Friday, April 17, 2015

Barley by the Banks of Beaver Creek

 The land is large in GriggsDakota. The tractor and drill in the distance appear tiny on the photo above.
In truth the tires on the tractor are about six feet in diameter. It is a big rig when the Case IH 485  is pulling the 40 foot Concord Air Till Drill.  
There is a lot of ground to cover as we seed our barley. The topsoil is dry, but there is moisture about an inch below the surface. We could use a rain. We haven't had one this Spring. It would settle the dust that has collected all Winter. A rain would also warm up the soil and even out the temperature in the ground. There are warm and cold spots in the ground after our long cold Winter. 
But I heard a farmer say the other day that he doesn't pray for rain, he prays for good crops, and so it is in GriggsDakota. We plant with faith that the rain will come.
 As we move closer to Beaver Creek, we spot whitetail deer. They are curious and do not seem startled as the tractor pulls closer to the creek. 
 Through the cab window and field dust that hangs in the air we watch the deer grazing. The creek is low, but there is food and water here.
As the sun sets on another day of seeding barley in GriggsDakota.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The First Spot of Green: Shepherd's Purse

 In GriggsDakota we live in a weedy world. 
 So it is not surprising that the first spots of green in the field are weeds.
 These are shepherd's purse, a winter annual. 
 They are in the mustard family and grow from seeds, germinating in the Fall with the roots living through the Winter. If there had been deep snow cover, with a few warm sunny days following the melt, I would expect the Shepherd's Purse to be ready to bloom. It stakes its claim early in the season.
 Shepherd's Purse is used medicinally.  According to my Internet research, parts of the plant are used for blood related medication and the control of bleeding and bruising. I don't know much about that. My medicine comes in a bottle or a tube. It is tested and approved, with specific dosage directions and is prescribed by a trusted medical professional. 
Reading about the uses of Shepherd's Purse makes me think of the generations of people who, through trial and error,  knew where to start when the process of creating modern medicine was in its infancy.
Around here Shepherd's Purse is  an unwelcome weed providing a welcome spot of green in the fields of GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Spring Brings Calves and the Ag Analyst

The Ag Analyst has been out checking on the new calves. 
 The girl was not born in a barn, does not live near a barn, but never passes up an opportunity to visit a barn. 
 These two are bottle calves and the Ag Analyst is especially delighted to find them in a trailer and tame enough for petting.
 All too soon, the calves grow up into beef cattle. Heifer calves become mother cows in two years. The AgAnalyst herself can remember baby calves that now have calves of their own.
That is way too fast to grow up according to the AgAnalyst in GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring in GriggsDakota

Spring in North Dakota doesn't turn green in a hurry. Can you spot a whitetail deer in the above photo? It takes an eagle eye, but there is one running for the trees in fear.
The whitetail deer is fleeing across the field to the shelter belt. Her coloring will protect her until the leaves return to hide and shelter her.
 Our hard water problem is melted away.
 Sunshine and wind melted away the ice in the lake. Grandpa used to say that the ground will be ready two weeks after the ice melts. We don't follow that very closely anymore. The ground is still cold, but warming quickly as the sun shines.
Butler is once again enjoying the warmth of Spring Days.
Our record low temperatures are now above zero Fahrenheit. That is when it is truly Spring in GriggsDakota. Spring is jacket weather, and often requires a heavy jacket, but we can put our parkas and snowmobile suits away for the season.
 The snow melt this year was paltry. There was no flooding and the mud that formed was mostly caused by recent snow dustings that would cause the ground surface to get sticky.
 The wind is bringing the ice and slush to the shore, but the surface is well down in its banks this year.
 Farmer Fred has begun working in the fields. He started with the Salford RTS.
One pass over the ground chops the old growth on the surface of the field and prepares the seed bed.
 There is now barley seeded here. That is the first crop we put in each year.
 There are ducks swimming in the lake and an eagle flying over at dusk caused them great concern. They took off quickly, quacking wild warnings as they flew.
The eagle is not concerned. There is plenty of other prey in the soft water of GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Valiant March

Before we get started with today's blogpost, let me say that I have missed writing a daily blog post. After running the Farmer Fred Awards in January and February, I found I simply had nothing to share. I attempted, but I could not turn out posts worthy of GriggsDakota. Everything seemed redundant and disconnected. Perhaps I should have shared that with you at the time, but it sounded too dramatic and silly. 
During the past month I have added an updated operating system to my computer. Editing and uploading photos takes twice as long now as I struggle to find the avenues to accomplish each task. I plan to persevere and as the farm work begins this Spring, I hope to post at least a couple of times each week. Thank you for your continued support. I sincerely appreciate those who enjoy GriggsDakota.
March is a Winter month in GriggsDakota.  
The little precipitation we have had, falls as snowflakes. 
 It is what we expect as we march through the long Winter season on the northern plans.
 However, this March gave a valiant effort to rid us of the cold.  We experienced a few warm days mixed among the late winter freezes. 
When the ground has little snow cover, the air is much more likely to warm when the Southern winds blow. 
 As March leaves us this year, snow is hard to find. There is a little hiding in ditches.
There is some snow on the North side of tree rows.
The blackbirds are singing a song of Spring. It sounds like hope to me. 
 A few days of sunshine and Spring seems just around the corner.
 The fields will once again be planted and green.
This year, March has made a valiant effort to change the Winter into Spring in GriggsDakota.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Slow Down

 Every Monday we welcome our daughter Kirsti to blog from her home in Western North Dakota's oil patch.

You've perhaps heard that oil prices are effecting the American Oil Economy. You've heard correctly.

Production (extracting from existing wells) continues, but the drilling of new wells has slowed significantly. 

Once busy drilling rigs are now set in stack out yards for maintenance and storage. These rigs will be kept here until they're needed again. We don't know when that will be.
They're being erected--"rigged up" as they say around here. But not for drilling. At least not anytime soon.
Seeing all these dormant rigs placed next to one another is a bit eerie. You can't help but think of all the employees who are no longer calling North Dakota their home. An active drilling rig supports an average of 75 families--that doesn't include the families supported during the life of the well once drilling is completed.
It's the nature of the industry, ups and downs. When markets are strong you prepare for the rainy days. Much like farming, some times things just don't go as planned.

So yes, there is a slow down in western North Dakota. But much is still as it was. We get up each day, work diligently at the things we can control, and come home in the evening to hot meals and warm beds.  There is much to be thankful for. 

Until next week. -Kirsti

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring. For Now.

 Every Monday we welcome our daughter Kirsti to blog from her home in Western North Dakota's oil patch.

We experienced temperatures over 70 degrees this weekend. Unseasonably warm and very welcome. 


But according to our weather apps, it's not going to last. So we've been savoring it. Lots of walks, time at the parks, running around the yard. And as you can see in the video above, lots of smiles on the swings.

It's been a gift that we're so thankful to enjoy.

Have a great week! -Kirsti

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