Tag Archives: Allergies

Alaska, USA!

To begin our escape from annual ragweed allergies, Dallas and I headed to Alaska on 20 August 2019, the day after i mustered in my bulls and hauled them away from the cows.  All according to plan.  We got away just in time, however, this was a short trip because we needed to be back in time to celebrate Allen’s Aunt June’s 100th birthday party on the 7th of September.  Monday, we had appointments to adjust our backs, hips, heads, shoulders, ribs, etc and since allergies were extremely bad with no trend down, we came home from our afternoon appointments and i started booking Iceland.  We left for Iceland on the 10th.  Another blog entry for that later.

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We flew Alaska Airlines from Kansas City to Barrow (Utqiaġvik), Alaska.  It’s a long way from our house.  Since we attended a wedding near Hamilton the afternoon before, we took separate vehicles with Allen returning home whilst Dallas and I drove on to Kansas City.  We stayed at a hotel that allowed us to park there for the duration of our holiday.   After 15 hours of flights and connections from Kansas City to Barrow, Dallas stood beneath the iconic baleen whale rib bones on the beach of the Arctic Ocean in the most northern city of the United States.
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Arctic Ocean, Barrow, Alaska
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Looking towards Point Barrow.  We could only drive within about a mile of the Point.  Mud and degraded road conditions preclude going further – plus, you pretty much have to obtain permission from private landowners to go any further.
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Bowhead Whale Skull – these buggers are huge and are still hunted in traditional wooden boats with harpoons during the spring by local  Iñupiat,

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In an October 2016 referendum, city voters narrowly approved to change its name from Barrow to its traditional Iñupiaq name, Utqiaġvik. The governor had 45 days to rule on the name change and it was officially adopted on December 1, 2016.

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Yup, proof – we was there!
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Main airport terminal at Utqiaqvik (formerly known as Barrow), Alaska.  Name of the airport is the Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport.
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All the dumpsters were decorated as part of a town beautification project.
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Rebuilding the ocean wall protecting the town from the constant waves needs regular attention.
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This is the old Top of the World hotel which burnt August 31, 2013.  We stayed at the new one located on the north beach.  Highly recommend.

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Evidence that this area has been settled since at least 800 AD.  Remains of horses and musk ox indicate that this area was much warmer in the past than it is now.
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Since there are no roads and rails from Barrow to Fairbanks, we flew, then hailed a cab for a trip to our hotel.  Our hotel did provide a free shuttle, but i had no phone service in Alaska!!  One of the spots that Chariton Valley Wireless doesn’t quite reach i guess.  The iconic Moose Antler Arch – Gateway to Fairbanks.  Antler Arch web cam
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Downtown Fairbanks is an historical and tourist destination.  The locals have created a wonderful place to learn about this city’s unique contribution to US history.  If you have time, read the above Vignette of History about the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.  Amazing structure.
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The horizontal support is topped with a Teflon type product which allows the pipeline to slide back and forth as needed to accommodate the 39,000 earthquakes (about every 15 minutes) Alaska experiences each year.
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Sure you can rent a car out of Fairbanks and drive to Denali, but the train provides a different view and experience.  We chose the dome top full service guided car.  Well, we did have to pay for our meal.  
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Hiking in Denali National Park
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Ptarmigan – Alaska state bird.

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There are no fish in the glacial melt in Denali National Park because there is so much gray silt in the water.  However, someone thought they spotted a fish, so this multi million dollar overpass is being built courtesy of you the taxpayer just in case there was one.
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Beaver dam on the Horseshoe Lake Trail.  There are a multitude of easy and moderate trails in the park.

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Not just big ole mushrooms are grown in Alaska.  Despite the short growing season in days, the length of daylight each day compensates and record breaking produce is grown and exhibited at the state fairs.  The 2019 pumpkin weighed 2051 lbs!
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There’s the engine pulling our McKinley Explorer dome topped car – Alaska Train Denali to Anchorage
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Gray silt-filled glacial melt water just outside Anchorage.
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Not as much to do as i expected there would be in Anchorage, but a highlight is this well maintained Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.  We didn’t walk the whole thing (11 miles one way), but we enjoyed part of it.  There are no grocery stores in the touristy areas.  Historical and cultural museums are great as well as the city tour on the Anchorage Trolley.

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Blessed Beef Broth for what Ails Ya

As followers of my blog realise, I struggle mightily each late August through September with ragweed allergies.  It’s been so since my middle child turned one year old in 1994.  Oddly, of the three children, he is the only one who also suffers badly from same allergy.  I’ve discovered this year that our home raised grassfinished beef broth either drank alone or with finely chopped onions and a pinch of powdered garlic really hits the spot.

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Cook a roast or stew meat or thick cut steak in water  just deep enough to just covering the meat, then remove the meat and any bones with a strainer spoon.  My go-to is this Nesco Roast Air Oven.  I don’t know if these are even made anymore, and i didn’t like the noisy fan and motor.  However, i simply covered the attachment hole in the lid with tape.  Paid $2 for this handy kitchen item at a church bazaar some 10-12 years ago.  Handy, handy, handy.  You can buy new ones in this 6 quart size and others from Nesco without the attachable motor.

 

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Pour the liquid into a pot or jar to cool.  I like using these quart sized freezer jars since i can pour it in piping hot instead of waiting for liquid to cool.  Plus the slim design allows for not taking up much space on the counter whilst cooling and later into the frig.
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Whilst cooling, the saturated fat will rise to the top and eventually harden.  I put mine in the frig once the liquid has come to room temperature.  Once cooled, transfer to a plastic container to freezer or top with the screw lid and stick these jars in the freezer.  Great to thaw and make broth this winter, cook potatoes or pasta in this, or thicken for brown gravy.
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Scrape the hardened fat from the top of the cooled beef liquid.  i place mine in a storage container and stick in the freezer or frig.  Use in place of butter or oil for extra flavour.  Or feed it to the chooks and your pets.  Just please don’t throw it away.

Sell Now or Sell Later

There has always been great debate about whether or not to sell open (not pregnant) cows in the fall at pregnancy check or turn the bull back in with them and see if they’ll breed for another season, then sell them pregnant.  Many trade publications will encourage producers to ‘add value’ to a cull cow, but i seriously question the validity of such endeavor, but then again, i’m not an expert with numbers, i’m just lazy and don’t want to be shifting and handling and sorting my cows more than necessary.

It’s easy enough to simply put numbers to the various practices, then make your favourite decision.

My first stumbling block with the concept of adding value to one of my cull cows has to do with passing off a potentially problem cow to my neighbor.  That doesn’t sound very neighborly or make good business since.  However, one could simply ‘add value’ by pouring the feed to the cow to make her fat and increasing the grade or value for slaughter.  It also could be justified by the fact that my management is super low input and most of my cows would thrive in another producer’s management style.

Let’s compare:

Pregnancy check in the fall reveals 10 open cows.  My cows all have a calf at side or they’d already be sold, so 14-30 days after the calves have received their vaccines, I’ll wean the calf by selling off the cow to slaughter.  She’s not going to be in the fattest condition because she’s nursing a nice calf and a non-fat cow will not bring top dollar.

For example, the different cow classes are as follows:

SLAUGHTER COWS:

  1. Breaking and Boning (75-85% lean) $47.50-$57.50
  2. High dressing $58.00-$67.00.
  3. Lean (85-90%) $44.00-$54.50

Cows in the fall nursing a calf will typically fall in the Lean or Breaking and Boning categories and this year are bringing about $43/cwt (hundredweight).  My cows are primarily Corriente or Corriente cross and will weigh about 800 lbs (by comparison and Angus or other beefier breed will weigh 1200 lbs, although she still may be thin and be in the same category).

 

OR

Keep the cow and turn the bull back with her and hope she gets bred – Let’s say there is 70% chance that she will.  So, we keep the cow until she is in the 2nd stage of pregnancy or about 5-6 months along.

Therefore, if she would bring $875/head as a P2 cow (and this would be a stretch if she is older than 5 or 6).

OR

Leave the bulls in with the cows an additional 20-30 days and hope that another 50% of the potentially open cows actually breed, then sell the bred cows that calved late as well as the open cows in mid-December.

Let’s compare:

10 $105 -$1,050 labor
10 $127 -$1,270 pasture costs
7 $875 $6,125 bred cows sold
3 $400 $1,200 open cows sold
$5,005  keep and sell in June
vs
5 $360 $1,800 open cows sold
5 $675 $3,375 bred cows sold
$5,175  sell in December
($170)

Things to consider.Interestingly, in my opinion, these numbers probably won’t change even if one leaves the bulls in for another 20 days, sort out the cows that have not calved by 10 June and selling them as ready to calve in the last trimester (P3).  In this part of the country (Missouri, USA) a summer calving P3 cow is not as desirable as a fall calving P2 even though i’ve credited her with more value in my chart above.

Leaving the bulls in an additional 20 days is advantage for me in that i avoid having to handle the cattle during ragweed allergy season.  My allergies are so bad, that this is a serious consideration.  However, the reality of bringing in the cows with baby calves and sorting off the one which haven’t calved yet is that it likely won’t happen and one would be right back to a 65 day calving season.  However, those cow numbers could be written down, paired up in the fall and then sold as pairs when animals are mustered in for preg check and calf vaccinations.

The point of changing the time and reducing the length of breeding season was to avoid ragweed allergy season.  However, i discovered that at least this year, i was unable to withstand the debilitating effects of ragweed as late as 1 September.   Also, the longer the calving season, the more inconvenient it is to shift the animals through a managed rotation.

Other alternative is to separate those open cows and a bull put in with them.  Disadvantage is that a separate herd must be maintained for 7 months.  Not really a feasible situation.

So, now that i’ve thought through the pros and cons of the various scenarios, especially solving the issue with allergies i will plan to leave the bulls in an additional 20 days, thereby hauling them out about 20 September.  This means, however, that the following spring that i’ll be dealing with an additional 20 days of baby calves to shift (yes, this is a pain in the butt) and be diligent to write down the numbers of those cows calving late so they can be sorted off during preg check in November.    If half of those late calvers go ahead and get bred, it will add dollars to my bottom line without adding much expense.  Most importantly, it solves the allergy issue.

WOTB – (working on the business)

Cheers

tauna

 

 

Annuals Scheme – Final Analysis

Today marked the last day of my experiment with rotatilling, pneumatic drilling/harrowing, and grazing annuals as part of a pasture improvement scheme.

Grazing comparison data is as follows:

2013-2014 – Paddock 22 – 3218 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1871 lbs  Total:  5089 lbs

2014-2015 – Paddock 22 – 3567 lbs, Paddock 23 – 2007 lbs  Total:  5574 lbs

2015-2016 – Paddock 22 – 2072 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1222 lbs  Total:  3294 lbs

2016-2017 – lost all my records

2017-2018 – Paddock 22 – 1547 lbs, Paddock 23 – 695 lbs    Total: 2242 lbs

As you can imagine, i was shocked at the lack of grazing days provided by the annuals, but this was my first experience.  When i turned them in on the annuals, the cows and calves grazed it all down in four days!  In a few days, i was able to turn them back in for a couple more days grazing to boost that yield just a bit.  However, at this point, the paddocks will take a very long rest.  One thing i did not observe and record in previous years and that is cow condition.  At least for this year, these cows were slick and shiny healthy coming off the annuals, but they were that way going in, too.  So…..

So, in a nutshell, it cost me a total of $1842.12 to plant 18 acres of annuals for grazing.  The purpose of annuals to help rejuvenate the soil microbe community and not necessarily for gain in grazing.  Good thing, because it certainly failed in that department.  However, as i had written before, the goal is to eradicate toxic fescue and build organic matter.  It does look like that has happened at least in short term.  It is very hard to measure long term benefits.   However, from this point, i’m planning to tack the sail and switch to tilling then no-till a permanent ley (grassland).  Whether or not that will work remains to be seen, but i’m keen to find a way to reduce then eliminate any tractor work.  I hope to get that scheme underway and perhaps even completed this week.  This new scheme, although i do plan to till before planting to permanent ley, will provide a side by side comparison of planting annuals first vs planting permanent pasture once and done.  There will be a few spots, too, that won’t be tilled and seeds will be drilled straight into established pasture.

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I drive through the annuals with my Gator to make it easier to set up a polybraid fence through it.
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Grazed part next to ungrazed annuals.  That tall stuff still standing in common ragweed.
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My ground is very poor in most areas and this is all it will grow in a 65 day period of the annuals.

 

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This is along the fence line (see fence on the left).  What a difference in where i tilled and planted vs undisturbed.  The ubiquitous Kansas ragweed (lanceleaf) is still thriving where it is undisturbed.

 

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Those cows didn’t waste any.  They really, really enjoyed eating the succulent annuals and snarfed down the volunteer yellow foxtail.  The stalks are trampled nicely.
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This is a close up of the left behind common ragweed.  That step in post is 36 inches tall.
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A closer look at the Kansas (lanceleaf) ragweed in undisturbed soil.  Same step in post.
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Larger area shown here of what is left of the annuals after grazing.

Additional thoughts and observations:

Grazing days – 4 days on 18 acres with 146 cows, 110 calves, and 6 bulls

Labor – setting up and taking down polybraid – two strips – 3 hours.

There is general concern that the annuals need to be stripped off for best utilisation because of the assumption that the cows will destroy too much of the forages.  However, my experience is that there was very little waste overall and certainly not enough to justify 3 hours of labor in stripping off small sections.  Having said that, i have to quantify that one strip allowed access to only 4 1/2 acres, then 5 acres, then about 8 1/2 acres.  Perhaps larger sections would have shown more waste.

If conditions allowed less work setting up and taking down and one had more valuable annuals, then it may be better to take advantage of the benefits of strip grazing.

Post grazing observations:

  1. where the soil was tilled and planted with annuals, the Kansas ragweed did not grow, but giant ragweed was there, though, far from as thick as an untilled/unplanted paddock.
  2. Trampling of annuals was negligible – nearly all had been eaten with the exception of a few sunflower plants.
  3. The pneumatic harrow needs a work over since there were a lot of skips in seed application.  Thankfully, the yellow foxtail proliferated thickly in the tilled soil to keep the soil covered.  Actually better than the annuals and the cows loved it.

The Sixth Day

Nearly here – weekly shabbat – so thankful our Creator made such for us.  Of all the 10 commandments, the fourth one is relatively easy to keep (remember) in our culture.  I’m tired!  Lack of sleep from allergies and just the constant fighting it makes my body exhausted all the time.  Keeps me from being productive to be sure.

Eleven cows of the seventeen selected have been recorded in standing heat as of 6pm today.  There are a more who are shoving and being restless, so they will likely come in sometime before tomorrow.

Other than going to town to pickup kleenexes, drop of some papers at NRCS, swing by the bank for a quick visit with Tom Morris about his grandparents being the last caretakers of the Linn County Rest Home, located just a mile west of Linneus on Infirmary Hill, then to Twin Oaks Produce for a handful of groceries.  Had a nice visit with Fran Graff, whose daughter is also teaching in Dubai, though at a different school than our daughter.

Rick continues to take care of my cows on the farm north and west of Purdin – It will another month before I can stay outside for more than a few minutes at a time.  Will my cows forget me!?

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Even Higher Pollen Count!

My ‘stuck in the house’ routine continues as the pollen count rises due to excessive wind!

Couldn’t sleep well last night due to allergies, but laid on the recliner from 5am to 7am before finally giving up on more sleep and just getting up.

Had found a package of beef stew meat in the refrigerator freezer that was four years old!  I absolutely do not recommend keeping meat frozen that long – it doesn’t actually go ‘bad’ but it does not taste as good – especially coming from the frig/freezer which does not keep frozen as hard as a deep freezer.  So, not wanting to waste it, i planned lunch around it with browing it in olive oil and simmer for tenderness, then closer to lunch time, adding enough flour to thicken, then plenty of milk to make a tasty white gravy.  I also scrambled farm fresh eggs with butter from grass fed cows and garden raised spinach.  Whipped a batch of baking powder biscuits for the gravy  and that was lunch.  It’s weird only fixing for four.

In the meantime, I drove to the seed plant to do some paperwork (always that..:-( , picked up some apples from the tree as well as a water tank float and a short hose.  The latter two to set up a small tank for my recip cows since i’m getting tired of going out to fill up the water tank twice a day.water tank  After repairing one end of the hose, I hooked up the fittings to the hydrant and moved the water tank in place and filled.  Working great – no leaks.  Awesome. Now they won’t run out of water and I don’t have to work so hard.

The apples were to cube along with a butternut squash, mixed together then poured over with a bit of orange juice and maple syrup and sprinkled with cinnamon, then baked.  I don’t think i’ll keep this recipe – it was okay, but well, it’s just not chocolate…….

I did manage to wash the front storm door – it looks great, but later when i tried vacuuming the spider webs built between the glass and screen of the windows, i was totally overcome with allergies – it’s like breathing sand!  So didn’t do that anymore, but did manage to vacuum all the furniture under and between and around and beneath.  And wipe down one of the ceiling fans  Really feels a lot cleaner in here.

No cows exhibiting heat today; tomorrow is supposed to be the big day, so gotta hang around the next two-three days for observing.

Drove to north and west of Purdin this afternoon to pick up our weekly allotment of milk and return the empty glass bottles.

Green Hills Harvest
Green Hills Harvest
Cobwebs everywhere!
Cobwebs everywhere!

Watered the mums that I meant to transplant today – best get that done in the morning.

Spent about an hour removing items from the silver garage.  Hope to get it torn down and removed sometime this fall.

My early morning is catching up with me since I feel quite sleepy.

Shalom!

tauna

Stuck In the House

What does a woman do when she is stuck inside due to extreme ragweed allergies!?  It is frustrating because the weather is starting to cool off and there is always SO much to be done outside.  Fences need repair, brush needs cutting, barns cleaned out, livestock needs shifting to new paddocks…… the list is endless.  Up until this year, youngest son, Nathan, would do my basic chores (shifting livestock, checking water) from mid-August to mid-October, but he is off to uni this fall, so the task has fallen to Rick, our new hand whom we hope stays on to become manager – he is certainly capable.  So, while I’m grateful,it’s frustrating as well.

So, after spending most of last week at my farm in south Missouri (Dallas and I were hoping our allergies would be somewhat alleviated, and surprisingly for me, i did find some relief, not so much for Dallas) and redesigning and setting up the working corral and trampling through a ‘jungle’ of a small timber patch to string out some polywire in preparation for fencing it off this winter and we started tearing out an old house, but wrong time of the year for that – i got stung on my upper lip just straight away.  OUCH!  brought tears to my eyes!

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Built up dust on the leading edges of ceiling fan blades.

This week, we are back home, so my major goal is to ‘fall’ clean the house.  Spiders have built webs in every nook and cranny inside and out, so lots of vacuuming and dusting.  Of course, I vacuum all the furniture; under and around the arms and cushions, and turn them over to vacuum the dirt and dust from underneath.  Cobwebs in the corners, from ceiling to walls, and walls to floors.  Climbing a ladder to wash off the center and blades of our two ceiling fans and dusting the leaves of our one inside plant.  Dusting the tops and back of wall photos and pictures, top of furniture, and all the wooden trim and doors.  And definitely under the floor grates which cover the return air ducts.

Cobwebs everywhere!
Cobwebs everywhere!

One tip I learnt as a travel consultant when on Fams and checking hotel rooms, was to run your finger along the top of doors and/or shower rods.  If there is dust, then the room is NOT clean.

Washing windows is sort of an outdoor job, so I can only do so much of that at a time before becoming overwhelmed with allergy attack.  But i can plug away at it.

Additionally, Monday i listed a bunch of unneeded items to sell on Ebay, paid bills, and RIck and i pulled the CIDRs, administered Estrumate, applied heat detection patches, and mouthed a few of the 17 recip cows because the needed ear tags and i didn’t know how old they were.  The ear tag number starts with the year they were born.  For example, a four year old cow’s number would start with a ‘1.’  This took about an hour, so i was struggling a bit by the time i could get back into the a/c.  Took a break, then went back out to let out the cows into the pasture south of our house for observing and ran water for them.

Of course, breakfast, lunch, and supper preparations are everyday.

Froze up a couple gallons of green beans, cooked down, slipped off the skins, and froze a gallon of tomatoes.

Until tomorrow!

tauna

Climbed up in the back of my Gator to drill a hole large enough for this solar lantern to fit snugly into.  When it's really dark outside, I can't even find our own driveway!  Hopefully this will help.
Climbed up in the back of my Gator to drill a hole large enough for this solar lantern to fit snugly into.  When it’s really dark outside, I can’t even find our own driveway!  Hopefully this will help.