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Archive for July, 2012

For the first time in my history on Schutz Farms (over 18 years) we are considering chopping silage to feed our cattle this winter. During non-drought conditions we utilize wet DDG’s as a part of our cattle feed.

Wet DDG’s

It is a by-product of the ethanol making process, it is a nutritional feed and it mixes well with straw. We have purchased the wet DDG’s for as low as $15 a ton with is usually running around $50 a ton. Yesterday we purchased two loads for $120 a ton and it is getting harder to get any loads at all. The dried version, which we use in our hog feed, prices are rising as well.

This summer, before the rain stopped, we baled a few hundred round straw bales to use with our DDG’s as feed for the winter.

Straw bales

The cattle won’t really eat the straw without a wet feed to mix it with. That brings me back to the point about silage. We haven’t used any silage, only because we didn’t need to. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will be chopping and bagging some to have a good quality wet feed for the winter.

This year has been unlike any in the recent past. There are a many farmers and ranchers that are selling large parts of their cattle herds because they just don’t have any feed. Their fields won’t have any crops produced, their pastures have no grass, and it is too expensive to purchase enough to feed through the winter. We are lucky that we have corn that is able to be used as wet feed as well as shell corn this fall. Many farmers don’t have that luxury this year. We are trying out different feeding methods to feed our cattle.

In January I wrote a post about too much rain… https://schutzfarms.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/rain-a-blessing-and-a-curse/. I had no idea that we would be so short on rain this summer.

Hauling water to our wells for the livestock

Please keep farmers and ranchers in your prayers. We are trying our best to feed our families and yours. The prices of groceries will go up slightly over the next year, but remember even with the drought affecting our food supply, the prices will only go up 3-4%. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that much. It’s also really important to remember that even with the drought we have enough corn in the US to produce food and fuel. We can feed everyone and make ethanol. The by-products from the ethanol are a great feed source! In time the rains will return and a new crop year will begin. Everything will even back out and we will continue to produce the most economical and healthy food supply any country has!

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I miss Gail…

The last family picture taken with everyone there.

I don’t even know where to begin this post…

The last blog post that I wrote was all the way back at the beginning of February.  I was celebrating my daughter’s 10th birthday.  If you’ll notice under the comments of that post, Gail Schutz, (my mother-in-law) mentioned Lana and her animals and wished her a happy birthday.  That will be the last birthday wish that Lana gets from her ‘Ma” as we all called her.

Lana & Gail 2012

You see, I had big plans for the blog following that one.  Later in February our family traveled to South Africa to a cousin’s wedding and had the best 10 days ever!  When I got home, following a Farm Bureau Meeting, I had planned on writing about our trip and the different agriculture we saw there.  Unfortunately, while at the Governmental Affairs Conference for the IL Farm Bureau, I got a panicked phone call from Lana telling me something was wrong with Ma.  Gail was our go to babysitter, so naturally my girls were at her house while we were at the meeting.  Without going into too much detail…Gail had a heart failure and passed away.  We made a mad dash home and said our good-byes.  The girls were the last people to see her alive on February 29th.  Just thinking about all of this has me weeping as I type.

Bridget & Gail 2012

Four and a half months later, I am finally up to writing about the woman who I would consider to be the best mother-in- law ever.  If I don’t get this out, I’ll never get back on track with our farm blogs.   It may be too long, so please bear with me…

I met Gail when I was a small child during Junior Woman’s Club meetings that I would attend with my mom, but I really got to know her when her son Chad and I started dating 18 years ago.  At first I found her very intimidating.  She was a take charge kind of woman who was always busy and always had a job for you to do.  I was the first “outsider” brought into the family, so as all new girlfriends know, it changes the family dynamic a bit.  Everyone is on their best behavior at first…then when they get comfortable around you, the true colors show through.  I got to see what a big heart Gail had and how much she loved her family, and I also got to witness the passion she and her husband Kenny had.  The passion was in the form of hugs, kisses, and little looks between them, but also in some arguments with doors slammed and Gail’s nostrils flaring up (a trait that Chad inherited).  It took a little while to figure out that this was the norm and not brought on by the new girl.  It was so nice to see a couple that loved each other so much through thick, thin and working livestock (saving for a another blog!).

Our wedding in 1998 with Kenny and Gail

The whole time I knew Gail and especially after Chad and I were married, she was grooming me to be a good farm wife/farmer.  She knew exactly what it took to be and stay married to a Schutz man.  It’s not always an easy job!  Gail had good pointers for dealing with all three generations of Schutz’s.  She taught me how to cook and by cook I mean for a large crowd.  It is rare for there to be less than 6 at most meals.  In my kitchen cabinet is a spreadsheet with everyone’s likes and dislikes and how the guys like their sandwiches prepared, courtesy of Gail.  She loved feeding people and she was very good at it.  She helped me figure out where and what all the different farm names were.  Most of them are named after someone who owned it or lived there 75 years ago.   She was always very inclusive.  She would make you feel welcome.  She also gave out some marital advice now and then.  Some of her quotes just won’t leave my head!  She just wanted the best for us and for us to be as happy as she and Kenny were.  She was always a good sounding board for all of us.  It was easy to talk to her and get good advice in return.

She was always interested!

Where Gail really excelled in my book, was as a grandmother.  She was absolutely the best.  Our daughters spent a lot of time with her.  She just loved having them around.  We would stop by on our walks when they were little and bike rides as they got older.  Lana was finally old enough that she could ride over to see Ma all by herself.  With Chad being on the Farm Bureau Board at the county level (which he was elected to the day Lana was born) and then on the IL Farm Bureau board, we had a lot of meetings to attend.  The winter months are usually jammed packed with different meetings.  Kenny and Gail always kept the girls while we were gone.  We were so blessed to have them.  And with that, our girls got to spend an amazing amount of quality time with Gail.  They learned so many things from her that no one else could ever teach them.  They have so many wonderful memories that I am so thankful for.  She was always doing a craft project or baking with them.  After Gail’s passing they were the ones we went to, to tell us where she kept different items in the house.  After all of her kids would search high and low for something, Lana and Bridget would take us right to it.  They knew her so well and felt as if her house was just an extension of their own.  It was fitting that in the end she spent her last day with them, they were two of her very favorite people. They loved her so much.

Working on the new addition

She knew how blessed she was, and she truly appreciated everything that they had worked so hard for.

She made the comment that dreams really do come true…which was written next to the last full family photo from the photo shoot we took on my birthday in September.

Family pic 9-11-11

It is so hard to sum up the 18 years that I really knew Gail.  She was a woman full of love, life, laughter, exaggerated stories, kindness, patience, oneriness, fun, and so much more.  Life on the farm has been very different without her around.  We are all moving on and getting by.  Some days are harder than others.

While sitting at an Administrative Council Meeting for our church this week, I felt Gail there.  She never missed a meeting 🙂  During prayer I could see her standing there with us.  I had to wipe away the tears before the meeting could start.  It was comforting and so sad all at once.  Some days I am still so angry that she is gone that I just want to scream.

The girls have started keeping a journal of their memories of her to share with the other grandkids that are too little to remember her.

One of Lana’s journal entries of her memories of Ma.

Even though this is sad and unexpected, we have to keep going.  Keep living each day to the fullest.  The crops had to be planted, the livestock has to be fed, the water has to be hauled.  Life keeps going and we are blessed to have wonderful memories and family to rely on.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted 

There are so many things about Gail that I know I am leaving out or forgetting, but this may be a small novel if I include everything.  I am just going to add a little slide show of a few of my favorite photos for you to look through. 

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