The Evolution of a Modern-Day Farm Wife

Posts tagged ‘kim baldwin blog’

Snow Days & Sun Dogs

Although school is back in session for me today, I was home the last two days since school was closed due to the weather.

I must admit that the wife, mother, and teacher in me LOVES snow days because I get to help Adam around the farm while including Banks in all of the action.

On Tuesday it snowed all day long.

But just because the schools were closed didn’t mean we got to stay inside watching movies and sipping hot chocolate while staying wrapped in our blankets all day.

The cattle still needed checked and fed.

Snow?? You don't say!

Snow?? You don’t say!

The girls had been fed extra hay the evening before the storm blew in, but they were still happy to get their corn silage for breakfast.

Bellied up to the bunk and chowing down.

Bellied up to the bunk and chowing down.

They also got a little extra to top off their breakfast in the form of range cubes.

And if you know our cattle, you know they LOVE range cubes.

Some extra goodies for the girls in the form of range cubes.

Adding some extra goodies for the girls in the form of range cubes.

Once the girls were chowing down, Dwight did a walkthrough to check on everyone to make sure they were all healthy and not showing signs of calving.

Wellness check.

Wellness check.

After the cattle were fed we were able to go inside and Banks was able to show Dwight his latest favorite YouTube video called What Does the Farmer Say? by Kansas farmer Derek Klingenberg.

Let me show you how to do it, Grandpa.

Let me show you how to do it, Grandpa.

Seriously, if Klingenberg is making any money on his videos by the number of times played on Youtube, the Baldwin household is making major contributions.

We know the words.

ALL of the words.

On Wednesday, the snow had stopped falling, but it was cold and windy and the cattle still needed fed.

So we loaded up and busted through drifts to get to them.

The bunks needed shoveled out.

Adam shoveling snow.

Adam shoveling snow.

Once the girls saw Adam scooping out the snow, they knew what would be coming next.

Hey, you missed a spot.

Hey, you missed a spot.

The sun made it a bright morning, but the wind still made it very, very cold.

A really cool thing that we were able to see Wednesday morning was something called sun dogs.

Sun dogs in the Kansas sky.

Sun dogs in the Kansas sky.

It’s one of those things I’m thankful for snow days for…otherwise I would have probably missed it.

It lasted about an hour Wednesday morning.

According to the weatherman, these sun dogs come from ice crystals in the atmosphere that act as prisms and refract light.  Apparently it happens during very cold weather.

Scientific explanation or not, it was a sight I had never seen before.

Feeding cows wasn’t the only thing we did during my snow days.

We were also able to enjoy the snow.

Banks slid down our “hill” for the first time.



He loved it!

He also loved eating two bowls of snow.

And a side of snow to go with my snow.

And a side of snow to go with my snow.

I know farmers and ranchers would rather it not snow because it makes choring and calving a lot more pleasant, but I must confess that I sure do appreciate a good snow day or two.


Makeshift Snow Shoes

It’s freezing outside today.


It’s also blowing which makes it feel even colder.

Like -12 degrees cold.


It also snowed last night.

Everything is covered in about 3 inches of snow.

It’s really pretty…until you go outside.

Even the birds are trying to stay warm today.

Angry Bird (Baldwin Farms Edition) Hand over the dog food and nobody gets hurt.

Angry Bird (Baldwin Farms Edition): Hand over the dog food and nobody gets hurt.

So with the below freezing temperatures plus the wind, we’ve decided to spend as much time indoors today.

I’ve been organizing a lot of photographs I’ve shot over the last 6 months or so.

Man, I take a lot of pictures.

Anyway, I was looking at some photos from two weeks ago when it snowed just before Christmas.

Banks does not have snow boots, but the temperatures were warm enough that we just had to get him in the snow.

So what do you do when your kid doesn’t have snow shoes?

If you’re me, you improvise and use plastic grocery bags from a recent shopping trip.

My name is Banks.  My parents didn't think I needed snow shoes this year.  Now look at me.

My parents didn’t think I needed snow shoes this year. Now look at me.

Banks didn’t seem to care much about what he had covering his feet.

He just thought the snow was pretty cool.

Luckily my daddy made a path for me with the tractor.

Luckily my daddy made a path for me with the tractor.

When we set him down on the snow he decided to take off and explore.

This is pretty cool stuff!

This is pretty cool stuff, man!

He’s a pretty independent little guy.

Banks, be careful!

WHOA!! This is pretty cold stuff, man!!

WHOA!! This is pretty cold stuff, man!!

A face full of snow didn’t seen to phase him though.

In fact, he went out past the tractor tracks–with the help of his daddy.

Let's do this more.

This is awesome!!  Let’s do this more often, man!

We didn’t stay outside for very long.

In fact, when we said it was time to go inside, Banks tried to get away.

I want to stay and play!

I want to stay and play!

I guess the kid thought that wearing two layers of socks, two layers of pants, two layers of shirts, mittens, beanie, jacket, shoes, and his double bags on each foot deemed him extra time outside.

Who would’ve thought a double layer of plastic grocery bags tied to a kid’s legs would make a little boy so happy?!?

All Farm Dogs Go To Heaven

When you introduce your home and your family to a cute, furry ball of energy, you rarely think about that animal’s final days.

As that puppy grows and chews through everything, it’s lucky to be alive some days after destroying shoes, furniture, gardens and a variety of other items only a cute, little pup can get away with destroying.

As the puppy continues to grow and mature it becomes a faithful, trusted companion.

And it’s only when that old companion begins to slow down do you begin to think of what’s next.

In fact, you pray that you won’t have to see him suffer and have to make the decision of doing what’s best for him.

You hope that in his old age, when it is his time to go, that he’ll just go peacefully.

Die of old age after living a long, good life.

This is the story of Tucker.

Tucker the Wonder Dog

Tucker the Wonder Dog

I didn’t know Tucker when Dwight and Cindy brought him home.

I wasn’t even in the picture yet.

But from stories, I know Tucker was such a small ball of red and white fur that you could fit him in your hand.

By the time I came along Tucker had survived his youth on the farm–something not every pup can do.

He’d avoided getting run over by farm equipment, kicked by cattle, bitten by snakes, killed by coyotes, and running off to fall in love.

Tucker had made it to adulthood against all odds.

After all, he liked riding on the farm equipment, chasing and nipping cattle, torturing snakes, fighting coyotes, and crossing busy roads to make, Ahem, “love connections”–with a registered Bull Mastiff, none the less!

After a trip to the vet, Tucker decided to sever his ties with his female friend and stayed closer to home focussing his attention on his jobs.

We've got a job to do before the storm!

We’ve got a job to do before the storm!

Tucker loved his jobs.

He obsessed over his jobs.

Luckily for Tucker, his jobs and his obsessions were one in the same.

Tucker’s sole purpose in life was to keep the cattle in line and to irrigate fields.

Tucker felt it was always necessary to let the cattle know who was “The Boss” on Baldwin Farms.

He felt cattle needed to be constantly reminded of this fact.



These are my cows and I tell them what to do.

Who’s the boss?  I’m The Boss!  Get it right, cows!

Whether cattle were being unloaded from trailers, being fed in the bunks, being chased back into their pastures, or being worked, Tucker’s job was to remind those cattle that he had supreme reign over them.

During certain times of the year Tucker would have to be put in the house so the calves could be worked peacefully without getting reprimanded by Tucker.

If Tucker was put inside and something was being done with his cows WITHOUT him, Tucker would whine and cry and mope and let everyone in the vicinity know that he was being denied his basic rights.

If the cattle weren’t needing to be ruled over, Tucker would switch his focus to irrigating the fields.

Tucker allowed Dwight to ride the four-wheeler with him to get to the irrigation.

After all, what lowly beast would actually walk to the irrigation?

Not Tucker!

Photo by Troy Wedel

Photo by Troy Wedel

Tucker would be faithfully by Dwight or Adam’s side as they would open and close gates allowing the water to flood the corn or beans.

Good job, boy!  You're doing it right!

Good job, boy! You’re doing it right!

Tucker oversaw the flow and control of the water.

I'm Tucker

I’m Tucker

Whether it was morning or night, he always insisted on testing the water by plopping his hairy body into a furrow or two and subsequently causing people like me to run far away from him when he emerged in order to avoid the inevitable showering of mud.

Come on in, the water's great!

Come on in, the water’s great!

It was also mostly during his times irrigating that Tucker also tried his hardest to control the wild toad population.  If it hopped, Tucker couldn’t resist torturing and eventually killing toads.

Even though the toads would make Tucker’s mouth froth, and he’d drool incessantly, Tucker just couldn’t resist them.

He was obsessed.

I think I see a toad!!

I think I see a toad!!

If you couldn’t find Tucker near the cattle or irrigation, you could usually find him napping near the air conditioner while gracing Cindy with his presence.  When Cindy worked in her office, Tucker would usually be at her feet waiting until the mailman or the  Schwan’s man stopped by the farm to gift him a treat.

Tucker was an absolute part of our family.  He was always nearby, if not underneath, the dinner table waiting for Dwight to toss him a sampling of the meal.

Tucker tolerated Rowan, Eli, and Banks.  The only time he’d intentionally approach the little boys was when they dropped food on the floor or when they had one of his chew toys.  Tucker’s response in both situations was to scoop it up quickly and then to get just out of their reach.

All of the boys--including Tucker.

All of the boys–including Tucker.

Tucker loved playing catch with anything that was thrown, but refused to let it go once he brought it back to his human.  He enjoyed a good game of tug, and would usually prevail.

Tucker didn’t live a life of luxury.  He slept where he wanted to sleep–usually on the wooden floor or the pebbles near where the cars are parked.

He never experienced a dog park, a gourmet doggie treat, or a Christmas sweater.

I doubt he ever made a trip to get his hair professionally done–even though he needed it at times.

He was a simple, hard working farm dog.

Safety first...and to avoid the truck from beeping.

Safety first…and to avoid the truck from beeping.

If he had Dwight to drive him around, Cindy to keep him fed, some water to lay in, some cattle to reprimand, and a snake or coyote to cross his path on occasion for added excitement, Tucker was happy.

Some people say animals don’t go to heaven after they die.

I’m not sure where I stand on that topic.

I just hope that one day we all find out for ourselves if they are there or not.

But one thing is for certain today:  Life on the farm for Tucker was heaven.

tuck and dwight in truck

Well done, Tuck.  Well done.

All (little) Hands On Deck…

Everyone is here now to help get the 2013 wheat crop harvested.

My sister-in-law, Emily, and her sons arrived Sunday morning to help with harvest.

Rowan, Emily’s oldest son, was caught off guard last week when he was told over the phone that we had started wheat harvest.

All this little boy needs is a field of wheat, a combine and a bottle of water.

All this little boy needs is a field of wheat, a combine and a bottle of water.

He later told his mom, “Mom, they can’t start wheat harvest yet!”

When Emily asked him why they couldn’t start, Rowan replied, “They can’t harvest wheat yet! I’m not there!”

Emily had to assure Rowan that there would be plenty of wheat for him to cut once they did arrive.

Rowan has grown up in the combines.

Rowan watching Uncle Adam and Grandpa hook up the wheat header on one of the combines.

Rowan watching Uncle Adam and Grandpa hook up the wheat header on one of the combines.

He takes a special interest in wheat harvest.

Rowan takes a look at some straw.

Rowan takes a look at some straw.

There have been days when that little boy has climbed into the cab at the start of the day and not come inside until it’s long past his bedtime.

Come on, Uncle Adam, let's go cut some wheat!

Come on, Uncle Adam, let’s go cut some wheat!

If he needs to, he’ll take catnaps in the seat right next to his grandpa or Uncle Adam.

You can’t get him out of the machines.

Technically you can get him out to eat or to conference, but other than that he’s perfectly content.

Taking a short break from the combine to eat.

Taking a short break from the combine to eat.

He watches and takes in everything.

A serious discussion.

A serious discussion.

Luckily, Adam and Dwight have allowed him to be part of the harvest experience.

A serious discussion taking place.

A serious discussion taking place.

I really believe that if his legs were long enough, Rowan could probably operate a combine or the grain cart because of the shear number of hours this 5-year-old has put in over the years.

One of Rowan’s special jobs while in the combine is to operate the unloading auger.

When it’s time to unload the wheat into a grain cart, Rowan is responsible for getting the auger arm out and letting the wheat unload into the grain cart.

It’s a very important job.

Those buttons need to be handled with precision.

It’s no surprise that Rowan has been in the combines every chance he’s had since they arrived here on Sunday.

He was ready to cut wheat.

And luckily for him, there’s still plenty of wheat that needs to be cut.

Now that Rowan has arrived, we have a full crew and we can NOW get the rest of the wheat harvested!

Fire Up The Combines, Boys!

It’s time to harvest the wheat in central Kansas!

After waiting as patiently as possible, the guys decided to run a test cut yesterday afternoon.  We had visited with others–and even received a text from a student–the day before saying their wheat samples were in the 15% moisture range.

That was still too high.

Based on the 2013 wheat discount schedule for our local elevators we want our wheat to have a moisture percentage between 13.51% to 14.0% to avoid being docked.

2013 Wheat Discount Schedule

2013 Wheat Discount Schedule

You’ll notice that we can also be docked for other factors like the test weight or if there is rye in the load.

So yesterday afternoon we sent a combine into one of the fields to run a test cut.

There sure was a lot of traffic on this dirt road!

There sure was a lot of traffic on this dirt road!

Cutting some wheat.

Getting a test cutting of some wheat.

Dwight, Adam, Banks and I then took the sample to the Groveland elevator to find out if it was “go time” yet.

Is it go time?

Is it go time?



They ran the sample and gave us this…


Moisture at 13.2%.  IT’S GO TIME!!

So we went home and started cutting the wheat.

We stopped to eat our evening meal and then loaded up a truck to send to the elevator.

Getting ready to go to the elevator.

Getting ready to go to the elevator.

Dave and Logan delivered the first load to the elevator.

Weighing out

Dave and Logan driving onto the scales to weigh out.

After getting weighed out, they received the scale ticket.


Getting the information we all want.

Well, what does it say?

Well, what does it say?


Here’s a close up.

The first load of wheat from Baldwin Farms was delivered to the elevator on…

Drum roll, please.

…Thursday, June 20 at 8:00 pm.

Thus, wheat harvest has begun!!

Congratulations to Troy W. who guessed the closest to the actual time of delivery.

Troy guessed that the first load would be on June 20th at 7:15 pm.

He even went a step further and said he thought we would have 13.75% moisture with a test weight of 60.

Pretty darn close, Troy!!

Pretty darn close.


Since Troy lives next to the field that we cut yesterday–and was possibly watching while we were cutting :)–I’ll save postage and hand deliver him some muffin mix.

I’ll ALSO be sending some wheat based goodies from The Old Muffin Factory to Sheena B. who was the second closest with her guess that we’d make our first delivery on Friday, June 21 at 1:37 pm.

Sheena, I’ll be contacting you to see where you’d like me to send your goodies to.


Good job, everyone!

And thanks for playing Guess and Wait.

That was fun!

I hope you felt the same level of anticipation I have every year leading up to wheat harvest.

Keep checking back with Alive & Well in Kansas to stay up-to-date with our 2013 wheat harvest.

If you haven’t already, feel free to subscribe to Alive & Well in Kansas.

You’ll get blog updates sent directly to your email–so you can enjoy harvest in a quasi-dust-free and air conditioned environment.

All you have to do is enter your email address under the email subscription located at the top of every post.


It’s that simple!

Until next time!!


The countdown has begun for the 2013 wheat harvest on Baldwin Farms.

Everyone is anxiously awaiting the day when we will begin cutting wheat in central Kansas.

Green wheat

Green wheat

Over the last few weeks, the wheat fields have transformed from beautiful, lush greens to amazing, dry, honey-yellows.

Green wheat just a few weeks ago being treated by a crop duster.

Lush, green wheat just a few weeks ago being treated by a crop duster.

Ripening wheat

Ripening wheat

It’s a definite sign that harvest is right around the corner.

Based on what I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter today, wheat harvest is in full swing in some south central Kansas locations and some wheat samples were delivered to an elevator in eastern McPherson County yesterday.

But it’s not quite ready for us just yet.

So we prepare and wait.

I’ve started scouring the grocery sale ads looking for good deals and have started baking cookies to help provide snacks to our harvest crew once we do start cutting.

The first batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.

The first batch of oatmeal raisin cookies.

My mother-in-law has been working to get all of her publications completed and mailed before the wheat is cut.

The guys have been busy trying to get the soybeans and milo 100% planted before harvest while also servicing equipment in preparation for the busy, busy time that is upon us.

Planting soybeans

Planting soybeans

Atop the air seeder

Atop the air seeder

Getting the milo in the ground

Getting the milo in the ground

We are all watching the weather, checking in with folks south of us to get their harvest reports, and taking friendly bets as to when we will officially start harvesting.

Adam and I were discussing over dinner last night that the anticipation of wheat harvest is a lot like waiting for Christmas morning to arrive:

You can speculate, you can predict, you can send positive thoughts, and you can snoop all you want through your parents’ bedroom to try and find out what you are getting.

But until you unwrap the gifts, you just don’t know for sure.

That’s where we are at.

You hope for high yields but you never know what you’re going to get until you start cutting.

You can take information and experiences from previous years to speculate, but you won’t know for sure until you start cutting.

All we know for sure is that we have a lot of wheat heads.

Hard Red Winter Wheat

Hard Red Winter Wheat

That could be good because a lot of wheat heads means there’s potential for a lot of wheat kernels.

But, considering the crazy weather we had this spring–that luckily didn’t kill the wheat–there might not be kernels in all of the heads.

You can go out into the fields and thresh wheat heads in your hands to get an idea of how many kernels you might be dealing with, but each field varies.

Checking wheat heads. circa 2011

Checking wheat heads. circa 2011

Each area varies.

So we wait…

…As patiently as possible.

And now it’s time to let you get in on our friendly little game of Guess and Wait.

When do you think we will begin cutting wheat on Baldwin Farms this year?

The rules are simple:

  • 1.  In the comment section below, enter the date and time (Central Standard Time, please) you think we will get our first load of wheat delivered to the elevator.  Note:  I’ll show proof of delivery from our scale ticket.
  • 2.  One entry per person.
  • 3.  Entry must be submitted by 8:00 am (CST) Friday, June 21, 2013.
  • 4.  The winner will receive a nice little shipment of wheat based goodies from The Old Muffin Factory located in McPherson, Kansas.

Happy guessing and happy waiting!

Now we’re all in the same boat together.

You’re welcome.


Ice Ice Baby

I wore a pair of my peep toe heels to school on Tuesday.

It was the first time I didn’t wear stockings or socks since, well…2012.

I figured it was time to officially welcome spring by showing off my painted toes.

After all, corn planting was in full swing…

Fire up the tractors, boys!

Fire up the tractors, boys!

It's time to plant the corn in central Kansas!

It’s time to plant the corn in central Kansas!

The apricot trees had started to bloom…

Apricot blooms

Apricot blooms–I can taste that fresh fruit already!

The flowers in the yard started springing up…

The first daffodil of 2013

The first daffodil of 2013

Pretty purples...

Pretty purples…

…and started blooming, too.

Blooms in spring

Pretty pinks…

Pretty yellows...

Pretty yellows…

Besides, I figured since everything was starting to bloom– and after last week’s freak snow– spring was right around the corner.

As in right around the corner by hours.

Or maybe a few days at the most.

Remember how I mentioned that it snowed last week?

Well…it ICED today.

Yes, ICE in APRILl!!

Technically it started last night and kept going for the majority of today.

Luckily, Adam put the vehicles in the shop last night.

Well…at least my vehicle.

When I went outside this morning to get my car warmed before leaving for school this is what I found…


Pretty purples encased in ice…

Apricot blossoms

Apricot blossoms…


Encased in ice.

To be honest, I’m surprised we still have power.

Lines are down all over the county.

Ice can get pretty heavy.

Busted tree


...and broken.

…and broken.

It made for a slow drive to and from school today, too.

Slick road

Slick road

I am thankful for the much needed moisture we’ve received from this storm.

I’m also praying the wheat is ok.

We can survive without our farm fresh apricots for a year.

We need the wheat to pay the bills.

And by the looks of things around here…



There’s a pretty solid coat of ice on everything right now.

I think it’d be smart to put my peep toes away for a few more days, too.

In fact, I’m planning on digging out the socks for tomorrow!

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