Greener Pastures

This time of year is always a busy one, trying to get the crops planted, sprayed and still dealing with cows. With the return and regrowth of the pasture grasses the cows are ready to be turned out to for the remainder of the summer months. We sorted and moved two loads of female cows out to his rented pasture near Panama on May 21st.

They’ll be on the summer pasture for five months until they go to cornstalks. This group are all fall-calving cows and will have their babies in September. 

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Jerry is applying pour-on to the cows to keep the flies and parasites to a minimum 

In other news–WE BOUGHT A BRAND! Jerry was searching craigslist and found a brand with his initials for sale. What a coincidence, we had to buy it. Once we got the brand paperwork filed I ordered the branding iron. The next time we work calves at our place we will be putting it to use.

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Corn done…on to Soybeans

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We’ve been hard at work for the past two weeks working to get everything planted in between spurts of rain. Jer will plant like a mad man for 2-4 days and then get rained out and have to wait for the sun & wind to dry the soil enough to get back to it. This is nothing compared to the wet spring of 2015 that still gives him nightmares. We ended up finishing the last of the corn up on May 8th and moved to soybeans that same day.

Beans have been going much faster because we’ve had two machines running almost everyday. Jerry will run the main planter and a hired hand or his dad will use the drill to plant the beans at the same time. (He says i’m going to learn how before next season, we will see about that). Only 400 acres of beans remain to be planted as of today, we should finish in good time and then will be able to sit back and watch it grow the rest of the summer.

 

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Planting on

The rain has been holding out for the most part for us. Jerry has gotten a ton of acres planted lately and has had very few issues with the machinery. All the winter maintenance work he does tries to insure that when he goes to the field he won’t have any breakdowns. 


He has been steadily finishing one field and moving onto the next. His mother and I help move the seed tender from field to field and bring him meals to make sure the planter keeps moving. Only 220 acres of corn remain to be planted as of April 26th and then onto the soybeans. There will be plenty of time for them when it warms up. 

Plant 2017 First Day!

We got started planting April 18th and have 135 acres done so far. It has been raining every few days lately so as soon as it gets dry enough to plant or spray we’ll inevitably get just enough rain to put a stop to our operation. Jerry has been focusing mostly on spraying the pre-corn and beans so far as it’s still a little early to be planting. He has had numerous good days for spraying and has gotten almost 75% done with pre-application.

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This year he gave up custom work which has been a huge time saver. He used to go over 8,000 acres with his custom spraying business, Paisley Ag LLC. He had been operating that business since 2012 and even had a full time hired sprayer man for one year. After taking on more of his Dad’s land he decided he didn’t need to spray/didn’t want to and went back to just doing his own spraying. I’m grateful he is able to do that because it is much less stressful on him and he has more time at home and to just focus on farming his own ground.

 

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We’re keeping a calendar of what he has done each day and on which fields as well as the wind speed and temp. Jerry also has a brand new marker board hung in the shop with his to do lists. (He is so proud of that board, it is hilarious) Just a few of the steps we are taking to be more organized and be more efficient in 2017.IMG_5980

New season, new life.

Calving season finally came to an end after the past few months. We had the last calf of the 2017 spring calving season on Friday. In all we had 23 babies since January, and will have another round of 40 fall calves starting in September. 

The last spring calf of 2017


New life is such a beautiful thing. Every morning Jerry gets up and checks his herd. He salves for his cattle all year; building fences, feeding hay & mineral & moving them to pastures, corn stalks and back again. 

We also bought a new bull in March. He got turned out with the heifers on cornstalks April 2nd to make some babies. We’ll be busy with the future round of calves next January 11th. Sometime between now and May 10th we’ll vaccinate all the calves and turn them out onto grass for summer grazing. 

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Jerry picking out our new bull

Western NE Cattle Branding

The Wallen crew ventured west last weekend to help a friend out and have a little fun on someone else’s farm for a change. We journeyed out to Benkelman, Nebraska (corner of Kansas, Colorado & Nebraska boarders) on Friday evening to the Stroup Ranch just north of town. Jerry’s college roommate was planning on working & branding about 90 calves the next morning. They had gotten about 2.5 inches of rain the night before but the ground out west just soaked it right up. It was sunny and the perfect weather for branding the next morning. We started sorting the calves & mamas around 9am. The gals & a hired hand pushed the calves up through the chute and Jer, his brother Matt, & the rancher gave shots, branded, & castrated.

There were also 4 different brands used for the calves that belonged to different owners (sister, grandpa, and a father) all running the cows together. They are distinguished by the different ear tag colors. After working the 80 or so in the first batch we released them to be with their mamas. We moved on down to a different farm place to work a few remaining calves. This time only ten calves and we didn’t use a chute, just the old catch & throw method.

Check out the video I made to document the day. (all shot with iphone)

Learning off the Farm

Jerry & I were given the wonderful opportunity to attend the Nebraska Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers conference this past weekend and had a wonderful time. It was great to meet and connect with other people our age who are going through the same things trying to get started in the agriculture industry. Young farmers and ranchers & their spouses from across the state gathered to talk about ag issues, learn new practices and agvocate. We arrived to Kearney, NE on Friday around lunch time and after a welcome lunch set out to tour some area farms & businesses. Jerry & I toured Wolfden Dairy and the Monsanto seed company’s packaging & distribution plant. Then Saturday we attended seminars on grain marketing, cover crops and spreading the word on ag.

Let there be light 

A new winter project has begun, Jerry is installing some new lights in the farm shop. He is always looking to improve and make things easier and the brighter lighting will allow him to work easier and longer on machinery in the shop. They are T5 fluorescent lights and are being hung between the rafters across the shop. Jerry isn’t the electrician he thought he was and ran into some wiring issues. A neighbor (J. golden) came over with his voltage tester and narrowed down the wiring problem. He has five lights installed so far and five to go.

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In the mornings he is taking care of the cows hauling them hay and checking mineral, they are all on cornstalks this time of year. A bunch of parts have been ordered for the planter and he will get that into the shop next week to do some service and maintenance before spring. He has a long list of machinery that needs service before spring and will spend most hours in the shop this time of year.

Cattle Drive!

If you were traveling the gravel roads north of Palmyra last Sunday you may have seen a few surprises coming at you on the road. Jerry and friends moved his herd back to the home farm where his parents are to be wintered on cornstalks.

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He rents a pasture five miles away and decided to move them down the road rather than catching them to move on a trailer. It’s less stressful on the cows to keep them in one group. He would otherwise set up catch pens and round them up in multiple groups (5 or 6 trips) with the stock trailer and move them home. 

The whole cattle drive took less than two hours. The cows followed a lead pickup so they knew the way and three 4- wheelers followed up the rear to keep them moving. The first mile is always  rough because the cows are excited but they soon settle down and keep on moving.

Harvest 100% Complete

We’re done! We’re done! HOORAY HOORAY!!!

Jerry finished up the last load of corn the evening Nov 19th and came straight home without even taking the combine back to the farm. He says every year gets a little bit more efficient and even though harvest doesn’t seem to take any less time he is combining more acres than ever before. The last few days especially he had multiple breakdowns and the machinery was just getting plum wore out. The combine only gets used for 1 1/2 months out of the entire year but is expected to go almost around the clock without breaking during harvest and that just doesn’t happen.

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(Whoops on Jerry’s bad spelling he was a little exhausted)

Next on the list for the farmers is to get all the machinery moved home, power washed, and maintenanced and put in the shed until next fall. We have cows to get on cornstalks and things to do around the farm that got put off because of harvest before the first snow hits. There is always work to be done.

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