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Stoskopf Diaries

July 21, 1997

Wayne and Dean walked Georgie out into the pasture tonight and let her loose with the cowherd. She fits right in with the cows here at home. There's Casey and Cosette (1996 4-H bucket calves who will have their first calves next February), Splatter and Starry (1995 4-H bucket calves who had their first calves last February), and Ginger (a cow that is a daughter of Amanda, Julie's first 4-H bucket calf in 1993). Needless to say, it's a pretty tame herd. Starry is Wayne's favorite cow, as she will still come up to be petted.

July 23, 1997

Julie and Wayne went to a 4-H Horticulture Judging Team practice tonight. They're learning to identify all kinds of tree leaves, seeds, flowers, vegetables, etc. Julie will be able to compete at the Kansas State Fair 4-H Horticulture Judging Contest this year. Wayne will have to wait a year to try out for the team but he's really into learning all about plants and trees.

July 24, 1997

Dean made me take a break from cleaning house to go with him to put a bull back into a pasture. Post Rock likes to jump over fences and eat the green stuff outside the pasture. I had to laugh when we drove up and he was laying down right at the gate, waiting for Dean to open it up so he could walk right in. We have three Red Angus bulls and really like the calves that they're producing.

This has been the hottest week of the summer! The 100 degree (or more) heat combines with high humidity levels to make it really miserable outside. The milo (grain sorghum) is starting to droop from the high temperatures. We really need rain to cool things down and give the plants the moisture to continue growing.

July 25, 1997

The guys separated the bulls from the cowherds this morning and put all the bulls into one pasture together. By now, all the cows should be pregnant. Our goal is to start calving around the tenth of February, with most of the calves coming in February and March. We usually sell the calves in the fall. We'll keep back a few steers to choose next year's 4-H Market Steer from and we'll also keep back some heifer calves. Georgie, Wayne's bucket calf, and the other heifer calves will be replacements for any cows we sell.

We've finished working all the wheat ground at least once - the fields that we harvested wheat from in June and July and that will be planted back to wheat in September. Now, we'll wait until the wheat and weed seeds have sprouted to work the wheat ground again. There's always a little wheat that falls out of the heads or goes through the combine and ends up back on the ground. It's called volunteer wheat because it's not planted but comes up on it's own. The volunteer wheat can carry diseases and takes moisture and nutrition away from the wheat seeds planted this fall so it's important to kill as much of it as possible before we plant wheat in September.

Even without much rain, the weeds are starting to grow on the ground that will be fallow - not planted until next spring or the following fall. Some of this ground will be undercut. The undercutter has huge V-shaped blades that slide under the top of the ground and cut off the roots of the weeds. The top of the ground doesn't look all chopped up, like where we disc, but the weeds aren't growing and taking all the available moisture out of the ground. With our limited rainfall, it's very important to conserve that soil moisture for the next crop that is grown on that ground.

Planning which crops will be grown - and where and when - is Dean's job. Before wheat harvest starts, he has to have a pretty clear idea of which fields will be planted to wheat that fall and which fields will be planted to milo the next spring. Since milo is planted in June and harvested in October or November, those fields can't be planted to wheat until almost a year after milo harvest. It gets pretty complicated at times - balancing crops so that each landowner has income each year, there's enough wheat seed saved during wheat harvest, and the right fields are ready to plant at planting time. Sometimes, the decisions are complicated by the weather, as in the muddy spots that we haven't been able to drive a tractor through yet. Other things happen, too, like the wheat field fire which made it necessary to plant wheat on that field in September. Without the wheat plants to hold the soil in place, the topsoil (most productive dirt) on that field would probably blow away this winter or next spring.

July 26, 1997

It's 105 degrees today - and the thermometer inside the machine shed reads 100 degrees. Since that's where we'll be having the Crawdad Feed tonight; the guys have had to clean the shed up despite the heat. This is the 18th Annual Crawdad Feed - really just an excuse for all of us to get together towards the end of summer and take the time to visit and catch up with our friends and neighbors. Everyone brings food and lawn chairs. The neighbors bring down their volleyball net and set it up and we cook mountain oysters, corn on the cob, and sometimes, even crawdads (crayfish). It pushes us to get everything cleaned up and looking good - in the house, in the yard, and out in the machine shed. Then we can sit back and relax for the rest of the summer - school starts in less than 3 weeks!

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