Sunday, April 28, 2013

Signs of Spring

Spring is here.  It must be here because calves are getting branded and the snow runoff has started.

Last weekend the Hi-Line was still covered in snow, so I drove to my uncle's ranch north of Yellowstone Park to help brand calves.  It's been 20 years since I've been around cattle branding, so I was excited to do it again.  Rounding up cattle, culling out calves, pushing them through the branding table...I love a long, hard day or two of branding.  The best parts?  First, there is always good food and a lot of it.  And when it's over, I go home and don't have to hassle with cattle for another year.

Branding in Paradise Valley
In high school and college, I worked for farmers who had cattle.  Raising cattle is hard work and it never stops.  There are always cattle to feed, fence to fix, hay to put up, or calves to pull.  Yep, I have a ton of respect for cattlemen.  They truly earn every dollar they make.

Anyway, I picked up another uncle in Billings on Friday night and then we headed to the ranch.  It's a beautiful area and it's no wonder the area is called the Paradise Valley.  We worked all day Saturday, ate some food, spent some time at the cabin, and worked a bit more.  Did I mention there is always good food at a branding?  And lots of it?  Yep, I love branding.

Spring Arrives on the Hi-Line
I drove back up to the Hi-Line on Monday afternoon.  It was amazing to see the change in scenery after getting north of the Mighty Mo and back into the snow.  But that didn't last long.  Officially, by my clock, spring arrived Wednesday afternoon when it got up to 49 degrees.  And since then, it's been in the 60s for highs.  The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and the runoff has begun.  Yep, spring is here.

It won't be long now...and I will actually be farming on the Hi-Line.

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Please remain on the line.  We appreciate your business and our next associate will be with you soon.

Yep, I'm waiting.  Waiting for the snow to melt and for the frost to go away.  Waiting for the last of my equipment to get here.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.

So in the meantime, it's the small things.  I think I'm finally all set on seed.  For lentils, it will be CDC Maxim CL red lentils.  I'm excited to try the Clearfield system.  I'll have 200 acres and those will be the first to seed.  For spring wheat, it's SY Soren treated with Warden Cereals WR on about 960 acres.  Seeding deadlines are March 25 for lentils and June 5 for wheat, so I hope to be in the field soon.  I don't like waiting.

I know I'll need equipment in a couple years, so I went to an equipment auction in ND just to get a feel for prices.  There was a lot of good equipment and honestly, I didn't feel the prices were too extreme.  Most of the equipment appeared to be in good shape.  The tractor, combine, air seeder, and self-propelled sprayer were all under 10 years old.  Semis, trailers, and augers were 10-20 years old.  I know the guy who bought the air seeder.  He just picked up more land this year, he's nervous about making the seeding deadline, and so he got another seeder to get the crop in on time.  He doesn't like waiting.

I also talked to the fertilizer & seed dealers about getting deliveries from them.  Once spring starts, I know there will be a mad rush of farmers calling in.  After talking to them, I feel better but still nervous.  The fertilizer guys say they can deliver within 3 or 4 hours of a phone call.  The seed guys might be able to keep my treated wheat in a semi trailer, ready whenever I need it.  Hopefully they both work out.  If not, then I'll have to wait during seeding.  I don't like waiting.

And I've been attending services at different churches in the community, trying to find the one that is home for me.  This may seem weird to some, but every time I've moved I've never known what I'm looking for in a church.  I just wander a bit, try different services, and then eventually the Big Guy lets me know where He wants me.  I wish He would just speak to me through a burning bush, but He doesn't.  He makes me wait....because He knows I don't like it and that I need to get better at it.

Thanks Big Guy.  I'm waiting.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

It's a Mess

Yep, the shop is a mess.
There's stuff and junk and things all over the place.  Oil, chemicals, parts, tools...not organized, not labeled, and definitely not in military inspection order.

In military jargon, FUBAR
Since there's still snow on the ground and it's too early to seed, I started cleaning up the shop this week.  The Old Man generally kept a pretty tidy shop.  Since he passed, it's been in a constant state of chaos.  Ma put items where she could find them, neighbors would occasionally leave items in different places, and my brothers and I would set them in other areas.  In the end, you have a full-blown mess.
The only way to do it is to start over.  Hit the master reset button and begin again.  So that's what I've been doing this week.  I am clearing shelves, drawers, and containers and then organizing it like I want it to be done.

Mother of All Messes

It's fun and it's not.  I have come across quite a few homemade tools that are fun to look at and wonder what they are for.  And then after a bit, I wish the Old Man was around to explain it to me.  There are parts to a Massey 1135 tractor that hasn't been on this farm for over 25 years.  I chuckle when I find them, knowing the Old Man never tossed out anything of possible use in the future.  And then after a bit, I think about the care and hard work he put into that first tractor of his own.
Yep, the shop is a mess.  But I know the Old Man is looking over my shoulder and saying "Clean this mess up, I need to change the oil in the Massey!"