Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Signings

Sept. 29th at The Pudgy Pumpkin Patch Store, Red Oak, 10am -2pm
( located on the east side of the square, Red Oak)

Sept. 30th at The Pudgy Pumpkin Patch Store, Red Oak, 4-7pm with Wabash Wine Co.

Oct. 2 at Arts and Crafts Show, Storm Lake St. Mary's School Gym, 8:30am - 3:30pm

Oct. 5 at Barnes and Noble, "Meet the Author Night" 4550 University, DM at 7pm

Oct. 9 at Le Collage, Bridges of Madison County Festival, Winterset, 11am -2pm
(the Le Collage Store is located on the east side of the square, Winterset)

Oct. 10 at Le Collage, Bridges of Madison County Festival, Winterset, 11am -2pm

These are a lot of fun! Stop in if you're in the neighborhood, thanks Bill

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dinner Party

I invited the cows to a dinner party, but they only ate the salad!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Using Health Care to Solve the Energy Crisis

Alright, you all know the drill. You show up at the doctor's office at a specific place and time, not wanting to be late because we all know how important a doctor's time is. You fill out a 99 page questionnaire covering your past, present and future health issues, then you are politely escorted to a small white room and as the nurse closes the door she makes some vague promise about the doctor being "right with you". Then you sit there, the minutes turning into hours waiting for the footsteps, a light tap on the door, some sound, anything to make you believe that someone will come, sometime.

And there isn't much to look at in this small room either. Besides the tube of lubricant, the box of latex gloves and the chart on the wall which shows the entire internal workings of your body(and you stare at that and then wonder how doctors sleep at night, what they dream about etc, but that's another subject).

Here's my idea. If we're going to be there alone for long periods of time, why not give us something constructive to do while we wait? How about equipping each room with exercise bikes that are built to generate electricity while you peddle them? Folks, think of the hundreds of thousands of patients peddling away on the bicycles, generating millions of kilowatts of energy. Surely there would be enough electricity generated to power each entire hospital and one or two convenience stores right down the street. And, as an added bonus, everyone would lose a pound or two in the process. Now, this would just have to drive down the cost of health care!

Oh, but you say, Bill, what about those poor souls whose physical ailments or disabilities prevent them from riding an exercise bike? Hey, how about electrical generating treadmills and wheel chairs? The possibilities are endless. You have to admit that this plan has a better chance of success than the one the government if offering.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Piano Duet

We had the great privilege of visiting Lindsay's home over the weekend along with several other guests. Needless to say, every available sleeping spot was taken and well, I'll get right to it, a few of these folks seemed to be professional "snorers". Not me, mind you(remember this is my blog and I reserve the right to lie whenever I want) and it wasn't annoying, more comical then anything else, but it did remind me of the one time in my life I did have a bit of an awkward moment with snoring.

It was a cold winter day and I'd gotten out real early to cut firewood since we were almost out and at the time that was our sole source of heating. During the process of chainsawing trees, I got a nasty wood chip up in my eye and ended up at the doctor's office later that morning. He managed to remedy the situation but I'd scratched something in my eye so he sent me home with some pain killer, apparently pretty strong stuff.

I remember Mary saying she had to take the kids somewhere and that I was to let someone in the house but that duty quickly was forgotten as the pain killer kicked in and I fell asleep on the couch. Picture me sitting on the couch with my head flopped over the back of it and then picture me snoring so loudly that I actually woke myself up. Woke myself up to hear a strange noise right behind me, a tink, tink, tink sort of a noise. Slowly I turned around and saw a man, a piano tuner, setting on the piano bench not three feet behind the couch. And it wouldn't have been so embarrassing if the man had smiled or kidded me a little, no, he just kept on gently tapping his finger on that keyboard, trying to find some special sound. Could it be that my previous concerto was throwing off his pitch?

Warning, do not believe any replies made about my snoring that may come about as a result of reading this blog, especially those from family members. They are all untrue!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One of Many Wild Cow Stories

One of my daughters was relating a story about a wild cow they were having trouble with and it reminded me of the ultimate "wild cow" we owned one time years ago.

When you are young and poor you are willing to take a chance now and then and I was visiting local sale barns trying to buy "short term" cows to calve one time, then sell both them and their calves the following fall. These cows were usually short toothed, late calvers or had a disposition problem. I spotted one in the Corning sale barn that managed to have all three of these qualities. Bidding on her started at $650 with no takers as she chased everybody out of the sale barn ring. When the bidding got down to $450, I just couldn't help myself and hauled the "she devil" home. Turning her out in our calving pasture at home, I assumed she would quiet down a little bit while mingling with the other cows, thinking to myself this cow was getting better looking all the time, financially.

Well the next morning she wasn't "better looking", she was just plain gone. Fortunately, it had rained that evening and I was able to track her. Three hours later and having traveled over 4 miles I found her standing by herself in somebody else's pasture. Upon closer inspection, she attempted to have me for lunch and that would set the tone for the rest of the day. My poor wife got caught up in the many attempts at catching the cow and running for our lives(which were at that time apparently worth $450.00). Anyway, I eventually discovered that there was one spot the cow loved to chase me through and we set up a portable corral there. We did get her into our trailer where she stayed for a week until she settled down. Later she went on to have a nice calf and we sold the pair in the fall for a good profit. Would I do it again? No!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Only on the Beaman Farm

We left for a short trip with friends last night to pay respects to one who'd passed. We were able to slip away because our son, after work, came home and baled 45 big round bales. And he was able to do it fairly easily given the machinery we now have to work with. Not like the old days and that reminded me of a past haying story.

I'm guessing it was either the summer of '83 or '84. Mary and I were out baling square bales with me loading, Mary driving. We filled up one load and left it parked at the bottom of the long hillside we were baling. Just finishing the second load near the top of the hill, I stepped off and unhooked the rack from the baler as she was still driving the tractor and baler along in preparation of hooking onto the third rack. The loaded rack I unhooked started rolling backwards on its own, but no problem, I just employed by tried and true method of stepping on the tongue until the rack came to a stop. It did not. Then it became a situation of waiting and watching, there was nothing else to do but cuss. The rack started off slowly, picking up speed as it took a winding route down the hill where you may remember, I said we'd parked the first loaded wagon. Traveling a distance of many football fields in this winding arc, the runaway wagon crashed into the only other object in the field, the other loaded hay rack, hitting it hard enough to knock all the bales off the front half of the rack onto the ground. And although, we now had to reload the first rack, there were no injuries sustained from this mishap, well not counting the injuries sustained by Mary as she lay on the ground laughing.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Shocking Story

I spent most of this morning moving cattle in the rain and that involved hooking and unhooking electric fences that we use a lot in our pasture management program. Reminded me of a famous story about me that the kids like to hear.

It was the spring of '92. Actually I don't remember what spring it was but it seems like a lot of good stories start out that way so we'll go with '92. It was a rainy, muddy day and we'd been moving cows with new baby calves all day to different pastures. With a steady drizzle and mud everywhere, it was impossible to stay dry. You just had to gut it out and hope for the end of the day. Towards dark I had to check one more pen of heifers. I took off on our three wheeler after asking my son, "Did you turn off the electric fence?" To which he replied, "Yes, I did". But apparently he didn't and there's still a lot of controversy how the exchange of dialog went but he swears it was just a misunderstanding. Anyway, imagine me rolling along on the three wheeler, coming to the electric fence that holds the cattle in their pasture. Common practice was to bend over, lift the wire above you and cruise right into the pasture. And it was a good idea to slow down at this spot anyway because there was a huge puddle right below the fence(now you're getting excited about this story, right?). Anyway, when I grabbed the fence, as you will already have guessed, it was pulsating out about 7000 volts and I was pinned under the wire on the three wheeler getting the dickens shocked out of me. The only escape was to roll off the three wheeler onto the ground and as you remember, that allowed me to drop into a huge mud puddle.

I lay there for a while, trying to regain my senses, trying to remember what it is was I was wanting to do, then stood up and just caught the tip of my ear on the fence. Anyway, people who know me, hear me tell this story and then nod knowingly as if to say this incident might explain a lot of my day to day behavior.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


People who are wiser than me, and I'm always alarmed to notice how many of these people there are, advise me that using a "social media tool" such as Facebook would be a good way to win friends and influence people and okay I admit it, maybe sell more of my books and try to make money.

But learning to use this electronic tool is somewhat difficult for those people in my age group (over 12). I've noticed that many of the younger people are doing bizarre things on Facebook, tagging, writing on walls, referring to other's blogs, responding that they like things, the list goes on. People ask if they can be my friend and I always say yes. I'm scared to death to ask the many people that are suggested as "possible" friends to be my friend. Even though my kids assure me that you will never know if you've been rejected, still the possibility exists and why take the chance.

So anyway, thanks to all the kind souls who've responded to my Facebook page and if I've failed to do anything that may be considered proper social etiquette on this site , please forgive me. You have to remember that it was just a few years ago that I learned how to use a fax machine and listened in horror as it made those strange noises fax machine transmissions do and was just sure that somehow I'd shorted out some phone circuits somewhere and electrocuted at least three telephone operators.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

See Us in the Movies!

Got your attention with the title for this blog, didn't I? Well maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit but a movie was filmed in our town, Lenox, a little over a year ago called "The Crazies" and starred Timothy Oliphant. It's been on the big screen and by now you can purchase DVD's, etc. I don't remember it receiving any film academy awards or being listed as a "box office smash" but it was kind of fun to see our small town almost double in size with "Hollywood types", bright lights and film crews. Many of our citizens served as extras in the movie, however I was not asked to participate even though I've been known to do many Oscar- winning acting presentations while trying to get our banker to renew our operating loan each year, but that's a different story.

If you do see the movie, and I must warn you that it is a horror film, try to spot a sign on main street that says Ag Connect. That's the non-profit I've worked with for years to try and help young farmers. We're in the process of moving out of that building after being there for over 14 years. Our work will go on but in a smaller fashion and with all volunteer labor. For more information visit our website, theiowafarmer.com and click on the "helping young farmers tab".

Anyway, if you need an autograph . . .

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Hospital Gown

This is probably my last segment in "General Hospital" mode. Many of you will issue a sigh of relief and that's okay because I can't hear you over the internet. This is the last in a dynamic three part series of blogs discussing my recent hospital event. Today's topic is " hospital gowns".

Here's the situation. You've just entered a medical facility because you are extremely sick, injured or in need of some corrective surgery. You feel discouraged and extremely vulnerable, sometimes alone and yes, sometimes, just plain scared. To counteract these distressing emotions, the great minds in medical practice got together and said, "What can we do to ease the stress of our patients, make them feel more at ease, calmer, more encouraged?"

The answer they came up with is: "Let's ask them to strip all their clothes off, become buck naked, and then we'll give them a piece of clothing to put on that covers almost 33% of their bodies. Folks, I've seen women on the front of Sport's Illustrated's Swimsuit edition that have more on than what I was asked to wear! I mean come on, who wants to walk around with your you- know- what sticking out the back of their gown. And it get's worse. They tell you it's okay if you wear your socks and shoes with your gown as you walk down the hall to whatever room they intend to start the "procedures" in. Boy, if you weren't humiliated enough before, try walking in front of your wife dressed like that! You may not have felt bad when you came in, but you get to feeling worse by the minute.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Last Word

Possibly you are an individual who gets great joy out of arguing. Not my cup of tea, but there are those who enjoy a robust exchange of words sometimes leading to a heated debate. Many times, satisfaction only comes with "getting in the last word". If you fall under this category, I've got the perfect job for you, an anesthesiologist.

It my recent surgical event, I had a short pleasant chat with a lady who held this position just before I "went under". She tried to make pleasant conversation, asking about my occupation etc. She immediately inquired as to what breed of cattle we raised. To this, I replied they were mostly Angus.

Keeping a sharp eye on her watch and whatever was dripping in my veins, she announced that Angus were okay but Herefords were clearly a superior breed of cattle. Even though I had other things on my mind, I felt the need to correct her, even offer up the rationale that a cross between the two breeds might be best for all. But of course, I lapsed into unconsciousness before I could correct her. And I know, she knew, this would be the case. When I finally came to, I was in a strange room looking at a new set of people and had no chance to correct her. She probably starts arguments like this all day, year round and wins every one of them. And to top if off, she wears a mask so you can't even identify her later. So if you're a "get the last word in person", consider a career in the anesthesiology.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I want to apologize to the thousands of people, alright, apologize to both of you, who religiously follow this blog. I had back surgery a month ago and I've just been in a bad mood and haven't felt like writing. But with improvement every day, it's time to get back to blogging. Especially given all the subjects (hospitals, hospital gowns, doctors, medication, etc.) lend to good stories.
Today I will discuss therapy.

On my last trip to see the doctor he prescribed therapy and being the good patient I am, I made an appointment even though I had some doubts that it would do any good. Folks, let me tell you, therapists get right at it. Let me describe my first treatment. I was asked to lay on my back on an examination table and spread by legs out horizontally as far as I could. Imagine a giant upside down "Y" with me laying there, my legs sticking out into mid-air. I didn't think that was too bad, a little uncomfortable, but like they say, no pain, no gain. Then came the surprise. Two therapists, stationed about thirty feet away, came sprinting toward me yelling war- like screams. Simultaneously they both leapt into the air, at least eight feet, and came crashing down on each leg. They say they could hear my screams fourteen blocks away, people stopping whatever they were doing and wondering, "Was this really the end of the world"? I imagine they performed several other tactical body adjustments while I was unconscious, I can't really say. I did feel a lot looser when I left their establishment, although I could only walk backwards and I'm hoping to overcome that in future treatments.

Okay, I'm exaggerating a little bit, the people were really quite patient, competent and professional. But boy was it embarrassing to find out how much strength I'd lost. Better keep working.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dress for the Occasion

Let me set up the background for this story. We live in a pretty sparsely populated area. There are a lot of days when maybe one car will drive by. We love the quiet privacy and peaceful existence that we enjoy but it would be nice to have a few neighbors.

Anyway, early this morning while drinking my coffee, I suddenly had an urge to drive down to our bottom pasture and check the cows. There is a crew working on a new bridge down there but I figured with last night's rains, nobody would be around. So in the interest of comfort and ease, alright, laziness, I just slipped on my son's mud boots and left wearing a pair of baggy gym-shorts that I sleep in. And I should mention that our son's boots are pretty big, actually you can walk right out onto the pond or a river and float on top of the water while wearing them, so I probably looked pretty much clown-like, but, as I say, nobody else is around and the cows don't seem to care what I look like.

Out of the pickup I was walking down the road towards the cow pasture when seemingly out of nowhere, four young men in hard hats, two of them smoking cigarettes, appeared from behind a large crane setting by the bridge repair. I was caught in an awkward position, if I went ahead, I looked like some idiot dressed the way I was. If I turned and walked the other way it would look like I was guilty of something. So, I buried my pride and waddled by them trying to make small talk as they stared. I would almost have felt better if one of them had made a wisecrack or someone had laughed out loud. No such luck. Just complete silence.

On the bright side, I suppose I did add some interesting conversation to their day and can only wonder what my new nickname is. Anyway, the moral of the story is, "always dress for the occasion".

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


A big bag of seed arrived today that we will plant in our "quail habitat demonstration plot". We hope to plant a small portion of our pasture to a unique set of plants which can be grazed by our sheep and cattle and promote quail habitat at the same time. The bag lists 26 different plants in the mixture including June Grass, Black-eyed Susan, Tall Bellflower, Partridge Pea, Illinois Bundleflower, Sneezeweed and several others I've never heard of. I just wonder what the heck Sneezeweed is and where are people growing something like this commercially to be sold as seed.

I've missed a few blogs and I said I wouldn't do that. I've got a nasty back injury and have been in a poor mood lately. Hopefully I'll whip this thing and get back with the program. The farm continues on with the help of Mary and Jeff.

Good grazing to you, Bill

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chicken and Noodles and Fresh Apple Pie

We eat a lot of good meals around here but some are just plain "special". Because I'm my mother in law's favorite son-in-law(hey, it's my blog, I can say anything I want)she sent some long, golden home-made noodles back with Mary last time she visited. My wife put those together with some of our home raised chicken which are plump, tender and just plain delicious. Not to be confused with the chicken you buy at the store that looks like they filled it up with water to add weight then drove over it with a truck to smash it down for packaging. The meal Mary made reminded me of those big meals we had as kids when all the neighbors came over to help shell corn. I can still see those fresh apple pies lined up on the table in the back room, waiting to cool for a desert for all the sweat soaked farmers in bib-overalls, taking a break from the strenuous task of scooping ear corn. Unfortunately, there was no apple pie and ice cream for desert with this particular meal because "you know who" thinks someone around here has a weight problem. It's true I do, I just can't "wait" for chicken and noodles and fresh apple pie.

I feel like complaining about the rain, it's really delaying the completion of planting but it does make the grass grow and I remember years when it didn't rain. Be careful what you ask for!

Good grazing to you, Bill

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Lot Going On

It's a busy spring day here at Grazier Farm. The ewes with their new lambs have been turned out to graze grass inside their new electronet. This is a portable fence that is easily set up and which has electrified fibers running all around it that keep the sheep in and predators out. The end result is sheep out and eating grass instead of cooped up in the barn eating hay and we all are happier.

Jeff will load out corn after he get's home from work tonight. It will be some of the last organic grain we produce on this farm.

I had an appointment this morning to have an MRI for a nasty back problem that's been bothering me the past month. The neat thing is the whole process is done in the back of a semi-truck that comes out to Corning from Omaha. It was a painless but noisy procedure. You are slid into something that looks kind of like a metal coffin and have to lay there for around a half an hour and listen to bizarre noises. Contrary to claims by one of my daughters, it was a very high tech system and no, I did not have to walk up a cattle loading chute to get into it and no, nobody prodded me along with a livestock buzzer!

The grass is growing hard, the livestock are getting fat. Good grazing to you, Bill

Thursday, May 6, 2010

They're Off!

Each year, my wife Mary, takes her 6th grade class on an overnight field trip to the nature study center at Springbrook Park. This morning, the group along with additional parents as chaperons traveled by bus to the park near Guthrie Center. There the kids get a real "hands-on" education about such things as nature identification, fishing(you'd be surprised at the number of kids who've never even been fishing) and boating, soil erosion, tracking animals, using GPS systems for locating points of interest and they also learn other skills too numerous to mention. The kids are challenged from the time they get there till the time they leave and will arrive back in Lenox exhausted late tomorrow. I think it may be one of the high-lights of their sixth grade year and leave them with memories forever. Mary even went out in our yard a couple of nights ago and gathered a fresh supply of night crawlers so that the kids would be sure to have good bait. Ever have a teacher do that for you?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Appreciate It!

There were times last winter when I drove through snow up to the axles on the tractor trying to get to the cattle to feed them. As the cattle and sheep rapidly depleted our stockpile of harvested hay I wondered if we'd ever see spring again. I longed to see green grass, grazed by fat, content cattle and sheep. Well, it's here. The rains have been timely, the weather warm and while we don't know what the rest of the summer has in store for us, today is grand!

I'm trying to get out our farm newsletter yet today, we're about ready to start planting soybeans, the cattle and sheep all need to be moved to fresh pastures, bills need to be paid, you name it. It would be easy to get stressed out. I'm going to resist the temptation to get worked up. Instead, I'm going to walk out into the pasture, watch the animals grazing and appreciate the day! Good advice for anybody, anywhere. Good grazing to you, Bill

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Can't Catch Up!

The fall born calves have grazed their paddock down to nubbins and I need to move them to new grass. Our lawn is getting kinda tall, hmm, I wonder. And the new lambs are breaking out of the barn and just looking for trouble. How come they're so good at getting out and so mystified as to how to get back in? Need to finish one half an acre of corn planting to be done before the big rain comes tonight. On top of that, the wagons we emptied and left parked on the nearby ridge last night apparently thought it was a good day to go for a trip. Because of high wind gusts, one of the wagons is straddle of the road ditch fence and the other is tipped over on it's side in the ditch.

And, basically, I would classify this as a good day.

Grass is growing, good grazing to you. Bill

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Recital

This past Sunday we had the privilege of traveling a long distance to attend the First Communion Celebration of our grandson Chase. That event was followed by a second important function, Chase's first piano concert. We are very proud of Chase and thank his family for their usual hospitality whenever we visit.

I do hope that the fondest memory of the day for Chase was not the unique duo performed by his grandfathers at the piano concert. After setting through a long church ceremony, then watching around 20 or so gifted children perform at the piano concert, both grandfathers simultaneously dozed off. My wife watched in horror as Grandpa Jerry dropped his program and began leaning forward eyes closed tightly while at the same time her husband, me, off in ga-ga land, began to list sideways. Both of our grandsons watched this event with great enjoyment. Anyway, after some elbow jabbing and dirty looks, we were both wide awake for the rest of the concert. There is no truth to the rumor that startled, I stood up and cheered or that the other grandfather actually fell clear out of the church bench.

We've had a good rain in southern Iowa and now some warmer weather so let the grass grow and good grazing to you! Bill

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22, 2010

New life is coming to this farm every day. The ewes are half done lambing. About one third of the cows have calved.

I spotted two fox hungrily looking into the lambing pen the other day. Yes, they will try to sneak in there and snatch a baby lamb or two for lunch. I chased them off and was pretty sure they were denned up down in a junk pile south of one of our ponds. I went back to the house, grabbed my shotgun and fox call and got upwind from the junk pile, hidden behind some old machinery. After a couple of toots on the call, a fox appeared and darn if the thing didn't start running right at me. I prepared for the shot! However, I'd forgotten about the 22 yearling beef heifers out in the pasture behind me who had been observing the drama unfolding. Acting like a bunch of teenagers, they decided to get in on the fun and came stampeding up behind me. Scared the dickens out of me just as I stood up to take a shot. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I killed a fence post, two dandelions and a dried up cow pie. The fox, unscathed by the incident and scared to death ran like the wind for parts unknown. Well, maybe they'll leave my sheep alone.

Good grazing to you, Bill

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20, 2010

Planting corn today. Every which way I look, I see work that needs to be done. Such is the problem in spring. Best to take a deep breath and continue to prioritize and move ahead.

One of the projects that needs attention is our "quail habitat plot". We have designated about two acres of one of our pastures to be used as a demonstration plot for quail habitat and grazing. We killed the sod last fall and now will drill in a number of plants that are conducive to quail and their brood hatching needs. I'm told that the first year it will just look like a weed patch. That should entertain the neighbors! Anyway, the goal after establishment it is to quickly graze it for short periods of time with cows or sheep, then get off of the ground for a long period letting the forbs and grasses regrow and continue to allow some habitat for wild quail.

At the turn of the century, I'm told that Iowa was covered with coveys of quail, especially southern Iowa. Modern row crop agriculture has all but destroyed most of the habitat needed for these little birds to survive. The Conservation Reserve Program served as somewhat of a "band-aide" for a period of years but since the government decided to promote ethanol as the new fuel for America, the amount of quail habitat has gone straight downhill. And a lot of topsoil has gone with it, a sad state of affairs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 13, 2010

We had our first new baby lamb yesterday and she's a cute little critter. Just a single lamb but her mother is just a year old so that's all I expect from her. I need to improve their lambing facility today to protect them from predators. I've seen a local fox prowling around and we know there are coyotes all over the place, not to mention the neighbor's dogs.

A couple of years ago my wife, Mary, heard an animal crying out in distress out in our wheat field. When she went to investigate, she met a fox running out of the field carrying a brand new baby deer. Who would have thought that could have happened? The next couple of days we could see a young mother doe walking around looking for her baby. Nature can be cruel.

New calves are arriving daily, we've planted our oats and now the pace really picks up!

Good grazing, Bill

Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 7, 2010 Blog

This morning I freeze branded 48 head of breeding heifers for Hugh Whitson, brother of Peggy Whitson, the famous astronaut. If you don't know who Peggy is, you should google her name and find out why Southern Iowans are so proud of her. Seems kind of strange to have two cattle producers branding calves and discussing the space program at the same time.

Tomorrow I have the sheep shearer headed our way to give the ewes their yearly clip. I'll try to film a segment of it and offer it on this blog or on our website. Always fun to watch the shearing process. The ewes are suppose to start lambing in two weeks and I'm looking forward to that.

The other big news it that my printed books are suppose to arrive by UPS this afternoon and I'm looking forward to actually seeing the finished product and begin marketing them.

Good grazing to you, Bill

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April 6, 2010 Blog

When I started this blog, I pledged to make an entry each Tuesday and Thursday. Well, I already missed last Thursday. That day I was very busy running our spring calving herd through the chute, clipping freezebrands to make them more readable, replacing ear tags, scoring the cow's body condition and taking note of how close to calving they were. I should note here that even though we went into last winter with more feed then usual and fed more supplemental feed then we ever have, the cows now show the poorest overall body condition we've ever experienced at this point in the production cycle. People may get tired of hearing it but it was just the most horrendous past six months for taking care of cattle weather-wise. Of the 54 head I scored, I judged 34 to be in good condition or better, 15 head to be fair condition or better and 5 to be in poor condition. It should come as no surprise that all of the "poor" and most of the "fair" were coming with their second calf. This is a very vulnerable group to begin with and the problem at our farm is that these heifers were sired by a very popular AI sire who has tremendous growth numbers and a 6.7 frame. Maybe the right bull for a lot of other farms but not the right one for this farm.
The good news is that I delayed onset of the calving season by nearly 3 weeks for our 2010 calving season. The weather has been very nice the last two weeks and we don't start calving until April 12th so that is taking some of the strain off the overall spring calving program.

Keep those cow frame scores down and select for easy keepers. Shoot for cow longevity, keep as few first calf and 2nd calf heifers in your herd as possible, they are the most costly and hard to maintain. 9 out of 10 cow calf producers could increase their profits by delaying the onset of their calving season into warmer weather. Research shows that baby calves found dead in the snow or mud just don't perform very well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

With temperatures quickly rising towards the seventies, all graziers are rejoicing in that we are hopefully beginning to leave the horrible weather of the past months behind us. Years from now we will talk of the repeated efforts digging out trails of snow just to get to our animals to feed them only to be followed by the bigger challenge, wallowing through the mud to get late winter, early spring feed to animals getting closer and closer to birthing. There are many "experts" who chime in that supplementing ruminants with winter feed is silliness and the difference in making a profit or not. They would say that making hay is foolishness. I would agree that the less hay you make and the more grazing you do, the better off you will be financially, unless . . . Mother Nature forgets to read the rule book and decides to dump heavy snow on you the first week of December and then follow that up with another 30 or 40 inches mixed with intermittent ice storms and rain effectively completely shutting off any grazing from December through April. Those cattle and sheep have to eat. The challenge becomes feeding them as economically as possible once you find yourself in need of feed. We are using cornstalk bales, CRP hay and excess forage we harvested off of our pastures last spring. Some would argue that there are better combinations and I would love to hear what you're doing. The best thing I did the past year was to hold off the beginning of breeding season for both our cows and ewes. As of today we still have no little critters on the ground and have dodged many of the horror stories I've heard from fellow producers trying to save animals in the past month of mud, rain and cold weather. Next year, I'm going to back up the onset of our calving season yet another two weeks. Good grazing to you, Bill

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

March 25, 2010 Grazier Blog

Welcome to my first "grazier blog" entry. As I watch the rain coming down, slop through the mud choring and bemoan our cow's body condition, it would be easy to slip into a dialogue about the bad weather and the very, very tough past four months of winter. I will instead, focus on a brighter future and list my goals for this farm's grazing operation in the coming year.

1)Delay the start of breeding season until July 15th.

2)AI the yearling black heifers to a calving ease polled Hereford bull.

3)Combine the fall calving and spring calving herds into one unit.

4)Try some high density, controlled grazing on mature grass stands.

5)Continue quail habitat/grazing trial plot work

6)Focus our long term beef breeding program on 5 frame cattle with easy fleshing characteristics.

7)Raise the money to facilitate the purchase of a newer big round baler capable of baling crop residues, especially cornstalks.

8)Install rip-rap in at least one washed out crossing

9)Convert the syphon watering system on the Ryan pond to a through-the-dam system with a hydrant to allow for year round livestock watering.

10)Continue removing unwanted trees and brush from our pastures, especially honey locust tress and multi-floral rose bushes.

11)Continue to expand our sheep herd using Ile de France breeding stock.

Each of these goals could be a blog topic in themselves and I hope to touch on all of them in later blogs. Email me anytime with your thoughts and questions. Good grazing to you, Bill