12 Days of Farm Safety…Day 6


Here’s a nice coloring page with a great safety message!

Originally posted on The Next Generation: Farm Safety and Health:

12 Days of Farm Safety - DecemberLooking for a coloring page for the next family trip? Good way to entertain your little future farmers in the car. Printable PDF available here: Tractor – No Extra Riders Coloring PageTractor - No Extra Riders Coloring Page.pdf

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Thought of the Week

Christmas is not a time nor a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

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The 12 Days of Christmas – Farmer-Rancher Gifts Edition

Do you have a special farmer or rancher in your life? Looking for ideas as to what to get them for Christmas?  Well, have we got some ideas for you!

*clicking on links will take you to that item’s website*

Plane Tickets
Preferably to someplace warm, by the beach, and with a lounge chair, say Hawaii or the Caribbean. After working from before dawn to after dusk for months to bring in the harvest or to care for their cattle or sheep, your farmer or rancher would love a nice break with their family before spring work starts up again!

That looks about right

This looks about right

Boot Dryers and Warmers
Even rubber boots get damp and clammy and work boots can get c-o-l-d sitting out in the mudroom. Get your hardworking farmer or rancher an electric boot dryer and some foot warmers to keep their feet dry and toasty-warm while out doing early morning chores or sitting on a tractor in the cold.

Carhartt Gear
Carhartt gear is pretty much indestructible for most folks, but somehow farmers and ranchers wear that stuff out.  Get your farmer or rancher a brand, spankin-new jacket or overalls to keep them warm and safe from things like barbed wire, poky weeds or  vaccination needles that get knocked out of their hand when the cow flips its head.

Carhartt jacket

Carhartt – because life happens

Weather Station
What farmer or rancher wouldn’t like to know that it’s -20* and blowing like a hurricane when they have to go outside to take care of things?  A weather station that can tell your farmer or rancher the air pressure, temperature, humidity, precipitation and more will help them prepare for the day (like whether they’ll need their new Carhartt or not).

New Recliner
Their old one is probably worn out from all the nights when your farmer or rancher didn’t even make it to bed before falling asleep after a long day of work, or when he or she had to “stay awake” waiting for a cow to calve or a ewe to lamb!

And make sure the dog approves of the new recliner as well.

And make sure the dog approves of the new recliner as well.

Smart phone/iPad with new apps
If your farmer or rancher hasn’t switched over to a smart phone, now is the Christmas to push them in that direction.  Load up their new gadgets with awesome apps that will make their job easier, like irrigation controls, soil monitoring, or range records. Now they can have all of their data in their pocket, and even control equipment, like their irrigation pivots, from their phone.

Click for a list of popular farming apps!
Click for a list of popular ranching apps!

Drones are the new awesome farming and ranching “must-have-item.”  Get your farmer or rancher a drone to check fields for pests, measure water and nutrient content in the soil, check herds, and more.  They get to play with a remote-controlled airplane – but  hey, it’s work!

This is a NEED! A NEED!

This is a NEED! A NEED!

Thermos/insulated lunch box
When a farmer or rancher has to get up at 4 am to start their day, sometimes they don’t make it back to the house ’til dinner. Get them a nice Thermos and insulated lunch box to make sure they’re getting enough liquids, food and fuel to get them through their long day. *Bonus:* include a certificate promising you’ll fill up that Thermos/lunchbox for them.

Who wouldn't want this?! I'm sure you can also find them in your farmer's preferred equipment color.

Who wouldn’t want this?! I’m sure you can also find them in your farmer’s preferred equipment color.

Housecleaning services
Let’s face it, whichever spouse is at home spends just about the same amount of time out in the fields or at a job in town as the farmer or rancher.  During the especially busy times of the year, who has time to clean the house, or do dishes and laundry?! (Who ever has time for housecleaning???)  Get your farmer or rancher some housecleaning services to help relieve some of that stress for everyone!

Not only are farmers and ranchers raising crops and cattle, they’re also mechanics, weathermen, engineers, economists, scientists and more.  To do all of these different jobs, they need tools.  Some good ones – a battery-operated, heavy-duty wrench, a cordless grease gun, a drill bit sharpener, this tire demounting tool, or a tricked-out Leatherman that fits right on their belt.

Truck tire removal tool - to make their favorite job easier!

Truck tire removal tool – to make their favorite job easier!

A farmer or rancher spends hours each day by themselves.  Since no one wants to talk to themself for that long, many farmers and ranchers listen to music.  Give your farmer or rancher an MP3 player, a satellite radio and subscription, or even a gift card to download music.

Books/Movie tickets
Because even farmers and ranchers don’t want to think about farming and ranching all the time!

You should probably buy them from this bookstore. It's one of the most beautiful in the world. And in Portugal #extremechristmasshopping

You should probably buy them from this bookstore. It’s one of the most beautiful in the world. And in Portugal #extremechristmasshopping





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Rancher Profile – The Baker Family

This month we are introducing you to the Bakers, an Idaho ranching family.  I met Sarah Baker, the 6th generation to carry on her family’s ranching tradition, through Leadership Idaho Agriculture.  She brought a lot of fun and entertainment to our classes, and is a strong advocate for Idaho agriculture.  In this interview, Sarah gives us a wonderful glimpse into her life; I know you will enjoy learning about her family’s 126-year history.

Your name/family names:
My Grandparents, Dick and Betty, live and ranch on the East Fork of the Salmon River near Clayton, Idaho.  They have two children and four grandchildren.  Both of their sons (Doug and his wife Cheryl and Wayne and his wife Melodie) also live and ranch on the East Fork.  The four grandchildren also live close by: Stacy and her husband Dusty live and work in nearby Challis, Sarah lives on the ranch and works in Challis as the Custer County Extension Agent, Ashley lives in Boise where she is studying to be a teacher, and youngest grandchild Justin lives and works on the ranch alongside his father Wayne.  First cousin JR and his wife Lura (Custer County Clerk) and their son Jesse also live and ranch on the East Fork.

The Baker Family after shipping cattle - 2013

The Baker Family after shipping cattle  in 2013

Where do you live, your ranch name?
Most of our family lives on the East Fork of the Salmon River near Clayton on the following ranches: East Fork Ranches LLC (Wayne & Melodie Baker), Baker Ranches (JR and Lura Baker) and P Bar Ranch (Doug & Cheryl Baker).  Other family members live nearby.

Sarah ad herGramps fixing headbox head of Pistol Creek 1985

Sarah and her Grandpa fixing a headbox at the head of Pistol Creek in 1985

How long have you been ranching?
My family has been in the ranching business for over 100 years.  I am the 6th generation on my family’s ranch.  My Grandpa’s great-grandfather, Elias, arrived on the East Fork in 1888.  They ran cattle and Elias was a wagon master.  His son, Ed Baker (my grandpa’s grandfather) was also a freighter; he drove teams and hauled freight to the booming mines along the Salmon River.  Jocko Baker, my grandpa’s father, and his wife Mary were also ranchers.  They raised three sons – Eddie, my grandpa, Dick, and Babe, and one daughter,Viola. The original house where my grandpa was born and raised still stands today, surrounded by a field owned and operated by my cousin JR Baker. (see photo below).

Old House in Jr's hay field

Old  original house in JR’s hay field

After being honorably discharged from the Service, (Grandpa was called home to help run the ranch following a horse and wagon accident that left his father crippled), my grandpa and his older brother Eddie took over management of the ranch at an early age.  Good business sense and a hard work ethic set the Baker brothers out to acquire more ranchland to provide feed and grazing for their cattle herds.

Moving cattle

Moving cattle on the ranch

In 1950, my grandpa married my grandma Betty, who was the daughter of a sawmill operator on Slate Creek.  It was here that they began their own ranching legacy.  Here Dick and Betty raised their two sons, Doug and Wayne. Working side-by-side, they acquired more cattle, equipment, and land.  In 1993, they purchased the original Fred Gossi Homestead Ranch with their oldest son Doug, who is my dad.  In 1997, they sold their ranch to their youngest son Wayne, my uncle, but continued to live and work on the ranch.

Why did you become a rancher?
I think my family became ranchers because they wanted to see the ranches passed on from generation to generation and they were not afraid of hard work.  I feel very fortunate to have been born into a family with a great work ethic, pride, and family ranching values.  As a kid, I spent a lot of hours with my grandpa helping feed, ride, and hay on the ranch.  When my dad and mom purchased their own ranch in 1993, I had even more chores added to my to-do list, including the dreaded moving handlines (portable irrigation pipe) in the summer!  I was always volunteering to go riding with my grandpa, so I didn’t have to move pipes or irrigate!

Grandpa - Joe Jump Basin

Grandpa at Joe Jump Basin

What are your ranching words of wisdom?
Keep it simple!  Family is most important!  Hard work, determination, and perseverance… being able to pass on the work, the knowledge, and the legacy to future generations of Bakers.

What type of cattle/crops do you raise?
Cattle and Hay!  All of my family runs commercial Black Angus cattle.  Most of the private land on the Baker Ranches is in the valley bottom (East Fork of the Salmon River) and is used for hay ground in the summer months.  Because of the short growing season, one crop of meadow hay is usually all that is harvested.  In addition, my uncle has a few hundred acres of irrigated alfalfa that will normally yield two crops each year, but most of the hay comes from the meadows, or is purchased from hay growers around the state.



Tell us about your operation.
Running a ranch in Custer County is unique and presents many challenges.  Regarding the weather – it can snow on the 4th of July, or be 60* in November.  We always say you need to dress in layers when you live here – because it can start out at 0* in the morning when you saddle up, and be up to 70* by mid-day.  If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes and it will change!

Sarah and her Gramps steelhead fishing

Sarah and her Grandpa steelhead fishing

The growing season is very short, and our soils (well, we don’t really have soil here), are very shallow and are comprised of a lot of rock.  We are definitely not farmers and always joke about our ability to grow grass.  Feed is our #1 cost, which is not unusual for a ranch.  We can graze our cattle on native pastures usually April through October, and don’t have to feed them hay during this time.  Most years we have to start feeding them hay in November.  However, some years, depending on weather, we will have to start feeding hay as early as October, and then have to feed hay until we are able to turn the cattle out on our Spring BLM* grazing allotments in April and May. That is a lot of hay!

Another challenge is that Custer County is 97% public lands – which means there are very few private pastures available for our cattle to graze on.  The private pastures that we own are used to grow hay in the summer months, so we rely very heavily on federal range grazing permits for our cattle to graze in the late spring, summer, and early fall months.  Unfortunately, grazing on public lands is getting harder to do.  Increased environmental regulations, an abundance of endangered species, and conflicts with cows and the uneducated public, have made it very difficult to keep cattle grazing on public lands.  Endangered Species – we have them all here!

Turning out dad and Justin's cows on spring BLM 2012

Turning out Dad’s and Justin’s cows on Spring BLM, 2012

The extra regulations for the listed fish (salmon, steelhead, and bull trout), and the ever presence of wolves, makes things interesting to say the least!!!  These are just a few of the unique challenges that we face ranching.  A normal year for the Baker Ranch consists of:
Winter – calving
Spring – turning cows out on BLM allotments
Summer – irrigating, haying, move cows up to USFS** allotments
Fall – bring cows back home, wean, ship calves, preg-test (pregnancy test), get ready for winter!

Do you use any sustainable practices?
I think all of our practices are sustainable!  I think ranching for 6 generations on the East Fork is pretty sustainable or we wouldn’t still be here!  I always say that ranchers are the true environmentalists.  Our livelihood depends on the long-term health of the land and the natural resources that our cattle utilize.

My family plays an important role in protecting private and public lands, both by enhancing productive agriculture land and rangelands, and keeping that land safe from degradation and development.  Without stewards of the lands like my family, much of the vast, open West that we all love so well, would be lost forever.

Dad and Grandpa checking the time

Dad and Grandpa checking the time

Our private lands boast some of the best habitat for wildlife in the country – that is proven with all the elk, deer, bighorn sheep, antelope, and moose that live and eat on our ranch! The fishing in the river that runs through our private lands (East Fork River) boasts some of the best fisheries habitat – for salmon, steelhead, bull trout, and native rainbow trout in the west.

My family has also been active members of the Challis Experimental Stewardship Program (CESP), one of three in the US authorized and established under Section 12 of the Public Rangeland Improvement Act in 1978.  One of the primary objectives throughout the history of CESP has been to mitigate the grazing reductions to area ranchers and help stabilize the local ranching economy.

Justin, Sarah, and her Gramps showing off their (found) horns after riding

Justin, Sarah, and Grandpa showing off their (found) antlers after riding

My family’s ability to set down at the table with all interest groups and federal agencies, and lead tours of their ranch and range allotments, all led to the development of allotment management plans, mitigation of stocking reductions, range improvements that provided better livestock distribution, and development of irrigated-early-spring-use pastures to relieve pressure on some of the lower range and privately owned hay land and pastures.  I am now proud to say that I am the Chairman of that group and hope to keep the good work of the CESP continuing on into the future!

We have also worked closely with the local Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Upper Salmon Basin Watershed program to protect and enhance salmon, steelhead, and bull trout habitat on the ranch on the East Fork River.  Fencing off streams to promote fish and waterways, reclaiming, filtering and re-using water whenever possible, creating man-made irrigation ponds, and proper grazing all have encouraged the growth of healthy, riparian areas in the river bottoms, and encouraged clean water and abundant wildlife habitat on the ranch.

After the wolves were introduced into Central Idaho, my family worked with local Fish and Game (F&G) and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) personelle, to help collar and identify problem wolves, monitor wolf activity, and report depredations when confirmed.  Our family were featured on national television when Peter Jennings and his NBC crew flew to Idaho to film a documentary on wolf re-introduction.  Telling our story, and the stories of other hard working ranchers, has always been important to our family.

Sarah and her Gramps vaccinating cattle

Sarah and her grandpa vaccinating cattle

Is there something interesting, cutting-edge, fascinating, you would like readers to know?
Most people think it is strange that we do not have cell phone coverage on the ranch, and that we only get mail delivered twice a week!

What are the biggest challenges you face as a rancher?
Radical environmentalists!  Uneducated public who think they are “green”.  I think that the “green” environmental movement (whether it is activists trying to stop public lands grazing, or a working mother who believes that organic, free range, non-GMO, natural, sustainable, blah, blah, food is the only thing they can feed to their family, or a conservation group lobbying to “protect” vast acreages of Custer County), is the determent of the country!  When people are uneducated and base decisions on emotion, rather than facts, agriculture and ranching are in a world of hurt.  The people that are making decisions in this country need a healthy dose of reality about where their food comes from – and what it takes from ranchers and farmers to make it happen.

Heading home after taking yearlings out - what spectacular scenery!

Heading home after turning  yearlings out – what spectacular scenery!

What are ranching’s biggest rewards for you?
Ranching is not just a business, but a way of life! Family!  Doing something that we love every day.  Working in the outdoors.  Not having a boss, except for Mother Nature and Father Time!

I am fortunate that I can work in a job with the University of Idaho Extension Office to help ranchers in the county, including my family, and then on my days off, be at home and help on the ranch.

Do you participate in any civic or industry organizations?
Custer Soil & Water Conservation District, Upper Salmon River Basin Watershed Program, Challis FFA, Custer County 4-H, Clayton Historical Society, Clayton 4th of July, Challis Area Chamber of Commerce, Challis Experimental Stewardship Program, Idaho Cattle Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (and many, many others, Sarah is everywhere!)

Are there any stories about farming that you’d like to share?
We lost my grandpa – who was my partner in crime – on June 27 of this year.  He was 92 years old.  It has been an extremely tough time for my family losing him, although we know he lived a rich and full life.  He was born on the East Fork, and he passed away on the East Fork – on his ranch.  He was the last of the Baker Brothers on the East Fork.  We spread his ashes on November 1 – his and my grandma’s 54th wedding anniversary – on a mountain overlooking the ranch in the sage brush and pine trees.  I can look up every day from my house and see his final resting place.  He is now watching over us as my family continues on his ranching legacy.

The Baker Family toasting Grandpa - Shipping 2014

The Baker Family toasting Grandpa – Shipping 2014

When next you eat a delicious hamburger or a fine steak, think of the Baker Family, and say a big THANK YOU to them, for producing our beef.  We also thank the Bakers for their diligence and duty in the care of their land.  They are an excellent example of fine, sustainable stewardship of the land.



* Bureau of Land Management
**United States Forest Service

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Thought of the Week

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Thought of the Week

When I started counting my blessings, it turned my whole life around

-Willie Nelson

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Farmer Update – Mark Richter

Farmer Mark Richter of Endicott, Washington wrote to us to let us know how his season wrapped up.  Our country’s farmers are able to slow down and breathe after the rush and hustle of spring, summer and fall farming.

Here is Mark’s note:


2014:  Harvest yields were down due to low moisture conditions in the Palouse (eastern Washington).  This year our garbanzos which had been planted in the lower precipitation zone (Thera and St. John areas) brought lower yields and smaller bean size than normal.

This year’s large garbanzos had the lowest A bean % (he’s talking about yield) than any other year I have grown beans.  It would have been better to plant all small beans this year. Our yield of Winter Wheat (WW) following garbanzos last year was low also due to low subsoil moisture.  I will probably not plant beans at Thera next year because the WW that is planted on garbanzo ground is just coming up now and the fallow wheat is a nice size. We have received some nice rains lately that have allowed the WW to start to come up. Temps have been above normal which has also allowed wheat to get some growth on it.

Markets: I think they will be lackluster for the rest the year.  We have seen white wheat get back to $7.00 which has been good.

St. John Farm: We are cleaning up around SJ and it looks much better.  We are also cleaning up around Thera Farm.  We had accumulated plastic tanks  over the years and they are not useable any more so we are recycling them.




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True Horsepower

See some real horsepower in action!


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Happy Thanksgiving!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Farmer Update – Todd Strader

Farmer Todd Strader set us this great 2014 harvest update just the other day. He had quite a year, with a summer hail storm destroying much of his wheat crop! Read on to learn about his year, and to see what he has planned for 2015!


2014 Wrap Up – 2014 was a successful however “tough” weather year. The winter wheat (Syngenta’s Ovation Soft White Wheat) was seeded into moisture in late September and went into winter with a great stand and very healthy. However, there was a significant cold snap in late November/early December and also in February with little snow cover to protect the crop. These cold snaps did not kill the winter wheat however they severely stunted the growth and set back the plant significantly. Then, in late July a severe hailstorm hit which caused considerable damage. It is hard to say what “would’ve” been, however I was very pleased with the wheat until the hailstorm. Thank goodness for hail insurance!

I was pleased with the Garbanzo bean crop which was also direct seeded using our Horsch Anderson direct seed drill in late April and early May. The stand was excellent and the crop appeared to be a good one until the same hailstorm. Again, thank goodness for hail insurance! We still harvested a pretty significant crop, however there were significant discounts due to the poor quality and damaged to the beans we harvested.

2014 Marketing – The current price for old crop is $7.05. A little over a month ago I met with several grain marketers and at the time the price was in the $6.50 range. All warned that the prices could take a dip to the $5.50 mark. Since then the price has climbed back to the $7.00 mark. If these prices hold out, I would be happy with $7.00 for old crop as well as starting to contract some for the new crop for 2015 as this price is better than the CRC guarantee. The new crop can be contracted at $6.85 currently and I will look to contract some of the 2015 crop shortly. I like to forward contract 25-33% of the upcoming crop during these next few winter months. With the huge corn crop harvested this year, most domestic commodities have taken a dip, however it appears there is a lack of quality “milling” wheat which is why our soft white wheat prices have steadily climbed post harvest.

As for next year, roughly two thirds of your farm was seeded to winter wheat. The majority of the winter wheat is a 3 way blend of West Bred 456, 523 and Syngenta’s Ovation. The remaining acres were seeded to Syngenta SY 107. SY 107 is a fairly new variety with an excellent disease package with high yields in the “wetter” country near Palouse. I previously sent you a picture of the winter wheat stand going into winter. The stand looked excellent and the crop appeared healthy going into winter.

These last few days I am sure have taken a toll though. As I write this, the temperature is 14 degrees and the wind is blowing 25-30 mph which is not conducive to growing a good winter wheat crop as there is no snow cover.

On the remaining third of the farm, I plan to raise either soft white spring wheat, dark northern spring wheat or barley depending on the prices and discounts and insurance guarantees in the spring. A couple of weeks ago, I applied 40 lbs of Nitrogen on this ground in preparation for spring and I also applied RT3 to kill the volunteer that had come up this fall. The ground appears in great shape in preparation for spring and I look forward to the upcoming year!


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