Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New fields

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We were able to torch off a few of the new fields over the last few weeks. The flames skipped a few spots here and there but overall did a nice job. Still more to go if the weather cooperates but November and December are always surprisingly busy with chores we scramble to accomplish before winter really sets in. Oh well, we will get to the other fields when we can.

Burning off the old vegetation serves three purposes: (1) it cleans up the ground to make it easier to come through and work the soil without clogging up the implements with big wads of dead grass, (2) it burns up residual weed seeds to ensure we have a clean clean ground to plant in the spring and (3) burning off the grass makes it really easy to see the field edges come spring; much easier than trying to find little stakes that have sat out in the weather all winter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The ranch through time: Every last grain

Auguring grain

We shipped some barley yesterday and augured it out of the bins and into the waiting truck. Here Beverly works during a harvest of days since passed to sweep every last kernel from the "Old Blue" truck into the hopper where it is augured up and into the bins for storage until shipping day.

Why such dedication to get every last grain of grain? Well, out here we grow several different varieties of small grains including wheat, barley and oats and we use the same equipment for each. During harvest, the grain is augured from the combine to a truck then augured from the truck to the bins for storage. Since we do not fan or clean any of the grain before it goes to the bins it is said to be "field run" or "in the dirt".

When we sell the grain a purity test it performed. These tests measure the percentage of broken and small seeds as well as dirt and chaff. The test also looks for moisture content, weed seeds and off variety grains. The percentage of purity can influence the price the farmer ends up getting for his grain. Or if the grain does not meet purity standards or contains noxious weeds, the delivery can be refused and the grower has to pay to have it cleaned or sell elsewhere for animal feed. Keeping clean fields and equipment not only saves time and money, it is a responsible thing for a steward of the land to do.

Monday, November 21, 2011

First snow

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We had our first little snow of the season last week. It was just a couple inches and was mostly gone by the late afternoon but it sure felt nice to come in after chores and warm up by the woodstove.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The ranch through time: turkeys revisted


Last week I posted a photo of a tom and hen turkey in the barnyard and in the comments Rick asked if I knew when the photo was taken. Well I know turkeys have been raised at least twice out here at the ranch (well aside from Freda the lap turkey strutting around these days). Once was in the late fifties/early sixties when the kids were growing up. They had two hens and a tom. You can see Chuck Sr hand feeding the turkeys in this photo from a few weeks ago.

The second occasion when turkeys were raised here at the ranch was during the Depression. Judging from the size and quantity of juniper trees in the background, I think the image from last week is of these Depression turkeys.

One of my favorite stories about the turkeys from this time period was when they took them out to glean the grain. The ranch has been a dryland wheat farm from the early days and during harvest a certain amount of grain does not make it into the combine. With all that "free grain" littering the ground, great grandad Frank decided to load up the turkeys and take them up to the fields to glean. Once they were unloaded he headed back down the canyon to the house only to find that the turkeys had sailed over the rimrock and beaten him back to the house. Good feed or not, they much preferred their home turf.

Here's Chuck Sr. and his sister Dorothy with the turkeys on what is roughly the front lawn today:

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