Monthly Archives: June 2013

How Big is that Field?

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time figuring out how much fertilizer and/or seed I need for my fields. With the price of seed and fertilizer being high these days, I wanted a more accurate estimate of the amount of material I really needed. If you have a similar problem or just need to know how big a particular area is, there is an easy way to do that from the comfort of your home. Google Earth is a free download that has a lot of neat features; one of which allows you to measure any area you choose. After you download it to your computer, you will see something like this.

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Up in the top left corner you will see a search bar where you can type in your city or address. For this example I’ll use my hometown of Cushing.

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When you click the search button it will zoom in and drop a pin in the center of Cushing. You will be able to see roads and landmarks, and it allows you to click and drag to the exact area you want to measure. For our example, I’ll pick a random field north of town by the river and click and drag until I’m over that area.

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Now you can zoom in using the plus and minus bar on the right, and drag then to get the field in the center of your screen.

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Now that we have our field all zoomed in tight where we can see it, we just need to activate the measuring line. Up in the top tool bar you’ll see an icon that looks like a ruler.

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Click on the ruler and this dialogue box will come up. You’ll have some choices, and I will choose line since I have a rectangular field and I want to know length and width for acres. Path would allow you to plot several points around an area and would give you that distance.

Next, with your mouse click at one end of the field, then move it to the other end and click, and you will have your length.

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The yellow line represents  the area you have chosen to measure; in this case it’s 2502 feet.

Now we need a width, and we are almost finished measuring our field (in the 100 degree heat: fighting tall grass, mosquitoes and a roller wheel or measuring tape). Whew, I need a glass of tea!

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Click at both points as before, and we have our width of 740 feet. Now all we have to do is multiply 2502 x740, which is 1,851,480 square feet and then divide that by 43,560 square feet per acre, which gives us 42.5 acres in this field. As trees grow or streams change course (or if you rent a lot of land like I do) this can be a very handy tool, and it’s all free to use. How does that old saying go… measure twice, buy the correct amount of seed once? Or something like that.

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Cowboys, Sisters and Mules

Well now that’s an interesting title!  When I was about 9 years old my cousin acquired a mule, and word quickly got around that no one could ride her. My sister (who I trusted with my life) and I devised a plan to not only ride the mule, but tame her down where anybody could easily catch her and ride her with ease in a matter of hours. We went down to my cousin’s house, and they already had her caught. We proceeded to saddle her and put a bit in her mouth, which all went pretty well. Next the plan was for me to get in the saddle. My sister was going to lead her around until she was ready and then hand me the reins. Now the bridle we were using was evidently shipped over on the Mayflower and had considerable deterioration do to its age. I got on, and Becky (my sister) was holding the reins. All was going according to the plan, and I had just picked up the off stirrup when the mule pulled back hard. As Becky braced herself, one shank of the bit snapped right in half. For a split second we all looked at the broken bit, and fear started to rise in both of us. Did you know that fear has a smell? It does, and mules are keenly aware of it! Next the mule slung her head hard to the side, and the other rein snapped off right next to the shank. Note: always check your gear to make sure it’s in good repair. Now the mule was starting to implement her own plan as she took off in a dead run down the driveway. When she came to the end of the drive she banked hard to the left and headed toward the main road with me in tow. My sister and my aunt were running after me; one was yelling “hang on!” and the other was yelling “jump off!”. Their house was on a dead end road, so imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw a semi truck coming down the middle of the road toward me and the mule. The mule was in the middle of the road also, and the thought occurred to me that she was playing chicken with the semi. Now at a canter or a trot mules are rough and bouncy to ride, but at a full run down a gravel road they are actually pretty smooth, just in case you ever need to know that. I was trying to decide how much time I had before impact when for some reason I dropped the stirrups and pulled my feet up like a jockey. Then the truck driver laid on his air horn like maybe I didn’t see him or something, and I jumped. I went right, the mule went left, and the semi came rolling on right down the middle and just kept on going. The guy was probably laughing so hard he couldn’t find the brakes. Did I mention that my aunt took driving lessens from Mario Andretti? Well, I’m laying in the ditch trying to figure out which direction is up, and then I hear the V-8 in her pick-up scream to life as she came sideways around the corner of the drive without slowing down. Well as she is fast approaching and still fishtailing in the gravel, I thought I better get up before she runs over me. She ground it to a halt, and they checked me over real good. They decided I wasn’t hurt, and that was the end of the mule training session.

I never saw that mule again. I don’t know if they caught her or not; we never really talked about it. One of my classmates’ dad still calls me “mule skinner” to this day because of that story. In case you are wondering it was Mule:1 cowboy:0 that day.

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Man’s Best Friend

I get sappy in this one, you may not want to read any further.

Several years ago I took a risk, a big risk for me because I’m tight, and I bought a puppy for $250.00. I wanted a good stock dog that would be helpful with the cattle and horses so I took a chance on this pup. She was just weaned and they had already named her Susie so we didn’t rename her. I brought her home and everyone was quickly pulled in by her ability to make friends.

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Austrailian Kelpie was her breeding papered and all, and her main goal in life was to please us even from the very beginning. She helped me sort cows and train horses and any time I went to feed she was right there with me. If I was going to work, she seemed to know, but if I was going to the pasture her excitement level came up and she definitely knew. The back of the Yamaha was her space and if it was going somewhere so was she.

Susie & snake

She didn’t bark much, but she found this snake one time and she was sounding the alarm! I don’t think it was poisonous but I had to go separate them because neither of them were going to give up any ground. If you had a water hose she was there to bite the water and loved it any time of the year.

Susie standing

 

She had an alertness about her that kept her in tune with everything that was going on. And when a girl came over, especially our friend Courtney, Suse would go out to greet her at her car and sit on her foot to try and get extra pets and loving before she came in the house.

When she was younger she could jump up into the back of the truck or into the tractor cab, but the last few years I had to lift her in so she could go with me.

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Here she is just last winter feeding with me in the tractor. She always loved to go!

Sunday evening she could hardly step into the floorboard of the Yamaha to go check the cows. Her eyes and her hearing had both grown a little dim in the last two years and somehow she told me that her time was near. I told Sara and the kids so they could all go out and give her some love for the last time. She didn’t want to be put up for the night like usual but we coaxed her in and when we let her out the next morning she went and found a shady spot, stretched out and closed her eyes and her life was over. When I went to feed that evening alone I suddenly recognized that anytime I went out the door before she was there ready to go. I had to laugh at myself as I set a bucket of cattle feed down out of habit to allow Suse to get a bite of it.

She made my life better just by being around her and I think if someone says that about me when I’m gone I would consider that a high complement.

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