Monday, July 30, 2012

Outstanding in their fields....

Last week my cousin Alicia made the comment that she was "out standing in a field"....

And then she posted a picture of her in a soybean field.

Even though the joke is old, it still makes me laugh.

Farmers here in Umatilla County are some of the best wheat farmers there are, and it's easy to say they're outstanding in their fields....

but right now, they really are "out standing in their fields".

LOL - it still cracks me up.

Ok, ok...I'll spare you my own slap-knee humor.

Harvest is still going on strong, and the yields are still holding up.

There's much to be thankful for in our little part of the world!

2012 Barley - It's almost ready for harvest!

Wheat harvest in Pendleton
These deer really were "out standing in a field"!

Wheat harvest in Pilot Rock, OR

A truck waits for a combine to dump wheat.

Soon the bins will be full!

Monday, July 23, 2012

The risk, release & reward.

Have you ever helped flood irrigate?


I hadn't ever until last year.

It still gets me how something as small - and as simple - as a few 1x4's, or a piece of plywood and a tarp can be rigged to hold back a mass of water so great that it builds and then spills over the sides bringing new life to pastures or crops.

But that also, in a matter of a few seconds, and with a few pulls - it can all be released?

That moment when the boards are pulled, and the pressure of the water is released and it all just floods away.... 

The ranch Clint works for irrigates a majority of their pastures using a ditch and flood irrigation.  The water is diverted out of the Umatilla River at the East end of the ranch.  It runs through a course of canals, ditches and diversions and after soaking through pastures and fields, it ultimately makes it's way back into the Umatilla River at the NW end of the ranch.

Recently, Double M has opened their own flood gates, and stepped out on a limb to be a "guinea pig" as Mike explained to the camera crew that visited earlier this month.

They've changed their diversion dam in the Umatilla - and are one of the first and only landowners in a major tributary of the Columbia River to do so.  The goal was to create a partnership.

One in which the river flourishes, the land and ranch flourishes and the wildlife and fish flourish.

Mike & Jack pulled the boards, and let the camera crew ask whatever they wanted. 

And in the nicest way possible - their answers pretty much floored me.

These are two guys that don't look for the limelight.

But when asked - they delivered.

Without needing retakes, they flooded the crew with passionate and eloquent belief about the why's and the how come's and the what for's.

I can't claim to understand the details or the ramifications that this new system of delivering water to the ranch from the river brings. 

But I can understand that sometimes;

To reap big rewards -

you have to take big risks.


So what happens if we trigger our own release?

What would happen if we pulled the tarps and quit playing it safe?

Or maybe we need to put a few boards in place so that we can build goodness around us?

If instead of bottling anger and comparison, we flooded others with compliments and kindness?



I guess the only way to find out is to let the flooding begin.... 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


The sun may rise in the East;

- but here in Umatilla County

The wheat harvest begins in the West.

Combines have been rolling across our dryland acres since last week, massive headers and shiny machines raking through amber waves of grain, pulling in yields that have allowed many farmers to loosen their grip on the budgeting pencil.

Our farmers are thankful for the yields they're seeing.

Many across our country won't even get to see their combines enter the field.

Drought, high temperatures and scorched crops are prevalent across many of America's cropland acres.

Our farmers here realize how lucky they are. 

Drought is not an unfamiliar word to a Umatilla County dryland wheat farmer. Many years, it's written across the pages of crop disaster applications and insurance claims. But thankfully, for this part of the world, it looks like it won't be this year.

While we've recently seen our fair share of weird weather;
golf ball sized hail, pelting rain and torrential wind;
And while there's still thousands of acres to be put in the bin yet - 
 so far, the combines have kept rolling on.

Here's to a continued, and bountiful harvest.

- Wheat Harvest 2012 -


"There's nothing quite like the cadence of the wind across the wheat."


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sizzling in Connell.

 If you were to enter a battle
 where you were outnumbered
10 to 1

Would you go?


Kids that show cattle do. 

These kids work with cattle that can end up weighing 10 times their weight so that when show day comes around, they can successfully show up to the ring as a team.

Their daily work and persistence matters; 
halter breaking, feeding, grooming, training hair, rinsing, prepping, practicing.

The pay off moment happens when they enter the ring confidently guiding their calf with their right hand, show stick firmly in place in the left.

The Washington Jr. Charolais Association hosted the Summer Sizzle last weekend in Connell, WA and asked Clint to judge the 2-day show.  I went up with him on Sunday, and brought my camera along so I could take a few pictures of the heifer show and showmanship.

While I didn't know many of the kids who were showing, you don't have to know know one.

These were cattle kids - and they showed up ready to win the battle.

And I just have to say this - there's a lot of power a person can have when they're critiquing youth. 

Especially when you have a microphone and attentive audience.

But I was sure proud to be the wife of the judge on Sunday as he gave his reasons at the end of every class.  I am continually amazed at how Clint can find multiple positive attributes - even when they're placed last - to tell a child about themselves and their cattle, while still accurately describing the cattle or showmanship style. 

Congratulations to all of the kids who brought their cattle, and showed their hearts out.

You are the future of the beef industry - and it sure is fun to get to watch you be successful!

 All pictures from the day here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The beauty around us.

Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces.  Smell the rain, and feel the wind.  Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.  ~Ashley Smith

Friday, July 13, 2012

Preg Checking.

I have a great work schedule, and it allows for me to have every other Friday off.  I enjoy spending these days with Clint, and since the ranch was preg checking heifers today, I got to tag along.

Dave Rademacher, DVM was pregging this morning and their vet clinic utilizes an ultrasound machine when they're in a location that has accessible power.  The ultrasound machine allowed him and his tech to capture a picture so they could measure the fetus, and determine it's age based on size.

Each heifer that came through the chute got a call - 12-6, 13-2, 9-4, etc, that Patsy would record.  The call stands for how old the fetus is in weeks and days - 12-6 meant 12 weeks, 6 days old, etc.  Later, this information will get recorded and entered into software that helps keep track of each animal in the herd, and will be used to sort the heifers into groups as they get closer to calving.

Reproduction management in a beef cattle herd is key - without heifers and cows that have calves, a ranch as a business doesn't make money.  The sooner you can get your heifers and cows bred, and the closer they're bred together, usually results in a larger and more uniform calf at weaning.  Obviously, a bigger calf at weaning means a bigger pay check for the rancher.  But uniformity is important too - cattle buyers like to buy cattle that are about the same size, so that they're easier to feed and manage in the feedlot, and a tight breeding season (45-60 days) helps facilitate calf uniformity.

Because it's been so hot lately, the Double M crew started preg checking early this morning.  Starting when it's still cool in the morning is less stressful on the cattle....and on the people too!  It was a great morning, and by 8:30, the ultrasound machine was packed away, the heifers were sent down the road to a new pasture and the rest of us were off to tackle the day!