Pluggin’ Away

We have been truly blessed to have splendid weather so far into the autumn season.  This has allowed a considerable amount of extra outdoor work to be accomplished – making up for the lack of such earlier in the year due to constant rain.

However, signs of winter are moving across the country, so it’s time to get serious about it.  We’ve been feeding some hay since it was nice and dry, but that seems to be past for a while, so back to grazing.  Too bad for deer hunters at all the rain this firearm season.

At all places, we’ll have set up two polywires across an ungrazed paddock ready for winter stockpile grazing.  With the warm weather, we’ve been able to keep the stock on paddocks with only a little regrowth, but that will soon change once the nighttime temperatures drop below freezing.  It’s important, too, to not graze too short this time of year unless you are purposefully doing so to ‘set back’ the existing grass and root system.

At my south Missouri farm, Dallas, Christian, and I worked nearly all daylight hours to set out hay bales for bale grazing, clearing brush, and building hi-tensile perimeter fence.

photos from camera 026
We took a pickup with a Hydra Bed bale moving system to leave in south Missouri, so we packed carefully to get all our junk to fit in the boot and the back seat of the car for the return to north Missouri.
photos from camera 027
To build that perimeter fence in south Missouri, I’m using this third wire from my existing fences up here.  This means, removing all the cotter clips from the post, then winding the wire back onto the spinning jenny.   Shown here is getting near to a 1/4 mile back onto the jenny.  Once our weather straightens out again, I’ll wind up another 1/4 mile, then a few more short pieces and that’s about all I can reasonably get on here.  It’s pretty darn heavy by that point and I’ll need help moving the spinning jenny loaded with that much wire.

Friday morning, however, we finished up and took some leisure time.  We don’t often do that.  Ziplining in the southwest Missouri Ozarks.  Branson Zipline  is an awesome place to go with great guides.  Fun time.  And, yes, even I stepped off the platform into a 100 foot freefall!

With cold weather coming, it’s time to address the livestock water tanks.  Allen sat down this morning to make a list of his tanks, which he’ll either shut off and drain or some he’ll turn on the leak valve and allow the water to run through the overflow pipe.  The moving water won’t freeze up.  He has 74 tanks to attend to while i only have 10!

Cheers!

tauna

 

 

 

Mild Monday

Another stunningly beautiful weather day here.  Just a touch of frost on the windshields and crunchy grass early this morning.

Woke up about 4am since i’d fallen asleep so early the evening before, but with a horrible headache. photo download 007 Took some Tylenol, fixed some mate, then opened the door to let Thunder in and along with him a bird flew in!  Weird.  So a little early morning excitement – Allen and i finally coaxed it out by turning off all the lights in the house and turning on the porch light.  Birds are not like bats, they have to see where they are going.

Almost out!
Almost out!

My main project for today was to load up those little calves i talked about earlier and the thin bull and take them to market.  Now we don’t have those baby calf feeding chores which frees up about 45 minutes a day! Not to mention just the inconvenience of being tied to this task twice a day. Most of that time is taken up with preparing the bottles and feeding the bottle calves.   There is also no more feed costs.

Next big project was to prepare another 16 foot cattle panel into a circle which is what we use in south Missouri for decorative and useful end posts for fence.  Once these are filled with rocks (and there are plenty of those on my farm there!) then they are set to go.  Beautiful and functional at once.  It is hard work to fill up them up, however.

photo download 001Dallas put the second coat of linseed oil/mineral spirits on his lawn tractor trailer yesterday and took out a couple bales of hay for my cows up north.  He also moved several more bales from the neighbour’s farm.  We bought the rest of his hay bales just recently and while it’s dry, we are moving them off his farm as quickly as possible.

This afternoon and early evening will be spent at the Forage Systems Research Center‘s 50th anniversary with guest speaker, Dr Fred Martz, professor emeritus and former FSRC superintendent.  It’ll be nice getting to visit with friends we haven’t seen for some time.

Cheers!

tauna

Bright Sunshine!

That forecasted rain hit about 9:30 pm and just poured for about 5 minutes – storm over.  The Mizzou game in Columbia, MO, however, looked like miseryfor a LONG time – it didn’t help that the hometown team lost badly.

Today dawned clear and bright and i managed to clean the frig, wash a load of laundry, feed the calves, wash windows, and start the oven cleaning before the day got started.

Paperwork has been gathered for my trip to Chillicothe in the afternoon to the license bureau.   Allen and I had planned to purchase the pickup through bartering, however, i found out at the license bureau that that can only be done throught a dealership!  No private transactions.  That doesn’t sound fair.  So, of course, i had to pay sales tax after all.  The inspection for the pickup resulted in a $600 repair bill!!

I took some photos of an old McCormick International seed drill that I listed for sale on Powell Seed Farm, Inc facebook page.  It is old and small by today’s standards, but it would be perfect for someone starting out or for use in grass paddock improvements.

Stopped in Meadville at my friend’s house and we had a serious heart to heart visit.  I cannot imagine going through life without a close friend with whom each can share our joys, concerns, and heartaches.

Slow late afternoon since i’d allowed plenty of time for the license bureau, yet i was in and out in less than half an hour!  Fed the calves, worked on my chicken tractor (this is my 9th design and build of chicken tractors and eggmobiles).  I’ve been at the chicken tractor for months, but it’s the lowest item on my priority list, so I seldom have time to piddle around with it.  Had hoped to have it done before i butcher our last 14 hens so as to see if it works, but that may not happen.  Might get chicks next spring, but might not.  I may just enjoy not having extra chores, but it’s fun building stuff – it just won’t get used.

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Trying to rain…..

One of the negative aspects (and i’m NOT complaining) is that with this unexpected warm weather, vacuuming or sweeping dead face flies and Japanese beetles off the floor around windows and sills etc is a daily event.

Each morning and evening, I have 5 orphaned peewee calves to feed along with two orphaned bottle calves.  A nuisance to be sure.  Once they are started good and I have time, I’ll take them to the auction before winter.  Someone else will like the chores more than we do.

Last night, after dark, Dallas, Allen, and I mustered 12 calves from the TT place across the road to their mums who Allen had moved earlier in the day.  He should have checked them before dark!  We were able to move all but one blind calf.  She’ll be up waiting today.

These two dead trees were too close to the electric powerlines.
These two dead trees were too close to the electric powerlines.

The electric company guys came yesterday whilst I was gone and cut down these two dead trees from near the power lines.  I had only called them about a week ago and here they are so quickly.  I was glad they were willing to do this dangerous job for us.

Thanks guys at Farmer’s Electric Coop, Chillicothe, MO!

I like this birdhouse the best because i messed it up - it's just slightly askew, so we'll keep it for ourselves.
I like this birdhouse the best because i messed it up – it’s just slightly askew, so we’ll keep it for ourselves.

Need to get back to these birdhouses I cut out from an old barn gate using a pattern for bluebird house from the Missouri Department of Conservation.  Boy, repurposing lumber is a challenging undertaking, but it is rewarding to keep this lumber from just burning.  Still need to screw on the tops and cut out the hole.  I’ll leave the decorating to Dallas – he’s more creative than I am.  We have a lot of small antique farm junk to use.   Not sure what we’ll do with so many birdhouses – maybe Dallas and I can hone our skills enough to make something worth selling.   I lined these up today – does that count for doing something?!  😉

Birdhouses that are made from an old barn gate. I have discovered that using repurposed lumber is a time consuming endeavour!
Birdhouses that are made from an old barn gate. I have discovered that using repurposed lumber is a time consuming endeavour!

Rolled up about 875 feet of polywire and picked up the posts, giving my ET cows and some late calving heifers of Allen’s another break of fresh grass.

Managed to squeeze in a bit of time to take this ancient bird feeder apart and take out the plexiglass that was there which i used to take to the seed plant to cut another one.  As you see one side is missing. Using the table saw, I quickly sliced a piece to put in on the other side.
Managed to squeeze in a bit of time to take this ancient bird feeder apart and take out the plexiglass that was there which i used to take to the seed plant to cut another one.  As you see one side is missing. Using the table saw, I quickly sliced a piece to put in on the other side.
Carefully disassembling.
Carefully disassembling.
All put back together with it's new plexiglass.
All put back together with it’s new plexiglass.

Lunch was such a hit yesterday with beef fillets and broccoli, that I made the same today.  Which was quick and easy since I had sliced the whole loin yesterday morning when it was still somewhat frozen.  Being partially frozen, meat is much easier to slice.  These fillets I sliced about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Pan broiled in butter from grass fed cows is our favourite way of preparing beef fillets and lamb noisettes.

Since it may rain tomorrow and i need to go to Chillicothe, I headed to my farm to shift the cows.  That sure made them happy.  I opened another paddock as well since I can’t get back up there until Tuesday.  Took out mineral and drove the perimeter to make sure the fence was all cattle tight.  Finished my fencing project at my farm this afternoon  with driving another 10 or so fiberglass posts and attaching the two hi-tensile wires with cotter pins.  I’ll be feeling that tonight – I can see some Tylenol in  my future – the ground is really hard right now.  Tightened it all up – done.

The guys are nearly done with building my perimeter fence.  They finished today’s plans in the rain.  It was not a full day of working since Allen took his dad to the doctor this afternoon.  If the weather holds, probably tomorrow will see it done.

Upon my return home, i found the peewee calves in the yard waiting for me!  Guess i accidentally left a gate open.  So glad the bulls hadn’t wandered up to the barn and out as well!  Got some feed and they followed me back to the barn easily.  One of the bottle calves is not feeling well  – i noticed her not being up to par this morning and she is worse this evening, so i pushed her into a corner and shot her with Red mix and a vitamin B complex.  Hopefully, that will knock whatever rattles out of her.  She has a good appetite, though, so that is a good sign.  She and the other calf sucked down their bottles in good fashion.

Enough chatter for today!!

Cheers

tauna

Nearly dark, Allen and Dallas pulled in.  Dallas collected eggs and we all sauntered back to the house, enjoying the lovely evening.

Now, a long evening before bedtime – maybe i can talk these two into playing a few games of UNO.  We are all tired, but it just gets dark so early.

Blessed with Fine Weather!

We had a lovely couple inches of rain a couple weeks ago which settled the dust after about 7 weeks of nuthin’!  It was dry – and still is – but with warm weather, the grass actually has been squeaking out a bit of growth before the last of this nearly perfect weather gives way to the bitter iciness of winter.

So, we have not had to turn the cows and calves on to winter stockpile yet – we have fed a few bales of hay to stretch the stay on some of the paddocks simply for convenience.  Plus it’s dry enough to set out bales with the pickup, so it’s a nice time to feed hay.  Once the snow is blowing and it’s cold, snowy, icy, or slick, i would rather just leapfrog another stretch of polywire on the stockpile and let the cows go to grazing.

This is the perfect time to get stock tanks, pump houses, etc winterized.  Today, I removed my two marine-type batteries from the solar powered water pump.  Drained the pump, pressure tank, intake and out pipes as well as 4000 feet of 1 1/2 inch HDPE water pipe (not as hard as it sounds, just undo the end and it gravity drains itself), and removed the bottom screw from the filter from the pond to drain it.  Unplugged and shut off the pump, turned the solar panels off, shut down the door to my portable solar house and latched it, loaded the marine-type batteries (yeah, they are heavy  – ’bout 60 lbs a piece!) into the back of my Gator and it is all set for winter.  I store the charged batteries in our basement – don’t want them to drain and freeze – they cost about $140 each.

Allen and Dallas are replacing a half a quarter mile of perimeter barbed wire fence on my Buckman 80.  It was just getting too worn out to keep cows in with any peace of mind.  They set posts and stretched wire today and yesterday.  Rick helped yesterday.  Such a busy week, they hope to finish up on Monday.  Once the end posts settle a couple days, then they’ll stretch the wire.  I can help put on the clips.  Why don’t i help?  Honestly, i’m really not strong enough to do much except put on the clips.  If anything ever happens to my guys, I’ll have to hire my perimeter fencing done.

My to-do list today:

Go to my farm – It takes an hour and 10 minutes roundtrip, so a good part of the time is spent in traveling.  Once there, i moved a water tank, replaced an anchor and brace post on hi-tensile fence, pulled the fiberglass line posts and moved them.  I’m actually moving about 650 feet of existing 2-strand hi-tensile wire over a bit.  It just wasn’t working where i had built it four years ago.

Quick trip to Brookfield to buy nappies for Allen’s Aunt June – she is attending a baby shower saturday morning to which i’ll take her.  At 96, her eyesight and motor coordination isn’t what is used to be and she no longer drives.  Last week, i spent a few hours scrubbing her frig and freezer since it was not working properly and all the food had gone — well, totally nasty.  I discovered that the back of the freezer (inside) was frozen solid, so hoped that cleaning, vacuuming underneath and behind, as well as completely defrosting would fix the problem.  Thankfully it did.  I found a wooden bar to place beneath the front of the unit since it was leaning so far forward.  Maybe the doors were not getting shut completely to cause it to freeze up.

We were supposed to have sunny weather today, but that didn’t happen.  However, I’d already set Dallas to the task of caring for his lawnmower trailer with linseed oil and mineral spirits on Monday early afternoon.  After two days of curing, today would have been the second coat.  He had parked it in the barn last night because of the possibility of rain; only a heavy mist, but inside it is dry.  Maybe he’ll get that second coat on tomorrow.

Had planned to pain the letters on the Powell Seed Farm sign, but too high humidity and too cool.  Ran out of time anyway.

Made some phone calls.  One to get the lawnmower picked up for annual maintenance, another to Bill to schedule changing out June’s garbage disposal, amongst others. Received a phone call from the fellow in south Missouri from whom I’m buying hay and he has it all delivered, so will pay him tomorrow.

Well, that’s about it along with preparing beef fillets and stir fry for lunch, three loads of laundry, making up another batch of laundry soap, and washing dishes.  I had more on the to-do list, but tomorrow’s another opportunity.

CHeers!

tauna

Looking Back – 2004

Here’s an old article and our operation has changed a little bit, but we still very much appreciate and use management-intensive grazing (MIG).  All our pastures are subdivided into 20 acres or less paddocks with hi-tensile electric wire.  With the focus on managing the grazing, our animals and soil benefit from good health.

MFGC/GLCI is hosting their 2015 annual conference this week (2-3 Nov) at the Resort at Port Arrowhead, Lake Ozark, Missouri.  

Allen & Tauna Powell Named 2004 “Grasslanders of the Year”
A Linn County farm family was named “grasslanders” at the Missouri Forage and Grassland Council annual meeting at the Lake of the Ozarks in November, 2004.

Allen and Tauna Powell, Laclede, Mo., were named Grasslanders of the Year. The Powells operate a 3000-acre farm stocked with 800 cows that use management-intensive grazing systems. Though the majority of their calves are marketed through traditional commodity channels, the last couple years, they have been finishing calves on grass only and marketing the beef locally and on the Internet.

The Powells learned grass management techniques at grazing schools at the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center near Linneus, Mo.

They now serve on the advisory board for the research farm and have been instructors at the grazing schools.

The award was accepted by the family, which includes Jessica, 12; Dallas, 11; and Nathan, 8. The children are home schooled and attended the educational meetings at the MFGC conference after doing their regular homework.

Tauna said, “I thought raising pasture-finished beef was a crazy idea when I first heard it from Fred Martz (former superintendent of MU FSRC.) Now, 12 years later, we are doing it.”

MFGC is an educational association made up of graziers, educators, agency representatives and businesses. It provides support for state and regional grazing schools.

They have also initiated and support a grassland evaluation contest for high school students and travel scholarships for college students attending national meetings.

The Powells were nominated by Fred Martz, retired MU professor and grassland farmer at Columbia, Mo.

Management-intensive grazing improves production and health of pastures, increases livestock gains per acre, and reduces soil erosion. The system is based on dividing large pastures into smaller grazing paddocks. Livestock are moved every few days to give forage time to rest and regrow. Livestock always has fresh pasture to graze.

For more information about the Missouri Forage and Grasslands Council go to their web site athttp://agebb.missouri.edu/mfgc/

Food Waste in the UK

Speak boldly  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall!

From BBC News Magazine

Viewpoint: The rejected vegetables that aren’t even wonky

There is little doubt this situation is just as bad in the US and around the world.  Yet the big food companies (not food producers) tell us we’ll all starve if we don’t buy their products to produce more food.  It’s a pack of lies.  We waste far too much food.  What we have is a distribution problem and in the first world countries we have so much food that we are incredibly picky.

Food waste is a subject i feel is important – as a cattle rancher and mom, i hear a lot of people complain (in the US) about the high cost of food, yet most producers (meats, eggs, chicken, vegetables, fruit) barely scrape out a living.  The facts are that the cost of production continues to skyrocket, yet, by and large, the producer’s income has remained stagnant while the consumer’s cost has risen only a little.  The margins are very thin and oftentimes only the much aligned farm subsidies provided by the govt are the difference between going another year and losing the farm.  We could utilise our resources much more efficiently and produce a great deal more foodstuffs.  But there is no reason to do so.  Food is so cheap, we would simply lose money.

That huge pile of parsnips that Mr Fearnly-Whittingstall is standing in front of could consumed by cattle or sheep or just returned to the soil to be ploughed back in, but will it?  For sure, the food you throw into your bin at home will go only to the landfill.

Okay, i’ll step off my soapbox now!  😉

Cheers!

tauna

BBC magazine supermarketveg

Faith, Family, Farm

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