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.

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!

 

 

Ranching come snow or shine – The Mitchell Family

River Mitchell on the family ranch in southwest Oklahoma.

River Mitchell on the family ranch in southwest Oklahoma.

Hello, My name is River Mitchell and I am a fifth generation Rancher from Southwest Oklahoma. (That’s me in the picture with green grass wearing the green shirt)  I’m your “at large” State Young Farmers & Ranchers representative for district 8.

I have grown up and still live on my parents’ ranch about 25 miles northeast of Lawton, Oklahoma. I am a full-time college student at Cameron University working on my senior year, and I commute daily in order to continue helping on the ranch. The ranch is operated by my dad and brothers. I am the oldest of four boys (one of which is my twin, but I was born first, as I have been know to remind people).

Our operation consist of a starter/grow yard along with summer and winter grazing for yearlings and a commercial cow herd. Right now our biggest project is growing replacement heifers for a 2000-cow dairy farm at Fredrick, Oklahoma. So we have about 700 holstein heifers around at a time. It takes about a year for the heifers to grow from 325lbs, when we receive them, to the size for re-breeding at about 800 pounds when they leave.

As the pictures show, we use everything from dogs and horses to fourwheelers when moving cattle around. We don’t complain much about the snow or bad weather because we need the moisture. The saying goes, “There are only two things for sure in life, death and taxes,” but I would like to add “cows are always hungry”. It doesn’t matter the weather or the holiday or if you’re under the weather yourself, somebody has to feed, and most of the time, if you’re like me, that’s you. God Bless.

Everything needs water

 – The Harris Family

Zac and the kids chopping ice as cows wait for a drink.

Zac and the kids chopping ice as cows wait for a drink.

All living things must have water. Humans can live up to 10 days without food, but only 3 days without water!  Early in February, we struggled with extreme cold temperatures and as good stewards of God’s creation (farmers and ranchers), we must under any condition care for the animals.

When water troughs and ponds freeze up we must do whatever is necessary to get our animals water.  Most of the time this just includes “chopping ice” with an axe until we reach water.  This is a daily occurrence.

Because of the extreme drought western Oklahoma has faced, we are using solar pumps to pump water from 50-year-old wells into troughs.  The big concern with that is when it gets so cold outside the water in the wells freeze up.  Then our only option is to “haul water” in trailers to cattle.  So far we have been blessed to either move cattle to different pastures that had deeper wells or the ponds on a few places still had some water.  

Hope you enjoy the pictures of our family “chopping ice”.  The kids really enjoy this time with dad!

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.

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!