Fall 2015

We have arrived in August and the 1st cutting of hay is finally put into bales.  A job that typically takes the whole of month of June was mostly completed in 13 days at the end of July, in the hottest temperatures of the year. My poor cab-less Hesston tractor (with me on it!) was really gasping for air, as the hours of tedding and raking fields never seemed to end. The “balers,” otherwise known as my two sons, would wave from the air conditioned cab of the newer tractors but not once did they offer a ride or even a breath of cool air. I definitely stored up enough sunshine vitamins to last me all year. All was good in the end though as we got the fields done and the hay ready to feed to our seemingly always hungry cattle. The really good news is we get to do most of the fields all over again at the end of September as second and third cutting.  Only if we are lucky and the good mix of rain and sunshine continues to grow the grass. I’m thinking I might have to invest in a good sweater for that late season hay, but anything is better than 95 degrees.

The cattle have enjoyed the summer well after the awful winter we had. I can hardly recognize the two calves who spent days by the fireplace in my house.  The ones who lost tails and ears due to frostbite are growing like weeds and our little orphan calf is even looking strong and healthy. The flies have not seemed as bad this year, but cattle rubs in every pasture have really paid off and are definitely worth the money and time.

The bull situation at Meckley Farms is always changing as my boys absolutely love sire genetics, always striving to breed the “perfect bull.” Most days I feel my farm is the world’s largest science fair project, as we seem to bring in different semen, switch out bulls and sell bulls to other farms. Even though I am not a geneticist, when I look at the EPD’s, I must say it seems like we may be on the right track. The numbers and data continues to get better and so does the look of our animals in the field.

We sent three of our best Limousin bulls to the summer feed program at the Wardensville test station. Two purebred bulls and one Limflex loaded up with Todd and Kai and made the five hour trip across our beautiful state.  As of the last data we had received, it seems they might be living at the feed bunks, gaining an average of over 3.5 pounds/day on a 3.25 pound ration.  I can’t wait to pick them up in September as they definitely should be ready to be someone’s herd sire.

Fall vaccination weekend is fast approaching and begins another busy time at the farm. Besides the second hay cutting, the typical chores of cutting firewood, feeding weaned calves, changing pastures, and fall artificial insemination will need done. We are also proud to be a part of Rocking P’s sale in November this year, so two of our Angus bulls will be delivered to that sale. Also, we are planning on taking three of our registered Angus bulls and a few heifers to the Southern Performance Test in October at Point Pleasant, WV again.  So, if time flies when you stay busy, then winter will be here in a heartbeat this year.

The farm continues to thrive and is doing great. The grandkids are crazy about the cows and doing tractor stuff. It won’t be long until we are closing the windows and starting a fire to keep warm. They say it might be another bad winter so let’s just hope they are wrong!

 

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Winter 2015

The fact that ice covers the sidewalks, and the indoor pets jockeying for your lap as you sit at the wood-burner are just some of the indications winter has arrived in full force. Whether we like it or not, daylight savings time ended and long, dark evenings are here to stay for a while. The headlights of the tractor and a trusty flashlight become the tools of choice as chores are usually finished in the light of the moon.

The last four months have been busy here at Meckley Farms. We got our calves weaned and sold, and even had one of the most beautiful weddings ever as our second son and his fiancé got married. The revitalization projects continued into November. The buildings, barns, and water troughs that have been getting remodeled or built new are finally done. The summer haying equipment is stored and winterized and can rest until May. We also celebrated five birthdays and a couple holidays. We took the little guys to Aunt Anna’s so they could go trick or treating. Christmas and thanksgiving came and went much too quickly and out of nowhere, 2015 was here. My how time flies when you are having fun!

Now we are faced with winter: as always on the farm, cold rain, mud, snow and ice… and, oh yeah, calving! My sons announce every day that calving starts “very soon,” and I announce every day that “I can’t wait.” The boys’ announcement means they are excited to see the next crop of Meckley farms bulls and heifers, while my announcement means I get to bundle up and go check the herd in the cold wind and snow twice a day.

Calving season is always the most interesting and the most stressful part of farming. We all spend more time on the hill than any other time of the year as we search, check and monitor the new babies that appear daily. It is definitely a time of team work and celebration as each is tagged and weighed and welcomed to their new world. Hopefully the weather will cooperate as we embark on this labor of love.

This year our farm took a huge step forward, as we were selected to place 3 bulls and 5 heifers into the 33rd Annual Southern West Virginia Bull and Heifer Performance Test in Pt .Pleasant, WV. The first report on their progress was good…..and we are anxiously awaiting the 2nd report, as we hope the animals continue to eat and grow.

In closing we hope the winter passes quickly and that the snow, ice, and flu all find somewhere else to go. We also hope that daylight savings time returns soon, the sun shines daily, and all the spring calves are born strong, healthy and ready to run and play!

Best wishes for you and yours in 2015!

 

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Sept. 2014

We have made it to September. Where did the summer go? Hay is almost done and fall calves have started to drop. My mother always said “time flies the older you get”. I now understand.

Summer has been a busy time. Many more construction projects are getting completed as we continue to update the farm. They are all looking really good! The equipment barn sure makes parking and changing out the equipment much easier, and hopefully the tarps that served to cover that equipment for so many years have been retired for good.

Todd and Jamie are getting married next month, and we are all busy trying to help and make their day special. Xavier turned two and can already drive the Polaris UTV, as long as Dillon steps on the gas. Sister Anna gave up the good life in South Carolina and took a position in Huntington, WV. It is wonderful having her closer to home and her name has already been added to the firewood cutting crew for October. Not sure if she got that message yet. Jameus turns one in October and is slowly learning to hold his own with his older brother. I can see lots of fun ahead for those two.

Two Meckley Farms steers were shown at the Tyler county Fair this year. Sierra and Laura both did a wonderful job raising and showing the animals and made us very proud. The animals were well trained and they both exemplified what a show steer should look like and be.

Fall is certainly going to be as busy as summer. Firewood needs cut and the fences need secured for winter. Calves have been weaned and are doing great. Vaccinations and boosters have been completed and hopefully the fall calving will be as successful as our spring calving. The little ones should at least be warmer and drier.

Meckley Farms applied for this year’s Southern WV Bull Test in Point Pleasant, WV, a goal of the farm since we started our registered program 6 years ago. We have anxiously been checking the mail to find what we hope is an acceptance letter. It will definitely be a thrill to see our bulls compete in the test!

One can say that “Life is good on Meckley Farms”…we have our health… Most days we have our sanity…but every day we have our family; working, playing and supporting each other! Life is Good!

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Ah spring again!

Spring has decided to come out in full force at Meckley Farms!  Never thought it would happen. The winter was a rough one, but we survived and everything is good. A few more days of warm, bright sun and maybe the grass will grow faster and taller.  We can just hope and watch, as June begins haying season!

Spring has brought more good news to our family as Todd and Jamie have decided to get married in October. The excitement is growing everyday as plans are coming along and being developed. A country themed wedding is being planned, complete with fried chicken and apple pie.

Spring calving finished up and was rough at times as subzero temperatures moved newborns out of the field and into the barns (or even the bathroom in the house for one lucky calf). Forty three calves from forty three mothers are enjoying the new warmth of the sun and, overall, the season was a success as all the calves were born alive and survived the harsh elements.

Also with the spring comes the breeding season. CIDR’s are being placed as we speak and A.I. semen has been carefully chosen for each individual mother.  Meckley Farms added a new bull to the herds this year.  Purchased back in February, the Hoover Dam son from Yon Family Farms, nicknamed “Frogger”, is definitely itching to get out in the field with the heifers.  Genetics at Meckley Farms get better every season, and you can look on the main farm website to see the genetics of our herds.  Take notice of our sires and if you see something you like, give us a call!

With spring comes, we hope, lots of grass and with lots of grass, comes plenty of hay.  With lots of hay comes long hours on the tractors.  Last year, over 800 round bales and around 1000 square bales were produced from our fields, and we hope for more this year.  Just seems like yesterday we were putting the hay equipment in the sheds and celebrating the end of a haying season.

Here’s hoping your maintenance man is ready to go. Ours, otherwise known as “dad,” sums it up daily with the phrase “maintenance is a full time job!”  At this farm that is probably true, however, maintenance does get to take a vacation when the sheds are closed with the equipment in the fall. But, happy repairs and here’s hoping your grass is growing!

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Spring..Thank Goodness!

It is hard to believe the winter cold and snow may be over…maybe!  As I look out my front window, though, it appears to be both cold and snowy so I don’t know.  The weather at Meckley Farms has been unbelievable:  temperatures below zero and more snow than I can ever remember.  We finally decided it would never end.  But ultimately the sun did come out and life was good!  Calving has been a little more stressful this year but has been successful so far.  More calves than usual found their way to the warmth of the barn due to low temps.  We even had one that took up residence in our bathroom for three days, after thawing out in the hot water of the bathtub.  We now have 29 calves on the ground in the last 22 days with no fatalities or injuries, other than Doc’s back from carrying the babies around.  We have been blessed!

Todd, Jamie and Dillon took a trip to the Yon Spring bull sale in Ridge Springs, South Carolina again this year, and somehow we ended up with a Hoover bull that speaks with a southern accent. We hope our West Virginia cows will be impressed in May by his southern charm. Todd and Jamie also increased their herd with a nice cow-calf pair that is sure to fit into our fall breeding program.  They have all adjusted to the winter weather and can’t wait to join the herd. The trip was a good time for the three of them, as they not only bought cattle while we in Sistersville watched on the internet, but they also got to spend a weekend with sister Anna in Fort Mill, SC.

The sun shining these last two days has lifted the spirits and warmed the bones of both man and beast. It makes us start thinking about hay and mowing grass and resting in the sun.  After a winter we thought would never end, the thoughts of such activities can’t help but make one smile. Hopefully, in July, when the heat is overwhelming and we are throwing bales into the barn, our memories of this winter will keep us cool!

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Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that January 2014 is already here.  As most would say, “Where did the time go?”  It comes and goes so quickly. Meckley Farms certainly had a blessed year in 2013, full of construction upgrades, new cattle and even another new baby thanks to Shaun and Carrie.

The cattle herds at Meckley Farms continue to thrive with more cows than ever.  The high quality genetics we have selected for the farm have definitely begun to show, as our animals are healthy and selling at the markets very well.

Construction was a large part of 2013, as upgrades that have been put off for years finally were completed.  New water and electric lines, water troughs, fencing, and new ponds were just a few of these projects.  These projects have definitely increased our efficiency and laid the groundwork for expansion of the cattle herd at Meckley Farms.  If all goes well in early 2014, construction will be completed on a much needed new barn!

Christmas, too, came and went quickly, as it is always a special time for the family.  All four of the “children” were able to make it home for Christmas and, with the addition of a few close friends to celebrate with us, Meckley Farms certainly cherished the holiday.  The 17th annual Meckley Farms Christmas Dinner was held at a different location this year, as our usual spot was no longer in operation.  However, the Marietta Brewing Company proved to be an outstanding alternative, as the food and service was unbelievable.  As we sat with our close friends and family, all could not help but be sincerely thankful for the many blessings we have received.

The 2014 spring calving season is fast approaching and how could anyone forget, as the boys remind us every day!  The second week of February is the target date on the calendar, and the calf crop this year is lining up to be an excellent one.  The excitement for spring, although seemingly far away, is growing every day.  We hope your memories of 2013 are as wonderful as they were here at Meckley Farms and that the cold weather comes and goes before the calves begin to hit the ground.

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Winter’s here already—no way!!

It is hard to believe that summer has come and went.  Winter is here! Time has flown by, and we are now another year older.  We have another grandson at Meckley Farms ready to get hugs from grandma and the aunts and uncles. Xavier became a big brother at the ripe old age of 14 months which is a huge responsibility for someone still in diapers. His little brother, Jameus Alexander Meckley, was so excited to be a part of Meckley Farms, he came out a month early.  He is doing well and growing like a weed.

The farm went through some much needed upgrades to our facilities this summer. Lots of digging ditches and running wire removed the electric poles from the barnyard and put new electric and water lines underground to the barn. It is amazing how much you can see when you are working with cattle if the lights in the barn actually work. It will be disappointing to not be able to watch Shaun catch his hair on fire on the shorted out light socket at the head of the runway anymore.  The new wiring of the barn was definitely well worth the effort.

Most of the calves are weined away from their mothers, with the keepers in the barnyard and the others sold.  The fall herd check took two days this year, with the second day lasting well past dark.  There were no major mishaps or injuries, unless you count being covered with manure a mishap. Most of the A-I cows were confirmed pregnant, which always gets a cheer from the workers and the cows due dates were set.  All of the cows were confirmed pregnant so it seemed to be a successful breeding season; all were pleased.

Haying was interesting this year. Between the rain and the many equipment failures, we were not sure it would ever end.  We were lucky enough to get over 800 round bales and 750 square bales in without any of it getting wet. We did cut it close on a field or two as the tractors got soaked on the trip back to the shed more than once.

Fall calves have hit the ground in the last two weeks, and they look so tiny compared to the ones that just left the farm to go to market. It’s hard to believe they all start out that small. We still have two calves to go and then we get a break until February. I am sure it will be here before any of us is ready.

We send out wishes for a happy Thanksgiving, and we hope that all of your cows are pregnant, your hay is in the barn, your firewood is cut, and that the weatherman is as wrong about his predictions for the snow as he was in his predictions for rain!!

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April is here!!

April is here!  The days are longer and the weather unpredictable. Can’t say I was sad when we leaped forward an hour, as the extra hours of daylight helped us get everything done. The grass is growing, and the cows and calves are content to just soak up the sun and graze lazily in the pastures.

The calving season has gone well this year, with all but four of the little ones on the ground and running. The remaining four should arrive in the next three weeks.  However, we have one to be raised on a bottle. Jerry has named him Ralphie, and he seems content to be pampered in the barn.

The Meckley family is all good and ready to take on the summer. We replaced both our mower and our baler this year. Being that they were over thirty years old, they had become part of the family.  Shiny new equipment is now parked in their spots, and we will see if the new models are built as well as the originals. We do know they should last much longer, as they were much more expensive, right?

Todd and Jamie completed an “unbelievable” trip to the Connealy Angus bull sale in Nebraska. The Connealy family was very gracious and made two strangers from West Virginia feel right at home, a testament to the bond between farmers, big or small. We are hoping someday they can come to West Virginia so we can repay their hospitality.

The rest of the family is well and working hard. Sarah has her cast off now and is attempting to move an ankle with plates and screws in it. Shaun is so busy he cannot remember who he is, as he spends many hours at others’ farms delivering calves and getting their herds ready for spring breeding season. Anna is content in the warmth of South Carolina. She was home at Easter and got a quick reminder of how stubborn Hereford cows can be and how cold West Virginia mud is in March. The stubbornness of the cow, however, cannot come close to the stubbornness of the youngest daughter.  Anna won out and the cow and calf went into the barn as always.  Anna headed to the warmth of the wood-burner, after a visit to the creek to get the mud off her boots.

Life is good on Meckley Farms. Plans for the spring and summer are being laid out as we speak. The fields are being turned under and replanted. Tractors are brush-hogging the weeds and autumn olive, new fences are being built, old ones are being mended, maintenance is getting done on the equipment, dates are set for vaccinations and breeding and, after the long winter, the grass is green and the sun is shining.  Things couldn’t get any better than that!

Here’s wishing that your spring is also chocked- full of sunshine and good times; just hope your maintenance man never decides to retire and your cows always go in the right direction!

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January 2013 — Mud to Ice — Ice to Mud

January…what does one say about January?  Well, for starters, it is a seemingly endless month with short days and long nights.  It is also cold, wet and just downright miserable at times.  However, it is also now officially over, and this year’s January was not all that bad.  Feeding the herds has gone smoothly as our cattle are wintering very well.  There were also enough “nice” days to make   January now an unusually pleasant memory.

The family made it through January. We did have Sarah on crutches but otherwise can report no stitches, flu, or other major medical problems. The new grandbaby is growing by leaps and bounds and is definitely the center of attention when we all get together.  He spends a lot of his time on Tango “talking” to his aunts and being filmed on video for the next shared message.   

We move on to February, which is setting itself up to be the headache month. It has started out snowy and bitterly cold.  When it hasn’t been bitterly cold, it is wet and muddy. Mud to ice, ice to mud!!  Which do we have today?   

Anticipation is growing at Meckley Farms as the calving season grows ever closer. A herd check today showed the mother cows looking like they swallowed huge bowling balls. Some of them are almost as wide as they are tall, a mixture of the pregnancy and the steady diet of quality hay.    

The boys are getting impatient as they await the arrival of the new herd.  Every day I am reminded by at least one person in the family how many days it is until the registered heifers start calving. I remind them it is written on every calendar at the farm, so it would be impossible not to have the date permanently etched into my memory. But, I guess, verbal reminders are necessary.

It can be said that life has been good this month on Meckley Farms….nothing to complain about and even if I did, it usually does not do any good. 

Here’s hoping the month of February brings us all good luck and that this time next month the calving report is positive…oh, and the weather is sunny and warm!

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End of the Year – Where Did It Go?!!

WOW!  The year has gone by way too fast.  It could be labeled the “best of times and the worst of times” here at Meckley Farms.

2012 blessed us with our first grandchild, a healthy, happy baby boy named Xavier.  We also acquired another farm, which Shaun and Carrie purchased. They now live next door, which gives us daily visits with X and all the help and suggestions we can handle. Our other three children are happy and content, working in their successful careers. Todd had a very enjoyable year as football coach and teacher; Sarah flourished as an accountant; and Anna found her niche in Fort Mill, South Carolina as a physical therapist in a skilled nursing unit…definitely too far away for Mom and Dad, but she loves the warm weather and southern hospitality.

We did have our fair share of catastrophes:  Shaun had a four-wheeler accident and cracked vertebrae three weeks before X was born; Doc chain-sawed his leg not once but twice; and Sarah fell into a pothole jogging at 6:00 am and now is the proud owner of an ankle with enough plates and screws to set off an airport metal detector.  In the middle of it all, the drought of 2012 kept us busy hauling water, rotating herds, and worrying if we would have enough hay.

Last weekend, as we sat around visiting, enjoying the holidays, and reminiscing, Shaun received a calving emergency call.  It suddenly occurred to us that it is becoming “that time of year” again.  “Do I know where Shaun is, and how I can get hold of him?” The desperate tone of the farmer’s wife’s voice brought to mind all the times we felt helpless when a little calf was struggling to enter the world.  We remembered all the nights we found ourselves in freezing temperatures reassuring a mother cow in labor as if she was your best friend. You rub her head and look her in the eyes, saying, “We are doing all we can, just hang in there,” as she stares back at you and pretends she understands.  Then, in an instant, the calf is there and you are no longer friends as she takes on her role as mother and protector.

That late night call also reminded us of all the times we relied heavily on our neighbors to help us.  We thought back on our close friends and neighbors Kenny and Annabelle Fletcher, who passed away in 2012.  When there was no veterinarian to call in Tyler County, the closest people who made “farm calls” were Kenny and Annabelle.  I cannot remember how many times my husband, the local dentist, and Kenny answered the call to the barn. One with more farm knowledge and the other with enough strength to pull when needed, Jerry and Kenny formed a dependable calving team.  (However, I did feel bad for Doc’s patients the next day, as even the most seasoned farmer would find himself making sure the dentist wore gloves as he told stories of his escapades in the barn).

That night, we also thought how proud we were of the fact Shaun had returned home to set up his veterinarian practice and had chosen to serve an area of high need. He had not forgotten the panic felt by the small-town farmer with no available veterinarian help.  He had chosen to be a “first responder” for farmers in an area where no other veterinarian would consider setting up an office.  Just for the record, though, Meckley Farms has to wait in line too when the vet is needed.  He is, however, gracious enough to give us free advice anytime…we just wish it wasn’t 365 days a year!

In closing, we wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year!!!!

Hope 2013 finds you healthy, wealthy, and wise!!!!!!

 

 

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