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Ehmke Diaries

November 23

After church, we sorted piles of built up mail and papers. Probably could start our own recycling business just with what we generate in paper. Layton had a paintball game scheduled but with a holiday coming most of the boys' plans changed. He ended up at home sorting/cleaning.

The scholars bowl team at the high school will host an invitational tomorrow. Louise made a fruit plate to bring in. Layton is on the team.

Vance did some year-end accounting to get a feel for where we are at on the debt to asset ratio. We decided to pay down some land debt. When farmers buy land they usually borrow money from a long-term lender like Federal Land Bank (FLB). FLB is a co-operative of farmers who pooled their money together many years ago to fund long term debt which means 15, 20,30 years. Short-term debt such as for operating expenses to pay for fuel, equipment, livestock, and crop management items is usually borrowed from local commercial banks. Farmers and accountants often call this operating debt. We need to borrow operating money or capital from the bank when our expenses get bigger than our income. A good example is in the spring when we start fieldwork we'll have expense but no income until we cut wheat in July. The bank uses the growing crop as collateral and maybe machinery. We borrow money from the bank until we cut the wheat, sell it to repay the bank. It is a very important system for the survival of farms. It takes a lot of money to operate a farm and we need the banks to provide that service until we get our crops in. We sell the crops or livestock, pay the debts and when you are out of grain or livestock, we go back to the bank again!! The bank charges us interest to borrow that money. It's just like if you buy a car and need a loan to pay for it.

So we will pay down on our long-term debt. Our short-term debt has already been paid until spring.

November 24

Vance continued to check our cash flow projections. The mules are fine even though it is cold. After piano lessons for Marit who is working on Christmas tunes and when Layton was done, the three of us headed for Garden City to hear a college band--the Concordia College Band of Seward, Nebraska.

Louise also grocery shopped preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner in Wichita and also when feeding the crew at the Ehmke house. Cole and Tanner will meet us at Grandma's house in Wichita.

November 26

The mules get extra ration of hay and corn, as we will leave for a couple of days over Thanksgiving. All of us piled in the car and headed to Grandma Ehmke's house. It is a 4-hour drive to Wichita down Highway 96.

Great to get to grandma's. The boys from KSU arrived Tuesday. We will watch the weather closely as rain changing to sleet and snow could cut our visit short.

We did visit some friends who have a new baby--the Schmieds. It was great to seem them in their new home in Wichita.

November 27

Weather is holding. Got the potato dish baked to take to Vance's brother's home for our festive dinner. Most of the cousins will be together so we are pleased to go there 26. Had a great dinner. Vance had his first experience on the Internet!! We searched for farm topics like triticale information.

Uncle Forrest has lots of rabbits for their 4-H projects. The cousins Jeanette and Laura showed Marit the rabbits. Of course that is the new project Marit would like to start. But we will try bucket calf this year.

Sounds like the weather is starting to get nasty so we head for home. Plus we really do need to feed the mules and dogs.

Both cars arrived home about 9 p.m. All was well. We did get some rain. That is the best gift for farmers on the high plains in western Kansas. Our wheat usually needs a rain.

November 28

The boys are enjoying the farm. Cole went out walking as well as grooming the mules. He is the main muleskinner! The others slept in, watched movies. It did rain some more. We received about .40 altogether.

Vance did some more budget planning for next year. There is some land for sale ---320 acres nearby. We are thinking about buying it. It is very good cropland with the best soil (Harney) and the worst---a beautiful grass rocky pasture that is only good for livestock grazing. In current language it is called "walk around ground". For us, we would ride our mules on it or perhaps rent it to a farmer who has cattle.

This kind of discussion calls for a family meeting. Each kid puts in his opinion after Vance explains the details how it would affect the cash flow, size of farm, long term debt. We will probably make a bid for it.

Our family helped with the lighting of the city lights. We manned the hot dog fire pit in Dighton. It was cold and fun!!! Sure gets you in the holiday spirit.

November 29

Vance and the boys tried to repair a yard light using the scoop on the little tractor. But the light socket itself is damaged--it is quite old and probably needs a new socket.

Our barber is in Scott City --Tanner and Layton drove over there, which is 20 miles. And they both got butchered!! There's a new barber in the shop. Luckily it will grow out.

Layton went out hunting for pheasant. He got two but then could not find them in the milo stubble.

Louise started packing for the Kansas Association of Wheatgrowers convention that will start on Sunday evening. Layton and Marit will hold down the farm. She also had to prepare for her Wheatheart meeting and the Wheatmania report---like make agendas, find the support data, list of activities for the year.

We all stayed at home enjoying popcorn and TV as well as some rummy. Tanner also played the piano. He misses it at college. Both he and Layton played their guitars. Sure is great to hear them.

Since it was too wet to do much outside, Cole and Layton set up their collections of Star Wars. Layton also spent hours building a helicopter model. Rainy days are the best for getting hobby work done, playing games!