Thursday, February 24, 2022

A Visit to the Maternity Ward

The cattle lots to the east of our house are empty this winter. 

And, I must admit, that hasn't bothered me some days:

1) When the wind chill is below freezing;
2) When we are able to leave for the weekend - or even midweek - and not have to figure out who is going to feed and water the cattle;
3) When Facebook reminds me of the polar plunge from this time last year. I resembled the Michelin man for my daily stint in the feed truck;
4) When I'm not awakened for late night or early morning heifer mama checks;
5) This morning, when it's snowing.

But, I also must admit, I do miss the new little faces, practically in my own backyard. 

Thankfully, Tye & Todd have granted us liberal visitation policies with our 2022 calf crop. And we don't even have to wear a mask or follow any particular visiting hours. 

On a sunshine-filled afternoon last week, we took a drive through the "maternity ward."

It didn't disappoint ,,, except for rascals who only wanted to show their backsides - even if they're cute backsides.

But there were plenty of others who were ready for their closeups, as Greta Garbo used to proclaim. 

Some were as long-legged as runway models - or so it seemed.

Others were dressed for this month's Valentine's Day (note the "heart" on 787's chest).

While Tye and Todd don't care if we get a close-up look at our calves, some of the mamas give us the stink eye.

I'm always amazed at how some babies look just like their mamas ... 

...and others definitely don't. I guess that's true of human babies, too. 

 Some can't be bothered with any visitors: It's snack time!

We all know what's really important.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

LOVE = RAIN or SNOW: February Wheat Update


During this month devoted to love, the 2022 wheat crop hasn't gotten enough of it.

At the moment, LOVE for a Kansas wheat farmer would be spelled with another four-letter word: RAIN ... or even SNOW.

We have gotten a bit of moisture on the Stafford/Reno County Line since my January 21 wheat update. However, the Kansas drought monitor shows worsening conditions - not improvement - in our part of the world. 

On February 8, the drought monitor looked like this, putting us in a region of moderate drought:

 Just a week later, our area worsened to Severe Drought.

We did get some snow February 2 and 3.

It just wasn't enough to make much of an impact.

The above photos were taken on February 4.

But, something is better than nothing. 

 By the time this snow melted down in the rain gauge, it amounted to about 1/2 inch.


Weather forecasters predicted snow for us February 16-17. However, our area received just a dusting.

This month's wheat update photo on February 21 was taken on an unseasonably warm day - hence short sleeves and no jacket for Randy. It was 73 degrees on Monday.

When we got up today, the temperature was 8 degrees, with the wind chill below zero. It's just one other motion on the roller coaster temperature fluctuations that this winter has brought.

Since the wheat crop is still in dormancy, the impact of the swing in temperature won't likely be appreciable, Randy says.

Another issue facing Kansas wheat farmers is the price of fertilizer, which has more than tripled in the past year. Thankfully, we put 60 to 70 pounds of nitrogen per acre on our wheat ground before we planted last fall. Randy chose to put herbicide and another 10 pounds of nitrogen on one field already this winter. It's a field that was replanted last fall. Because it wasn't established as well, it blew badly in the December 15 windstorm. He put the herbicide and fertilizer on after that, hoping to give that field a boost. 

He likely will have the co-op put herbicide and 10 pounds of nitrogen per acre on the remaining acres next month, biting the bullet on the high price of fertilizer with the hopes of bumping yield.

We aren't the only ones contemplating the lack of moisture and the price of fertilizer. At a February meeting of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers (KAWG), board members reported that wheat fields across Kansas were generally planted into sufficient moisture conditions and went into winter with decent stands. However, more moisture will be needed over the winter and into the spring to kickstart a crop emerging from dormancy and maintain growth. 

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Kansas topsoil moisture supplies as of January 23, 2022, were 77 percent very short to short and 23 percent adequate to surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies were 31 percent very short, 41 percent short and 28 percent adequate. In the same report, the Kansas winter wheat crop was rated at 30 percent good to excellent, 39 percent fair and 31 percent very poor to poor. The next crop progress and condition report is scheduled to come out later today.

Perhaps more importantly, KAWG members conveyed the difficult decisions producers are currently making with their fertility programs. This winter application of nitrogen allows the nutrients to move into the root zone with precipitation well before jointing begins to be most efficiently utilized by wheat. Having adequate nitrogen available supports spring tillering and helps ensure good yield potential.

This year, however, fertilizer prices have exploded due to international supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a January 2022 report by Texas A&M University’s Agricultural and Food Policy Center, “Based on current spot markets, it appears as though fertilizer prices will increase in excess of 80 percent for the 2022 planting season (relative to 2021).” KAWG members and their neighbors are feeling this cost crunch, reporting many in their areas are putting off normal topdressing applications to wait for moisture. 

“While we cannot control the weather and its impact on the wheat crop’s yield potential, it is important to note that Kansas farmers are holding off on fertilizer applications due to high prices and availability of supplies,” said Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin. “Even with welcome winter snow and — fingers crossed — well-timed spring showers, these decisions could affect the final grain yields and quality of this year’s wheat crop.” 

When fertilizer prices will stabilize or decrease is a difficult question, but KWCH Chief Meteorologist Ross Janssen did offer welcome longer-term predictions for weather patterns during Kansas Commodity Classic. Janssen predicted shifting weather patterns could bring near to below normal temperatures and wetter than normal moisture conditions to the western two-thirds of Kansas in the next three months. Overall, he predicted while winter will continue to drag out, Kansas farmers should see near-normal rainfall this spring and are unlikely to have a major drought this summer or a prolonged heatwave. Both predictions are positive for the Kansas wheat crop as wheat plants emerge out of dormancy this spring and continue their growth cycle until this summer’s harvest. 

With a projected 7.3 million acres of wheat planted in Kansas, according to the USDA’s Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings report released on January 12, 2022, Kansas farmers are keeping their eye on the markets and on the sky to make the most of this year’s crop. That includes the farmers on the County Line, who are looking ahead to harvesting our final wheat crop as active farmers.
(Thanks to for some of the information in this monthly update on the County Line 2022 Wheat Harvest report.)


Thursday, February 17, 2022

Monkey Muffins

It's probably "monkey business" to make people be "guinea pigs." But, during last week's ski trip to Colorado, nobody was complaining about me trying a new recipe for Monkey Muffins. With today's snow in Central Kansas, it might be just the treat to make in your kitchen, especially if you're like me and always seem to have ripe bananas on the counter.

Our two ski "monkeys" liked them just fine - as did the adults. (At least, the reasonable adults who like peanut butter. Randy is not as big a fan of PB, but he'll eat it.)

Of course, monkeys would like them because of the bananas and the peanut butter. And what creature doesn't like a little chocolate with their bananas and peanut butter?

I brought the muffins to supplement the breakfast casserole that was on the menu for the breakfast for which I was responsible. We had enough left over that they provided breakfast and snack treats on other days, too.

Just before we left for Colorado, Jill and Eric had parent-teacher conferences for both of the girls. They sent a photo of a poster that Kinley had made as part of an enrichment activity. It was something she worked on independently when she finished other classroom work. 

She found two different muffin recipes. She then did the math to find out how many ingredients she'd have to buy, how much they cost and her profits on those ingredients. Pretty impressive for a 4th grader, right? 

After seeing all of Kinley's computations for making muffins and making money, maybe I have found a business partner, if I ever want to break into the baking-for-profit business.

Hmmm ... that looks like a lot of math. She would need to be my math consultant, too.

On second thought, maybe I'll just stick with home baking. If you give them a try, let me know what you think!
 Monkey Muffins
From Taste of Home
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar, divided
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
2/3 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy, but feel free to use smooth, if you prefer)
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the bananas, peanut butter, milk and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture, just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve warm.


Thursday, February 10, 2022

Cinnamon Churro Snack Mix: A Super Bowl Snack

The Super Bowl calls for a super snack mix ... even if my Chiefs aren't playing.

The first year my future daughter-in-law came to our family Christmas, she was amazed at the array of snack mixes lined up on the kitchen counter for holiday snacking. I usually make several different kinds of snack mix, some of which I give away as gifts from my kitchen and use for holiday celebrations.
This year, with our Christmas rudely interrupted by Covid, I packed up snack mixes to send home with Jill's family. I mailed a box to Brent and Susan. And I met my niece with a laundry basket fall of snacks to take to my folks' house for the extended family Christmas. We still had more than we needed at home. 

Many of them are tried-and-true family favorites. (Check out the links to those below.) But, this year, I added another one to the mix - so to speak. Cinnamon Churro Snack Mix will definitely appear in the holiday line-up again. And it's the perfect addition to a Super Bowl snack food array.

Jill had sent me a link to a Bugle-based cinnamon snack mix. And while I was sure I'd like it, I decided to look for a similar snack mix with some other add-ins. I found what I was looking for at Better Homes and Gardens' website. 

It called for either Corn or Rice Chex. And while that would have been perfectly fine, I decided to substitute Cinnamon Chex instead. (I have done similar substitutes in snack mixes with Chocolate Chex.) I also used pretzel "balls" I purchased at Glenn's Bulk Foods instead of pretzel twists or sticks. Any kind of fancy nuts would do, but I used fancy mixed nuts (no peanuts). 
While other family members might choose differently, this Cinnamon Churro Snack Mix has moved up on my "favorites" list faster than Tyreek Hill can streak to the end zone. Now, if only Tyreek, Travis, Patrick and their buddies were still playing. 
Oh well! Good luck to the Bengals and the Rams. It's a good excuse for fun snacks anyway!

Cinnamon Churro Snack Mix
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens website


Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a shallow roasting pan with foil, extending foil over edges. In prepared pan combine first four ingredients (through nuts).

In a medium saucepan cook and stir butter and brown sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Drizzle cereal mixture with butter mixture; toss to coat. 

In a small bowl stir together granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar; toss again.

Bake 10 minutes; stir. Bake 10 minutes more. Using foil, lift out snack mix; cool on foil. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.


  • If you can't find Bugles, you may substitute plain mini bagel chips or bite-sized wheat square cereal.
  • You may substitute corn or rice Chex (or store brand) for the Cinnamon Chex.
Need other ideas for your Super Bowl party?
Click on the links for the recipes pictured below. Looking for something else? Type "bar cookie," "snack mix," "cookies," "sandwiches," "soup," etc., into the blog search engine. The search engine is found in the upper lefthand corner of the blog post.

Oven-Baked BBQ Ribs AND Sweet & Sour Baked Beans

BBQ Meatballs - Make them full-size or bite-sized


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Snow Glow

The wonder of a single snowflake outweighs
 the wisdom of a million meteorologists.

–Sir Francis Bacon, philosopher

The meteorologists actually got the forecast right last week. We had between 5 and 5 1/2 inches of snow that fell February 2 and 3.

We are thankful for the moisture. Our thirsty wheat fields were glad to soak up a little moisture after a dry fall and winter. 

With the temperatures climbing this past weekend and as we begin the new week, the snow is fast disappearing. But Randy and I did get out for a snowy cruise last Friday afternoon. 

Neither of us was sorry that we didn't have to venture out to feed cattle or check for new babies when the wind chill was sub-zero last week. I do miss having the heifers and their new babies practically in my backyard. 

But we still have a liberal "visitation policy" in place with Tye and Todd, who are calving out the heifers and cows this year as our first piece of the retirement plan. (At least, I hope they don't cringe when they see our pickup coming.)

Baby calves may have been the cutest things to photograph. But there were other snowy stops on our sightseeing tour. 

Before we ever got out of the farmyard, we saw evidence of other creatures. Randy thinks these tracks were made by a rabbit, rather than our cats.

Snowdrifts made for interesting art installations. 

A stop at the Peace Creek Cemetery north of our house provided another backdrop for snowy landscapes.

This angel would have been shivering like me, had she not been made of stone ...

 ... or plastic.  

The little lamb was snuggled in a blanket of snow. When Jill was little, we always had to bring flowers at Memorial Day for the little lamb marking a child's grave.  

Peace Creek looked like an Andrew Wyeth painting ...

whether in color ...

... or in black and white.

True confessions: I changed it to black and white to avoid the dirty tinge to the snow on Peace Creek at the Zenith Road. With the wind whipping and our dry conditions, the snow looked like it could use a good spring cleaning. 

After this week, the snow will be just a memory.