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A Century Farm: The Moores
Tuesday 31st of January 2012 08:15 AM

By Kim Moore Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

(My dad as a toddler and his Dad)

As Kansas celebrated its 151st birthday on Sunday, I re-read a 16-page term paper I wrote in 1979 for History of American Agriculture, a class I took as a senior at Kansas State University. It didn't have a lot to do with my career goals at the time. But it was one of the best classes I took since it encouraged me to learn more about my heritage.

Every person and every family has a story. I did learn that in journalism school.

Today, my Dad and brother continue the story of the Moore family farm, which was established 135 years ago in Pratt County. The photos were gathered by my Mom into a family history book. She presented a copy to each grandchild. I keep telling the kids that I'm holding onto the books for safekeeping.

Excerpts from the paper:

Sometime in the late 1860s, Kentuckian James T. Moore spent a brief time in Kansas as a helper to a buffalo hunter. He was impressed with the potential of western Kansas for cattle grazing and went home to tell his wife, Chalista, that the grass stood as high as the stirrups on a horse.

He couldn't forget that undeveloped frontier. In 1876, the family came to Kansas in a covered wagon drawn by oxen. They arrived in December 1876 in Sodtown, later known as Stafford. A hotel proprietor mentioned to J.T. that he might do well to homestead in Pratt County.

A man whose business it was to locate claims helped J.T. and his family. The son, J.J. who was 9 at the time, later described the trip:
He told us of a place that we could homestead down in Pratt County where Kelly the buffalo hunter had put down a well. We started with an ox team to a wagon and the driver carried a compass as he drove. On the hind wheel of the wagon was tied a rag, and a man sitting in the back counted the revolutions of the wheel. So we came out 23 miles, so far south and so far west. We hit the place all right and found the government corners. We went to Larned and put in the (homestead) papers.
The Moores began living on the claim - located 3 miles east and a half mile north of present day Byers - in spring 1877. They later filed a timber claim which gave them a total of 320 acres of land.

(This was my childhood home for the first 6 years of my life.)

But times weren't easy in this new place. J.T. gathered buffalo bones from the prairie and hauled them to Larned or to Hutchinson to sell for fertilizer. The trip took all day, but he needed the $5 or $6 per wagon load to purchase food and necessities for his family. After delivering the load, he would spend the night in Larned (45 miles away) or Hutchinson (55 miles away). His wife, Chalista, would be scared and lonely while he was gone, so she would take the children to the barn and spend the night there with the horses for company.

My Dad's Grandpa, J.J. Moore, was the second owner/operator of the family farm. Besides farming, he played a part in the founding of Byers in 1914. J.J. also owned the bank in Byers. During the Depression, he lost the bank but was able to save the farm ground.

J.J. had many talents besides farming. He purchased young, strong mules and broke them for work on the farm. When they were well trained, he sold them for a good profit and repeated the process. He was also an accomplished blacksmith, making his own tools, sharpening shears and shoeing his own horses.

My Dad is the third owner/operator of the farm. The family tradition continues with him and my brother, Kent. A year ago, wheat harvest provided an opportunity to take a photo with the 4th, 5th and 6th generations to work on a family farm in South Central Kansas.

 Brian, Kent & Bob Moore

 6th, 5th & 4th generations to work on the Moore Family Farms

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Ad Astra Per Aspera
Monday 30th of January 2012 07:24 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

You probably wouldn't think about having a birthday party in a cemetery. But as Kansas celebrated 151 years of statehood yesterday, I thought about those pioneers who settled this land I now call home. On January 29, 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union and became the 34th star on the American flag.

Peace Creek Cemetery is just a mile from Randy's boyhood home. Some of his ancestors rest in this quiet plot at the edge of a wheat field. Maybe a visitor or two who takes the wrong road to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge might happen across it. But, for the most part, it's off the beaten track. The chilly silence may be broken by the growl of a tractor or a pickup traversing the sandy road. But most often, the sound is just the breeze through the trees that stirs the music of a wind chime near one of the graves.

As we drove by one January evening, I asked Randy to stop. I watched the sun sink into the horizon of the western sky, and I thought about those pioneers who came before me. They may have marveled at a similar sunset sky, the velvet blue lightened with pinks and yellows and oranges - the vibrant colors that come only on a cold January night.

There were probably fewer trees then, but the same sun and the moon still hung from the sky. These celestial bodies defined their days - probably more so than they do mine since they would have lit their homes with candles or kerosene lanterns on dark January nights.

I wonder about the people buried there, some as long ago as 1879. There are mothers and fathers, babies and toddlers, neighbors and friends.

Were they adventurers? Were they dreamers? Were they looking to improve life for themselves and their families? Under the Homestead Act, any person older than 21 could choose 160 acres of land on which to farm or ranch. If the homesteader could live and farm on the land for a period of five years, they could own it.

Clearing the land of the tall, tough prairie grass was back breaking work. They had to figure out what crops would grow, often a process of trial and error. Droughts, thunderstorms, bitter winters, prairie fires and grasshopper invasions stood in the way of fulfilling their hopes for a different way of life.

The dreams they planted on the Kansas prairie took root like the trees they planted to block their homesteads from the unrelenting wind.

And they worked hard. They planted churches and schools along with the winter wheat.

They raised their families. They lived and they died on the Kansas prairie.

And as we celebrate 151 years of statehood, I am thankful for my ancestors and those of my husband who had a vision and worked hard to provide a future for their children and their children's children and beyond.

Kansas is celebrating its birthday. But we got the gift.


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The Miracle of Birth: A Photo Essay
Friday 27th of January 2012 07:16 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

I was not one of those women who had a video camera in the room when I gave birth. We had a still camera in the delivery room. But the lens cap stayed firmly attached until after Jill and Brent were whisked away, cleaned up and ready for their close-ups.

Not that there's anything wrong with recording a baby's birth. If no one allowed video cameras in the room, then there wouldn't be opportunities for every expectant mother and father to watch the miracle of birth during Lamaze classes. (OK, maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing, since by the time you see the film, it's too late to back out.)

Sorry No. 032. I didn't give you a choice about whether you wanted your birth experience recorded for posterity. Just consider it a teaching moment, like those Lamaze videos.

Actually, Randy also called it a teaching moment for Jake, who has helped with plenty of deliveries but usually takes the role of lead assistant. By the time he got done with his more active role, he may have been re-evaluating his decision to wear a white T-shirt for the day.

No. 032 is a heifer, a cow having her first calf. Randy checks the heifers frequently. He saw that the calf's feet were showing, but the labor didn't progress. He made the decision to pull the calf. This is done to save both the mama and the baby.

We put the heifer in the calving pen, my Christmas gift of 2010. Sometimes cows can be riled up with the birthing process, so having them contained in the head gate is a much safer option for both mama and people.

Since it's hard to see in the above photo, I thought I'd show you another heifer who calved yesterday. In this photo, you can see part of the amniotic sack, which showed before the hooves did in this instance.

(By the way, this heifer had her calf without intervention.)

But back to 032 and her birth story. Jake first splashed disinfectant on the heifer to try to keep the birthing canal as clean as possible. (We've been using the same Tupperware bucket for this job since Randy's folks were in the cow-calf business.)

Then, the guys got the chains ready.

They tie a chain above the ankle on each of the front hooves of the calf. Then they tie the two chains together.

They attach the chains to a calf puller, which is a long rod with a pulley on the end.

They put the leather strap of the calf puller on the cow's rear end.

Then they use the pulley to gently pull the calf from the mama's womb. Here comes the front feet and the head! (Click on the photos to make them bigger).

Welcome to the world, baby!

You can see the steam as the warm baby calf arrives in the cool barn. Randy used his fingers to clear amniotic fluid from the baby's mouth.

And now baby No. 2007 is ready for its close-up. (All our calf numbers this year begin with a "2." That indicates that they were born in 2012. This calf was the 7th baby calf born this year, hence 2007.)

Mama gets the job of cleaning off the baby by licking it. It's part of the bonding process for the pair.

Just one day later, mama and baby are doing well.
Chow time!
And there you have it: The miracle of birth on the County Line.


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The Escape Artist
Thursday 26th of January 2012 07:35 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

Swaddling wasn't in vogue back when my kids were little. These days, there are even newfangled wraps made especially for swaddling. Kinley has a couple of them.

But even if you get her all wrapped up in a tight cocoon, she finds a way to free her hands. I think she may have a future in magic.

See that hand starting to poke out?!

Magic is in her genes after all.

Her Grandpa has been called Fantastic Fritz on occasion.
He's done his fair share of magic at school, at 4-H, for community programs, for little girls' sleepovers and for children's sermons.

He hasn't tried the Houdini straitjacket illusion. And these days, he seems to spend more of his free time on the golf course than exploring magic.

But maybe it's in his granddaughter's future. She seems to have that escape artist thing down. And she's already magic in our book.

She's not the only one in our lives who's an escape artist. This little calf is on the wrong side of the corral fence.

A rescue mission reunited Mama and baby.




 Never a dull moment!

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Two Cute
Wednesday 25th of January 2012 07:59 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

Two calves.
Too many.
To a 4-Her.
The End.

C'mon now! I never give you the
Reader's Digest of any story.

One of our heifers (a first-time mom) had twins last week. Bonus, right? Two for the price of one!

But not so fast. Many times, mama cows just claim one of the babies. And that's what happened this time, too.

Randy is more into grandparenting mode these days. Hold the baby until said baby cries, then pass her off to the mama. (The joy of Grandpahood!)

Admittedly, there's no feeding possible in the Wonderful World of Grandparenting right now, as Mom is on call 24/7. But Randy got in on some feeding action with the unclaimed twin. See, he has some commendable mothering skills, too.

Still, this little calf needed an extra dose of love and attention. Enter 4-Her.

This little lady will get lots of one-on-one time with a 4-Her who loves her and wants to take her to the Stafford County Fair in July.

Aubrey and her dad came and picked up the calf on Sunday. So Randy is out of his nursemaid job. He's OK with that, especially when he knows how the 4-H bucket calf program helps grow kids into responsible adults.

Exhibit A.
Exhibit B.


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