A Good Rain and a Baby Calf Are Always Welcome

The good news: Delilah finally had her calf!

Little Laszlo Richmond Snider was born yesterday afternoon, which happened to be National Women in Ag Day! I specifically asked the Easter Bunny for a red and white speckled heifer calf…I got the red and white speckled part, but not so much the heifer part. But I am ecstatic because I have a healthy and happy baby and momma. Life is good!

In case you all are new to my life, I name all of Delilah’s calves after characters on the greatest TV show ever made… The Golden Girls. I was going through a character list for the show with MyFarmer and when I said “Laszlo” MyFarmer said, “That’s it!” I don’t ever recall them giving Laszlo’s last name in the show (but if you do happen to know his last name, PLEASE let me know!) so for the middle name I went with the street the Golden Girls live on… Richmond Street. Laszlo Richmond Snider. It has a good ring to it if I do say so myself. Now on to the real reason you all clicked on this link: Baby calf pictures!

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Delilah is such a good momma! 

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If you look closely he has a black dipped tail! I wonder if it will stay like that? 

Fun side note: Delilah was bred to a black Corriente bull last year, and that bull has thrown all solid red calves out of solid black mommas, and now a speckled red calf out of a black and white speckled momma. The first time Delilah was bred to a solid black Corriente bull she threw a solid back calf, but she has been bred to a black Angus twice and threw white and black calves. Last year she was bred to a Hereford (red) and threw a red calf with some white. I know very little about color genetics in cattle, but I do know that black hair coats are usually dominate to red, but if both the cow and the bull are recessive carriers of the red gene they will produce red calves. It appears that the Corriente bull is not a homozygous black… and neither is Delilah. But that’s quite alright, little red calves are pretty adorable. And black or red they will rope just the same.  🙂

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Somehow little Laszlo ended up on the wrong side of the fence this morning. As I was carrying him back to the gate to let him back in the pasture he pooped all over me. My life is so glamorous. 

Now on to the bad news….

Since the calf was not born on or before the 11th of April… I lost the bet with ScubaSteve. The details of the bet can been seen here.  And boy is he proud of himself. I’ll never hear the end of this you all. BUT I did get one little piece of victory on Easter:

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A very rare side hug from a very happy ScubaSteve. I’ll take it.

Have a great week friends! I’ll be getting me real camera out this week for better pictures of Mr. Laszlo to share with you all. 🙂

Laney

Bets with ScubaSteve

It’s like making a deal with the devil. Except instead of horns he wears a UK ball cap.

As you all know, my father in law ScubaSteve and I have a relationship that most people would find odd between a DIL and FIL. We love to hate each other and the more irritating we can be to one another the better. He has truly met his match with me when it comes to hard headed and stubborn, and that is why we “get along?” so well.  While I know he absolutely worships the ground I walk on (if he actually read these blog posts he would have choked on that last statement), he doesn’t ever outwardly show his affection for me. Like, ever. In fact it makes him extremely uncomfortable when I tell him that I love him (hence why I say it all the time) and it has become my life mission in the two years to try to trick him into saying it back to me. So far all of my efforts have failed… until now.

Scuba gives me crap all the time about Delilah (the most beautiful and wonderful cow in all the world). When I saw what I thought was her mucus plug going over a month and a half ago I was sure that we would have a baby within 3 weeks… but alas there is still no baby around. He was giving me a hard time a couple weeks ago that I didn’t know what I was talking about, she wasn’t anywhere close to calving, and “I bet you that she doesn’t have that calf for another month.”

Oh son, them are fighting words in the world of Scuba and Laney.

I stuck my arm strait out and said, “You really want to bet me?”

While we shook on it I laid out my terms of the bet: If Delilah calves on or before April 11, Scuba must tell me he loves me while shaking my hand AND looking me in the eye, followed by a hug. BOOM!

What does Scuba want if he wins the bet? Nothing. Why? Because the simple fact of knowing that he is right and can continue to harass me with his “right-ness” for the rest of eternity is enough for him. [Y’all I CAN NOT lose this bet]

So now we wait. Scuba and I have both been checking Delilah’s utter on a daily basis both wishing for what we want to see. I tried to get him with an April Fool’s that she calved and it only worked for about .2 seconds before he caught on. He’s a sharp old tack.

I’m starting to get a little nervous as she’s just now started to bag up, but I’m still hopeful. She’s got a week to make this happen for me.

Side note: Can you give cows Pitocin to induce labor? Asking for a friend…

Wishing for luck and a heifer calf,

Laney

 

 

Pumpkin Crafter and Sushi Master

What is the weather like in your neck of the woods? We have been going from tornado watches to winter weather advisories on a daily basis around here the last couple weeks. Mother Nature really needs to go home, she’s drunk.

Anywho… even though it’s just March we have been working on all kinds of stuff for Ruby Branch this fall. Really January-March are our only times to work on projects and crafts for the fall because starting in the middle of March all H-E-Double hockey sticks breaks loose on the farm and at my job. Moral of the story, we make wooden pumpkins in March.

I bought a cheap little pumpkin decor thing off of Amazon and presented it to MyFarmer. He looked at it and said, “I can make this, no problem.” “Good,”  I said,”Because that was my plan.”

And make awesome little pumpkin decor things he did. They are so cute!! He’s been telling me not to share them with the world yet but I just can’t help it! We have some that are more finished and fancier than the picture I have here, but I want to save the surprise of how awesome they really are for later. Some of them are painted, some stained, some just plain, some have chalkboard paint. Ohhh the possibilities!!

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I MEAN SERIOUSLY. He has some that he’s made from barnwood and pallet wood and all of the “pumpkins” are made from at least partially reclaimed wood. Most of them actually have realllly old hard wood flooring as the base which I think is really cool.

Over the course our relationship MyFarmer has continued to amaze me with the stuff he can make. I’ve learned to never doubt his abilities since he honestly has yet to let me down with any of his craftsmanship. He’s made all kinds of tables and desks and minion straw bales and random stuff that always turn out amazingly. But when he started talking about making sushi a couple weeks ago I got scared. Really scared. So scared that the night of the sushi making I sat in the truck in the driveway for 10 minutes mustering up the courage to go inside.

When I walked into my house I was in shock. There, in my kitchen, was sushi rice, crunchy shrimp, avocado and seaweed wraps. And there was MyFarmer constructing sushi. And it was DELICIOUS. I will never doubt him and his sushi bazooka again.

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THE MAN MADE SUSHI, Y’ALL! And the table it’s sitting on, actually.

I think I’ll keep my handy little farmer sous chef around.

Laney

Validation

I know that we really shouldn’t look outside of ourselves for any type of validation in life. If we are working hard and doing the right thing in life we should feel good about ourselves, blah blah blah. Sure, my mom tells me she loves me and shes proud of me all the time, but this is also the woman that continues to keep my awful elementary school artwork (and some more recent and equally awful “sip and paint” artwork) proudly around the house, so I’m thinking she might have some bias on the matter.

Last November I had the opportunity to attend the Executive Women in Agriculture conference in Chicago, and to call it life changing for me would be an understatement. I’ve never been around a group of women that were so uplifting and encouraging. Not in a “I am woman here me roar” way, but in an honest to goodness help each other realize that our places in agriculture are not only important, but needed. It was such an eye opening experience for me and it took me about a week to get off my conference high when I got home.

A few days after returning from the conference MyFarmer and I were chatting as I was making dinner. In passing, I just kind of threw the idea out about me perusing ag journalism/writing, half expecting a “Yeah, that would be cool I guess. How’s the mac and cheese coming along?” But what I got was a resounding, “Yes! Why haven’t we thought of this before?! That would be perfect for you!”

Knowing I had MyFarmer’s support meant a lot, but, like my mom I have to think he’s a little bit biased. I mean the guy married me, so I must have a couple redeeming qualities in his eyes.

After that I spent a couple months mulling it over. Ag journalism was honestly not something I had ever considered prior to the conference and it was (and is) something that I know very little about. All I know about writing is what I throw out in this silly little blog of mine. Long story short, I finally got the guts up to send an e-mail to a woman that I met at the conference who has done basically everything in the ag journalism world and is super awesome. She’s an extremely busy lady so I was FLOORED when I got an e-mail back within 15 minutes telling me that she loved my blog and to keep it going. And that was the confidence boost that I needed to take this little idea of mine seriously.

As fate would have it, my BFF DanaDoodle saw a Facebook status that said a roping website was looking for some freelance blog writers. I got in contact with the girl that put up the status and sent her a couple trial blog posts. She e-mailed me back within the hour and said that I was hired! Holy Moly is this real life?!

I’ve now had a couple of my roping blog posts published and it’s so wild seeing the number of people that are reading and (hopefully) enjoying what I write. 300 “likes” is a pretty awesome little piece of validation. I’m absolutely loving getting to write about roping and it’s giving me another way to stay involved in the sport while I’m not competing. It’s one more thing for me to juggle, but sitting down to write is oddly fun for me, so I’m happy to add another bowling pin to the circus routine that is my life.

So, friends, if you are interested in checking out what I’ve been writing outside of here, or if you are just a fan of roping, check out ROPING.COM. Myself and an awesome group of other writers have a fun mix of educational, informative, and hilarious blog posts ready for you there!

Laney

 

 

Barley: From Our Farm to Your Beer

I posted an adorable picture of my dog AreenaJo in a barley field early this morning and it has put me on a “learn about barley” kick today. So I figured if I’m going to learn, we might as well learn together! It works out nicely that as I write this my resident barley expert, MyFarmer, is in the next room building a fishing pole so I can ask him as many questions as I want to and he can’t run away from me.

We are really lucky in southern Kentucky that we can “double crop” our fields, which means exactly what it sounds like… we can harvest 2 crops a year off of a piece of ground. To do this, we harvest the crop in the fall (corn) and plant the winter wheat or barley right behind it. We harvest the winter crop in late spring, then plant our “double crop” soybeans. (We always plant soybeans after wheat or barley.) The soybeans will grow all summer and will be harvested later in the fall. We don’t do this on all of our fields every year, but we do utilize this practice on fields that we want to prevent erosion of topsoil throughout the winter months.

We are one of the few farms in our little county that raise barley and we only raise on average 60-100 acres every year. Wheat is much more commonly grown in our area and we usually raise about 350 acres of it as well, but ScubaSteve is a humongous fan of barley. Why? Well it’s not because the price is better than wheat… that’s for sure. BUT it does tend to have a higher yield than wheat and most importantly the beans that are planted behind barley are higher yielding than the soybeans planted behind wheat. It’s enough of a yield boost to offset the difference in cash price between the wheat and barley and it helps our farm spread more risk out through crop diversification. Plus ScubaSteve loves barley… so we plant barley.

Barley is raised on every continent in the world that crops are grown and it is thought to be one of the first grains to be domesticated by humans. The top 4 countries for barley production are Russia, Germany, France and Canada. There are 2 types of barley grown around the world, feed grade barley and malting/food grade barley. Malting barley has a much higher starch content so it is preferred for making alcohol. About 60% of the barley produced across the world goes into animal feed, and the other 40% of the crop goes directly into human consumption via 2 main routes. 1) Milled/polished/dehulled barley or the barley is ground to make flours that can be used in a number of different breads/crackers/etc. 2) Beer. The majority of all barley that is used for human consumption actually goes into making beer! The types of barley used for beer are two-rowed barley and six-rowed barley. Different parts of the world prefer two or six-rowed for the purpose of making beer. The United States prefers six-rowed, but many other countries around the world prefer two.

So where does the barley from our farm go? Well… we don’t know. Some farmers actually contract their grain out to a specific company. There are a lot of farmers east of us that sell their corn directly to bourbon makers (this is Kentucky after all!) so they know that their corn is going to be made into bourbon. So the next time you drink bourbon pat yourself on the back for supporting a Kentucky farmer! 😉 I’m sure some farmers that grow barley near a beer making company take their barley directly to the source as well. We don’t have a local beer maker, so we take our barley to a local elevator where they load it on train carts and it can go anywhere in the US or world from there. (Fun fact about our little town.. until a couple years ago we were still a “dry county.” We had to go across the state line to Tennessee to buy any alcohol.) The type of barley that we raise is primarily used for animal feed, not beer, so sorry about kind of lying to you with the title. But I thought that sounded a whole lot better than “Barley: From Our Farm to a Cow’s Stomach to a Steak on Your Plate.” Please forgive me.

I’m not sure what your area of the world has been experiencing weather-wise, but it has been extremely unseasonably warm this winter for us. I think we have only had a few days where the ground was even frozen in the morning. Yesterday (February 24) was almost 80 degrees. That’s just unheard of. While the warm temperatures are great for walks with the dogs, it is a major concern for us on the wheat and barley front. We plant our wheat and barley after the fall crop has been harvested out of the field, so usually around October. This gives the barley and wheat about a month or so to come up and establish itself then it will go dormant for the rest of the winter. The problem with the extremely warm temperatures the last few weeks is that our barley and wheat have come out of dormancy and are growing like crazy. It looks great so that’s cool, but we are playing Russian roulette with the entire crop now. If the weather stays warm we should be fine and we will have a good crop come harvest time in June. The major BUT of this situation is this: If we have a cold snap come though it could really damage our wheat and barley and possibly kill it off. Seeing that we are just now in the end of February, a cold snap could very easily happen. Like MyFarmer says, “We will control the controllable’s and that’s all we can do.” Mother nature is most certainly not a controllable, so we will roll with the punches and see what she brings us this year.

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Well friends, I hope you have learned a little bit more about barley with me today. I also hope that you have a great weekend and that in the spirit of supporting farmers you have a beer or bourbon… if you’re into that sort of thing.

Laney

2017: The Year of No Fun

MyFarmer and I have deemed 2017 The Year of No Fun. As the #littlehouseontheranch build moves closer and closer to fruition, we have decided that getting our savings account as packed as possible is of the utmost importance. We are giving ourselves $100 a month for anything “extra” we want. Going out to dinner with friends, coffee shop stops(ughhhh!), new tops just because they are cute, etc.

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We sat down one Sunday night and budgeted for hours. While not thrilling, it was a great way to find out where all of our money goes and where we can make cuts. We were also able to see what our finances would look like once the new house was built. Mortgage vs rent, renters insurance vs home insurance, gas vs electric, etc. MyFarmer and I have looked through this budget before, but Sunday was the first time we truly did it with purpose and that really changed our way of looking at it. Before it was just “we want to be able to put X amount in savings every month.” This time it was, “we want to put as much as humanly possible into savings every month!” And you would be surprised how having that mentality allows you to find places to save.

It always becomes devastatingly obvious that our (my) animals take up the vast majority of our money. There is a reason I spent the first year of our marriage “transitioning” into sharing one bank account. I didn’t want to give MyFarmer a stroke with the sudden onset of money hemorrhage that is horse ownership. But luckily I’m married to a very understanding farmer that will never say, “It’s me or the horses!” Because, well, I’ve had Theodore and Alvin longer than MyFarmer… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there.

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These precious critters deserve all the pampering they get!

Besides the animals, the other area that we are throwing hundo’s at like we makin’ it rain in da club is eating out and groceries. And no, the irony of farmers spending too much money on food is not lost on me.

Growing up mom always packed a cooler for any road trip or for weekends at horse shows. We never ate out at home or on the road. (Unless dad was with us… ha!) Mom, I totally get you and your egg salad now. Eating out is ridiculous! Whether fast food or a fancy sit down restaurant like the Cracker Barrel, it’s a rip off… Side note – can anyone in the world spell restaurant on the first try? I sure can’t. Or the second or third for that matter.

It’s wasn’t just eating out costs that were nutso – the grocery total was also seriously disturbing. Two average sized human beings do not need that much food! I knew that buying in bulk is more cost effective, but once I really started looking I was shocked by how much cheaper things like meat are when you buy the larger amounts. For example: ground beef. Our local WalMart’s sells 1 pound of ground chuck for $3.96. The 4.5 pound tray of ground chuck is $12.83, which equates to $2.85 per pound. That’s a $1.11 per pound difference between the 1 pound and 4.5 pound sizes! The average american eats around 50 pounds of beef a year, so our house of 2 consumes around 100 pounds of beef per year. Just by buying beef in bigger packaging we can save somewhere around $111.00 per year!

So the next day I bought this giant package of beef and I had to figure out what to do with it. I wanted to go ahead and get it all cooked at once because I didn’t want to risk it spoiling in the fridge if I didn’t use it. (I’m really bad at remembering to set out meat the day before for dinner, so I prefer not to freeze raw meat.) I ended up browning 3.5 pounds of it, adding a large jar of spaghetti sauce and putting it in 3 freezer bags. 2 bags went to the freezer and 1 bag in the fridge for another dinner that week. The remaining 1.5 pounds I made taco’s for dinner that night. There was enough leftover beef for me to have two quinoa/black bean/beef burrito bowls for lunch this week AND for MyFarmer for dinner on a night that I’m not home. With 4.5 pounds of beef and one hour I made 7 meals. Cheaper, time saving, and convenient. That’s what I’m talking about!

I’m still in need of cheap eating ideas… and that’s where you all come in! Although this is the year of no fun I don’t want it to be the year of ramen noodles. Give me your dinner money saving hacks!

Have a great weekend friends!

Laney “No Fun Allowed” Snider

Decision 2017: Mum Varieties

It’s like Christmas at Ruby Branch Farms! The mum plug catalog is here! I get so excited marking the mums that I want that sometimes I get little carried away. If we grew all the mum varieties that I HAVE TO HAVE we would raise about 20 million mums. Ha! But I somehow have to rein myself into around 1,000 for this year, which is 20 varieties. Wish me luck!

When we first started our little mum ranch I thought that we would just order some red, yellow, and orange mum plugs and that would be that. Boy, did I have a lot to learn. I had NO IDEA just how many mum varieties are out there and all the factors you have to consider.We have had some really good mentors and a whole lot of luck thus far and we have learned a ton as we go.

We have to buy our plant plugs from a broker who then takes care of ordering from the company that raises the plugs. We actually changed broker and companies from year one to year two and we really liked our second choice, so we will be using Raker again for our plugs. They ship varieties in trays of 51 instead of 70 and that works out better for our farm setup. They are a little bit more expensive of a plug but we found that the quality was higher than the other company that we tried. Plus, they have really nice catalogs and easily accessible horticulture specialists that we can ask questions.

In our 2017 Raker Catalog there are well over 200 fall mum varieties that we have to narrow down to our 20. That’s difficult because they are all beautiful, but there are a few things we have to keep in mind before choosing a mum variety that helps to narrow the search down.

  1. What do our customers like? The past 2 years have given us some good insight, but we have also found that quizzing our Facebook followers is both fun and informative! What the customer wants, the customer gets!
  2. How many trays of each color we want. It wouldn’t make sense to have, say, half of our mums to be purple. Sure, a lot of people like purple, but with the space we have available we want to make sure we have a good mix of colors to choose from.
  3. Flower date. All of the varieties will have a projected flower date on them. The flower date is an estimation of when the mum will be about 75% bloomed out and the desirable to the customer. Since southern Kentucky is really close to the southern-most region that mums are generally grown, we have to keep in mind the probability of a heat delay. Mums require cooler temperatures to bloom, so the hot, humid fall temperatures we tend to have early in the season can delay the blooming. For that reason we usually try to find mums we want with a bloom date that is a week or two before we actually want them to be blooming. If you recall in 2016, we had very few mums blooming through September and early October. Everyone across the nation did! There was actually a “mum shortage” early in the fall season because of the hot temperatures across the US, even in the northern states. So when I called the horticulture specialist in melt down mode because our mums weren’t blooming, she re-assured me by saying, “Don’t freak out, there aren’t any mums blooming anywhere.” Ha!
  4. We look at the response number. We need the response to be between a 6.0 – 7.0, with above 6.5 to be preferred.There are some cool varieties that have a low response number, but we really try to stay away from them because they will not be uniform with our other plants.
  5. Have we had issues with that family before? Some of the mums have a “family” where they are the same mum but different colors. If we have any issues with a particular family in the past we stay away from them. We have had mums that are prone to breaking and seem to have more issues with pests, so we don’t go back to those again.

Whether you are farming mums, soybeans, wheat, chickens, or cows there is an intense amount of planning, knowledge, and effort that goes into making the year happen. If you jump into anything willy-nilly you are going to end up with a lot of headaches and not much profit… if any.

I hope this gives you a little look into how we decide what mums we raise! As always, if you have any questions please shoot them at me!

Laney