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Cattleman's Law
Monday 31st of January 2011 08:33 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

You've heard of Murphy's Law: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

But I'll bet you've never heard of the Cattlemen's Law. (That might be because I just made it up.)

The Cattleman's Law says: "Heifers will ignore the due date on the calendar if the weather is unseasonably warm. Instead, they will inevitably wait for single-digit temperatures to welcome their new babies to the world."

Here on the County Line, January 28 was the magical date that heifers were supposed to begin calving. (For the uninitiated, a heifer is female cow who will have a baby for the first time.)

January 28 was a sunny, beautiful day with high temperatures in the upper 60s. Did we have any baby calves that day?

Please refer to the Cattleman's Law. Nary a calf was born on the picture-perfect day.

But one heifer did manage to deliver her precious cargo on a beautiful day. Kansas Day - January 29 - celebrated our state's 150th anniversary and our first baby of 2011.

Correction: This was the first live baby of the year.

Our calving enterprise did not get off to an auspicious start. On Wednesday, Randy found a dead heifer during his morning check of the mamas-to-be. There was no calf's feet or head showing, so Randy didn't know the heifer was in distress - until he found it dead.

Then on Friday, Jake found two twin babies dead when he watered the older cows. Those cows aren't supposed to begin calving until February 7. The two babies came early and were too small to survive.

That was an expensive couple of days. The heifer was worth around $1,200. At the sale barn, a newborn baby calf might bring $200. Losing three calves in two days was not the kind of start we wanted for calving season.

So we were especially glad to welcome the first baby of 2011.

And even though this mama is new to this whole parenthood thing, she had the motherly instincts downpat. She was watchful and protective when two humans came sightseeing into the corral around her precious baby.

You just never know with these first-time mothers. Some of them ignore the baby. So we'd much rather have a heifer whose inborn propensity is to protect her calf.

Come to think of it, there are a bunch of human analogies here, aren't there?

This new mother was also smart enough to go against the Cattleman's Law when her 20 other corral mates seemed to be waiting for this week's frigid temperatures.

By the time we checked the new pair as evening approached, she had moved her baby from the muddy lot to nestle in the prairie hay that Randy and Jake had unrolled earlier in the week.

I took those photos by sticking my camera through the fence. They may not be the best quality of photos I ever took, but it beats getting charged by an aggravated, nervous mom.

Her protectiveness meant Randy needed to be quick and stealth-like when he put an eartag in the baby's ear earlier in the afternoon.

This little bull calf is No. 1. And just in case any of his friends question his claim at being No. 1, he can flash them his ID, so to speak.

In this case, the first "1" stands for 2011. The 001 means it was the first calf born for the year. The next one will be 1002. (Next year's firstborn will be 2001 - the "2" standing for 12.)

Randy also writes down the numbers of both the mom (972) and the calf. That way, when we take them to pasture next spring, we'll know which moms and babies go together.

These ladies-in-waiting seem content to hang out, eat and take their own precious time in their quest to become mothers.

They'll probably wait for the day when the high on the thermometer is supposed to be around 10 degrees and the wind chills are forecast at sub-zero levels. That happens to be the same day Randy is leaving to go to a Kansas Association of Wheat Growers meeting in Manhattan.

That's the sub-clause to the Cattleman's Law: "Heifers shall wait until the cattleman is out of the county to have trouble with the birthing process."

Believe me, it happens.

But, at least this time, Jake and I can put my Christmas gift to good use

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Holiday Deja Vu
Friday 28th of January 2011 08:54 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

It's been a month since the smell of turkey and dressing perfumed homes across America. Or maybe it was Thanksgiving when last you enjoyed those holiday favorites.

But you can experience holiday deja vu with one of our favorite casseroles. Pepperidge Farm Chicken Casserole is often on the menu when the kids come home. This year was no exception.

I got the recipe from a long-ago Hoener reunion. This casserole gives us our taste of turkey and dressing without the full-blown meal. It's perfect for using up turkey leftovers, if you have them at the holidays, but this is a favorite year 'round -no matter the calendar date. Most of the time, I just microwave chicken breasts to use in this casserole.

I don't typically endorse products. But I've never made this casserole with anything but Pepperidge Farm stuffing crumbs. Deviate from that tried-and-true product at your own risk!


Pepperidge Farm Chicken Casserole

4 cups cooked and cubed chicken or turkey breast) (The original recipe called for 1 boned chicken and I'm just approximating the amount of chicken I use)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3/4 soup can of water or broth
2 cups shredded cheese (approximate)
1 7-oz. pkg. Pepperidge Farms herb-seasoned stuffing crumbs (not cubes)
3/4 cup margarine

Melt margarine. Stir in stuffing crumbs, mixing well. Combine soup and broth. Spray a 9- by 13-inch pan with cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 of the soup mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with about 1/3 of the stuffing mixture. Top with about 1/3 of the chicken or turkey. Sprinkle with about 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat layers, ending by putting a layer of the stuffing mix and drizzling with the remaining soup mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, covering after about 20 minutes so that the crumbs don't get too brown.


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What A Wonderful World
Thursday 27th of January 2011 06:30 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

I don't have to travel far beyond my front door to realize I live in a wonderful world.

It doesn't cost a thing to get outside and watch a new day dawning.

But, as the commercial would say, the moment is priceless.

It made me think of that old song by Louis Armstrong, "What a Wonderful World."

If the weatherman has his story straight, it sounds like we may be able to get out and enjoy some warmer temperatures this afternoon. I'm ready to get off my treadmill and take a walk outside.

Here's hoping for a beautiful day for you, too!

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Purple Wave
Wednesday 26th of January 2011 10:23 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

I love seeing my buddies Jacob and Jamar when I go to Manhattan. (For you non-purple people out there, that's Jacob Pullen and Jamar Samuels on the K-State men's basketball team.)

But for the past 6 1/2 years, going to Manhattan has been about more than going to a ballgame. Don't get me wrong: I love K-State ballgames. I've been going to them for most of my life.

As a college student, I camped out in front of Ahearn to get basketball tickets. I was in the football stands at every home game. And you must remember that was back in the 1970s when there wasn't much to cheer about on the football field.

But as much as I love K-State ballgames, there's been another attraction in Manhattan that's been even better: My kids.

Even if it was just for a quick meal before or after the game, I got a chance to talk to them without benefit of a telephone or a text message. It's been that way since August 2004, when we moved Jill into her first home-away-from home - a college dorm room - and started our journey toward an empty nest.

We moved her brother there two years later. K-State games have been a celebration of sorts for me - no matter what the scoreboard said at the end of the game.

So it was a different kind of trip when we traveled to Manhattan for ESPN's Big Monday edition this week when our K-State Wildcats took on the Baylor Bears.

For the past couple of years, basketball games have also meant watching Brent in action. While we had fun as spectators, we also enjoyed our role as proud parents, sneaking peeks at the sidelines and watching Brent work as a student intern with K-State Sports Information.

(November 2010)

But, these days, he's a grad student at the University of South Carolina. And while Jill and Eric still get to some ballgames, they had to watch Monday's game on ESPN.

As we drove into Manhattan late Monday afternoon, the "nest" truly felt empty. Can you still wear your K-State parent sweatshirt when you no longer have a K-State student? (For the record, I don't have a sweatshirt like that - but Randy does.)

Did I miss seeing my kids? Yes ... always.

But it's just another transition in this journey we call life.

And the traditions still felt like family. We did the Wabash cannonball with our whole extended family ...

We cheered as Willie rounded the corner with the giant Powercat flag ...

And we celebrated our nation as a quartet from one of my college alma maters - the K-State Concert Choir - sang a stirring four-part rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.

We witnessed the shower of newsprint to begin yet another K-State game.

And we watched as the next generation of the Wildcat faithful cheered for the purple ...

just like our kids did so long ago.

(A long-ago Christmas card photo)

(Randy & Brent at the football stadium - 1998)

(Jill - our pony-tailed K-State fan)

And all those little K-State cheerleaders with purple pom poms and the little boys with their Wildcat claws, reminded us of the circle of life.

We may not be K-State parents any more. But we're still part of the family.


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How Now, Brown Cow?
Tuesday 25th of January 2011 07:53 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

How now, brown cow? Well, it
ought to be a brown cow. Or a black cow. It could even be a black baldy. But it shouldn't be a black and white dairy cow.

I've always wondered if others scratch their heads at the Chick-fil-A commercials. The company does a lot of advertising during ballgames, so I see a fair number of their ads.

Every time, I've wondered if the ad agency knows the difference between dairy cattle and the cattle breeds more often raised to put beef on American dinner tables.

When I saw the giant Chick-fil-A cow towering over Turner Field in Atlanta, I did a little investigating.

Evidently I am not the first person to question the use of dairy cattle to push chicken consumption. The explanation by the company? Holsteins are more lovable than beef cattle.

Come on now! Who doesn't think face isn't lovable?

(February 2010)

As a Kansas beef producer, I hope the visitors to Turner Field in Atlanta will ignore the giant
dairy cow's advice to get their mitts on chicken.

What's more American than a big, juicy steak or a perfectly grilled hamburger when you're watching the ballgame?

But make mine from Angus, Hereford or a nice crossbred steer please. And leave the Holsteins for the big glass of milk to go with it.

And please, while the ad execs are at it, could the cows find a dictionary? The misspelled words are another "pet" peeve for me.


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