on the go in the field) to wagon to auger to bin.

combine corn sunset

Getting later in the day, corn all around.  It is becoming more and more a “corn” world around here.

yield map 30 acres soybeans

This will probably be our worse field of soybeans.  I thought it would push it to make 25 to 30 bushels per acre.  Actual across the scales at the elevator was 44.7.  That means that Judi has done a good job calibrating the yield monitor on the combine.  See the red those ares are called sand hills.  Purple is “blow” sand.

yield map corn 50 acres

Field south of the house.  Purple area and also red area in middle of the field point out where drainage tile is needed.  Before yield monitors we kinda new about how bad these areas are, but yield monitors really show how bad they really are.

yield map with tile risers flags

Part of a field east of parents house.  It has been partially tiled in 1983 besides old clay tile put in around the turn of the century (1900).  It still has issues as shown by the yield map.  Corn is still much better than I thought it would be with all the late summer dryness we had.  We are in drought 2 category according to the U.S. drought monitor.  Wonder what 4 inches of rain in August and 2 inches of rain the first week of September would have done for the corn yields, not to mention soybean yields?

Harvest Hustle

So far we have been performing the harvest hustle. Switching the combine back and forth between corn and beans when a field is too wet. Moving the auger between drying bins and then filling the regular bins once the corn is dried down. And back to dumping into the drying bins.

Harvest Arrives

yield map of creek bottom

Harvest has arrived and is on hold already. We finished our first corn field (80a). It tested 21% and avg 194 bu/a. That’s pretty good considering this field avg 20 bu/a last year. If we would have had rain these last two months, this field would have made over 200.

A seed dealer showed up just as I was opening the field up. He rode along and watched as I  took out the end rows. Lucky me.

The weather was beautiful. After we finished here we opened up another field. It tested 26%. So we decided to wait on it.

loading grain trailer

Took this shot with a panorama app.

William disked the stalks before we got .5″ rain.

If you happen to be on twitter follow #Harvest13. You see everyone in North America talking about their harvest.

You can also follow me @farmnwife Send me a tweet to say Hi.




Flat Ryan Visits The Farm

#FlatRyan found his way to our farm through our printer. (Very cheap way to travel.)

flat ryanAfter we gave him a new plaid shirt and cowboy boots, we put Flat Ryan to work.

We were putting up square bales of hay into the barn. First Ryan helped unload the rack.

But then he decided to help the boys up in the hay mow.

The quickest way to get up there was to simply ride a bale on the conveyor. So that’s what he did.


After the racks were unloaded, Ryan wanted to take a look at the steers in the barn lot.steer tasting ryan

It must have been close to feeding time because the red steer wanted to see how Ryan tasted.

All I can say is cow saliva wasn’t good for Ryan’s complexion.

Though Ryan did seem to be excited about it.





lime pilesWe had some lime hauled to where we had wheat this year.

After we harvest the corn and beans, we will have the lime spread on the fields to improve the soil ph.





Ryan in lime pileRyan really wanted to play in the lime like it was sand but it started to irritate his delicate skin.

Poor thing.

Thanks for stopping by Flat Ryan.

We’ll catch you on your other travels at




County Fair 2013

Menard County Fair

clipping heiferAfter a very cool summer, at least the first part of summer, it once again was very hot for the Menard County Fair.  The boys had almost all the cattle clipped out before the fair except for Paloma the calf part of Theo’s cow/calf pair.  It sure is nice and less expensive since the boys have learned to do some of the clipping.  Theo won champion cow/calf.  This county fair and State Fair we took all Bred and Owned cattle even the cow.  Bred and Owned means we raised the cattle and did not purchase them from anybody else.

county 4h fair simmental steersThis is the 4-H Simmental steer show. Theo was Champion Simmental steer and Zadok was Reserve.  There was a total 18 4-H steers.  Besides the steers and the cow/calf we only took 2 other heifer calves,  and both of them were reserve champions in their breed in the 4-H show and won their classes in the open show.  We kept the big heifers at home it was just too hot.  We even put up misters in the barn.

Resv Champion 4h SteerTheo was Reserve Champion 4-H steer and 3rd overall in the open and junior show.  We have had 4-H Grand Champion steer before, but this is the first time we were close to the top in the Open show.  The judge liked Theo’s steer.

4H Steer saleTheo sold his steer in the 4-H livestock sale.

Graffs after the steer saleThe sale is at the end of the fair.  Here we are ready to go back home with the animals.  All three will split the proceeds equally from their livestock sale.  The last several years we have only been showing 2 steers and selling only 2 also.  It was still hot, but a cold front came in that night.  Just remember some of the hottest days of the year will always be during the County Fair.

State Fair 2013

Illinois State Fair

practicing with cow calf

Zadok and Theo getting Theo’s cow/calf pair ready for the state fair.  Most people do not understand how much work that has to be done to win at a major show.  The kids and Judi started with over 10 head that they worked with just to show 5 animals at the state fair.  They also started with 4 steers that was whittled down to 2 that they showed at their county fair.  That show finished less than 2 weeks before the state fair.  Lots of cattle to be worked to then just “turn them out” to pasture if we decide they then are not “good enough” to go on to the show.  They also get ready the spring born calves for the state fair and the county fair, which means  not only breaking them to lead, but just getting the calves over weaning and getting them to eat well and making sure they are just “show ready”.

  on way to showring

Going to the Open % Simmental show at 7:45 a.m. on Friday morning.  We were up, out of bed and heading to retrieve the cattle from the tie-outs by 4:45 a.m.  to show in the first class of the day for the second day in a row.  Pressure was off Theo, since the day before he was successful in having the Champion Performance Cow/Calf pair in the junior show which means he was awarded the “Governor’s Punch Bowl”.  He was sweating it since both Zadok, and Isabella had already won the “Punch Bowl”.  The Graff kids have now won it three out of the last five years.  And by the way, this was a good morning.  Grand Champion % Simmental Cow/Calf, Theo was second in his class and Z was third in a big class, not bad when we were done by 8:17 a.m. in the morning.  And if you ever hear us say look at the a$$ on her we are talking about a cow or heifer not a person.  But, man that cow does have a nice, well just look at the picture.  Our bulls would agree with that also.

state fair resv div

Isabella had a good State Fair.  This is her with a calf she raised that was calf champion in the Mainetainer show.  We are really excited about this girl’s future.  We think this heifer has what it takes to be a big time show heifer next year.  Everybody else thought she was good too.  We had numerous people try and buy her from us while we were at the fair.

Grand Champion Age Cow

Here is the picture of the Junior Show Grand Champion cow/calf pair.  The two boys, me, the husband/wife judges and Larry Wilson Junior Show superintendent holding the silver bowl.  In the Junior show once a cow wins and once a kid wins the “bowl” they are “retired” from winning it again.  So we have 3 cows that are retired and 3 kids retired from winning the Aged Performance Cow/Calf award.  They could go for the “young” cow which is a cow that has only had 1 or 2 calves.  The aged cows have to of had at least 3 calves.  The older one is harder, since the cow has to have had a calf every year of it’s production life and then has to have good performance records with each calf and then has to have a good calf by her side the year you show her, and last but not least she has to look good.  So Duchess, Ellyon, and now Padmay are “out to pasture for good”.

champion percentage simmental cow calf

Here is the open show cow/calf picture.  Isabella was also the 2013 Illinois Junior Simmental Association Queen.  The kids Grandfather really likes this cow.  She is better than her calf.  She is a half blood Simmental whose sire is Dr. Who.  She has about as good as you can ever have performance numbers for a club calf type cow.  Last thing about this cow, she never lost a class when Theo showed her as a heifer, and she never lost a class this year as a cow.  She won 13 classes in her life and retired a champion in 2013.  That’s a very good show career.

races state fair

We relaxed the second week of the state fair at the horse races.

state fair ribbons and bowl

Like I said Theo was happy.  He was counting down the years before we headed to this years fair.  He was saying “I only have 5 more years left after this one”.  He was wondering if he did not win if he would stay with this cow or try with another one.  In the end it did not matter, he won the “bowl”.


Posted by a very proud father, pictures by a very proud mother.

If National Geographic Followed Us Today

Inside Secret America:

Cattle Farm

National Geographic channel feels it needs to get the truth out about handling of livestock. Are animals treated humanely?

I do wish they would have been with us today with their undercover cameras to witness how we handled our cattle. A little of it may be shocking if they haven’t been around large animals. But mostly it’s a family trying to take care of their cow herd.

As we were feeding the cows this morning, a few of the younger heifers we show that have had a cough and diarrhea were still coughing. Today Z treated them with sulfa boluses or large pill. The bolus is given to the calf with a boling gun that places the “pill” in the back of the throat. That way it isn’t spit out. The heifers should be getting better by tomorrow.

caring for sick calf

Later this morning, Betsy had her calf. Isabella went out to the pasture to make sure everything was okay. Since both cow and calf looked fine, we left them alone. Betsy is one of the oldest cows on the farm. She knows what to do.

Animal Undercover

Checking on another pasture of cows, we saw they decided to go for a swim in the pond. It was rather cool today. So these cows aren’t skinny dipping because of the heat. I think they just like it. Later they went to dry off in the grass.

skinny dipping cows

Don’t they even look like they were caught doing something.

This afternoon it was time to treat a three week old heifer that has a navel infection along with a hernia. Our vet would like the infection cleared up before fixing the hernia. Theo and Isabella followed his instructions on getting her healed up.

All this might not be flashy enough for National Geographic Channel. There weren’t any “caught on camera” moments. And nothing really to keep secret. Just a day of taking care of cattle on our farm.

Episode 5 Farm Video Shorts

Around the farm in 6 second clips

In this farm video: washing a heifer, leading 4H steer, loading equipment for cattle show, No Mom, a steer gets loose in show ring, raking hay, bailing hay, hauling hay, taking clevis hitch off planting tractor

Theo at Simmental Jr Regionals

Theo took one steer, Clovis, and one heifer, Iris, to the South Central Simmental Regionals in Springfield Missouri.

Theo brushing his steer

Theo brushing his steer

On Monday and Tuesday, Theo participated in sales talk, cattleman’s quiz and livestock judging. The cattle show was on Wednesday.

Dad and Kevin fitting Iris

Kevin Johanson came to fit both the heifer and steer. He did a very nice job.

The Final Results

Clovis wins 4th overall steer

Clovis placed 4th overall steer.

Iris - 7th overall bred & owned prebred

Iris placed 7th overall bred & owned purebred heifer.

Theo - 1st place livestock judging

Theo placed 1st in the livestock judging contest.

As we were just about to load the equipment up to head home, a light came on the dash for the engine. Dad took the truck to the local ford dealership but they could fix it til the next morning. So we had more quality time in Springfield MO. On the road home a clamp on the turbo boost broke. So we had to stop and get that replaced. We did eventually make it home just before dark. That night Dad baled hay til about 10pm.