October 19, 2021

From the Barns: Tools of the trade

Our once lush and green pastures are all of a sudden pretty desert-like as we are experiencing some drought-like conditions that our western cattlemen have been plagued with all summer. Fortunately for us, we have, or very soon will have, lots of crop residue to utilize as feed for the fall. If it doesn’t rain soon, all the wheat that we flew on won’t make much feed and the post-harvest seeding we intend to do won’t amount to much. Rolling along through our fields chopping corn, the mid-August seeded wheat is growing, but it’s pretty spindly and a little sparse. I’m sure there’s still some seed lying on the ground hoping for a chance to grow if and when we get some moisture. It’s our job to get the seed in the ground. The rest we leave up to the good Lord.

Harvest is the project getting the most attention right now, with a little dirt work thrown in while we’re waiting for the corn to mature. We have split up the silage season by chopping a sizeable amount early, then switching to earlage, then we will switch back to silage when the corn and sorghum-sudangrass we planted after wheat get mature. The pace has been actually pretty leisurely this year as we haven’t been hampered by any muddy harvest conditions at all. Dusty roads and field conditions have actually been the only bother so far. Extra precaution for fire prevention around the chopper has been Brett’s project and he’s blowing the dust out of the machinery multiple times all day long.

The cattle on feed have been enjoying some nice feeding weather and the cooler temperatures have increased their appetite. We have been increasing our marketings and placing more cattle on feed to take their place. Feed, across the board, has cheapened up and should help with profitability for those cattle heading to market late this year and on into 2022.

We need to find a break in harvest activity and finish up vaccinating a couple of bunches of calves. We may be short one of our mounted cowboys. Ian’s horse took a tumble a couple of weeks back and he wound up with a broken leg and a series of surgery and casts to wind up his summer and start off the new school year with. It has slowed him up a little, but I spotted him in a tractor moving round bales the other day, so I know sitting around the house doing homework is getting a little old already. With 12 pretty active grandchildren to keep tabs on, it seems like one of them usually has an injured wing or some other issue that needs a batch of grandma’s cookies to help them heal up.

LJ and I are heading up to the mountains for our annual commune with nature, an elk hunt, and this year by a twist of fate, and an extra permit, Nate is going to come along for the ride. It will be fun to have a new generation in elk camp, especially if we need help packing one out.

When you’re a cobble together guy like me the local hardware store is an essential part of your day. And the guy that runs the store is part of your team. Back in the day it was Buddy Carlson at the Victoria Hardware Store when we lived in Knox County. Today it’s Andy, up town at McCombs Hardware. Andy has been on our crew for over 25 years, providing not only the needed parts, but sage advice on how to knit things back together so it doesn’t leak, or split, of fly apart and kill somebody.

It’s seldom a day that goes by when somebody from our crew isn’t making an Andy’s run for something small but important for whatever project we are trying to complete. Maybe more important than the items we rely on the hardware to keep in stock is the local knowledge that Pam, Rhonda and Andy provide on our visits there. Not only do those good folks keep us up on what’s afoot around our local community, they want to know what’s up with Ian’s leg and Dad’s latest hospital stay and so forth — and that’s the way it is “In My World.”

Steve Foglesong

Steve Foglesong

Astoria, Ill.