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.

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.

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.

Heifers to AI and poultry going to market – The Bolen Family

Brent Bolen gathers heifers to get ready for artificial insemination.

Brent Bolen gathers heifers to get ready for artificial insemination.

This is a picture of some of our heifers that we have recently processed to get ready for artificial insemination. We have never used artificial insemination on our farm before and are very excited to use this technology.  We think it will be a great opportunity to use proven sires for low birth weights and maternal traits for future replacements cows.

Also, we have been busy with our poultry that will be going to market in a week or so. When they start getting bigger, the demand for keeping everything perfect in the houses starts to increase as well. We are also getting the cleanout equipment serviced in case we decide on a complete cleanout after this flock.

I am also getting hay equipment serviced and maintained because it looks as though we could start on the alfalfa in the next couple of weeks if the weather permits.

On the personal side, softball, choir, art, FFA activities and schools functions are happening almost on a daily basis. I even made a trip to Iowa to buy some bulls and did a little sheep shopping while I was there. Our ewes are finished having babies and the early born will get weaned this week. Even though we raise our own we still like to buy a few really good ewes to show and then put back in our flock to breed.

Success at OYE – The Bolen Family

Anna Bolen in the showmanship contest

Anna Bolen in the showmanship contest

We spent our spring break in Oklahoma City at OYE showing sheep. Our daughter Bay won the sixteen-year-old sheep showmanship division out of 45 participants. I think she has been showing at OYE for maybe 5 years and has never even placed for showmanship there. It’s really difficult to catch the judge’s eye with that many good showmen in the ring at one time. But this time she got the payoff for years and hours of working her lambs at home. Bay also showed a ewe that didn’t place and a whether that placed 10th.
 Anna showed for showmanship and didn’t get pulled for a placing spot, but did a great job. She also showed a ewe that didn’t place. Autumn, our youngest, had a lamb, but the lamb was ill and couldn’t make the trip.


Bay showing her lamb at OYE.

We had a good time together as a family even though it’s a lot of work and sometimes a bit stressful. We use every opportunity at such events for learning experiences that are almost endless. The girls even got some time to go shopping at the local malls. I on the other hand got to visit with several old friends and college acquaintances.

As I’ve stated before, the young people involved with 4-H and FFA are second to none in my opinion.

Also, the OYE staff need to be commended for their hard work and dedication to the youth of this state.

Seed and calves everywhere – The Leonard Family

This week’s entry was written by Katy Leonard.

In the past month we have been unloading a BUNCH of seed in to the new seed warehouse, which is almost full. We have also been busy every evening tagging our spring calves, which with the weather the way it has been, the calves have been more like winter calves. There for awhile our garage was a baby calf barn it seemed like, from just warming some calves up, to doctoring and nursing them, to just keeping them alive.

But with all of that said, spring calving season is very close to being complete. Last week we took a load of yearling steers, a few cows that lost their

calf, and a bull to the sale. Dad has also tried to strip-till in preparation to plant corn. However, according to the calendar we will be planting late because it has rained and it was snowing this morning.

In the mix of all this, I went to OYE in Oklahoma City and showed a Hampshire ewe, which I placed 5th out of 27 in my class.

This last week Kody, my mom and I have been on spring break. Kody tore out fence and rebuilt it at our rent pasture. Dad is really hoping that the ground will warm up and dry out so he can start planting corn.