Tag Archives: regenerative ranching

Bowyer Farm

Previous entries have referred to the Bowyer Farm in regards to the management or, mismanagement, i’ve allowed on the property. Though i am no longer leasing it out and have begun low input, high animal impact to bring it to better production than before (the goal was to reduce the amount of toxic endophyte fescue and i believe that will be accomplished but it could have been done with much less invasive practices i have since learnt), it will take years.

This entry, however, is to report some history and memories i have put together. It is interesting to me that the bulk of the farm (the exception was those 10 acres which exchanged hands at extremely high price – this is a mystery to me) has stayed in my family since January 29, 1878 to my 3rd great grandparents.

History of Bowyer Farm, Linn County, Missouri

US granted to State of Missouri – June 10, 1852

State of Missouri patented to Hannibal & St Joseph Railroad Co – Sep 20, 1852

Hannibal & St Joseph Railroad to Spencer P Bowyer and wife Sarah A January 29, 1878 for $656.08 (82.01 acres) $8.00/acre

Spencer P and Sarah A Bowyer family to Walter M Bowyer, Sep 1, 1898 for 72 acres $1575 ($21.88/acre)

Spencer P and Sarah A Bowyer to Price Bowyer, Nov 27,1899 for $5440 for 10 acres ($544/acre)

Price Bowyer  and his wife, Malinda Bowyer to Lester Phillips and his wife Floy Phillips Mar 27, 1908.  $3000 for 10 acres ($300/acre)

Lester Phillips and his wife, Floy Phillips to Dallas A Falconer Oct 26, 1914.  10 acres for $4500 ($450/acre)

Dallas A Falconer to Walter M Bowyer Dec 21, 1914.  Ten acres for $900

Walter M Bowyer and Edna, his wife, to Dallas Falconer and Hermia (Bowyer) Falconer, his wife, on Jul 18, 1940.  82 acres for $4000.  ($49/acre)

Dallas and Hermia to their son, Virgil Lee Falconer and his wife Virginia Pulliam

              June 13, 1946 the east half of the northeast quarter (82 acres +/-) for $4000 ($49/acre)

              August 31, 1946 the SW quarter of the NE quarter (40 acres +/-) for $1500 ($37.50/acre)

Virgil Lee and Virginia to Tauna M (Falconer) Powell upon his death in 2009.  Appraised to stepped up basis of $1200/acre.

Unfortunately, I do not know much history of life on that farm.  Why do we take interest after everyone who was involved has died?  I do remember working calves and yearlings in the smaller of the two barns left on the property – the one which has the home-built head catch.  Quite rudimentary, but it worked.  Grandpa had feed bunks in a large fenced lot just to the south and east where he fed Silver Moon Grain Plus pellets to his heavy grass yearlings for a couple weeks before selling them at Milan or Green City sale barns.  Until livestock trailers became affordable and popular, we used a ramp to load into 2-ton trucks fitted with stock racks out the south door of the barn previously mentioned.  Up until I took over in about 2011, cattle were still loaded out that south door but in livestock trailers.

When i was a little tyke, Grandpa would let me ‘drive’ the pickup in super low, while he threw small round bales off the back to the cows. Of course, he would put the pickup in granny low even when i wasn’t there, but it made me feel helpful and involved – it is a good strategy for piquing the interest of the next generation.

There is an old cistern/well to the west of the dairy barn which was set up with a very slow electric pump which supplied water to a tank for the yearling cattle when they were shut up the night before load out next morning or whenever it was needed.  The pump took a very long time to fill the tank so we’d turn it on before feeding the cattle or taking out hay or whatever needed doing.  Later, he set some home-made poles in the ground to the windmill in the center of the field and cattle watered out of the Ritchie fountain.  Later, we set up a tire tank with more holding capacity since refill is slow out of the old pond on the west 40.  The windmill and well have long been abandoned by 2010. The west 40 had always been a brome hay field in my memory, but i incorporated it as part of the grazing programme.

In the big dairy barn, we kept our horses for riding out on the farm to check cattle when I was up visiting.  It was handy place to keep them instead of hauling them every day.  I don’t think Grandpa rode as much when I wasn’t there.  He certainly indulged my passion for horseback riding and getting to check the cattle whilst riding with my grandpa was pretty much the top of my life at that time in the 1970s.  It was sad to return to my home in the town of Mexico vs the freedom of the farm, cattle, and land.

I don’t know for sure, but I think my dad, Stanley (b. 23 Sep 1940-d. 04 Sep 1962), and his brother, my Uncle Stephen (b. 23 Mar 1942-d. 15 Jan 2016) spent their earliest years at this house and farm.  I remember Grandma saying that’s where they ‘went to housekeeping’ after they were married on February 10, 1940 (which is also my birthday in 1962!), so that would make sense.  But did my great grandparents also live there before them? When were the house, cellar, chicken house, and barns built? Sadly, i simply do not know.

There was very little of the house to explore even when I was young.  In 2011, I had the old house razed, the well and cellar filled in since all were hazards by this point. My son, Nathan and family friend, Christian Finck picked up and loaded all the old chimney bricks which are in storage and i hope to find another use for them.

Spring Grazing Observations

As blogged before, since changing to Real Wealth Ranching protocol which not only teaches a change in grazing management, but includes other changes which i believe will make my life easier as well as being more profitable all the while building soil, forage, and animal health.

One of the main precepts of any grazing management is observation of stock condition. If the livestock are suffering under your management, you must change something immediately. Daily or, at least often, observation of body condition, manure consistency, thriftiness, and overall general health including appropriate hair shedding, bright eyes, well hydrated, being alert, calm cud chewing, not bawling or wandering, and ears up demeanor are a few subtle clues to health.

For good reason, up until this year, i’ve set my calving season from 15 April to 31 May. For me, personally, that is not a good time because breeding season is 7 July to 20 Aug and 100% of the time, mid August to late September is high ragweed season which is debillitating to me making it nearly impossible to remove the bulls to keep defined dates for calving season.

However, this year (2022), i’m pushing that back to 15 May thru 30 June, With the change to total grazing and by default and plan i am offering a better balance protein/roughage diet to both cows and calves and hope to avoid the serious scours (calf losses about 30% for a couple years running!) encounter by earlier calving. However, calving that early in north central Missouri has its downsides in that it often can be extremely cold and muddy, plus cows will not be in best condition coming out of winter before calving.

Pushing it back a month means I avoid the beginning and ending of ragweed season. The animals need to be nearly set stocked during that time because i cannot be outside.

However, the final decision was to turn out the bulls on 22 July and will plan a 60 day breeding season. Most will likely breed in the first 35-40 days anyway, but the few which are later may allow me to grow my herd a bit. This is a calving season of 1 May to 1 July. However, the bigger benefit will be that removing the bulls will be after allergy season. By keeping my own replacements, there is a much greater chance of success by having adapted animals to my particular environment. Purchasing stock is a crapshoot at best.

As calving season has come along this spring (2022), I’ve really enjoyed noticing the HUGE difference in condition of cows which calved early/mid April and those few which have calved mid May. Any cow which calved early is very slow to recover from calving and has not shedded out well at all. Will that affect rebreeding? In the past, it has not, but the cows sure look better and are carrying much more weight.

One thing that has given me considerable concern is the number of open cows this spring that were pregnancy checked as being bred last fall. Young cows and really good 8 and 9 year olds have lost. In other words, it’s not been any particular age group or any specific bloodlines. Still pouring over records to see what might have caused this. It was about 5% abortion/fetal loss last year which the vets say is on the upper limits of normal. This year’s percentage is hovering around 7% abortion/fetal loss. This despite giving my cows a Lepto shot last fall, which is not what i usually do. However, a couple of those are purchased cows/heifers which are often not adapted to my environment.

The typical death loss of 1% to 2% sadly hit that upper percentage point this year to some sort of chronic wasting disease, most likely anaplasmosis. Seems like it hits my 3-6 year old good doing cows. Unfortunately, this seems to be just a part of raising livestock.

I’m continuing the Real Wealth Ranching protocol and total grazing plan because it has been an amazing program. Coming up on my second full year of implementation here in a few months. I tell people all i’m doing is providing landscaping tools and my cows do the work (grazing). Well, they don’t run the chainsaw.