Sunday, March 31, 2013

starting to farm

Well it warmed up this week.  The agronomist from the local coop came out to do soil samples.  She said this was the hardest soil she had ever tried to drive a probe into.

  After probing three different fields we hope she can come up with some recommendation  of a crop that will grow there.  We did get some snow moisture last week and it rained a few showers on Saturday the 30th March.  All totaled for the month we got 0.23'.  Not too good for one of our wettest months.

So I started trying to chisel this hard ground.  If we do get good moisture at least it will penetrate the soil and go down where plants can use it.

I did get done with this 40 acre field on Friday evening.  We are ready for the predicted moisture that is coming on Saturday.  Saturday we went over to help Ryan tag some calves and move some pairs around.
Tammy hid some eggs for the grandkids to hunt.

Here is one of the calves from a first calf heifer.  She is probably a month old and every day lays on top of this mound in middle of their lot. The first calf heifers are about done as there is only about three left.  The mature cows having just started calving a week ago are moving along and are approaching a third done.

Must be a sign of spring.  We woke up Easter Sunday morning and found a herd of turkeys in our front yard.                
Tammy took this picture out the front picture window.  I have started to water our lawn trying to save the trees and the lawn grass.  I  am watering all the cows and all the sheep with the same pump so the only time to water the lawn is in the evening until we go to bed.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It seems that the last few blog posts I have written all have the underlying theme.  Lack of moisture of any kind so far and the impending doom of the prospect of a repeat of last years moisture levels. The extreme cold temperatures of the last week with the strong winds from the southeast haven't brought any more moisture.  Normally a southeast wind for several days brings up Gulf moisture as it collides with the cold air from the north, but nothing.

Tammy talked to a guy with a feedlot in eastern South Dakota and his concern was the ranchers in the west would have to sell out their herds and they would have no calves to feed next fall.  They are running numbers as to how much it would cost to put cows in the feedlot to hold a herd together.  The costs are coming out in the $2.25 a day range.  Our cows are currently grazing old dried up grass and are getting 16 lbs. of old hay per day. The cost to replace this hay would be $.10 per lb.  So our cost with some grazing is $1.60 per day. That annuallizes out to $580 a year just for feed.  These cows won't calf for another 30 days.  We will have to kick up quality and quantity soon.  Our replacement heifers are in a feedlot by Vale and are costing $1.75 a day

Our young neighbor started selling his herd down last week.  He sold heifer calves.  He kept a quarter of his potential herd replacements and sold off three quarters.  The problem is do you sell out now and get ahead of the rush to sell later.  Or maybe you sell and it starts raining in a month and we have an average year.  Nobody knows.

I have been running grazing plans and different senarios of what to keep and what I could sell.  Nothing works out very well with no rain.  If it rains things look good and all grazing plans change.  Tammy was out in an alfalfa field the other day and we made this video.

Once the weather warms up a the end of the week I will probably start getting ground ready to plant.  Haven't decided what to plant.  That will depend on seed price and availability.  For now I guess I will close and go help Ryan tag some calves.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Well March sort of came in as a lamb.  No moisture, but some wind.  Several snow storms went around us and left snow and icy roads in eastern South Dakota.  We stay dry.  By the middle of the month the daytime temperatures were up to 60 to almost 70 degrees.  Tammy went out and took soil temperatures.  The soil temperatures were 52 degrees.  When she tweeted that her corn farmer friends were jealous as it was warm enough to plant corn and they were under snow thinking delayed planting.

The heifers at Ryan's are about done calving and the cows are just starting.  Ryan got his first AI calf and it was a cold night with wind and he thinks the calf might have froze her ears.  It just wants to stay cold and windy. Last Monday it was 8 degrees in the morning with a stiff wind.  We go over to Ryan's every day and help tag calves but with just the heifers calving there is only one or two a day.  Now with the cows starting thing should get busier.

The one day we came home and drove on the bluff above where I had fed the cows here.  It was windy and I had fed them below the bluff along the creek so they had some shelter from the biting wind.  Our cows here are not supposed to start calving till mid April, so we are a month away.

Last Thursday night while watching SDSU Jackrabbits play basket ball in the NCAA tournament we got a little snow.  Then it snowed off and on through the night and  we ended up by morning with about an inch of snow.  Ryan over at the ridge got about 2 inches of snow.  It almost melted off but then Friday afternoon and evening it snowed some more.

The other day Tammy got e-mails from two different schools in Rapid City with third grade classes wanting a field trip to the country.  We hate to turn them down so we will probably host the three classes from the one school and Gary Cammack will host the classes from the other school.  Most of these kids have no other contact with the country than this field trip.  It is also a good chance to educate the parents about what we do.  This field trip will not come about till mid May.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

eyeing ewes and new calves

We two weeks ago we got the sheep eyed.  Sheared the wool away from the eyes.  This helps the sheep see so they can eat and watch for predators.  Before they are sheared they walk around with their heads and noses close to ground, smelling and sniffing the ground trying to find something to eat. Once they are sheared they have their heads up and look all around.  Here is one ewe that is particularly wool blind.

We have a squeeze chute at the end of the alley.  We just squeeze them by pushing against the side of the chute.  Ryan and I take turns with one squeezing and the other shearing.

We end up with a pile of wool in front of the chute.  We put this wool in a wool sack to be shipped to the wool warehouse with the rest of wool when we shear the whole sheep.  Brooke like to help put wool in the sack.

Tammy tried to do a video with her flip phone.  I will try and insert it in to this blog and see if anyone can see it.

We have been going over and helping Ryan calve first calf heifers.  They have been slow till the last couple of days.  Tammy took a couple of pictures of calves today.  It was quite windy.

I have had about four black heifers have calves and they all have a red calf at side.  If you have black cows it is good when they have a red calf.

We tattoo a number in the ear of heifer calves so they have a permanent individual identification.  We have an unusual situation this year.  Out of the first eight heifers that have calved they have been all bull calves except one.  The heifer calf came today.

Then I took the scale and got a birth weight on the little calf.

After all this process the baby calf got to go back to the safety of her mother.