Hoping for those “April showers” – The Harris Family

March always seems to fly by!

Zac is busy fabricating equipment to do all the things he has thought about all winter long, and most projects must be finished by April in time to use them. He also has been spraying the failed canola.

Kenda showed her first market steer at the Oklahoma Youth Expo. It was a steer we raised. She won her class and made the sale of champions as the 7th crossbred steer in the sale. In the crossbred division there were 140 steers.  Super proud of all her hard work.

We are hoping for the April showers wives tale to be true. We sure would like it to bring about some May “flowers!”  Wheat and barley need a drink and what canola that hasn’t gotten frozen out needs one too. We will begin planting milo after we return from the Legislative Action Tour in Washington DC.

Have a great one,

Zac and Amy

From one busy month to the next – The Emerson Family

Part of the Emerson's efforts goes toward raising show cattle.

Part of the Emerson’s efforts goes toward raising show cattle.

The month of March was long, cold and busy for us on the ranch. The first week we received nearly six inches of sleet and ice, which was extremely tough on the cattle and made for long days feeding and breaking ice. No matter the weather, farmers and ranchers know taking care of our animals comes first.

Kim and I make numerous livestock shows during the month from our local show in Checotah to our Regional Show held in Muskogee, which Kim serves as the beef superintendent and on the Board of Directors. Kim spends a week there helping with all facets of the show. We believe the 4-H and the FFA students are the future of agriculture and we try to support them as much as possible. During the Oklahoma Youth Expo, two heifers we raised made the champion percentage Simmental drive.

Two heifers the Emersons raised made it into the champion percentage Simmental drive.

Two heifers the Emersons raised made it into the champion percentage Simmental drive.

As I am writing this, the grass is getting greener and we are making plans on getting the cattle de-wormed, vaccinated and moved to spring pastures during the first weeks of April. The brightest spot this month has been being able to announce that Kim and I are expecting our first child in October and the excitement of sharing that with everyone. Till next time may your grass be green and your cattle fat!


Josh and Kim are expecting their first child in October!

Josh and Kim are expecting their first child in October!

Beginning to thaw out – The Crain Family

Teaching a parent how to clip a goat.

Teaching a parent how to clip a goat.

Welcome to March! Well kind of just a little late. Since our last post it has been wild and crazy without a lot of extra time. In mid-February we attended the National YF&R conference in Virginia Beach. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed getting to meet other farmers from across the country as well as Canada.

With Derek being a past agricultural education instructor, we have been helping some former students with spring livestock projects.

The worst part of winter weather coming in meant getting cattle ready and making sure water was available; not to mention most of the calving occurring when temperatures are at their lowest. We think a couple of the calves’ ears may have gotten too cold as they seem to look a little stunted, but they will all be okay and we did not lose anyone to the cold temperatures.

Clearing off the roads so that drivers can make it to their destinations safely

Clearing off the roads so that drivers can make it to their destinations safely

To go along with all of that with snow storms, Derek has had to work strange, long hours clearing roads while working for ODOT.

As pastures begin to green up the cows are beginning to be happier, and we are trying to prevent some mowing of weeds in the farmyard by spraying early in the season. Till next time we make it back, enjoy your spring!



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.

The heat, haying and hard work – The Bolen family

Alfalfa hay in windrows.

Alfalfa hay in windrows.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but our days just run together during the summer months.  Whether we are tending to our chickens or baling hay or messing with the sheep or whatever.

We have completed our third cutting on most all of our hay fields.  We had some rain early in June and the end of May, but I think we have been about three weeks with zero rain.  We did have a few days that the humidity and temperature were low but that quickly changed.  We are back to highs in the mid 90’s and humidity levels above 40 percent.

The alfalfa has been yielding pretty well, but I’ve been having to irrigate it more than I would like.  The bermuda grass is doing well with good yields as well.

Thinning the Bolens' thick patch of pecan trees.

Thinning the Bolens’ thick patch of pecan trees.

The picture of the pecan trees is something I have always put on the back burner.  In the fall of 1999, a neighbor who harvested nuts for a living had a large pile of nuts that didn’t make the grade for some reason.  I asked him what he was going to do with them, he said burn them probably.  I asked if I could haul them off and he told me to have at it.  I had a piece of ground that I thought needed trees on it, so I loaded this pile up and spread them with my poultry litter spreader and disked them in.  I really think two trees came up for every seed.  I couldn’t believe how thick of a stand I had.  So that fall I took the brush hog and made a sort of rows out of the thick stand, leaving about a two-foot strip of trees every twenty five feet or so and then every summer just kept mowing the same path.  So this summer I hired a guy with a mulcher attachment to thin in between them.  I’m sure I left them too thick, but I’m also thinking of digging some up to transplant to other places or sell.

Our cattle are doing well and we have almost decided which lamb each of our girls will be showing this fall and next spring.

Using a tedder to help bermudagrass  hay cure.

Using a tedder to help bermuda grass hay cure.

Springtime and shearing time – The Bolen Family

This past month has really been its normal busy time for us.  Photo opportunities have been afterthoughts, and I apologize.

We have sent off another flock of birds for processing and have already placed a new batch this past week.  We did a complete clean-out of the litter of all our houses.  Most went straight to the pastures or hay fields, and we stored some in the barn for future use.

We have been blessed with about four inches of rain in the past week that will really get the summer grasses going.  We also got our 70 yearling heifers artificially inseminated the past couple of weeks.  We also turned all our bulls out for the sixty- to ninety-day breeding season for our older cows.  Our next project with the cows will be to get them all wormed and the calves processed with vaccines and castration of the bull calves.

Also, all our hay fields are ready to be baled.  On any given day between now and frost we will be tending to our normal chores in the poultry houses and baling hay.  I really enjoy the haying season, though.  I love the challenge of making superior quality hay for livestock consumption.

The girls have finished school and will be deciding which lambs they will show this summer and fall.  I missed a photo of the sheep shearing processes, which happened about two weeks ago.  We hire a contractor to shear the wool off all our sheep annually.  It is a very labor intensive, back-breaking job, but the guy we use does it like a pro.  He gathers the wool in large sacks and sends to a processor for us to sell.  The wool brings a little less than what it cost to have them sheared, but the ewes really need the wool removed before the really hot part of summer.

Hopefully over the coming weeks I will do a better job of slowing down and getting some more photos to share.  In the meantime, I would encourage you to Google YouTube videos of folks shearing sheep.  It amazes me how fast some of these folks can shear a sheep.