The Dunlap Run

Done the Dunlap run. I thought they would never head back down through the barnyards. The cows were on the upper pasture above the lane when I decided to set up the trap. Well, close the downhill side gate on the barnyards. A really simple trap. But then cows are really simple people. Keep em fed and don’t take out too many at a time so as to scare them and they are a pretty contented bunch. Hardly ever a stampede. That either takes a spook or a brook on a hot summer’s day. Or me calling the girls to new pasture. Or good leafy alfalfa hay.

When I had them in the yards I realized there was no longer a cow in heat. I guess I should have done it yesterday when they were riding. The fact nothing had been allowed to eat the weeds and grass in the catch pen lured in all that would fit. I didn’t need the alfalfa. It wasn’t hard sorting out the six bulls I had in the pen. I had more trouble keeping the sorted ones from coming back in than I did keeping the ones in that I wanted sold. Every cow in the herd wanted those tall green groceries. We were loaded and roaded before I knew it.

Up at the Dunlap Livestock Auction I had two pickups with livestock trailers ahead of me in line to unload. The trip was pleasantly uneventful. I gave the gal working the unloading chute the information about the bulls and we were unloaded and reroaded in no time. On the way home, as I rolled through Minden, I thought I heard a strange squeaking when I went around corners. I had been driving with the rear sliding window open all throughout the trip. Listening for any such type of weird sounds that may mean wheel trouble on the old Rawhide livestock trailer.

After parking the rig at home I went around checking the tires and rims for heat. The tires were a little warm on the insides of the rear two treads. The rims were all cool except for the front right one. It was very hot on the hubcap and quite warm on the rest of the rim. I guess I know which wheel bearings to grease in the morning. After Dad’s Mass. I told Mom I would attend the Mass she’s having said for him. We all need all the prayers we can muster up. Feel free to offer up your own. I’m sure no one will mind. Well, maybe Satan. But he knows where he can go.

Sea (to shining) sea …….




Cows were out. Cows were in. Cows were out in the neighbors. Remember what I said about good fence making good neighbors?  This is a good neighbor. The fence between us is bad but he brought the cows back home twice. I was gone at the time. When I got home at dark last night there was a note on my door. It said forty cattle were out in his and another neighbor’s fields. There’s not much line fence between one of those neighbors and I. The one that happened to bring them home.

Welcome (back?) to Cocreator’s New Blog. How’s your day going?

We’ve never discussed which one of us the line fence in question belongs to. Usually if you’re facing your neighbor the fence on your right hand side is yours. For some reason this farm at home has some of the line fences backward. The one along the west and the one along the north have been switched. We have the left hand end on both. Bit the fence they ran through is on the north east corner on the east side. Years ago I lined the fence all along the east side of this farm with a smooth galvanized electric fence wire on ree bar posts.

The storm the other night brought the level of the water in the creek up the banks about three quarters of the way full. That swept over my hot wires I run across it on each end. The south end fence had a break on one end of the wire. That wire along with a couple posts were swung around and buried in mud and debris along the creeks other bank. That caused the hot wires on the whole farm to be dead. Or nearly so. Including the one all the way on the opposite corner where the cows finally found it yesterday evening.

I started out the brisk morning fixing that northwest corner. By two thirty in the afternoon I have all but one fence fixed, the cows re-re-corralled, sort of, and the muffler nearly torn off my KIA minivan from crossing the creek where I maybe shouldn’t have. So I’m taking a break and messing with a totally different kind of post. The kind that don’t hurt my hands when I try to straighten it back out. The kind on the internet. The kind the cows won’t bend all up trying to scratch themselves on it. At least not my cows. With cows losing their winter coats (come to think of it were is mine) now is not the time to have a dead wire on the electric fence. They’ll rub on anything that doesn’t shock them first. That’s hard on fence.

We’ve had a few more calves born since I was planting corn around them. Today as I run them back onto the pasture the corn was spiking through the ground. That’s nearly three weeks to come up. I was starting to wonder if it ever was going to emerge. It seems to be hesitating as if to say wait a minute here, we thought it was the middle of May. The  neighbor’s earlier planted corn that’s leafed out looks awful yellow. As is the corn spiking on my farm. I guess it’s already number two yellow corn. Better check the bid …….

That’s how my day’s going. Went from greasing the squeaking wheel to rounding up the mooing cattle. Took off the ball cap and put on the Stetson. Put aside the wrench bucket and pulled out the fencing bucket. You get the gist of it. Switching occupations. So if you’re up my creek, with or without a paddle, …….

See you then, see you there.




The Nice

Planters have been rolling in the neighborhood. The usual suspects. I suspect they were getting antsy to start. I rolled mine out of the barn over on the west farm after getting the 1440 with the home made six row corn head backed out of the way (remind me to tell you the 1440 story sometime) (maybe the corn head story too). And the two bush hog wagons. It’s getting it’s first washing of the season. April showers after all. All while waiting for the trucker to show up.

We had a good rain today. As in nice and easy. It was spotty showers and every drop soaked in. So did the semi. I wondered yesterday when he mentioned something like truck driver’s school. He suffers from pavementitus. Or is it a pavementality. Either way he needs to stay on a solid surface. The stay at gone mom gave him a ride in the rain back to the boss’s where he’d parked his ride to work. Stuck in the muck. What the truck.

I’m spotting it in. Just like the showers. The corn price not the semi truck. The local grain merchandisers give a spot price everyday at the close of the board of trade for all the bushels “spotted in”  or delivered without a sales contract that day. It’s more or less based on shipping costs and board of trade contracts for the nearest month. Each location determines their own.

We started hauling corn into the RR terminal at Council Bluffs yesterday afternoon. About the time the neighbors started to plant. Or restarted, some had run Saturday and Sunday. Right alongside the Easter Bunnie. Rain Sunday night shut em down. Looked plenty wet where they were planting the way it was. Reports are that the ground has warmed right on up into the sixties. I wonder if it will stay that way. They say it needs to be around that temp to get corn to germinate. The clearing seventy degree day they predicted today never did clear off or get  above the fifties. I think fifty is all the warmer the ground gets down deeper around here. Without sun keeping the top warm the 4 inch depth could cool right back down. Night temps chill right back down too.

Not much more to report. The cows are still burning hay though they go looking for greening grass to nip in the bud. I swear if they knock down the pasture fence one more time I may call the cattle truck. Let that pasture grow gol darn it. They don’t know how thin the ice their skating on is. Now that I mentioned it …….

I’m skating on outta here.


And of course …….



Rain. Good. Good rain.

But not before six more bulls sorted themselves. I quickly loaded them up and hauled them off to the sale barn.

This morning when I got up and looked outside it hadn’t rained. I decided to give the cattle a second bale of hay. I’ve been feeding them only one bale at a time for a few weeks because once it warmed up they started wasting too much hay. They were only half done with the bale I had given them last evening. I decided that another bale was timely if it was going to rain since I hate slopping around in the mud to hay them and by evening again they would need another bale. While I was driving by the cattle pens (I’m haying them out in a corn stubble field) I noticed the two herd bulls that are there to breed the cows were in the pen following a cow in heat that was trying to lick the mineral blocks I feed there. A few other younger bulls were tagging along for sloppy seconds. I jumped out of the tractor and swung the gate shut to lock them in.

After I finished haying cattle I unloaded the rest of the hay from the flatbed trailer so I could unhook it from the pickup truck and hook up the stock trailer. I threw a small square hay bale into the catch pen to coax the group in. A few cows and calves were swept up into the catch pen with the bulls and heating cow. They sorted out quite easily since the whole bunch was busy with lunch and not really aware of what was going on. I ran up to the house and asked the stay at gone mom to help me run the bulls up the loading chute. The last six bulls I had loaded were a lot smaller and I had barely been able to get them pushed into the trailer. I needed her to stand outside the chute and give them a little shock on the butt to get them up into the trailer while I stayed in the back of the column and kept pushing them towards it. Mine is a rather dangerous job given that cattle can kick backward very hard. I was fortunate. I was only kicked once and it wasn’t that hard.

Once I had them loaded and the truck and trailer were back up on the gravel pointed towards the road I was safe from rain and the mud that goes with it. I backed the rig up to a drop cord and plugged in the air compressor I keep in the truck box. It’s a thirty gallon tank with an electric built in pump. I like to have extra air out on the road in case I need it to get to the next town should a tire start to leak. I grabbed my hat and a cup of honey tea and we were off to Dunlap, the earliest sale in the area coming up on Tuesday. On the road again …….

On the way to Dunlap I remembered the first batch of calves I had sold way back some 28 years ago. Probably because they were sold at Dunlap also. Back then I hired a trucker to haul the calves the day before the sale. When I went up to watch the calves sell I noticed after passing the last town along the way that I was running very low on gas in my car. Having left my wallet at home I had no way of buying gas. With seven miles to go to Dunlap I began parking the car and walking the ditches for empty beer and soda cans. Here in Iowa we have a nickle deposit on each one. I would go about a half mile at a time and walk up one side and down the other side of the road throwing cans into an old box I had found in the trunk.

I wish I had left earlier. I waited quite a time on the bleachers watching calves sell hoping to see mine. When the killer cows started selling I went to the office to see if mine had sold. The cattle had sold by the time I arrived at the sale barn and they had my check waiting when I walked into the office. It was almost as much money as I had paid for the cow/calf pairs the year before. And I still had the moms. Maybe these cows were worth the effort after all. Maybe my old man was right. Livestock was farming, growing crops was glorified gardening. I pocketed the check and have never looked back.

What I did look for was a service station that would take all those empty cans. Here I was with a multi thousand dollar cattle check but no gas money, both feast and famine. Dunlap isn’t that big of town. I finally had to explain to a gas station proprietor what had happened, showed him my calf check and convinced him I wasn’t trying to con him. He seemed to think I had too many cans for that stretch of highway.  I was a little in awe myself as to how many cans there are along the roads. I had a trunk full and a few on the back seat floor. I think the rest went to a HyVee store to buy beer.

This isn’t what I had planned for a Sunday but then I’m not allowed to follow my plans anyway. Something better always comes up. That’s OK, plans are tentative at best anyway. I had planned on getting the two breeding bulls out of the herd a couple weeks ago so I wouldn’t have cows calving in January next winter. Hopefully those two weeks will be during our January thaw. Sometimes His plans, no every time, His plans are better than mine. Have a great Sunday even if your plans don’t pan out. As long as the gold does it will be alright.

If you’re at the Dunlap sale barn Tuesday …….

See you then, see you there.



The New Boss

And it’s April 1st already. All ready? Oh boy. Here we go! Again. Spewing forth. I hope we don’t get fooled again.

I am glad April is coming in like a lamb. A cold lamb but a calm one. The way the winds blew yesterday I doubt if anything not tied down is where we left it. If not for the fence behind the wind break we wouldn’t have garbage can lids. We have cats so we need lids if we’re going to use the garbage cans. Which you have to do on days like yesterday when the high winds make burning any refuse a dangerous proposition. Even if there’s a burn barrel or pit available. Not enough new green grass but plenty of last year’s old dead grass to easily catch burning and spread like wild fire. The flames a lickin’

There seems to be grass enough to lead my cows astray. The amount of hay consumed per day has really gone down as the temps have warmed up. I know it takes less fuel to keep warm in the spring than in the winter. That’s factored in. This goes beyond that. It happens every year in April. The cattle are walking away from the uneaten hay and roaming the fields looking for anything not hay. I think after a long windy cold winter they feel restless plus they’re tired of eating the same old prairie hay they’ve had since January when the alfalfa/prairie hay mixture ran out. Cornstalks. Corn husks. Cobs and scattered kernels, even old weeds and grasses. Anything but hay. They like go hide to have their new baby calves also. Another spring right of passage. Old bos meet the new bos. Lick it clean.

You’ll notice I said not enough new green grass. We’ve had a few warm days. There is new green grass. But only just barely. A kind of green tint to the long brown grass. That is, it’s been brown a long time. The old brown grass is actually pretty short around these buildings. What wasn’t grazed down before winter has been creep feed all winter for the smaller calves that slip under the hot wire. I see the robins easily bobbing along  poking here and there in the grass. They never seem to come up with anything in their beaks however. Then I notice a branch lowering from the weight of a squirrel that only just landed on it. Lickitty split.

The brown squirrel is flitting around on the branch seemingly licking the bark here and there. It goes up to tiny broken branches and seems to chew and lick on the frayed ends. I start looking closer and can see little drops of fluid beading up into drops here and there on the tree. The tree in question is a Silver Maple. I wonder if this squirrel and these robins aren’t busy lapping up the nectar of this Maple tree. Who needs a tap and bucket? Who needs to reduce it down with fire? These creatures have learned to take it like it is. One sweet lick at a time. They’ve taken tree loving to a whole new level. Lick it up.

It’s only right now!