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Every Friday, I share a few of the activities that took place during the week on our farm in eastern South Dakota. We raise corn, soybeans, wheat and beef cattle. Farm life is based on seasons, the weather and the needs of our livestock – so each week is often unpredictable!

This week on the Farm…

Moda and Riley were lovin’ life! They have become more curious about the areas away from their little house on the porch. This week they made it all the way out to the barn! Then, they played on the 4-wheeler. Moda is on the tire & Riley is majorly on the hunt for something he saw out in the grass.


This week John tiled a field at his Mom’s. What’s tiling? Well…it was quite the production. I was only able to shoot photos of day one, not day two.

Every spring this field has several low spots that are two wet to work or plant. This is stressful for the farm wives, because then planting season drags on and on and on and the farmers can get tired, grouchy and stressed!

These wet spots are also stressful for the farmer’s, because these spots generally get planted late or sometimes, not planted at all! What a waste, right?

This field has wet, low spots in all the areas with standing corn stalks. The standing corn stalks are the brighter yellow area, not the darker area. John was not able to plant these spots with the rest of the field.


So, he decided to tile the field! Tiling sort of works like a drain in your bathroom tub, the water runs out in the low spot through a drain. A tiling company brings all of these big pipes to the field, then uses a GPS system to determine where the tiling needs to go.DSCN4775

These pipes have little slits in them, which allow water to go into the drain and run out of the field into a safe, designated location. This allows the ground to dry out faster in a wet spring. Now, John will be able to plant sooner. Yippee!


The tiles are BIG! I’m 5 foot 9 inches tall….so….these are big rolls! Yes, I am STILL comfortably wearing a coat in South Dakota in June. I can’t wait to head home to Missouri before our wedding for some real summertime heat!


I could have crawled through the center if I wanted. Obviously, I didn’t commit this childish act. Everyone in the field working would have thought I was totally crazy! Plus, I am a bit claustrophobic.


Before they put the tiling into the ground, the tiling company uses the maps generated from the GPS and other data to determine the ideal locations for the pipes. The pipes also come in different diameters depending on the need for each specific area. These flags show where the tiles will be placed underground. See how the flags on the left are in a neat, tidy row?


Then, these tough-looking trucks unroll the pipes throughout the field in the designated spots marked by the flags. Check out the huge grill guards.


And, the tread on those tires! I guess going through the low, wet spots in fields each day requires some serious traction for them to keep from getting stuck 100 times at each job site.


Behind this truck, you can see the long, black line of pipe that they are rolling out across the field. As a quilter, I think it kind of looks like a spool of thread. Giant sized, of course.


Sadly, my tiling story sort of ends here! I had to do some writing for SDSU Extension the next day, so I wasn’t able to take pictures of the process of the tiling company actually putting the pipes underground. However, they did make quick work of the job. They were done within 48 hours. They used a BIG machine and basically trenched the pipes right into the ground. The resulting work barely disturbs the ground.

The end result is an underground system of pipes which allow for the low spots to drain more quickly. Farmer’s, like John, love this. Tiling is considered to be an improvement and an investment in the land. Hopefully, the investment will “pay for itself” in 5-7 years.

As a “newbie” to the farming scene (I’m just a cattle gal, remember?) I thought actually seeing part of the process was very interesting. It is good for farmers to improve the efficiency of their land. In the future, these low spots will hopefully have higher yields (aka more corn/soybeans/or wheat will grow there.) For more details on the benefits of tiling read more here.

The next highlight for the week was helping our neighbors breed about 120 heifers, using AI. I wrote a feature story about this family in the May edition of The Cattleman’s Advocate. The Casper’s were part of a wildfire started on Federal Land. As a result, they were not able to have these heifers in pastures out near Lemmon, South Dakota this summer.

Artificial Insemination, commonly known among cattle producers as AI, is just like what it sounds. While this may be alarming to some people, it is total normal in our world. A person artificially breeds a cow or heifer (young cow) with semen previously collected from a bull. John knows how to AI.

In this case, a breeding box was used rather than a traditional head catch. The heifers seemed to be less-stressed and more comfortable during the AI process when a breeding box is used. Constant moo-ing can actually be a sign of stress when working cattle. The cows we worked were almost completely silent. This is good! Also, the process can be completed faster because two heifers or cows can be bred the same time. When the heifers enter the box, they are going toward a dark area. This keeps the cows or heifers calmer. Of course, life on the farm is dirty – as shown in the photos. I have never worked cattle with a breeding box. I though it went very smoothly.


John was pretty messy by the end of the day. It had rained for two days prior the “AI Day” so, the cattle and pens were a bit muddy. Here, John is NOT wearing a huge fanny pack. It’s actually a teeny little warming oven (so to speak, this not the actual name). The pack he is strapping around his waist is about 98* F.

The bull semen is kept in specialized straws before it is put into the cow or heifer. The optimum temperature for keeping the sperm alive is between 90-98* F. So, the sperm is in the straw….and the straw is in a “gun”….and the gun stays warm in the giant, oven fanny pack until it is time for John to breed the cow.

Ya, with me?

Probably not, if you’d really like to know more about AI with cattle the University of Missouri Extension has created a nice, science-based power point that provides a rundown of many of the details here.


I had a great time going along to AI the cattle. It is always fun to visit with our neighbors and work together with other families. I also like working side-by-side with John. I don’t mean to get sentimental, but it is probably one of my favorite parts about our relationship.

So, that’s Farmin’ Friday for the week! I can already tell you next week is going to be a busy one. There’s a teeny chance my Dad may come to visit. I am going to finsing moving allmy stuff to the farmhouse. Then, I will head home to Missouri to be in FULL WEDDING PLANNING MODE!

Farmin’ Friday next week will take place in Missouri & South Dakota, again!

Thanks for reading,


Last week’s farmin’ friday post: Missouri Stocker Cattle & pasture, South Dakota Planting Season & my cousin’s lovely wedding


  1. Lucy

    Farming looked messy this week!

    This week Justin and I planted a 10 ft x 10 ft veggie garden…does that count as farming :)!

    Loving your Friday special. Keep it up!

    • Sierra Shea

      That’s awesome!! That counts. Totes. Can’t wait to hear what you planted. 🙂


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Hey, I’m Sierra Shea! I am so glad you are here. 

Where do I start with writing to introduce this blog? At the beginning, I suppose: I’ve been writing on various platforms online since 2013. I started blogging shortly after moving to South Dakota.

I am a mother and a maker at heart. I’m so grateful to be married to John and mother of three: Joslyn, J.D. and Jesse.

I am a self-taught decorator and designer. I am a brand new shepherdess and a Spiritual Director.

I love living in South Dakota, even though the winters & the wind can be a near-daily struggle.

Blogging is a grounding force in my life and it helps get me out of my head, unstuck and moving in the directions I always hoped I’d be going!