My Mom turned 88 at the end of August. She wanted to do something new, so we took her to Grant's Farm and granted her wish - she got to ride a camel! Ok, ok, so that is not farm related (at least ours), but it was so cool I had to mention it.
Working backwards: my Mom has not been out to our farm in years, and we finally just packed up and did it. I'm between job assignments right now, she had a few free days, and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) was thinking of doing a demonstration burn on a neighbors property, so we went out last Tuesday (9/24/13) night and spent Wednesday touring the place. MDC didn't get enough volunteers, so we didn't burn, but that was OK. Mom got to see the cows, feed a couple, and complain about the flies on them. A neighbor (Sonny) assured her they were normal and nothing was particularly effective at controlling them. Thank you Sonny... you she believes...
What a difference a bit of rain makes! We have gotten about 1.25 inches in the past week and everything is greening up. My driveway looks like its growing green hair - about an inch high (seeds that have blown into the rock are sprouting, they will die out when it gets dry). Note that we received 1.25 inches of rain IN TOTAL during July, August, and the first part of September. Hayed fields that originally greened up from soil moisture browned out by mid-July and have remained that way until now. That is actually less rain than we received last year during the time period and that was considered a drought.
Frank Oberle, godfather to our Frank, runs Pure Air Native Seed. He has offered me some seed cleanings - the stuff that comes out of the seed cleaner void about 80% of the pure live seed that he sells. Apparently its a lot of work to get that last 20%, so instead he provided that for me to spread around my pastures. What a great gift! I'm sure he could have sold those to somebody, and I know MDC has used it in the past. Anyhow, we picked them up and socialized a bit on the trip up with my Mom. Looking forward to spreading that material in upcoming weeks.
Not a lot to report on the previous two trips up. We have been taking the dog and/or the cat with us recently. Finally figured out why the dog barks at our Kubota RTV (an open cabin 4-wheel drive bench seat buggy)... she wants to play with it. She really does consider it hers! When we get there, she taunts me until I get the Kubota out of its cage (the storage shed) and prances with excitement until I open it up and let her run besides it. Honestly, it is the only time the dog has a chance to really, really, run - as fast as she can, and she is getting better. She use to tire out after a mere 900 foot dash down the driveway. Now she is good for a few of those and for trotting alongside while we tour the place. Eventually she crawls in and rests, but that is taking longer and longer. The cat lives indoors during the day, outdoors at night, and enjoys walking along our rafters in the house. Silly cat.
Previous trip had gorgeous weather - sunny... 70s... and we relaxed. Ate some steaks, slept in, did a bunch of nothing. Just enjoyed the weather, checked out the cattle (no newborns), open the windows, read in bed, etc. We haven't done that in a long time.
Trips previous to that were also light, for those it was too hot, and too dry to do much of anything. I eventually brush-hogged our paths, but was choking from the dust by the time I was done. I did buy 16 bales of hay from Donnie, hauling them from the Shoop pastures to our place ($35/bale with me hauling it from the fields where they dropped), so we should be set for the winter.
On a side note: I really REALLY prefer to buy hay and import nutrients to the farm. In years where it is not available, I will have hay cut from my farm, but the standard deal for that is that the cutter gets half - taking nutrients off the farm. I typically get my hay from Donnie, and the hay I buy comes from the Shoop Prairie across the street, so I should be getting some native seed with it as well - helping the the plant diversity on my place.
I should point out that the Shoop Prairie is one of the few native, undisturbed (e.g. never plowed) prairies left in my part of the state - and rare everywhere in the state. I have been working with the Missouri Department of Conservation to restore about half of my fields to native only plants. That is going reasonably well, although the fescue is a problem. The first field we did is back to about 70% fescue. That sounds bad, but actually having 30% native is pretty good. A spring burn, and maybe a follow-up spraying with a grass-only herbicide, should knock that fescue back even more. In my cool-season grass fields I'm encouraging natives as well, just not exclusively.
Oh, if its any excuse... I have been doing some posting over on the Highland Cattle Forum
Glenn Young and I have been running that for a couple of years now. OK, I host it, I do occasionally software upgrades, Glenn "runs" it from a daily basis.
We are planning on back to the farm late tonight. Two priorities: finish mounting my seed spreader and spread the cleanings Frank gave us and havesting the bee honey. We can do one, both will take the entire weekend. Alas, the bees have not been doing well, we keep losing hives in the spring (funky weather mostly - warms up, bees start reproducing (takes a few weeks for the larva to hatch and grow old enough to collect nectar), things start to bloom, bees are ready, and then we get 4-6 weeks of cold weather and the new massive hive dies). If we lived there, I could get them through it with sugar feedings, maybe. Anyhow, we have been postponing harvesting honey because that is when we will find out just how bad it is. We use to have 9 active hives, I think we are down to 4, and maybe 1. We will find out soon enough. At $175 a colony, we won't be replacing the dead hives anytime soon (*sigh* to be honest, that is a once-a-year thing - one can only buy bees in the spring - but the point is they have gotten really expensive. A few decades ago they sold for $15 a colony).