Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's happening down on the farm.

I would like to wish everyone a belated merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Grain Sorghum harvest is finished. The snow was on the ground, but we able to keep the combines rolling after a few days let the snow work out the grain heads.


Snow between the rows of sorghum. I found it funny to harvest a tropical plant with snow on the ground.
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A picture of my dad harvesting in the snow. We had to leave some on the edge where the snow drifted. Snow will plug up the inside of the combine that seperates the grain from the rest of the plant.

We started on the double crop sunflowers. Seed has shattered out of the heads, the last 2 fields that were planted had shattered bad and won't be harvested. The sunflowers that are still in the field seem to be holding their seeds good.

At the moment our attention has shifted to delivering corn that is stored on the farm. We are taking it to a local cattle feedlot where it will be combined with hay, wet distillers grain with solubles, and supplement to be fed to the cattle. The corn provides the energy and some of the protein in the diet. Hay helps ruminants, animals with four compartment stomachs, digest feed and provides some nutrients. The wet distillers grain with solubles is the grain that is left over from making ethanol, it is high in protein and minerals. Supplements are additional minerals that the feed is lacking. This makes for a very efficient method of raising tender and juicy beef. I weigh in and out on their scales next to the where they move cattle to the vet shed for vaccinations and I see the cattle handled quietly and calmly with a low amount of stress.

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Unloading corn at the feedlot. The machine on the left grinds the corn, making it more palatable and the nutrients more available.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow down on the farm

Grain Sorghum harvest is on hold because of a blizzard earlier in the week. Other than cleaning the drives at the farm we have been pretty idle. If we had cattle, like in the past, then we would have been busy making sure they had water and feeding them. For a great read on how a Kansas cattle rancher handles winter weather read Life on a Cattle Ranch, the author does a great job of telling about her day on the ranch during snow and cold.

Here is a snow drift that I was lucky to get out of.

The wheat stubble did a great job of catching snow and not letting it blow away. This field will be planted to grain sorghum this spring.

The snow drifted up to some unharvested sunflowers. The sunflowers acted as a natural snow fence. The sunflowers should be harvested in a week or so, as soon as grain sorghum harvest is finished. This field will be planted to corn next spring.

We should restart sorghum harvest next week and should finish in 2 or 3 days. Then we will start on the sunflowers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sorghum harvest down on the farm

This past week has found us busy harvesting Grain Sorghum, milo. The yield has been tremendous so far and the plants are standing nice and straight. Some years with a late harvest the plant will weaken and fall over.

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A picture of my dad harvesting across the field from my combine.

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Looking down on dad as he harvests a terrace. A terrace is a ridge of dirt built on sloped land that slows and redirects water to help prevent the soil from washing away.

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Both of us dumping on the grain cart. A grain cart is a trailer that is pulled with a tractor and is used to shuttle grain from the field to a waiting truck.

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Waiting on the truck. We were waiting on the truck to get back so the grain cart could unload.

Some interesting facts about grain sorghum. Grain Sorghum originated in Africa and is drought tolerant and loves hot summers. The major growing states are Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Louisiana. It will grow as far north as South Dakota, but a cool summer or early frost can reduce the yield. Animal feed is the largest user of grain sorghum and it can be found in most bird seed blends. One bushel of sorghum will produce as much ethanol fuel as a bushel of corn. Sorghum can be ground into flour to replace wheat flour in a gluten free diet.

Milo is production is slowly being reduced in Kansas as corn is becoming more drought tolerant and having a better price. I feel milo will still have a place in our crop rotation on less productive fields.