Saturday, March 26, 2016


Coincidental to kicking the cows out of their winter feeding lot (which had become a mud hole) I see  a large wolf track that had been checking things out outside the corral.  This set is 4 inches across.  Nothing compared to the set of grizzly tracks not far away- they were 11 inches wide!  Might be an interesting calving year.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Business End of Beef Cows

The cows are finishing the end of this year's cull carrots.  Ten of these dames left for Delta today- #6, #8, #33, #25, #15, #18, #10, #7, #4, #16.

The 10 bred cows weighed 13,700 pounds.  The 20 yearlings weighed 13,400 pounds.

This begins the process of a conversion that will convert the home place from a cow calf operation to a feeder operation.  The ten cows were replaced with 20 yearlings that will be ready for the table this fall after a summer on open pasture.  In fact, after a couple of days they will all be kicked out of the feedlot to the open fields that are still covered with snow.  Those fields don't attract the cows much when they are covered with snow but we will be feeding remotely until the grass shows up.  That gets them out of the dirty winter lot where the new calves can have a clean start.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Unearthed- 4000 year old Calendar On Wolverine Farm

I have always been curious about the deep soil profiles that were exposed on Wolverine Farm every time we cut a new road or opened a new gravel pit.  Consistent through the length of the farm was the presence of two significant ash layers that I thought could be clues to the dates on the calendar on the left.  This cut documents 8 feet of deposits on the edge of the Matanuska River.  The most significant ash layer is 57 inches down from the top surface of the photo.  It is about 1 to 2 inches of pinkish ash.  The other ash layer is down 30 inches and is only about the width of a pencil at best.  Since we are within a hundred miles of dozens of volcanoes I decided that probably these volcanoes had their own unique fingerprint which surely had been studied.

Sure enough I contacted the United States Geological Society and Dr Kristi Wallace who specializes on volcanoes of SE Alaska suggested that the heavy ash layer was probably from the eruption of the Hays volcano around 1500 BC. That event blew out more than 4 cubic kilometers of the earth's crust into the atmosphere. This was about the same time the Jews were experiencing the exodus out of Egypt.

Dr Wallace has promised to visit the farm later this spring to help us interpret our calendar.

Evident in this profile is the first organic matter that started to appear in the wind laid loess.  Also evident in close proximity of the ash layers is clear evidence of large fires.  Was the ash enough to kill off a lot of the vegetation and set up the fires?  We want to study microscopically the loess itself to see if it changes from the top to the bottom and gives up any clues to source or age.  Some of these banks have stood solidly for over 50 years.  Studies of loess elsewhere suggest that our loess is the jagged triangular type that is more stable.

This is a story that you will hear more about in the future.  Can anyone give us access to a microscope?