Spring Has Sprung

Spring Has Sprung

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Song That Nature Sings

On Palm Sunday, a foreign exchange student who's attending school at Stafford High School sang a song at a community worship service. Even though I accompanied soloists at the middle school for many years, it wasn't a song I'd heard before. But I loved it and have listened to several versions on YouTube since that night. Here is "The Song That Nature Sings," with photos I've taken this spring around The County Line.

"The Song That Nature Sings"
Words and music by Ruth Elaine Schram
Copyright 1997 BriLee Music Publishing Co.

In everything there is beauty
A hint of love
A form of grace
Though it may be hard to see
Even harder to believe
Everything in nature has its place.

And in everything, there is wonder
A mystery to be undone
New discoveries to find
Simple pleasures redesigned
All things old and new beneath the sun.
Have you ever chased the wind
Can you tell where it will go or where it's been?
If you could see the earth through its eyes
Do you think that it would come as a surprise
That in everything there is music
A melody, a bit of song

Though it may not meet your ear
If you tune your heart to hear
You will recognize and sing along
The song that nature sings.
The song that nature sings.

Here's one version of the song. There are others on YouTube.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

An Adventure in Rhyme

Grandma and Grandpa got a chance to spend some time with Kinley and Brooke while their parents were away earlier this month. Here's a round-up of some of our fun - better late than never!

Manhattan, Kansas was the place
To put a smile upon our face
K-State planned an Open House
"We'll have fun!" We did espouse.
A bouncy house was first on tap.
We entered it right through a flap.
Up, up, up! We had to climb.
Then slide on down! It was sublime!
Kinley had to help her sister.
She was such a great assister!
And though it was a big old stretch
Brooke made it through without a catch.
The College of Business knows what's fun!
A bouncy house through which to run!
Uncle Brent worked at that place
It was two girls' favorite space!
Besides the house, there were lots of games.
Uncle Brent helped with their aims.
The two girls used some fishing rods
While Grandpa tried to play the odds
He sure wanted to win a raffle
A purple golf cart would surely baffle!
Alas, we've gotten not a call.
I guess he didn't win at all!
Two girls came to photo booth.
They were disguised: Can you sleuth?
One dropped her mask. Now can you see?
That it was Brooke! Perhaps Kinley?
Though it was just a fancy barrier.
A lipstick tube seemed a whole lot merrier.
Imagining expands our minds.
If only we look for childlike finds!
Then in Shellenberger Hall
We shaped some treats - not hard at all!
They weren't for kids. They were for dogs.
Shaped like hearts and bones - not logs!
Then we shaped some pretzel dough.
We watched the girl to help us go.
Twist it this way, twist it that! 
This time, we'd be a copycat!
The pretzel dough was made with flour.
It makes it tasty to devour.
 Grandpa grows the wheat it takes
A flour mill, the flour makes!
 Then flour is used to make some bread
Or cookies, cakes or pies instead! 
Brooke - she likes to stir things up
She puts in tablespoons and cups.
She helped Grandma bake a treat.
It was surely good to eat!
Waters Hall was our next stop.
Students gave us this cute prop!
The Ag College was the place
Grandpa Randy set his pace.
As a student, there he'd learned
A bachelor's degree he'd earned
Will we study there some day?
Time will tell! Come what may!
We may not know our college plan.
But we are pretty sure we can
Join 4-H as soon as ready.
It'll help us grow up steady!

Our Grandpas, Grandmas, mom and dad
Would all be thrilled and oh so glad!
They like 4-H and they've been part
Of 4-H heads and hands and heart.

Crafts at home were next on tap.
Stickers down without a gap.
Unicorns we did devise. 
They were pretty, in our eyes!
Beads in springtime colors strung
Around our necks, they then were hung.

One day outside with chalk we drew
Red, yellow, orange, pink and blue!

The library is a place to go
To learn and think and then to grow.
We read some books, we played with dolls.
Playing dress up was a ball! 

It was time for mom and dad
To come home and we were glad!
Until next time, and now we're done!
With Gramps and Gran, we sure had fun!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

In the Trenches

The cattle's "pantry" is nearly empty. So it was time to do a little maintenance on the "cupboard" this week.

We use a trench silo to store silage. (Click on this link for the 2017 blog post about filling the silo with silage.) Randy remembers that the trench silo was dug at Peace Creek about 1965 or so. It replaced a trench silo at a different location, where sandier ground had made the dirt sides collapse beyond repair.

Randy would have been about 10 years old at the time, and he remembers them digging into a hill at Peace Creek to make the new silo. After a few years, they poured cement in the bottom of the trench to make it easier to navigate.

There are still remnants of the cement, but, over time, much of the cement broke up. We now periodically put white rock in the bottom of the trench. As the photo shows below, even on a dry year, the weight of tractor tires makes the surface soft. The new white rocks will give a firmer surface.
Randy called for a delivery of white rock from Raymond Sand and Gravel.
It was delivered on Tuesday.
The truck driver backed into the silo and dumped the load in the trench ..
... leaving behind a "river" of rock. Randy will use the loader tractor to spread the rock and pack it in the bottom of the silo.
Randy also had the driver dump a little on a soft spot on the path our feed truck and tractor use to get to the silo each winter day.
This cow didn't let the activity interrupt her breakfast!
As we drove back into the farmstead, I asked about the upright silo there. Randy also remembers using it during his childhood. I found a photo of his Grandpa Clarence standing in front of the "new silo," labeled in Randy's mom's handwriting. Though the photo wasn't dated, it was near to some photos taken when Randy's dad Melvin was serving during the Korean War. So we think the upright silo must have been constructed around 1953.
I found a few other photos where the silo was a backdrop for fun on the farm. (Randy's grandma Ava is on the bicycle in the far left of the photo. If anyone can ID the other people, we'd love to know!)
Randy thinks he may be the "victim" in this photo below, where the silo is again in the background.

Today, the upright silo doesn't have a purpose for our farm - except for serving as a perch for a yard light and for holding a panel we swing into position when we work cattle. 
Like many of these old sentinels, they still stand as a silent centerpiece at the farmstead.
And they may conjure up conversations about young boys climbing the silo with their granddads, tossing down silage to feed the cattle.
Maybe there is value after all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

"Do do do
Down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Breaking up is hard to do."

I have a song stuck in my head. If you have the same propensity for "ear worms," you might as well join me in humming that old Neil Sedaka song.

We "broke up" with some of our County Line cattle herd last week. Some of them - like an unusually-marked black and white calf - were harder to say goodbye to than others. I think his mom was the one who got a little riled up as we sorted babies from mamas. I wasn't as sad to see her go.
I'll miss these cute little masked guys, too.  They were among the 11 pair of our first-time mama heifers and their babies that we sold through Central Livestock Sale Barn in South Hutchinson last week. 

"Breaking up is hard to do" when you're sorting, too - at least, sometimes. But it went better than either Randy or I anticipated - even though I have no photographic evidence to prove that! As I've said before, I keep the camera in my pocket while we are actually sorting. It's better to use a sorting stick than a camera shutter while trying to get 1,000-pound-plus animals to move in a particular direction!

Randy had prepared a list of heifer pairs that we were going to keep. It was our first job to get them sorted off into another pen. Reading ear tag numbers on moving targets is always a challenge. But our double-check before we released them into a bigger pen showed that we had successfully completed our mission the first time around.

We then sorted our sell group, too. 
Then it was time to load the babies we were selling into the front of one trailer for their 40-mile trip to the sale barn. We kept the babies separate to prevent them from being inadvertently stepped on by their mamas in the trailer.
The moms weren't fans of the separation - even if it was for their babies' health. Their objections included hearty bellows and longing looks into the next pen.
We loaded the mamas into another trailer. Before we made the trek to Hutch, we picked up two pair at our home corrals. They were the final two to produce babies, so they were still in our calving corral. They rode with their babies in the back of the "bus" - so to speak. A partition inside the trailer separated them from the baby calves.
We were almost to the sale barn when we were blocked by a train. I should have brought a book. (I almost always do. I think we were waiting almost as long as it took to drive from home!) Randy ended up turning off the pickup and our "music" included a chorus of mama cow bawls, punctuated by the percussion of train cars banging together in a switching yard and the intermittent clickety-clack as the train cars rolled back and forth in front of us.
At last, we arrived at the sale barn.
We sold the 11 pair because we didn't have enough pasture to accommodate all the new babies and their mamas this summer. This isn't a sale that we do every year. However, we culled fewer older cows last fall. We had fewer babies die during our fairly mild winter - definitely a good thing. And our pastures are struggling anyway because of the lack of rain, so extra cattle on the acres isn't a profitable option. 
Randy chose the heifers and their babies because they would bring the best price, since the new owners would be able to breed them back for a number of years. Cows typically have 8 to 10 years of producing babies. Selling the younger females gives the new owners more chances to breed them back to increase their own herds.

In addition, we begin numbering our heifers and their calves from the beginning - matching them up from the start. We don't give ear tags to other calves until we work them in the spring. So we had a ready-made list of pairs to work from.
Even though our cattle already have ear tag numbers, the sale barn employees applied a white sticker to each of the animals we brought as they went through the chute.
You can see the sale barn number sticker on this baby's rump.
Those numbers help match the animals with the seller.
The babies were ushered through a different lane than their moms.
But they were paired back up and went to their new homes together.
I had a meeting in Stafford, so I wasn't able to go to the sale itself. My assistant photographer used his cell phone to get some photos of the sale ring.
Randy was pleased with the price - $1,710 a pair.
Maybe I'll replace that "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" song with "We Work Hard for the Money."