Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Day of Memories

So this past Monday was our 2nd anniversary, wow how time flies.

The day started out with Caleb wishing me a "Happy Anniversary" before I said it to him....

...I know it's how amazing is that. You'd think that would mean we were gonna have a wonderful...

...then I remembered we have cattle.

the end

that's all.

Ok, so here's what happened...

...After we got up, Caleb reminded me that we had a sick calf that we needed to catch a give a shot too. We saw the little guy on Sunday when we went for our weekly "Sunday Drive." We are planning on getting the whole group in to vaccinate them in a little over a week, but this little guy was hurtin' petty bad so we thought we had better give him a shot ASAP. So Caleb grabs the meds and the rope and we head to the pasture.

We get there and get the shot ready, cause once we catch the little guy we might not have much time, so we want to be able to give the shot as quickly as possible.

We drive out into the pasture where the cattle are and start lookin' for the sick little guy. He wasn't too hard to find cause most of the calves looked like this little guy...

....head up, ears perked....

....and full of all sorts of energy and ready to run...

...but this little guy's head was hangin' down his ears were droopy, he was breathin' a little hard, and he was coughing some too. All signs you have a sick calf and point to pneumonia.

Once we spot the little guy, Caleb then grabs his rope and "saddles up"....which means he gets on the back of the truck and gets his rope ready and I get to drive.

I try to pull up next to the little guy so Caleb can throw a rope over him, and that's when the rodeo starts. This wasn't a good rodeo either.

When we went on our vacation to visit my cousin in Minnesota earlier this summer Caleb got some ropin' lessons from Brent.

We thought they had payed off when we had to catch a calf a while back and it only took three tosses of the rope to catch the calf, but this time it was a different story. Lets just say I stopped counting after ten.

For being a sick little calf that looked like it was about to fall over that little guy could run like the wind.  We chased that guy all over the pasture, then we finally got him up next to the fence in some brush, so Caleb thought it would work better on foot. We both get out of the truck and try to surround him and when he should have used the rope he tried to catch the calf by hand and when he should have tried to take him down by hand he tried using the rope. Well once again the little guy got away from us and headed to the other side of the pasture.

I might add at this point that the rest of the cows weren't helping the situation either. Ya see it was a cool morning and the cows were feelin' "froggy" or in other words the were a little spunky actin' that morning and they were followin' the truck around every where and gettin' in the way. 

Well we finally catch back up to the little guy next to a cross fence and we kinda wedge the truck in next to him and try to corner him. Well the first time we do this Caleb tries to handle him by himself. He grabs the calf and and then about gets knocked out by the kicking calf. So he lets go of it and we try for a second round of cornering it. This time he was gonna try his luck with sticking the rope over the calf's head and I was getting out to help too. Everything that happened after this was all sort of a blur, I just know at one point me, Caleb and the calf are all on the ground  in some sort of human/calf pretzel. 

I would bet money that calf was faking being sick so he didn't have to go to school, cause he still had a lot of energy left in him. 

Well finally we get somewhat untangled and Caleb wanted to try and get the rope around the 'crazy little guys' neck but I told him not to bother with it cause I knew if we did he would probably get away so my solution instead was to lay on him. 

Now don't you go worrin' that I was hurtin' him cause he probably weighed 150 and I'm only 125 so the beast wasn't gonna get hurt. Finally Caleb is able to give the little guy his shot and then we were done and it wasn't even 10 am.

Happy Anniversary to us.

Well at least the rest of the day was uneventful. I clean some in the house and Caleb worked on puttin' the combine back together. Then he came home early and I fixed Steak, baked potatoes, creamed corn, and some cheesy garlic bread for supper and we had some homemade no-bake cheesecake (the next time I fix it I will share it with you cause it was delicious), and that was it. Nothin' special but it works for us....well it mighta been a little nicer if we hadn't had the morning rodeo, but that's one of those things that makes for some fun memories.

Lots of Love,


Friday, September 24, 2010

In the Mail

Last week I got a couple fun things in the mail. The first thing was... 'Farm and Ranch' living magazine. What's so special about it?

Well my good friend Stephanie and her hubby are in it. If you haven't ever checked her blog out then you need to cause she's a hoot and she has some wonderful recipes too!! If you get the magazine you should check their article out, cause it's great.

 I couldn't find a link to it on the website, but here's a link to some pics that didn't make the magazine.

What else did I get in the mail last week that was soo exciting??? Well it was..... new camera!!!! For my mine and Caleb's up coming anniversary and my birthday Caleb up graded me to a Canon 40D and I am soo very excited!!

I love my Canon Rebel, but I was wanting a little bigger camera that I could do a few more things with. I can't wait till bean harvest to put it to work!!

That's all for now!


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Springtime Already?!?!?!?

So I kid you not I was pullin' into the drive at Caleb's grandparents and I look up the hill and what do I see....

....their lilac bush blooming and they "normally" only bloom in April, but all I can figure is after the extremely dry weather we had this summer the plant went dormant and decided that since we finally got rain it though it was spring and decided to bloom.

The great thing about it bloomin' right now is that since Caleb has problems with his sniffer and hates the way they smell, right now he is doped up on claritin and the smell doesn't bother him near as much!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Corn Harvest School - Part 2

So when I last left you we were leaving the field with the grain. There are a couple of options we have of what we can do with our grain. You can either take it to your own bins or you can take it to a grain elevator....ela-what....don't worry for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about I will explain what in the world a grain elevator is here in a little bit.

So lets get started.

Caleb and I did a lot of the trucking of the corn so this was our view most of the time.

Who's field we were in determined what we would do with the corn. Caleb's dad and grandpa both have bins to store it in so some of theirs would be put into the bins until we would get them filled.

To get the corn into the bins we would have to set the tractor and auger up. This isn't a process you want to do by your self, especially on big ol' bins like this one, cause it's really hard to see what you are doing from inside the tractor cab.

Usually someone gets up on top of the bin and gives directions to the tractor driver. I don't really enjoy doing this, not because of the height, but because I'm never sure where they want the auger to stop and and I am terrible ad giving hand signals.

Once the auger is in place it doesn't move till the bin is full. The semi has to pull straight feels like you are gonna run straight into the bin when you are doing this.

To empty the semi you will roll open the bottom gate with the bar that is up on the left side of the photo.

The 10-wheeler is backed in...

...then you pull the back gate handle up. By pull I mean yank cause it usually doesn't want to come at first, and usually when you yank the handle up you do it hard and the gate then is open too much and corn is flying out of there. Then you gotta close it back some, but not too like kinda like the way I cook you want enough but not too want as much of the corn coming out as you can get, but if you get too much the auger can't take it away fast enough and it ends up making a mess and if it's not open enough then it takes a lot longer to empty the truck.

So once you get the gate open it's usually tied up with some baling wire so it doesn't move....cause seriously we don't want have to go through all that again!

You are also gradually raising the bed of the truck as the grain is falling out. This helps the truck unload faster.

Now if  we are not put the corn in our own bins we are taking it to the grain elevator. Now for those of you who have no idea what a "grain elevator" is well it's very simple.  It's a storage facility where farmers can take their grain and sell it or store it. In most rural communities they are referred to as just plain elevators. They got their name not because they look like an elevator you might see in a building but because of how they move the grain.

So when you first get there you have to weigh your truck in and then they also get a sample of the corn and test the moisture. If the corn is too wet they wont accept it cause it will spoil.

Once you have weighed in, if you are lucky you get to get straight on the pit and start dumping, but on the day I took this picture there was a bit of a line. There's Caleb over on the "pit" (the pit is where you unload into. instead of having something you have to move each time they have a pit area that the trucks can drive over.) under the tall skinny bin. Behind him you can see two more tucks, but I believe there were at least three and then me. So we had to just wait. 

Since we had such a great corn crop down here this year all the smaller grain elevators were full so a lot more people had to start trucking to the one we were going to because it had plenty of room. Instead of bins it had these open storage buildings....which is just some big can somewhat see them in the two pictures above. They are huge! In some parts of the country where they don't have enough building or bin storage they will actually place the grain out side in a big pile.

Here's a picture of what a pit looks like.

Once you have emptied your truck you go back and get on the scales to weigh out. And simple math tells you that...

 the amount you weighed coming in - the amount you weight going out = the amount of grain you hauled.

So another quick run-though of how the elevator works you dump in the pit and from there the grain is moved with an auger, up to the top of the building / bin and then dropped in.

This is a picture of a smaller pit at the same elevator. You drive up where the yellow rails are and dump on the pit, then the grain is transported up the central large auger and them sent down one of the "legs" (the off shooting smaller tubes) into the bin or storage facility that is chosen.

So it's pretty simple, but just some funny terminology if you didn't grow up around it.

Generally speaking we went to the elevator that I showed you above. But one morning the DOT (Department of Transportation) was stopping a bunch of farmers and weighing them as they were going into the elevator. If they were over weight or their trucks weren't up to snuff them they would get a tick and these were hefty tickets. Caleb didn't want to chance getting a ticket in the semi cause it was easily overloaded, he took the back roads down to a smaller elevator that had some room.

This place had the smallest amount of storage and the fastest pits which didn't make much sense.

It didn't take very many trips of going there before the bins were full again and Caleb had to start going back to the other elevator. By this time the DOT had moved on and were stopping farmers at another elevator.

There ya go. That's what we do with our grain.

Next topic "Grain Carts"

This year we were without a grain cart for must of corn harvest. The problem with this is things just go a lot slower, because the combines have to stop cutting and drive over to the trucks to dump and when the trucks are off hauling grain then the combines have to just sit and wait.

One good thing about being extra dry during corn harvest was that since we were without the grain cart the trucks could actually drive out onto the fields and get closer to the combines.

Last year that wasn't the case...

(Corn Harvest '09)

The trucks never left the roads, cause if the did they weren't gonna make it too far.

(Corn Harvest '09)

This is also why 4-wheel drive is a must on our combines!

(Corn Harvest '09)

With it being extra muddy last year the grain cart was going all the time and made harvest go a lot faster.

Once we did get the grain cart back together and working, things went a lot faster out in the field.

One thing that you can do to make the life of the grain cart operator a lot easier is getting up on the back of the trailer or up on top of the truck and tell them when its getting full cause it's kinda hard for them to see and it's a lot easier for them to spill a bunch of corn on the ground when they can't see.

When we have the grain cart the combine rarely has to stop. Usually the combine operator will throw the auger out when he is ready and the grain cart tractor will pull the cart under the auger and try to maintain the same speed as he unloads on him.

Sometimes things don't work out just like they are suppose to and the grain comes out before the cart gets under there.

Once the cart is full it heads over to the truck and unloads.

And there ya have it, that's how corn works on the Phillips Farm. I have some fun pictures from when we were harvesting after dark that I will show you but I have some other things that I want to post about so it might be a while before I get to them.

Oh if ya'll have any questions about all the stuff I tried to explain feel free to ask them and I will see if I can't answer them...and if I don't know the answer I will get Caleb to answer them.

*Funny Fact: I miss-spelled the word 'elevator' evertime I wrote it in this blog post.....and that was a lot of times....that is why I am soo very thannkful for spell check!!



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Corn Harvest School - Part 1

So a little over a week ago we finished up shellin' all our corn, and boy were we all glad it was over. Not because it was a bad year, to the contrary it was a great year. The corn did great and we broke all sorts of records. Not just on our farm, but neighboring farmers also did just as good.

We were glad that harvest was finally over with because we had been hoppin' (or goin' which ever you prefer) since day one and hadn't had much of a break. I mean we would take Sunday off as usual, but it still seemed that we would have things going then and wouldn't get much of a break.

So we finally got it finished, but not with out a few hiccups along the way. We had combine problems, tractor problems, grain cart problems, and more than one problem with the semi, but God was still takin' care of us and even though we had to slowed down every once in a while we never had to come to a complete stop and that is wonderful.

Now I know some of you come from corn pickin' areas but there are some of you that haven't ever been around it so hopefully you can feel what's it's like to be in the middle of corn harvest.

As you go across the field in the combine, you split the rows with the snouts and depending on how big your header is you can take any where from 4 to 12 rows at a time. On our farm we have a 6 row and an 8 row.

The header is designed strip the ears off the stalk and to leave most if not all of the stalk in the field.

The ears are then pushed to the middle of the header with the auger at the back of the header. It is then fed into what they call the "feeder house".

Once it is inside the combine the kernels of corn are striped off the cobs and...

...they are augered into the hopper that is just behind the cab.

The cobs the rest of the 'trash' are then send flying out of the back end of the combine. You should stand clear of the combine, cause more than once I have been hit a flying corn cob.

The combines would have to make the long haul across the field to unload, since our grain cart was down for most of the harvest.

Since it was a lot drier during corn harvest we were able to drive the trucks out on the already harvested corn stubble, so the combines wouldn't have to drive as far to dump.

Occasionally you would get both combines dumping on you at the same time. Usually this would happen when they had wait on a truck to make it back to the field.

While waiting for the truck to fill you can sit back enjoy and read a good book, take a nap (this rarely happened) or just watch the harvest take place.

Caleb loves watching the combines go. Usually he would crawl in the cab of one of them and ride along. I usually didn't get to wait for for very long, so I would take some pictures and do some readin'.

Once they had you full then it was time to roll the tarp over the truck...

....and speed of to unload.  Some times to the grain elevator or the grain bin.

Since this is already a long enough post I will cover the grain haulin', unloadin' and the use of the grain cart in my next post.

As for me, I am feeling loads better than I was last week, so I am gonna get back to getting things straightened up cause we are FINALLY getting the trim in the house installed'll take more than a day, but he's startin' first thing in the morning!

Later All,