April snow showers bring May flowers? – The Wilcox Family

A late snowstorm on April 14 and subsequent freeze raises questions about canola and wheat in 2014.

A late snowstorm on April 14 and subsequent freeze raises questions about canola and wheat in 2014.

This is the scene in one of our canola fields this morning. We had a skiff of snow fall last night and this morning (April 14, 2014). While this is surprising, it’s not too unusual for us to have a little snow in April (last year it snowed a little on the 1st or 3rd of May). What makes this year’s late freeze so brutal is that our wheat has not had significant moisture since September of 2013 and the drought has stressed the wheat so much that it has literally went from a month behind to right on schedule in ONE WEEK! The canola is drought stressed also, but it seems to handle late freezes better than wheat does, generally speaking.

Getting the planter prepared to plant milo (grain sorghum) on failed canola.

Getting the planter prepared to plant milo (grain sorghum) on failed canola.

On a more optimistic note, Clint has been getting our planter geared up and ready to plant milo on the acres of canola that froze out earlier this winter. Hopefully the weather will permit us to grow a good crop of milo. We were planning on planting Milo (also called grain sorghum) early this year, but with no moisture in the soil profile and a not-so-promising weather outlook we are probably going to push our planting itinerary back and pray for the El Nino they keep talking about this fall.

We did a little prescribed burning on a Bermuda grass field early this month. Burning off the old growth and “thatch” accumulation will help control weeds, allow the new growth to take off sooner, and allow us to harrow the field to make it smoother for us to cut, rake, and bale more efficiently.

When I started talking to Clint about what to write about this month I didn’t think I had much to write about, but looking back we’ve been pretty busy. I think we are just getting ready for the craziness that is May!

Prescribed burning of bermuda grass mimics natural cycles.

Prescribed burning of bermuda grass mimics natural cycles.

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Video feature: Feeding cattle in the snow: The Emerson Family

We took a morning and rode along in Josh Emerson’s feed truck as he fed and checked cattle near Checotah, Oklahoma. Josh took the time to explain how winter storms complicate the task of animal care and why ranchers make animal care a top priority, even in sub-freezing temperatures.

Down to southeast Oklahoma – The Bain family

The Bain Family

The Bain Family

Hello fellow bloggers! We are the Bain family, your district 5 representatives. JT and Sara, along with three growing girls Mattie, Mollie,and Maccie. Here are some things we would like you to know about us. We live in Southeast Oklahoma where JT is a Farm Loan Manager for the Farm Service Agency in McAlester. He services 4 counties, and loves his youth programs! Sara is employed by Stuart Public Schools where she works as a tutor and bus driver. We are very active with our local 4-H and FFA chapters, along with our Church and community.

Feeding cattle with a tub feeder.

Feeding cattle with a tub feeder.

We run a 250-head cow/calf operation and 300 stockers. We also bale hay, wheat, and silage.  JT owns a semi tuck and cattle trailer that he rents to a friend when we are not using it. Our ranch keeps us plenty busy. We are either planting a crop, spraying weeds, harvesting a crop, calving out our mamma cows, hauling cattle or straightening out our stockers.

On the other side of our family, the girls keep us very busy as well! Mattie is a 5th grader, and is very involved with 4-H, for which she has a heifer named “The Funk,” in addition to enjoying basketball and softball. She loves messing with her calf and enjoys helping move and stack hay.

The Bain girls: Mattie, Mollie and Macie.

The Bain girls: Mattie, Mollie and Macie.

Mollie is a 2nd grader and loves her sports. She plays basketball and softball. She also enjoys taking care of our orphaned calves and helping feed with Dad.

Maccie is a kindergartner. She is full of questions about everything her Daddy is doing. She loves going in the semi to haul a load, feed with Dad, or mix feed! She is also involved in basketball and softball.

We look forward to showing you a little bit each month of what our daily operation consists of! Thanks for taking time to learn about our family!!

Getting through winter, planning for the future – The Emerson Family

As we are nearing the end of January, we realize how time truly does fly. We hope to give you a look at our operation each month for the next 12 months. The agriculture way of life is one that changes not only every month, but every day. Dealing with freezing temperatures, highs and lows of cattle prices, and drought conditions are just a few that we are facing every day. We are honored to be involved in the greatest industry, an industry that puts the clothes on your back and food on the dinner table. It is awesome opportunity to serve on the YF&R State Committee. It is a true enjoyment to look back and reflect on our operation, we hope you enjoy our “snapshot”.

The stockyards at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

The stockyards at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

Hi, we are Josh & Kim Emerson from Checotah, which is located in McIntosh County in Eastern Oklahoma. We are serving as the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers District six committee members. We have operated a diversified cattle, hay and order-buying operation since 1998. Our cattle consist of registered Angus, Simmental, Maine-Anjou, club calves and commercial cow/calf. January has been a whirlwind with battling cold temperatures, chopping ice and getting cattle fed. We just finished up our FFA/4-H Trophy Auction and Chili feed and now are preparing for the upcoming stock shows.

Kim is the Vice President for Armstrong Bank in Checotah and serves on many community and livestock boards so January tends to get crazy in trying to prepare for upcoming spring stock shows. We just returned from a trip to the National Western Livestock Show with Zac & Amy Harris, the district two committee members to check out the up-and-coming genetics that breeders across the nation have to offer.

The vertical feed mixer that allows the Emersons to create custom feed mixes.

The vertical feed mixer that allows the Emersons to create custom feed mixes.

Due to the cold weather most every day this month, after feeding and checking cows I spend time in the barn getting equipment ready for spring. During the drought we purchased a vertical mixer that allows us to produce a total mix ration that helps the cattle produce more pounds of beef while lowering our input cost by allowing us to feed by-products and lower cost commodities.  We just this week started getting semi loads of chicken litter that will be spread on the pastures for fertilizer. This weekend we will be working and moving spring AI calving cows in and fall calvers out, our calving season starts February 15th. The majority of our spring calving cows are bred to bulls with maternal traits; our goal is to keep the best heifers out of our spring herd for replacements. Kim and I hope you enjoyed this snapshot of our operation, let’s see what happens next month!

 

The last of bermuda hay and show season in full swing – The Bolen Family

Baling the last of the 2013 Bermuda hay on the Bolen farm.

Baling the last of the 2013 Bermuda hay on the Bolen farm.

The first week of September we baled our last cutting of Bermuda grass for the season. We could probably get an October cutting, but we will use the last growth for our weaned calves. Usually we will cut the last cutting close to the end of September or first of October. This year has really been a good hay year, so we have satisfied our customer base and are happy for a break. The alfalfa will have to be cut at least one more time though.

The girls’ show season is in full swing. We attended our county fair the first week of September. They showed a total of seven sheep, and two sheep made the sale. This past week we attended the Oklahoma/Arkansas state fair in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. All three girls took two sheep apiece. They had three class winners, two second place and a dough place. As the picture shows, Bay had reserve champion cross and third-best overall. All three girls received super showman awards as well.

Bay Bolen with her reserve champion cross and third-best overall lamb at the Oklahoma/Arkansas state fair in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

Bay Bolen with her reserve champion cross and third-best overall lamb at the Oklahoma/Arkansas state fair in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

We really enjoy the livestock showing program as a family. As a parent, there are numerous learning opportunities surrounding these events. I could write a book on the lessons I think our girls have learned by this program. I’m sure Myndi and I have learned a thing or two along the way as well. I guess the main thing they have learned is that you have to stay dedicated and disciplined to have success.  I also believe we are enjoying the journey as a family, and it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Harvest, haying, and a summer wrap-up – The Graves Family

A rain gauge with almost 2.5 inches.

A rain gauge with almost 2.5 inches.

Wow! What a summer this has been! The winds have changed for our area. We have received much-needed rain since the last blog I submitted. I don’t know the exact total, but I can comfortably say we’ve received at least 5 inches of rain at our farm, if not more than that. Our neighbors, friends, and family here in the Midwest have received varying amounts from that. Some have been much more than 10 inches this summer! It’s so wonderful to see everything green! Even if it means the thistles, pig weeds, sandburs, and goat-head stickers. It’s been a chore mowing, but watering the yard and gardens has been cut down by two-thirds.

Harvest is a great time for all ages.

Harvest is a great time for all ages.

Harvest began about June 20, and that is the last we’ve started in about eight years. We only had about half the acres of what we cut last year, but thankful for that. One cut we usually have, about 1,000 acres, of our neighbors, went all into wheat hay. We cut another 490 acres for another neighbor, whom we cut about the same last year for him. Our farm had about 1,200 acres that we cut. One field that really surprised us was our big dryland field. It is some ground we rent, and this was the first year it was planted to wheat. The field is 873 acres. That is very large! We spent 3 days with two combines, grain cart, and two semi-trucks staying busy the entire time. The crop adjuster said it was the best dryland he had seen, so we cut it and it made 23.9bu/acre. We had two irrigated fields also, each 120 acres. One made 23.17bu/acre and the other made 30.62bu/acre.

We had extra help the week of harvest from the grandkids this year. They are starting to be old enough to help more and more. Plus, Dalton, my oldest nephew, and Jolena, my mother-in-law, were busy with the second cutting of alfalfa when harvest was going on. I had a neighbor gal come and babysit the kids while I was in the alfalfa field or running after the guys in the wheat field. I don’t think we fed less than ten people for lunch that week.

Cutting alfalfa.

Cutting alfalfa.

At the beginning of June we swathed and baled one circle of wheat hay for our neighbor, and 1-½ circles of wheat hay for ourselves. Our alfalfa has done well this year. We’ve actually been able to swath and bale the corners at all three cuttings. The guys just finished baling the third cutting about a week ago. It took a little longer due to rains, but we were ok with that. Jake and Matt began cutting feed for a neighbor this week. We also have feed we will swath or have a silage crew come and make the feed into silage. The guys will pack the silage into a bunk and we will feed it to our cattle this winter.

A field of milo.

A field of milo.

The rest of this summer has been full of working calves, moving cows with their calves to different pastures, spraying, stacking hay, loading hay, mowing, and working fields. We’ve had some damage from a few storms, but mainly tree limbs breaking. Gary and Jolena were able to take a break and head to Colorado to relax. Jake was able to go with some friends to Lake Texhoma, and even brought back striper bass for us to enjoy. Matt, the kids, and I headed to Oklahoma City the first week of August and had a fun time seeing the zoo and science museum. I was also able to go to the Women in Ag and Small Business Conference, and really enjoyed everything there. The speakers were great and the sessions were very informational.

My garden is finally producing. I didn’t get it planted until the middle of June. I’ve made pickles and pickled okra. We’ve harvested squash, cucumbers, jalapenos, basil, spearmint, strawberries, and okra. I’ve only picked one tomato, but there are many more on the vines.

Preparing for fall: lambs and haying – The Bolen Family

As always we are busy with numerous chores.  We have been blessed with some rain and a couple severe storms. We lost an old barn to the wind but will always take a rain in July or August.

A barn is damaged by the severe winds that come with a summer storm.

A barn is damaged by the severe winds that come with a summer storm.

Our hay yields and quality continue to be excellent. Even with a glut in local hay, quality still sells and we are thankful for that.

The haying process is underway at the Bolen farm.

The haying process is underway at the Bolen farm.

We have been on the hunt for a new ram and found just what we were looking for with a buck named Crown Royal. It’s always intriguing waiting to see what new genetics will do for next year’s lamb crop.

The Bolen's new ram Crown Royal.

The Bolen’s new ram Crown Royal.

Our breeding season for the sheep will start at the end of August for late January lambs. The girls are busy almost daily working their show lambs for the fall show season which kicks off the first week of September at our county fair.