Book A FarmStay!!

12 Stones Farm Guest House

As promised, more information is coming your way about my amazing friends and their outreach to better the lives of others.

First up, are my friends, Eric & Hope Bright, who owned and operated a profitable dairy on their farm with lovely Jersey cows grazing and gracing the green hills of north Missouri.

Enjoy following along families, children, duck, chicken, and cow adventures on Instagram or Facebook.

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Alas, once their children, who were homeschooled like ours, flew the coop, they moved to warmer clime in south Missouri, just a 30 minute easy drive to Branson. We miss them being our neighbors. 😦

12 Stones Farm Guest House is a unique farm stay with children enjoying bottle feeding dairy calves, rounding up the ducks into their pen each evening, feeding the chickens, collecting eggs (then fixing those fresh eggs for your own brekkie!), milking gentle Jersey cows (and enjoying the milk!), playing with the cats, watching the dog guard the fowl from aerial predators (he takes his job seriously!), helping with the garden if you like, or launching a kayak in the Swan Creek just outside your cabin door.

If active farm stay is not your cup of tea, enjoy the peace and tranquility of a rural setting as you relax into your private hot tub just off the master bedroom with sounds of a tom turkey gobbling occasionally and the splash and gurgle of nearby Swan Creek. Then you might be off to take in the sights and sounds of the ever popular shows and attractions in Branson, MO. Each evening, build an outdoor fire, roast marshmallows and enjoy brilliantly starlit skies.

Enjoy eggs and milk fresh from the farm during your stay and extend the memories and enjoyment by purchasing extras at the 12 Stones Mercantile located on the farm.

As the weather warms, availability may become an issue as families and couples seek to get away from the city and breathe fresh air and relish peacefulness. Start your enquiry at 12 Stones Farm Guest House (sleeps 5) on AirBnB, VRBO, Flipkey, through Eric and Hope’s website, or just give them a ring!. You won’t meet nicer hosts! Also, if you need a really private getaway, take a look at their 2 person cabin on the same property but just a bit away. Available through AirBnB. Eric and Hope have 5.0 star reviews and are Superhosts!

French doors adorned with quilted window dressings lead to your private outdoor hot tub!
Forgive my terrible photo, but i include it anyway to give you an idea of the spaciousness of the open areas of the 5 person cabin. Behind the DeKalb sign is the loft with 2 twin beds for low ceiling sleeping. Cabins are fitted with all the comforts of home. Quick snapshot in between packing water to Eric who was laying tile in the fabulously upgraded yet still retaining its rustic feel shower and bathroom. Yup, i was helping!

Don’t even hesitate to book this 2 person cabin on the same property and enjoy the same amenities as the 5 person cabin. This trip was the first time i have seen it finished (it was in the infant stages when i visited before) and, as expected, Eric, with his amazing carpentry skills, and Hope with her eye to artistry and detail, have created another oasis.

Forage Samples

Before i took off on my driving trip to warmer weather in Continued Wanderings, and before super cold weather set in, i collected forages from standing forage (winter stockpile) for grazing to see what it’s value for animal nutrition would be. Since i raise beef cows, it is not so critical to have high quality all the time like a dairy cow needs, but since starting this new (to me) #total grazing scheme, i wanted to train my eye, so to speak, as to what the numbers look like in comparison to what the actual forage looks like.

There were three applications i wanted to measure;

1) Stockpiled forage which had been allowed to grow to full maturity since last being grazed very short in late May. This test will give me a good indication of what forage quality will be going forward with the total grazing plan i’ve implemented since fall, in which, forage is allowed to grow to full maturity before being grazed in winter.

2) new growth stockpile or that which had been grazed in August and had a little time to regrow (likely highest quality but lowest quantity). Once again, north Missouri was very short on late summer rains so very little forage could be stockpiled under the traditional MiG grazing plan, so many producers bought hay in preparation for a long winter of feeding – as you read in a previous posting here, i decided to sell stock to avoid hay feeding.

3) This sample will be a compilation of waterways, buffer zones, and other areas not worked up to raise organic soybeans. This one is from the Bowyer Farm and is 4 1/2 year old ungrazed or mowed old growth primarily toxic endophyte fescue.

As expected, all forages samples are marginal at best as far as feed value and crude protein which necessitates the feeding of some sort of protein supplement to help the cows’ guts break down the highly lignified grasses to grind out the nutrition in the forages. Even though i knew this going in, i felt it was worth the time and expense for my own education to have these images in my mind and numbers on paper to match up.

Education, sampling, researching, learning, observation are critical in any endeavor worth doing – ranching/farming is no different.

Scissors and a yellow plastic bucket are the complicated tools necessary to collect forage samples. These samples contained a lot of dry matter, so to collect a pound of forage, made for a lot of volume! This is the paddock # 8 sampling – the one not grazed since May 25, 2020 and collected on December 27, 2020
Once I brought home the sample, i cut it into smaller pieces to make it easier to handle and dry more quickly. Using a protein tub to hold the sample kept messiness to a minimum.
Once cut into pieces, i could stuff it all into a 2 gallon Ziploc bag – it was really full – and weighed it up to be certain i had at least the required 1 lb sample for testing. Then i stuck all samples in the deep freeze because i wanted to wait to send it after the holidays – it still took 14 days from north Missouri to Ithaca, NY while paying for 3 day priority. Not happy.

Click on the link above to open the forage samples information from Dairy One Forage Testing Lab.

Paddock 8 – last grazed 12 May 20, forage sample taken 27 Dec 20

Paddock 24 – last grazed 11 Sep 20, forage sample taken 27 Dec 20

Bowyer Farm – last managed Nov 2016, forage sample taken 27 Dec 20

Selecting Land

My good friend, Greg Judy, who actually has a Youtube channel to which you can subscribe for his interesting and informative videos about farming/ranching and a whole host of other topics related to profitable cattle and sheep farming, has offered up some key points for considering land purchases for your specific goals.

Greg’s check list when selecting a farm.

The check list really hasn’t changed in considerations for the purchase throughout history.

Buying undeveloped land may seem less expensive, but bear in mind the high cost of making it livestock worthy (or whatever it is you will use your land for). Perimeter fencing is expensive made even more so if hiring a bulldozer to clear the fence rows first is necessary.

As we get older, land which may be more expensive yet closer to a hospital or at least a sealed road will likely become more important.

If you are so fortunate to find a reasonably price parcel in the location important you, with limited buildings, then don’t wait because someone else will buy it. Desirable parcels of property are snapped up very fast. My observations of looking for properties, indicates that poor properties are offered at ridiculous prices just hoping for someone to bite; quality, in-demand properties will sell immediately and land auctions are becoming more popular due to immediate sell and they are bringing a premium price.

If the neighbours aren’t interested in the property and it has been languishing on the market, that is a red flag that something is wrong – do in depth research. Oftentimes, it can be high taxes, poor production values, swampy land, no water, low rainfall, the lay of the land requires constant maintenance (i have a 160 like that, every little rain causes my deep watergaps to blow out, fighting encroaching brush is an annual and long days event)

My personal search requires:

  1. enough acreage in one block location with minimal perimeter (in other words more squarish, not nooks and crannies. one property online had 11 miles of perimeter to maintain yet enclosing only 1700 acres!)
  2. A nice home which has been built with finishes which stand the test of time. Too many homes from the 80s and 90s and so faddish inside, it needs to be completely gutted and redone. May be better to tear it down and start again. Not out of the range of possibility, just be sure you aren’t paying twice for a new home.
  3. Live water with no or little flood plain.
  4. Located on a sealed road with minimal traffic
  5. Near infrastructure to livestock auctions and other supportive ranch venues
  6. Warm winters, warm winters, warm winters – did i mention warm winters?!
  7. Minimal timber and very little brush.
  8. I would like to not be close enough to neighbors to hear or see them, but within 2 hours of a major airport.
  9. Price is critical – i’m not rich – the ranch i buy must find a way to pay for itself or at the least provide a good rate of return. This is nearly impossible in today’s environment where there is very little low risk good investment. Land is in too expensive for its productive value.

My Amazing Friends!

I am so blessed and thankful to have the most amazing and amazingly talented friends. Thankfully, they accept me as well having opened their doors to my extended stays these recent weeks- but oh my goodness, did we talk so fast to catch up with each others’ lives these past several years of being scattered around the Midwest and the process of becoming empty nesters and seeing our children well ensconced into lives as productive citizens, scripturally sound, biblically moral young people.

So, over the course of the next several weeks, i plan to unabashedly promote their websites, start up businesses, well established businesses, and almost there after 5 years businesses. All are meeting needs which benefit the lives of others.

The upcoming spotlights will include;

1) Barb Buchmayer – she and her husband, Kerry, recently retired from decades of owning and operating an organic grass-based dairy (we bought our raw milk from them for years) located here in north Missouri. She has now written a two volume, 300 page each, set of books designed to help you train your dog using positive encouragement. Positive Herding 101 & 102 To get a glimpse of her training methods as we are awaiting the arrival of her books, check out and subscribe to Barb’s Youtube Channel – Positive Herding Dog

2) Nadean Eudaly is a dear friend with whom our friendship is growing leaps and bounds actually since our children graduated from our respective home schooling endeavors. Although, we lived only about 45 minutes apart, our ‘circles’ didn’t overlap much during those years. However, now residing in Texas, Nadean, in addition to continuing to work alongside her husband at his established business White River Productions, has now embarked on providing quality Longhorn cattle to area landholders who want regal, easy care cattle gracing their vistas and offering a cabin for rental on their property. Well on her way to busting out with full service, check our her new businesses at Bell & Brook Ranch. She is located near Palestine, Texas.

Book this well appointed eco cabin which overlooks a gorgeous oxbow lake. Well, obviously, when i took the photo, i was focusing on the horses and pasture. Head on over to Nadean’s website for contact and booking information.

3) Kevin Eudaly, editor and owner of multiple train, railroad, diesel engine magazines and books has been living the dream of his 12 year old self when his love was of photographing trains. Although a stint as an environmental chemist was his career out of college (actually, he and Nadean met at work with them both being chemists! God works with amazing precision). All things train are well represented at White River Productions. I had the privilege of previewing the hard copy/finished Timber Titans book at their home during my visit and although i’m not familiar with trains and the massive amount of historical documentation this book records, i can recognise an enjoyable, yet important record of train and rail history well put together. The super old black and white photographs contained within are sharply improved as if they were taken using today’s camera capabilities. This book is more than a coffee table centerpiece – it’s an historical piece.

This book is a recent stunner published by White River Productions. Timber Titans: Baldwin’s Articulated Logging Locomotives

4) Eric & Hope Bright who now live outside Forsyth, Missouri also is a homeschooling family in our circle here in north Missouri and also a dairy family. Their children, too, are off changing the world for the better and now Eric and Hope have time to devote to their love of sharing rural living with as many as they can. Check out their hospitality at 12 Stones Farm. A real, hands on farm stay the Bright’s offer the opportunities of bottle feeding calves, feeding chickens, ducks, and geese, collecting eggs, gardening, and milking cows. Kayaking, roasting marshmallows over an outdoor fire, and, for those of you not used to a dark sky, be amazed at the night time stars displayed in all their glory. If you don’t want to do the farm stay – that’s okay, too. Enjoy beautiful, private accommodations with a private hot tub, then head to nearby Branson for evening entertainment. This is a small working farm with fresh eggs, fresh milk, and grassfinished beef available most of the time. Find them on AirBnB, Flipkey, and VRBO. Also, they have a new cabin available listed on AirBnb. But, honestly, don’t hesitate to contact them directly. Awesome hosts.

Contact Hope to book this well appointed studio sized cabin for your own use or as use for an overflow of family and friends renting the much larger cabin nearby.

Okay, that was a little teaser – hope you have time to follow along later as i explore each of their new endeavors more fully in upcoming blog entries!

Winter Grazing

Remember when several weeks ago i commented on how fortunate it was that i could begin the grazing program as taught by Jaime Elizondo which he terms #total grazing or #nonselective grazing. Well, the easy street is well over. I went on a couple week getaway and came back to 8-10 inches of snow and single digit daytime highs and below zero night time lows with wind chills well be low zero. Although other producers who are much more dedicated than i am are doing a stunning job of total grazing right through the snow and cold as evidenced by the beautiful photos they post on Instagram.

But i cannot do cold – never could – so if i can get my cows on a 10 acre to 20 acre paddock with tall grass and running water in the ditch and provide them with protein tubs, kelp, and salt – i say ‘sayonara’ see ya in a week. Maybe it’ll be up to 10F by then.

Cows coming up to shift to a new paddock
Haven’t a clue what changes, but when a hard freeze comes upon giant ragweed, the cows will eat it like candy! Good girls.
I asked Dallas to remind me to never, ever engage in having my land row cropped again. These ridged rows were left after the final crop was harvested leaving the field extremely rough and we found it very difficult just to walk around on it! This is ridiculous. We walked in to turn on the water, but there was plenty of running fresh water in the ditch, checked that fences were up. Didn’t drive in since the deep snow fell before the ground froze. Had we pulled in with a heavy pickup on the soft cropped soil, we would have likely buried the pickup. A tractor is an hour and half away. Not worth the risk. Walking is good for us anyway.
Moving across the Road! At long last, after 4 1/2 years, my cows are once again grazing the Bowyer Farm. Hallelujah! Now it can begin healing from the 4 years of organic soybean farming. It will take a lot of brush cutting and chemical kill to get control of the farm after 7 years of certified organic use. Most of these cows had never been on this farm! But a handful of the old timers well remembered how to come around the hay barn and cross the road. Had hoped to snap a photo, but my phone went dead because it got too cold. WIndchill walking around out here for about an hour was -9F.
Beef cows do not need barns – why are so many barns built – a mystery. It’s a pain on the old barns to rig up something that will sort of block all the doors and holes in the barns so the cows don’t get inside and make a mess, get sick, or worse crowd up and smash someone to death. (several years ago, nasty weather encouraged the cows to bust down a south doorway, crowded into the barn you see here and 3 young cows were smashed to death! It was a sickening and discouraging day as i dragged them out with long log chains hooked to the pickup. ) Who said ‘life on the farm is kind of laid back.’?!

Continued Wanderings

Nice place to stretch your legs at Wilderness Park in Pittsburg, Kansas – i spent the night here, but take a minute to stretch in the city park if passing through and needing a break. It’s in town, so not quiet from traffic, but not really noisy either.

Stumbled upon a strip of historic Route 66! Ribbon Road Route 66 Oklahoma, Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge, Kansas.

This place was actually closed the day i was passing through, but their website sort of indicated that the grounds were free to explore and learn which is very generous of the caretakers. Definitely worth a stop. Sort of off the beaten track, but just take the time learn about the Caddo Indians at Spiro Mounds Archaeological Center and Interpretive Trails near Spiro, Oklahoma.

Pass through Fort Coffee, OK on your way to Spiro Mounds!

Right along the road, you find a little side memorial for the Caddo Indians in the Caddo Indian Memorial in Norman, Arkansas.

Crater of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro, Arkansas. I didn’t stop in to dig for diamonds – probably would have required a mask and i don’t do masks – but i also think it may be more for the younger set and families with young children. But a few hiking trails are a nice stretch from driving.

First stop upon returning to Missouri is Table Rock State Park and hiking the red trail – i needed a bit of a hike, so selected the White River Red Loop trail.

Given my preference for outdoor activities and visiting friends, my 2 week sojourn avoided mask wearing entirely.

Cheers!

Hagerman Wildlife Refuge

After four nights and days staying with friends in Muse, OK, it was time to press on. I spent four hours meandering around looking at for sale ranch properties (not contacting a realtor) and seeing if there were any i thought i might like, but finding none. My anecdotal conclusion is that people who own good land are not selling, those who have marginal or poor land are trying to get out from under it. Prices are far too high from a production standpoint, so i’m not sure how serious they are about selling.

Anyway, the 2 1/2 hour drive to Durant, OK was enjoyable and it was fun to see an area i had never seen before.

After a great stay at the Best Western there, i decided to take in the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge located near Sherman, Texas, which i had not done a couple years ago when i went through because it was raining and cold. I highly recommend taking part in this drive through refuge if you have time. There are plenty of trails to take in if you have the time. The Harris Creek Trails were right at the entrance and were a perfect start to my morning.

As you can see these trails are relatively short and very easy. Some parts were a bit muddy, but were easily managed even with me in tennis shoes.

Map of the entire refuge. Definitely worth a stop and spending at least an hour. Even in the winter time it was a nice break – and there is no cost!
RR

Faith, Family, Farm

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