Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Haying in the summer of 2014

I haven't put out a blog for a month now.  We have been very busy putting up hay.  It quit raining the last days of June. In a normal year we would start cutting hay around the 10th of June.  This year because it kept raining the hay was growing and so we weren't too concerned about a late start, but we have a lot of acres to go over so we need to get going.  I started cutting around the 20th of June, but that hay got an inch of rain on it.  What I cut for hay early on was a slope on a hill where I feed cows and sheep in winter.  The water drains off of the slope so it drys out quicker.  The bales weren't too thick but we did get some baled.


Then when it quit raining it quit.  This is usual for area.  Once it quits raining it quits for several months.  I don't think we got any rain in the month of July.  Now we are into August and the grain harvest wants to start and we get a rainy spell.  Last night by Rapid City they got over 2 inches in a short time causing flooding.  Here we just got the step wet.

Here on the gumbo there is not a lot of good hay ground and normally we bale 300 to 400 bales.  This year with the sweet clover that grew in the pastures we cut more acres and got over a 1000 bales here.  Then moved over to Ryan's where the good hay ground is and we are about done, but have baled over 1700 bales over there.  Ryan does the baling and has had many days where he baled over 100 bales a day.  Several days of over 150 and one day he got like 180 bales baled.  In 2012 we had 475 bales total for everything


This a 16 ft hydroswing that cuts hay and runs the hay through two rubber rollers that crush the stems and helps the hay dry quicker.  Then it puts the newly mowed hay in a windrow.  The windrow is wide and high. This hay is producing in the range of a ton and a half to two tons per acre.  Which for us is really good.  Last year was really dry and we got 12 bales on a 10 acre patch, where this year we baled 32 bales.  The one field that the biggest difference from year to year was on the gumbo.  Last year I got 4 bales on a 22 acre field and didn't cut it all.  This year we got 66 bales on the same field.  This makes it very hard to plan how many head of livestock you can run from year to year.  One year you have too many head of livestock and the next year you don't have enough.  So the extra hay bales from this year will carry over into next years feed piles and maybe the into the second or third years.

Tammy is eyeing all the second crop of alfalfa that is growing up.  It looks good. Normally we have to scrape to get 150 to 200 little square bales for the lambing barn.  This year we could bale a 1000 or more.  Maybe we will round bale some second crop.  That happens like once ever 20 years.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Aftermath of flood.

When the flash flood came we only got 1.25" of rain but three miles up the creek the neighbor got over four inches in a short time.  The creek started going down in the middle of the after noon.  The County road crew said the water went over Fairpoint Road in 22 different places.  This is a twelve mile stretch.  The next day the county was out with gravel trucks hauling gravel to the bad spots.  We live only three miles west of the Fairpoint Road and didn't get much rain. That's normal for us to get less rain.

I went down to the creek crossing north of the house and the flood had washed a dead tree and some debris right in the middle of the trail.

Since it wasn't so muddy here I have started to cut some hay and get some baled.  Where I cut was a hilltop and side hill where I feed the cows and the sheep through the winter.  There is sweet clover mixed into the crested wheatgrass so it does put up some hay.


As you can see the bales are not very thick, but at least we are getting some hay up.  I have started cutting down on the bottoms along the creek where it didn't flood and the hay is quite thick.   It has been rained on twice. Two nights ago with 0.30" and last night with 0.50".  Quite sever thunderstorms.  Usually someone gets hail out of these storms.  A week ago Ryan had a hail storm hit his alfalfa field.  I was adding up the moisture since June 1 and the total is 6.50" of rainfall.  The whole month of May we got about 0.75".  So we were quite dry but now we are soaked up and ready for some sunshine.

Tammy went up to look at the cows and sheep the other day.  We had moved the cows to a pasture that is full of sweet clover this year..

Sweet clover is alright feed but you need to graze it when it tender and growing.  Once it goes to seed and starts to dry up it feed value drops.  Then it becomes more of a fire hazard for prairie fires.


The cows are grazing in a lake bed.  The sweet clover hill top is in the distance, but they like the tender grass in the lake bed.  Reminds me of watching moose graze in the swamps with just their antlers sticking out.



The pasture is good, but this ewe is laying down with her lambs. So they are not standing looking out through the grass.  Years like this a person needs more animals to graze all the extra grass, but we will just have it for next year.  Some years all the grazing the animals have is last years grass.

Hope to get busy haying in the near future.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

June flood came quick

A funny thing happened on the way to feed the bum lambs.  We had gotten 1.25" rain early this morning. Then about 7:30 it rained for and hour and we got another 0.50".  So we went up to feed the bum lambs.  I could hear this roar that I knew was water but no big amount was in sight.

We spent about 20 minutes feeding bums.  There is like 25 bums in two pens.  When we come out this is what we saw.


Looking north on the hill by the barn.  This is not the normal channel of the creek.  It is an overflow around the beaver dam.


This the northwest corner of the house looking west over the creek.  I have only seen it between the lilacs and the house once before when the seven year drought broke in 2009.


Tammy tried something new for a garden.  Since the soil is too bad to grow anything she used the raised bed method of gardening.  I looked at the garden a half hour later and the tires were under water.  This bed is just on the north side of the lilacs.


Looking south of house.  The water from the creek has breeched the dyke to hold it in the creek and has flooded the little red shed on the creek.  Most of the fence is out. Again.  The camper trailer on the far right is where the chickens reside.  The rest of the flat is hay field.  It will be a while before we can clean the debris off the fields let alone cut hay.

I will be a while before I can cross the creek with the four wheeler to go check the ewes and lambs and the cows and calves.  Then look to fix any washed out fence which there is bound to be.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

We have been busy in the lambing barn.  We have been lambing for about two weeks and are now about half done.  The last days of April we finally got some moisture.  It came in the form of rain with some snow.  The first evening it rained about an inch then it rain or drizzled for three more days with the wind blowing forty to fifty miles an hour.  So we had mud and needed to keep the sheep inside as much as we could.


We number the ewes and their lambs with the same number on the same side.  We do a hundred with one color of paint either black or red on the left side then the right side.  This helps us keep track of lambs and which mother they belong to.



Then when it dried up a little we squeezed a branding in one day.  Our son Ryan got everything ready to brand.  He needed to move his cows so he could quit feeding hay.  So he got enough crew together to get his branded in the morning and we got our calves branded and vaccinated in the afternoon.


The cows that we have here just started calving April 18, so after the rain storm got over I turned them out in the big pasture.  I only had three bales left and it was too muddy to get more bales in so I turned them out to graze.  I take the four wheeler out and drive around and check to see what has been born in the last 24 hours and write them in my book.

Yesterday Marshall and I took two four wheelers and rounded up our yearling heifers and moved them two miles to a pasture.  They had been working the fence trying to reach green grass and sometimes getting out.  This time of year they just don't like hay anymore.  They were good girls and just trotted down the road.


After two mile of a pretty brisk pace we arrived at their new home for the next month or two.


The pasture don't look very green but most of the grey looking hills are mostly old grass from last year, so it is better than it looks.  The weather remains unsettled.  We are predicted to get snow showers for Mother's Day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Well we got sheared.  Four shearers and two helpers came with a shearing trailer and wool sacker.   We lined up another three helpers to push sheep up.  It was supposed to be cold and rainy, but it was just cool and windy with no rain.  The sheep are dry and ready to be sheared.


We use a zig-zag chute to stop the sheep from backing up once they have started up the chute.  It cuts down on the stress of the sheep and stress on the handlers.  Also it take less help.  Once the sheep start up the chute into the trailer many times you just get out of the way and let them load themselves.


Once the sheep load into the trailer they are sheared.


Here is a big look of the shearing trailer and wool sacker all set up and working.  The face wool is separated from the belly wool and put in different sacks.  Just the best wool is put all together in certain sacks.  So each sack is labeled as to which kind of wool is in the sack.  Different wool has different uses so it needs to be separated and labeled.


In the middle is a wool sack that holds bellies and to the left is the closed door of the wool sacker, with a gas engine mounted on top.  There is a pile of wool in front of the sacker ready to be sacked.

Here are our sacks of wool on the trailer ready to head to Belle Fouche.

Here is a picture inside the wool warehouse in Belle Fouche.  They will take a core sample of our wool bales and send the samples to a wool lab.  Then we know what we have for a product then the manager of the wool warehouse knows which customers may be interested in our quality of wool and will offer the wool for sale.  Maybe some time in June we will get a bid and the wool shipped in July.


Then we went to get our bags of sawdust that we use for bedding.  Where we used to get it no longer did retail.  So we tried two different lumber yards and a feed store and no one had any.  The next day we found a supplier in Rapid City.  We had to take two pallets of bags as a minimum.  So we went to Rapid City and got some sawdust.  Sawdust keeps the barn cleaner and it easier to clean the pens that are bedded with sawdust as opposed to straw.  Plus the sawdust has a natural turpentine substance that helps disinfect where straw can carry molds and bacteria.


The wind blew so hard the day we brought this load home we were afraid it would blow over,  but we made it.  It is not heavy just sticks up in the air about eight feet.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Transition from calving barn to lambing barn

Well it finally has warmed up for a few days.  The calves are enjoying the warmer weather.


The mud has started to dry up.  It seemed like it would never dry out.  Tammy and I calved the first calf heifers for about five weeks.  We then hauled the last eight head over to Ryan's so he can finish calving them.  We turned the heifers and their calves out in the pasture with the cows that are not to start calving until April 20.  Then got the sheep into the close lots by the barn.  We can start feeding the sheep extra grain to get them into shape for having their babies in a couple of weeks.


The calves enjoy being out in a bigger pasture.  They are getting to be a month old and can venture away from their mothers for a short period of time.  The pasture they are in has a small dam that is running over with water.  Last year at this time it was bone dry.  We had to fill a tank with water daily last year   and now the cows can drink anytime.

The sheep are in the lot and we feed with a bale processor that grinds the hay bale as it puts it out in a windrow.

Once the animals are moved around to their new locations, then we started cleaning out the barn and moving cattle panels around and sheep panels back in.  We use a tractor and blade to drag the straw and manure out of the barn so that it can dry out.


Ryan and Shilo are providing added weight to the blade so it does not skip over the wet straw.  They ride the blade for a short time as I get a good load to pull out of the barn.


While Logan doesn't get to ride the blade he does provide push power.  So after two days of barn cleaning and the barn finally clean it was time to feed Grandma's sheep some cubes.


It is great fun to feed the sheep out the grainery door.  Next week we hope to get sheared.

Monday, March 31, 2014

In like a Lion - out like a lion.

Well the late March blizzard has arrived.  It didn't start snowing here till after 5 AM, but it really snowed at times.  Weather Service is saying gusts of wind to 62 MPH and temperature of 18 for wind chill of -4 below.
Last Saturday we had a beautiful day with a temperature of 72 degrees.


These calves are all out of our first calf heifers.  These calves are all about two weeks old.  They really enjoy the nice sunshine and warm temperatures.


Tammy and I have been calving our first calvers and have been having pretty good luck.  We have ten left to calve.   We need to send the last ones over to Ryan to finish and we need to get ready to shear the sheep.  This means we have to clean out the barn and scrape the corrals.  It has been hard to do because all the ruts in the mud have remained frozen most of the time.

The cows at Ryan's have been calving right along lately.  Yesterday ahead of the storm he had four cows calve just in the afternoon.  Our cows that are here don't start calving till around April 20.  So this date is creeping up on us.  They calve out in pasture and have to take care of themselves.  The sheep will be in the corrals and occupy the barn, so no cows allowed.

This was the scene outside the barn this morning.  This is the heifers left to calve.


Yesterday there was no snow anywhere.  These heifers had spent the night in the barn so had not been outside very long and got this much snow on their backs.

I have to include one picture of my faithful dog Peaches.  She is patiently waiting for my return to the four wheeler.