#Plant14 Arrives After A Long Winter

tractor-planter.jpgThis picture is deceiving. It was cold. The planter is ready to go, but we had to wait a few days to get started. We moved the tractor and planter out of the shed to put more seed corn away.

best-seed-corn-bag-design.jpgStone Seed Group has the best designed bags of the 6 seed companies we bought from this year.

planter-in-mirror.jpgBill started planting late afternoon on Thursday. That way he didn’t start on the dreaded Friday. Also our dually is not a good choice of trucks to take seed to the field. One of the tires drives on the row.

soil-temperature-test.jpgThe sky was cloudy but it was nice temps. The ground temperature at 4 inches was 52 degrees. The ground worked up nicely. William said it was time to go. The auto steer wouldn’t work. Our dealer worked and worked on it but couldn’t make it go. So the old style markers it is. But Bill can’t keep up with twitter. Such sacrifices.

Collecting Bull Semen

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We are pretty proud of General Grievous. (Dad misspelled his name on the registration papers.) He has turned out to be a very good herd cleanup bull for us. His numbers are excellent for a Simmental and phenotypically he is pretty nice as well. But we should go back to the beginning.

The General  Here is the General at a couple days old with Sandy. She had him unassisted in 2006. General's baby picture

He has given us many show ring winners; bulls, steers and heifers. The cows from him have turned out to be excellent milkers and mothers. So with all these lovely attributes we decided to collect him to share his good genetics and to use it when he is gone. Thus starts our journey into storing General’s semen. Things like this are always a learning experience.

Fortunately, Interglobe Genetics is only a 1.5 hour drive for us. This is their round barn they have on the premisses. This happened to be the first week in December and it was cold.

round barn Interglobe Genetics  We were surprised that where they had the bulls unload from the trailers there is a large drain right in the middle of the floor. Of course, this spooked the General as he pranced around it. Not a good design.

They used a steer for bulls to jump. A brave guy collected the semen in a sleeve. Then they take the semen under a microscope to see his count. The General’s numbers were very good. He only had to be collected once more to get the number of straws we wanted. We drive home and wait for them to call to pick it up.

testing semen countA month later, they call that it is ready to be picked up. These tanks are only about 1/3 of the tanks in this building. A nice young lady showed us around.

large semen tanksThis is what it looks inside the large tanks. Lots and lots of canes. Lots of records to keep track of who is where.

inside large semen tankWe pick up the Generals semen and head home. Bill wants me to make up a flyer to put up at the Beef Expo. Being the dutiful wife, I comply.

General's adBut wait, we get a notice that the DNA test for the General has failed for the sire Hooks Shear Force! Wonderful. Bill is sure he used the right straw when we bred Sandy; but maybe it was Hooks Pace Setter? So we send off another hair test sample to the labs. The test isn’t done quickly. The Beef Expo comes around. We can’t put up the flyers or tell anyone we have General’s semen available because we don’t have the results back.

Then we get the results in the mail… He passes positive for the sire Hooks Shear Force.

dna test resultsSince he has been around for awhile, we have seen what this guy works with and how they grow. All his calves have been easy birthing. There hasn’t been one that was too big.

He works really well with our purebred Angus cows.  Here is a picture of a heifer sired by General and one of our Angus cows. The hardest thing with her is keeping her from getting too finished to fast to be a show heifer.  She is a real easy keeper.  She seems to put on weight just looking at hay.

daisy angus on general

He also does a decent job on club calf style cows.  Here is a steer that we raised from General and a 1/2 blood Simmental cow.  She is sired by Dr. Who.  The steer was third overall at a competitive county fair steer show and was 4th steer overall at a Simmental regional.

Clovis 3rd overall steer

Last is a picture of a bull sired by  General, he was a Division winner at the State Fair.  He is out of a 3/4 Simmental, 1/4 Angus cow.

Master Chief

General works well on many different types of cows and the best part is they come real easy and then grow very fast.  We decided to collect him and share him with others after he has sired so many good ones for us.  He is 6 years old and still walks like a cat and still is very interested in the ladies.

February Farm in Photos

Farm photo slide show of the major events.

Historic Drought of 2012

Spring of Drought 2012

Since I had my websites combined and professionally revamped, I am behind in my blog updates. And I can’t believe I had forgotten about recording this historic year all summer. But fear not, I took lots of pictures. Believe me it’s all still fresh in my memory if not sweat glands, the details of the Drought of 2012.

Let this be a reminder to all of us. You never know when a season will be noteworthy enough to write about ’til it’s already gone. Please recall the harvest of 2009. Another year etched in my memory. But in our memories is not good enough for future generations. It has to be written down. It’s our children’s children’s heritage.

Okay, enough of the sentimental crap.

Winter was very mild/warmish. There was a late spring frost that killed some other farmers’ early planted corn.

perky 3 leaf corn

Spring planting started off at a very nice pace. Considering for many years in a row, we had too much rain to get into the fields. But we finished planting and were able to go to the Flach cattle show Memorial Day weekend.

theo at flach show

At this time, we weren’t getting a whole lotta rain. But we weren’t too concerned yet. Late last summer it stopped raining and we had to haul water. But we finally put in new wells at our house and grandpa’s. So we weren’t hauling water to the houses any more. But almost everyone else on old wells was dry.

cultivating corn

William dug out the old cultivator that completes the matched set with the tractor.(my opinion) After he drove it into the driveway, Bella asked, “What’s that?!” We don’t use it very much. We debate whether cultivating helps by creating a mulch around the plants or harms by clipping roots and releases moisture.

z and coyote

Z knocked this coyote down in one shot. She was out traipsing in the pasture close to the cows and calves. The pastures were still green. But that will change.

To be continued…


Road Trip

A fellow amateur photographer and I went on what has become our annual February road trip to shoot eagles. This year just happen to be great weather for the activity. To find the big birds in large numbers is only a 45 minute drive. When we arrived at Havana’s riverside park, we saw gulls everywhere. I took some shots of this gull who seemed to be teasing the other gulls by playing with a fish but didn’t eat it. [Read more…]

State Fair Thru a Fisheye

These pictures and videos were taken with a fisheye lens at our state fair. Theo won Champion Percentage Simmental Cow/calf with Milkshake and Rocky Road. Z’s bull, Master Chief, was division champion. We have friends who have the Belgian draft horses in the video. They showed at the Colesium. Nice weather at the fair but glad to be home after 5 days.

Caption This


Bill in round baler


What caption would you write here?



Make Hay While the Sun Shines

Round hay balesI was going to start a series of posts today on putting up hay. But it rained. So we couldn’t mow. This got me to thinking about the old saying “Make hay while the sun shines’. I never had trouble understanding the phrase but some people do. I remember our minister mentioning it in a sermon. He didn’t know what it meant. I could be real cute and say that you make hay while the sun shines because you can’t make it at night (here in the mid-west). But I won’t be a smart a$#, this time. So what to do when you want answers? Google it, right. I mean, I have to check the authority to see if I’m correct. So what did I find?


Make the most of one’s opportunities while you have the chance.


This proverb is first recorded in John Heywood’s A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546:

Whan the sunne shinth make hay. Whiche is to say.
Take time whan time cometh, lest time steale away.

Many proverbs exist in other languages, but this one doesn’t and it’s a reasonable surmise that the phrase is of English Tudor origin.

Of course, mediaeval farmers would be as well aware of the wisdom of not leaving it too late to gather one’s hay. Modern machinery and weather forecasting make haymaking reasonably quick and stress-free. Tudor farmers would have taken several days to cut, dry and gather their hay and would have had only folk rhymes like red sky at night to guide them. Forecasting the weather two or three days in advance wouldn’t have been possible, so all the more reason for them to ‘make hay while the sun shines’.         source


I love that old English. It’s so historical. And I must point out that it is still impossible to forecast the weather. The old weather proverbs are still better at predictions than those paid to do it. Anyway. So the answer to “Why make hay while the sun shines” is because it might rain tomorrow. That should clear it up for everyone.

As soon as it dries out and we get to putting some hay down, I’ll take some video to take you through the process. And I’ll show you our latest big purchase. I told William it clashes with the rest of them. Can you guess what it is?

Wordless Wednesday: Sugar the Cow

Farm Disaster Plan

Work the Planice on barbed wire

After reading Purdue’s article on disaster preparedness for farms, I got to thinking about how prepared we are for an emergency on our farm. Although Mr. Cain has some great suggestions, he leaves out significant items necessary for almost every farm emergency.

I liked the idea of  creating a plan to discover potential problems that we might not have thought of occurring. With everyone getting involved I can see some coming up with scenarios that others may overlook.

Crop insurance is pretty much a given. When I think of disaster, I think of dealing with the fall-out immediately afterwards as in a tornado, ice storm, or fire. Crop insurance covers loss of yield from drought, flood, green snap, ect. These usually occur over days to months. They’re not what I consider emergencies.

Keeping important files and papers offsite is fundamental. We have files in a security box at the bank and backup files online regularly. Walking through the a pre-planned exercise would be wise in order for everyone on the farm to know what is expected and what to expect.

The one thing that is not mentioned that I believe is vital is a generator. We have had many winters where ice had knocked out the electricity for more than a few days. Having a generator as a backup energy source was crucial for getting through that time period. Not only for the house but the livestock are dependent on us for their water supply. We have a tractor pto hook up for one site of the farm and a Honda 6500 gas generator for the other.

Have you had a farm emergency at your place? How did you handle the situation?