Thursday, January 27, 2022

Praying for Rain: A Monthly Wheat Update


Shoulda, woulda, coulda.
My January wheat update has a little bit of all three.
I "shoulda" taken a photo of the dusting of snow we got while it was on the wheat. I "coulda" done it when we got an arctic blast and a dusting of snow a couple of different times before my January 21 wheat update photo. However, on one of those times, we were taking off for Houston. And on the other? I was feeling a little under the weather, and it was just too tempting to stay in the warm house. Maybe I "woulda," had it not been for a few extenuating circumstances.

But I did make it out for our January 21 update ... even though it was pretty chilly then, too (as Randy demonstrated in the photo)!

The colder weather has made the wheat look less green than it did in my previous reports. However, when you think about it, wheat is still kind of miraculous. Wheat is essentially a grass. Think about how your lawn looks in the winter. And yet, wheat still has its green hue.

The big news for the month is probably that we didn't get any appreciable moisture. And that's reflected in the drought monitor:

It's been a dry stretch for most of the state. The latest drought monitor expanded the moderate drought into much of western and central Kansas. Only eastern Kansas has escaped the drier conditions.

We'll see how this week's snows impact the next drought map. We only got an inch or so here on January 25, but western Kansas got even more snow than forecast - up to 2 feet in a few places!

My December update wished for moisture. I guess I'll wish again. Randy was answering questions for a telephone survey. The questioner asked "What could producers do to produce a better wheat crop? Randy told him, "Pray for rain." 

Sunrise glow, taken toward the northeast over a wheat field

 That's good advice.




Tuesday, January 25, 2022

A Dozen: A Blogiversary

Sunset from my front window on The County Line, January 21, 2022

A dozen eggs.
A dozen doughnuts.
A dozen roses.
A dozen years of Kim's County Line.

On January 24, I celebrated another blogiversary. It's been a dozen years since I began Kim's County Line. When I clicked "Publish" for the first time in 2010, I didn't really have a clear vision of what the blog would entail. At the time, three family members were blogging. I'd been asked to write a monthly blog column for a local church group. Once I figured out the logistics, I decided to try a personal blog.

These days, vlogs (video blogs) and podcasts and Instagram and Twitter all have more cache than an old-fashioned blog. But Kim's County Line has persisted, even though it's evolved during the 12 years. I'm the only one in my family who is still blogging. The church group no longer makes its monthly posts. 

However, today is my 2,069th blog post on Kim's County Line. Through the years, I say that it's evolved into a place where I talk about the four "F"s and a "PH" - farming, family, faith, food and photography. I subtitled the blog, "Camera Clicks and Commentary from a Kansas Farm Wife."

Sunrise, January 18, 2022

For the past 12 years, my blog has helped me track our lives on a five-generation Central Kansas farm. Having this avenue to collect words and photos has helped me to connect with our heritage and this life in a different way. It's been a good avenue for connecting with landlords, letting them know what's going on at the farm and showing them through words and photos.
Probably the biggest impact has been on me. 
It's helped me pay attention. I've approached telling our story like the reporter I am. I take notes. I ask more questions. I want my farmer's "farm speak" translated in a way that makes sense to me so I can share it with others. 

It's given me the opportunity to hone my photography skills. While I don't claim to be Ansel Adams, I can see how my photography has improved during the past 12 years. (Just comparing food photography from 2010 to now is startling. And that's just one example.) 

Photography and prose help me look at even the most mundane, everyday things in new ways and with new wonder. It may be something as simple as the sunset-streaked sky or a chance rainbow smack dab in the middle of two of Kansas' biggest icons - sunflowers and wheat. The blog has given me the eyes to see how small, simple things are really the most important things of all. 
This isn't even half of the blog books I've printed - 1 book per quarter for 12 years. If the kids aren't interested, I hope they'll give them to the Stafford County Museum.
If you're a regular reader, you know that we plan to retire from farming after our summer 2022 wheat harvest. We have a farm sale scheduled for August 2022. However, I'm still doing my five-days-a-week Central Kansas report for KFRM, and I still have plenty of volunteer activities on my to-do list. 
I don't have a definitive answer about the future of the blog. I anticipate it will change some, simply because we won't be doing the day-to-day farm work. And, if we're traveling or away from home, I'm going to try to feel more relaxed about missing a post. (I'm sure I'm the only one who really cares anyway.)

Right now, we'll see how it evolves. It won't be the first time I've shifted directions. At first, I was blogging six days a week. (What was I thinking?) That's been condensed to a couple of times most weeks. We'll see how things play out during a new phase of life. 
But isn't that the definition of life itself? Life is always changing, and we figure out the ways we'll evolve with it. 

Thanks for making the journey with me! It's my blogiversary, but to celebrate, one person will get a gift from me ...
  • a selection of my photo notecards, or ...
  •  a copy of "Count on It! Adventures from a Kansas Farm" my rhyming, farm-themed counting book, ...
  • OR my farm alphabet book
To qualify, either comment about this blog post in the comment section of the blog or on my Facebook page, Kim Moore Fritzemeier. Or, if you have trouble with either of those avenues, you may email me at The winner will be chosen at random from the commenters. Enter your comment by January 31 for a chance to win.

Again, I thank you for visiting Kim's County Line!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

New Livestock Trend on The County Line


We've spent plenty of money on livestock through the years. But I'm not sure I ever anticipated spending money on worms. 

Yep, worms!

I will keep the hit to the bank account confidential. (You're welcome, Randy.) And the 2,000 Red Composting Worms are the BEST RATED, after all. It says so right on Uncle Jim's Worm Farm's website in capital letters. And, just like an infomercial: Get 1,000 live mealworms absolutely FREE with your order!

I wonder what the FedEx delivery guy thought. Hmmmm ...

I know what my resident farmer/gardener thought: He had visions of giant tomatoes and squash dancing in his head. (Who needs sugarplums?)

Randy's quest for the best garden on the section actually started earlier. In late September, he dumped straw from a bale onto the garden spot, along with more hay from the nearby calving shed. I wondered out loud about the weeds and seeds inherent in the straw. But, really, what do I know?

He added some quality "organic matter" from our cattle lots in October.

It looked like plenty to me.

Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing? 

He had me take photos because he wanted to send them to his friends. (I prefer photos of cute calves, but to each his/her own.) After it settled for awhile, he decided to add worms to the mix. I have to admit this blurb from the website (complete with interesting capitalization) made me laugh out loud - for real!

Now let’s face it! You probably aren’t the average Guy or Gal if you’re interested in worm composting! You’re obviously environmentally aware, economically savvy and eccentrically right on target. After all, it’s not like purchasing toothpaste, toilet paper or groceries…

Okay, so you're not the average Work-A-Day, Head in the Clouds, Normal Sort of Person. You've seen some kind of Earthly, Organic, Natural Potential in Red Worms... Check this list of these Nature's Wonder Workers' Uses and Benefits and you'll see just how insightful you truly are. Possibly a little Strange, but None-The-Less, Insightful.

From Uncle Jim's Worm Farm's website

With this ringing endorsement from Uncle Jim, how could he resist?

Adding Red Wigglers and European Nightcrawlers to your lawn, garden or compost pile is one of the smartest and most environmentally friendly things you'll ever do. Why? Because their castings are one of nature's finest plant nutrients: 7 times richer in phosphates, 5 times richer in nitrogen and 11 times richer in potash than the average lawn soil. On average, each worm will produce their body weight in castings every day. Worms can double their population every 90 days.

And, according to Uncle Jim, you can never have too many worms. Worms naturally will lay less eggs as their population becomes too dense within an area. 

The Red Wigglers and the mealworms came in two separate sacks, along with colorful flyers about handling the new "livestock" on the farm.

We've experienced plenty of wind advisories, severe weather advisories, winter weather advisories and the like ... but this was a first for a Worm Advisory (complete with two exclamation points)!!

Randy didn't waste time adding his new wiggly friends to the garden spot in early December.

Jill's father-in-law (and our friend), Alan, says Randy's giant compost pile could provide a little supplemental retirement income. It sure looks to me like there is plenty of organic material to go around ... especially after all those worms do their work!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Travel Diary


While at the rain forest, we took a side trip to ancient Egypt. Admittedly, both those things happened within the walls of the Museum of Natural Science in Houston. We spent a full day at the museum - one of our extra stops after the K-State bowl win over LSU earlier this month.

The museum is hosting a traveling exhibit, Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs. It added some cost to the general admission ticket, but we decided to fork over the "gold" anyway. When else are we going to "go" to Egypt?
The exhibit transported us back 3,200 years, across the sands of the Sahara Desert. It included 181  artifacts, including Egyptian treasures and one-of-a-kind relics. 

The exhibit included sarcophagi ... 

mummies ...

animal mummies and crypts ...


 jewelry ...

 royal masks...


 and other treasures of the tombs.

Presented by World Heritage Exhibitions and Cityneon, the world premiere exhibition is in its limited run at the Houston Museum of Natural Science through May 23, before embarking on a multi-country, worldwide tour.

Another favorite exhibit at the museum took us back even further to prehistoric times. 

Do you think Randy could put up a fight against this giant ground sloth?
As usual, I took too many photos. What am I really going to do with a bunch of dinosaur photos?
I told Randy it was reminiscent of vacation photos I took on a family trip to California when I was a fifth grader. I had gotten my own camera for Christmas, and I took dozens and dozens of black and white photos of floats at the Tournament of Roses parade. Black and white lost a little in the translation ... but it was cheaper for my parents to develop the film. No digital images, way back when.
The one below was Mammut americanum or Giant Bull.
Colonial naturalists were fascinated with Mammut. Thomas Jefferson had Mastodon bones on display in the White House when he was president, along with ground sloth specimens and parts of mammoths. Jefferson was sure that such a creature must have been alive, somewhere in the unknown American west. He instructed explorers Lewis and Clark to find a herd of live mastodons in the Rocky Mountain region. However, the explorers came back empty handed!

This display was the only one we found that mentioned Kansas. Here's what they had to say:

Kansas today is full of wheat, corn and prairie grass. In the late Cretaceous, warm ocean waters covered the state. Shallow seas spread across immense areas of the other continents as well, generating a new wave of ocean-going reptiles. The newest reptiles were giant sea lizards - the Mosasaurs.


We took the roundabout way home from Houston and did a side excursion to the Magnolia Silos in Waco. 

 It's the "kingdom" of Fixer Upper stars Chip & Joanna Gaines. 

Photo of the silos taken through the windows of the old church  

We did not experience a Chip & Joanna  sighting, but we still enjoyed our time there.

Instead of waiting in line at sit-down options, we ate at the food trucks in the Silos courtyard. I decided to go with the motto, "Eat dessert first" (and only) with this hand pie with caramel ice cream. Yum! Randy had "biscuits" and gravy. In this case, the biscuit was cornbread. It was alleged to be a Chip Gaines favorite.

I couldn't resist a photo of the Brinks truck, making an afternoon pickup. It's mind-boggling to think about how much cash flows through that place!

I may have contributed just a bit to the cash pickup ... but not too much.