Sunday, May 5, 2019

Life After Cows...Trip Part Three...

It's time I get back to the details of our trip!  Work has been quite busy, and we're still adjusting to life after cows, so some things aren't getting done as quickly as I'd like...

I left off the last time with our arrival in Hesston Kansas, where we met up with Jenna!  We stayed at the guest house on campus, which is super convenient when visiting someone at the college.  Our first full day there, Jenna had classes all day, so Jim and I did some adventuring of our own.

Over 30 years ago, Jim spent a summer on the wheat harvest, cutting wheat from Texas to Montana with a crew based out of Inman Kansas.  Before we left on our trip, he did some research and found what he thought might be a current address for his boss, Randy Ediger.  He didn't have a phone # though, so we were going out on a bit of a limb.  We punched it into the GPS and went for a drive.  As we came to the driveway, we saw harvesters lined up beside a barn, along with some grain trucks, and so we pulled in to find out if our search had been successful.  There was a young man working in an implement shed, and Jim hopped out of the car to talk to him while I waited.  A few minutes later, a man came out of the house saying "Jim!  You made it back!"  Randy recognized Jim right away, and we had a wonderful visit with him!  He was very gracious to receive unexpected guests, and made us feel very welcome!



Jim has a lot of great memories of his time back in the summer of 1987 on the wheat harvest!

After we left the Ediger farm, we headed just a few miles south to the little town of Buehler...


I had gone out on a limb of my own the day before, and contacted a fellow blogger, Kim, from Kim's County Line.  She's a fellow farm wife, and I've enjoyed reading about her life in Kansas for the past few years.  I knew she wasn't too far from where we would be (and in Kansas, an hour of travel feels so different than it does around here!!) and so I asked her if there was any way we could meet up.  She was also very gracious, and we met at a coffee shop in Buehler and had  nice visit!  We both regretted later that we hadn't take a picture, but we had a very nice time meeting in person and getting to know each other a little bit.  Thanks, Kim for taking time to meet with a near stranger on a whim!!

We took Jenna for supper in the evening, and turned in feeling like we had had a successful day!

On Thursday, our second full day in Hesston, all that Jenna had on her schedule was a violin lesson in the morning.  We've really missed hearing her play, so it was a treat to have her play several pieces for us that she's been working on...


We then headed out with Jenna for an adventure to a Salt Mine in Hutchinson.  It is an active salt mine, which Kim recommended would be a fun place to tour.  We were not disappointed!

We went from 630' high at the St Louis Arch, to 650' below ground for the tour of the mine. I thought it might feel a little claustrophobic, being underground, but it didn't feel that way at all.  The part of the mine that we were in was well lit, with high ceilings, so we didn't even feel like we were underground!  The underground temperature was a constant 55 degrees, so it was also quite comfortable temperature wise...


That chunk of salt beside Jim and Jenna weighs over a ton...


 The salt from this mine is used for road salt...


The large equipment inside the mine was taken down in pieces and reassembled once it was down in the mine.  It will stay there permanently, even after it's no longer in use.  This was an undercutter, which was used to cut a way a few inches at the bottom of each wall, which then allowed somewhere for the salt to fall once blasting took place...



...and this conveyor belt transported the salt out of the mine...


If you're ever near Hutchinson Kansas, I'd recommend it as place to visit!

We headed back to Hesston, and enjoyed our last evening on campus.  We strolled around the Arboretum...


...and enjoyed some welcome signs of spring...


As we prepared to leave Kansas, there was one other thing that I wanted to document, and that is the almost constant Kansas wind...


We had a wonderful time, and headed out early Friday morning for our next stop...Fort Collins Colorado to visit my Aunt.  More in a bit...

Monday, April 15, 2019

Life After Cows...Trip Part Two...

Last time I think I left you in West Virginia, where Jim and I enjoyed our first weekend away with my sister and brother in law. 

On Monday morning we packed up our car and headed into the "unknown".  We knew that our next destination would be Hesston Kansas, where our daughter is in college, but we didnt' know exactly which route we would take or where all we might stop.

We wound our way through the mountains of West Virginia, and ended up on Route 64 in Charleston, where we began our trek west towards Jenna.  There were lots of hills and lots of hairpin turns on those roads for the first hour or so!


Kentucky was the first state that we entered that we had never been in before...



What I remember the most, was the amount of steel bridges that we saw and crossed!  It made me think of Eric, who will soon graduate with a degree in Civil Engineering.  Steel structures are in his area of interest...



We found a motel just east of St Louis, where we spent the night.  We hoped to go up into the arch the next morning, but were unable to purchase any tickets online.  Bummer!  Or so we thought.  We decided to stop anyway, and were pleasantly surprised that we could still buy tickets on sight.

It was a gorgeous day!




I must say that if you are at all claustrophobic (which I am) the ride to the top of the tower is a bit of a stretch.  You sit in a small pod with up to four other people, your knees all touching and your shoulders a bit hunched so that you don't bang your head for the 4 minute ride to the top.  The view however, was worth it...


Looking east.  That's the Cargill grain elevator in the front center of the picture, with a barge apparently loading some grain.


Looking to the west.  The St Louis Cardinals baseball stadium is on the far left side of the picture...


The Mississippi River was quite muddy and very high.  I have never really seen it up close before to be able to compare it to "normal", but there were several docks just below us that were partially under water.  There was also a lot of debris in the water that had been caught up in piles near the shore.  A lot of the water from the flooding upstream was clearly making it's way south...


After we came down from the arch, we found a place to grab some lunch, and hopped back in the car for the rest of our trip towards Hesston.

We stopped at a car museum that we saw along Route 70 in western Missouri...





...and made our way southwest from Kansas City just before dark.  If you enlarge the picture, you can see a line of fire on the hillside in the distance.  It's the time of year that farmers burn their fields...


...a beautiful Kansas sunset...as beautiful as it could be from a moving car window anyway...


Finally, look who we found!  We haven't seen her since Christmas!


More next time on our adventures in Kansas and beyond!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Life After Cows...Trip Part One...

When Jim and I first started thinking about selling the cows, we also began dreaming of a vacation.  We had each been able to get away on occasion...alone...but not together, and we were ready for that to change!

We are very thankful to our current employers, who saw how important this was to us, and who were willing to give us some extended time off so soon after we began working for them!

All that said, I'm excited to recap our vacation for whoever would like to follow along!  I posted on Instagram and Face Book along the way, but didn't give a lot of details.  I'll warn you up front...the posts will be picture heavy, but it's what I do!  I snap away.  After all, I wouldn't want to forget anything!

Here's the first weekend...

We left home on Saturday morning March 23.  I had filled up the gas tank the night before on my way home from work, so we started with just ten miles on the trip odometer.  (We typically drive older cars and run them until they die, so none of our current vehicles were trip worthy.  We found this car at an auction last fall and bought it with this trip in mind.  It's fourteen years old, but had only 45,000 miles on it when we bought it.  An older man was the sole owner, and he had kept it spotlessly clean and had it serviced regularly and garage kept.) The mileage will look a lot different when we get home!


About an hour from home, we hit a traffic jam.  A stand still, get out of your car and walk around traffic jam that delayed us about an hour.  There was an accident on the highway a mile or so in front of us.  We never heard if anyone was badly injured, but we could clearly see where it had happened after traffic began moving again.

Thankfully (for more than just us!)  it was the only accident we encountered on the entire trip!



Our first destination was to my sister and brother in law's home in Kimball, West Virginia.  They are location coordinators for SWAP (Sharing With Appalachian People) which is under the umbrella of MCC (Mennonite Central Committee)  It's a great organization, if you want to check it out!

One of my favorite things on this trip was seeing how the landscape changed from state to state...even from mile to mile!  This is somewhere between here and there, either in Virginia or West Virginia...




It was supposed to be about an eight hour trip, but it took us ten hours due to the accident and a leisurely lunch stop.  We still had some daylight left when we passed Pinnacle Rock along Route 52, so we stopped for a quick hike to the top.  It's not a long or difficult hike...but it's worth the view!  The Appalachian Mountains are quite different from the Rockies, which I'll get to later...but beautiful just the same...




On Sunday afternoon, Lee and Peg took us hiking at Brush Creek Falls.

Aren't the water falls beautiful?  That's a 33' drop, in case you were wondering.  While we were there, a couple of young people took the plunge.  They looked pretty cold when they got out of the water!


The first waterfalls were close to the beginning of the trail, but there was a second falls about 1 1/2 miles further along the trail.  It was a beautiful day, and we had no cows to milk...so on we went...








And this...THIS...almost got us off to a really crummy start on our vacation.  I slipped and my phone ended up IN. THE. WATER.  Totally submerged in about two feet of water.


Jim was closest to it, and he grabbed it as fast as he could.  I thought it was all over.  I mean really...we are so attached to and dependent on our phones!!  How were we going to travel halfway across the country for two weeks with no means of communication and no internet access??  Talk about a first world problem.

I am so very thankful to say, that after the screen went blank for about ten minutes (and me panicking) my phone came back to life with no apparent permanent side affects!  My case is mostly made of rubber, and I think that's what saved it.  I don't know.  But ANYWAY...we were fine.  Sigh.

Thanks for following along on the first weekend of our getaway.  More to come in the next few days...

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Final Milk Check...

Twenty five years ago, Jim and I eagerly awaited our first milk check.  We had to wait for a while, because dairy farmers are paid for milk shipped the previous month.  We were so excited, and documented the event...


This past week we received our final milk check, one month after we milked for the last time.  It was much nicer on this end, getting paid for a full month after we finished milking!


It would be nice to say that after twenty five years, the milk price has continued to increase like everything else, including expenses...but sad to say that's not the case.  I tried to compare prices, but it was difficult.  We shipped to a different co-op in 1994, and things were structured differently. The deductions that come off of the milk check each month are so different, and so much more now than they were then, but it was still fun to look at those old milk check stubs and try to compare!  

One thing that hasn't changed is the smile on my farmer's face!








Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Heifers Homecoming...

Settlement on the other farm happened a few weeks ago, but we were able to keep the dozen or so bred heifers over there until we ran out of feed.  I'd say Jim planned pretty well...last fall he had to guestimate how much silage we would need until late Feb/early March, and it worked out just right!  We brought them home on Saturday morning.

These three youngin's have no idea how their world is going to change.  They're used to having the run of the outside pen...


It took about fifteen minutes to load the ten heifers and young bull into the the trailer, and another five minutes to get them home...



(those barn cleaners are getting a long needed rest after being used daily for many, many years)


The outside pen is once again full of animals, back home where they "grew up"...


They don't care much where they are, just so there's food, water and shelter available!


Once the meadow greens up this spring, we'll let them out to graze to their heart's content.  As they spring up, they'll then be sold at a dairy sale.  Anyone need some nice first calf heifers?