Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Erosion control

Many of our fields are on hills and have terraces to help prevent soil erosion from water runoff. The terraces are ridges that have been built in the field that to slow and redirect the water. The water moves to grass covered drainage ditches. It’s hard for me to explain but this past fall we had a very heavy rain event and I had the opportunity to take a group of pictures of terraces and waterways in use. This field had two years of wheat and is in currently in a rye cover crop so it was near maximum soil erosion protection. This part of this field might be rotated to corn for silage next year or soybeans due to more choices to control weeds after the crop starts growing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Grazing cover crops

There has been quite a bit of discussion about cover crops and dual purpose cover/forage crops for the past few years. Some of the seed blends can get quite costly, I've seen quotes as high as $60 an acre for some seed mixes, this was the price of seed wheat during the height of the high grain price cycle.

Since I still had sunflower seed in the planter boxes  I added some grain sorghum, corn, soybeans, and some more sunflower seed that was in the left over seed pile in the shop. All of this was seed that had been cleaned out of the planter so the cost of the seed was already paid for by the full season crop. This was planted on wheat stubble that was fallow until grain sorghum is planted next June, the seed was left over, part of the field was fertilized got the fertilizer that was left in the planter, so the only real expense was my time and wear and tear on the planter.

The seed mix I planted. It's a mix of corn, soybeans, sunflowers, and grain sorghum. This is some seed that had been cleaned out of the planter the last couple of years.

I started with a seed population of 30,000 and decided to bump that to 40,000, for two reasons a, to see what it would do and b, I was getting tired of sitting in the tractor. I picked 30,000 because that is high for sunflowers, low for grain sorghum, high for corn, and extremely low for soybeans. I used the sunflower seed meter disk since they were the closest to medium size and played with the vacuum until I was satisfied with the seeding rate. I wasn't overly concerned with seeding accuracy due to the purpose of this crop.

I seeded this on July, 30th in a normal year nothing should have made it to full maturity. With the mild fall and late killing freeze the sunflowers did, but didn't retain seed and some shorter season corn did might of made it to physiological maturity. Both the sorghum and corn should have been high nutrient level in the plant at the time of a killing frost.

Looking down the row, I ended up with more grain sorghum in the mix that I had originally planned. I didn't put any more bags in, but at about 15,000 seeds per pound when compared to the other seeds it makes sense.

I was surprised at the amount of volunteer wheat growing in it between the rows. Having it growing will extend the time that a root is actively growing. I feel root activity adds considerably to to soil health.

Some calves grazing it. Those are sunflowers to the left of the calf in the foreground.

To simplify the fencing I including part of the adjoining wheat field. Typically we don't pasture wheat, but it is an accepted practice for the area. The calves will be of before the wheat gets to the jointing stage this spring so there will be no permanent harm to the wheat.

I don't have access to scales to measure growth so I will track the amount of hay I feed compared to what I would have fed in a drylot. Normally we feed medium quality brome, priced at about $45 a bale.

In future years I will add a few turnips or radishes and Austrian winter peas. I think this will be an inexpensive way to add even more diversity. The turnips or radishes will have deep roots along with the sunflowers and will absorb nutrients and the peas will convert atmospheric nitrogen to usable nitrogen in the plant that will go into the soil after it decomposes. The peas might over winter, I haven't found a definitive answer, but even if they do it should be simple to kill out in the spring when I do spring burn down for the volunteer wheat.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Tibbits Farms through the years 1912 to 1930s

We moved into my Granddad's house this past summer and among some of the things that came with the house was some of his parents belongings. One night my youngest son was quizzing me about combines and somehow the conversation turned towards combines without cabs. This brought a very curios look to his face. I remembered seeing a box marked photos, expecting to find photos from the 1950's to show him pictures of cabless combines. I was quite surprised to find pictures this old. I'm also very thankful that they took the time to label many of the pictures with the people in them, what they were doing and the year. Some of these pictures have made it on my twitter feed on throwback Thursdays.  As always these photos along with lots that haven't made it on the blog yet are on my Flickr account.

Maude and Nell, 1912. It's not wrote on the photo, but I assume that is my great granddad in the photo.

Maude and Nell again in 1912, new harness.

No year, but the people are labeled. 1 R. T. Tibbits, my great granddad, 2. H.R. Tibbits, my great-great grandfather, 3 Miller, I presume either hired help or neighbor that they traded labor with.

No names or dates were on this picture. It appears that it took quite a crew to harvest.

Stacking bundle grain, no date.

1. Fred Schur, the Schur family are long time neighbors, 2. George Tibbits, I think it is great-great granddads brother, 3. Herbert or H.R. Tibbits, great-great granddad.

No names or dates.

Mabel Tibbits, my great grandma, 1923. It also has August 1923 wrote in pencil on the back of the picture, which is the month and year my granddad was born.

All that is wrote on the picture is 1929. It looks like they were harvesting some really nice wheat that year.

Fred Cline at the combine wheel, Riley T. sitting on the grain tank, Herbert standing on the truck, and Riley D. sitting on the truck bed. Three generations in the field, Herbert is my great-great granddad, Riley T. is my great granddad, and Riley D. is my granddad.

Fred Cline on the tractor, Riley D. on the ground, Riley T. at the combine's wheel, and Herbert standing on the platform.

Cy Austin, 1929. I don't remember how he is related to us, but it is a really good picture of the combine working.

No name or date wrote down,

Cutting Atlas, 1941. Atlas was a predecessor to forage sorghum, I think they would take it back to the farm and chop it as silage and blow it into an upright silo to feed during the winter.

Riley T,, 1936. I think he might be cutting Atlas or corn.

Farmall cultivating, 1936. Either Atlas or corn. Looks like the leaves might be curled some which can be cause by heat or drought stress.

Listing corn, 1934. A lister pushes dirt out of the way and seed is planted in the bottom of the furrow, then the ridges will be knocked down when they cultivated.

1935, It looks like they are listing I would guess corn.

Herbert, drilling wheat 1936. He is using 2 12 hole and a 16 hole drill.

1937 D35 truck. The back of the picture says 1947, but the tag is a 38. The truck is gone, but the tag might be part of a collection.

Pet heifers,1936.

These are all of the pictures I have scanned so far. There are more farm pictures from this time frame in the box.

I was looking through them thinking how neat it was to have them and then it struck me that many of them were from the Great Depression and dust bowl era. With that in mind some of these pictures will resurface along with some of the others in future blogs.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Where our corn is going

Normally our corn is sold to a cattle feedlot to be used as an ingredient in cattle feed. This year it is going to an ethanol plant. This is the first time that we have delivered to an ethanol plant, some of the corn and grain sorghum that we have delivered to elevators might have gone to ethanol.

Loading corn bound for an ethanol plant.
I posted this picture to twitter, @ksfarmboy, today while loading our semi for the drive to Russell, Kansas.

Our grain prices have changed greatly in our area the past year. Typically in my area corn is priced twenty cents a bushel, 56 pounds per bushel of both corn and grain sorghum, more than sorghum. China started importing sorghum last year and has been aggressively importing it this year. This has driven the sorghum price locally to a over a dollar a bushel over corn, making corn a natural alternative for sorghum in many Kansas ethanol plants and for other end users of sorghum in the area.
The corn is being delivered to White Energy in Russell Kansas. This ethanol plant is combined with a wheat gluten plant and share many resources. To learn more about it the plant.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Calf 27 update

A group of cows and calves enjoying the shade. Calf 27 is the white faced calf to the far left.

We moved the cow calf pairs from the pasture they were born in this past week. Normally they would have been moved to summer pasture in mid May, but the calving pasture had sufficient grass to support them for longer so we concentrated on planting spring crops.

Just prior to moving the cow calf pairs to summer pasture they were vaccinated and the larger group had a bull turned out with them. Since we added more cows to the herd last winter and had two groups of cows we needed an additional bull. My son and I bought a young bull from Wolf Creek Angus Ranch, this son is more interested in the farm equipment but thinks it's cool to help select the bulls. Wolf Creek Angus is owned and operated by a couple that has been great at helping us select bulls that meets our needs in the past. Our needs and objectives are a little different than many because we will feed the calves at the farm until they reach optimum weight for the finishing phase of feeding where they will be fed for us at a feedlot. We need cattle that will gain efficiently on feed and have high quality meat that can qualify for premiums from packers. 

Even through we have been in a drought and this will be the worst wheat crop since 1989, seeding conditions this spring has been ideal. All the seed went into good soil moisture and warm soils that promote rapid seed emergence. We have all the corn, soybeans and sunflowers seeded and vigorously growing. Normally grain sorghum seeding would be starting, but we only have three fields left and with both of our planters operating they can be finished in a couple of days after the fields dry out. This past week we've received 2.5 inches of rain and another storm is just about here so those last fields will be seeded much later than the others.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The chronicles of calf 27

Author's note: this is the initial segment of following a calf from birth. As always these photos and many more are on my Flickr photo stream. 

I have been waiting until there was a calf born with very distinctive markings that can be easily tracked before posting about springing calving, calving is what it's called when a calf is born. When I saw that Bowtie had calved I was hoping she had another white face calf, Bowtie is an all black cow except for a small patch of white hair on her forehead shaped like a bowtie. She is not a pet, just a nice calm cow like the rest of them that won't run someone over if she thinks they even looking at her calf.

Calf 27
Calf 27's first visit to the corral, he couldn't have been much more than 2 or 3 hours old when I found him in the pasture. He followed Bowtie into the corral when I fed this evening.

feeding time
Calf 20, the one with the white on his face, was Bowtie's calf last year and a full brother to calf 27.

calf 20
This is a more recent picture of calf 20 at the cattle pens. He was one of the younger calves of the ones from our cows. We bought some calves from local farmers to feed with our calves. All of the calves will go to a custom cattle feedlot in a couple of weeks for the finishing phase.

Tall grass
This is an attempt to show how tall the grass is in the calving pasture. This happens to be a patch of Big Bluestem, our native grass pastures are very diverse in different plants. Most of the cows prefer to have their calves out here, but a few have calved in the corral.

Hiding out
A calf hiding in the tall grass, I just barely noticed it when driving by. I have trails that I drive on so I can see any calves laying where I drive.

Cow and calf
I saw this cow and her calf laying in the corral one morning when I went to check on them. They seemed so content sitting in the morning light. Her calf had been born the night before.

  Newborn calf 2
Cow 9 with her new born calf minutes after she had it. I was trying to get a picture of her standing, but she just couldn't yet.

There are 16 more cows yet to have their calves keep checking back for more adventures of calf 27 and his pasture mates.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Pictures of winter 2014

Sun Dog 1
My youngest son was helping me scoop snow out of the driveway when he asked me "Dad why are there three suns?" I looked up and told him that it was a Sun Dog and they are real rare to see them here. It's the first one that I have seen. I couldn't get all of it in the screen on my phone's camera.

snow on wheat stubble, 2/6/14
A field of wheat stubble, it did a good job of catching this last snow and will have a good start for grain sorghum or corn next spring.

Winter Turkeys
It's hard to make it out in the picture, but on the right hand side of the road is a turkey crossing it. It took about three tries to get a picture of one crossing the road from a field that was in grain sorghum last year.

Turkey stratchings.
Turkeys had been scratching and digging through the snow to get to find some grain sorghum in this field. Our spring calving cows are also in this field so I'm sure they're recycling whole grain out of the pats. It reminds me of a story old timers told of having a cow, pig and chickens in a corral. The cow was the only one that was fed and the pigs and chickens would scavenge what went through the cow. I would guess the pig got scraps from the house also.

Cow number 10
Cow number 10 posing for the camera while here "sisters" are eating hay. Even though they are being pastured on grain sorghum stubble I have made hay available for them. They have gotten about all they can from the stubble and will be moved to the calving pasture in the next week if all goes well. They are due to start calving the end of February they could start earlier since they were bred to a calving ease bull and that can have them calving a couple of weeks earlier.

These photos along with many others can be found on my flickr photostream.