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The view out my kitchen window of the new calves. This is where we keep the heifers when they calf.

Working cows

Larry is checking a cow's
mouth for teeth.

 

Hixson Diaries

January 11, 1998

Bitter cold with freezing rain and snow. The roads looked slick but by afternoon were ok. Krista and her girls came back from Osborne in the afternoon. They had a good visit. I helped our church with the church services at the two nursing homes in WaKeeney. We hope the cold weather doesn't last much longer. It seems that farmers are always talking about the weather and probably we do because it has so much impact on our lives. Several weeks of cold icy or snowy weather can cause cows to lose weight and then not be able to survive having a calf or taking care of it after it is born.

The weather is also impacting our wheat crop. The wheat is in a dormant stage right now but it can winterkill if the weather is cold enough long enough. We are lucky right now because we have a little snow left in the drill rows. The cover of snow acts like a warm blanket for the wheat. So far all of the wheat looks in good condition.

January 12, 1998

This morning Larry took bales to our cows 10 miles east of town. We usually have them on milo stalks but our late harvest and early snowstorm made that impossible this year. They are still in the pasture and pens north of Ogallah. The pens are very protected by trees so it is a good place for them this winter. They will probably stay there to have their calves this spring. They are to start having their calves the first part of February. It is still bitter cold. Low around 9 degrees with the high temperature of 19.

I attended our local hospital board meeting in the evening.

January 13, 1998

The weather is still very cold. We all want to stay inside today. Larry worked in our farm office most of the afternoon. It is the time of year to get all tax work done. It seems to take a lot of time and paperwork to get everything finished up for 1997. I worked at the hospital. I am the executive director of the endowment foundation for the hospital. We had a very successful year. I send a statement to every donor stating the total amount of their donations for the year for their tax report.

January 14, 1998

We now have 6 calves behind our house. They are fun to watch. They run and play, especially today since it is much warmer (40 degrees). The sun is shinning now so it feels like it is much warmer than the past few days. Larry sold some wheat today and started loading it out of our elevator. I had bills to pay and some bookwork to do. Emma and Chloe have had a good time playing with their mother's Barbie dolls. They also went to the library and checked out some videos.

This afternoon I went to Oakley, KS to a meeting of the Northwest Regional Library Board. I serve on the executive committee of that board. It is a challenge to keep funding coming to meet the needs of our libraries.

January 15, 1998

The weather was beautiful today. I had to do some bookwork on our computer this morning. This afternoon I took Emma with me in the pickup and we helped drive 30 cows one mile home. This is the only bunch of cows we managed to get to milo stalks last fall. We brought them home so we can give them shots and have them near the barns when they have their calves. We keep them in a smaller pasture until they have their calves, then we move them out to a larger pasture so they can get the feed that they need. Our farm is right next to town so we don't keep large numbers of cows close to town any longer than necessary. If the wind blows from the North the feed blows right into town and into our neighbors yards.

Larry loaded out more wheat from the elevator. He hauls it to a Cargill facility two miles from our farm.

Krista and I watched a heifer have a calf this morning. It was shaking its head and trying to get up when it was only minutes old. It is always amazing to watch them be born and then get up so quickly.

Milo, one of the men who works for us, put a tag in its ear. All of our cows have numbered tags and we put a matching number in each calf's ear as soon as it is born. That is our method of keeping the cow and her calf together as we move them to different pens and pastures for summer grazing.

January 16, 1998

The day started out cloudy and a little windy but we had planned to work cows so we did. We started at 9 a.m. The local veterinarian checked all the cows to make sure each will have a calf, gave them shots to help make sure the calves are strong when they are born, and poured on liquid on them to prevent lice. Larry and I recorded their tag numbers, replaced tags that were lost and checked their teeth to make sure they still had enough teeth to eat grass. All this helps ensure that the cow can raise a healthy calf. We have not checked the teeth (called mouthing the cows) for a couple of years so we found about 20 that we need to sell. We have pens and alleyways in our barnyard that makes working cattle fairly easy. It took a crew of 6 to make it all work smoothly. One man brings the cows up the ally, another moves them along to the working chute, the veterinarian does the pregnancy test, his helper gives shots, I record numbers, and Larry checks the cow's mouth, replaces tags that are lost and decides if we keep or sell each cow. The veterinarian has a new chute that works with several hydraulic levers; it really makes the whole process much faster and safer. We worked 114 head at home before lunch then the men all went to our second location and worked 90 head after lunch.

I had to leave at 1p.m. to take Krista, Emma, and Chloe to visit another set of grandparents at Junction City, Ks. They will stay with them until Wednesday. I will pick them up and bring them back to WaKeeney on my way home from a board meeting of the Kansas Hospital Association in Topeka.

The day started with sad news, and uncle of mine died about 6 a.m. in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I will leave on Sunday to attend his funeral on Monday. He was 85 years old and will be missed by all who knew him.

January 17, 1998

We had another new calf last night, that makes number 8, and all are doing well. It seems like the combination of our Simmental- Angus cross heifers and the Red Angus bulls are producing healthy calves that are easy for the mothers to have. Our cowherd was primarily Simmental, and then we bred them to Angus bulls, so our young cows are a result of that cross breeding program. We are planning on using all Red Angus bulls next year. We hope that produces calves that will be easy to calve, grow rapidly, and produce the type of beef that consumers will want at the market.


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