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Farmin’ Friday: Cutting alfalfa, Angell family Holstein round-up


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…

Ron and John took the first cutting of alfalfa and made the haylage pile. This will be used to feed the cows and calves in the upcoming winter. They also “wrapped” some of the first cutting, too.

DSCN4922John spent the day driving up and down this pile, pushing up each dumped load of freshly chopped alfalfa.


In 2012, I was an Alfalfa Marketing Intern for Land O’ Lakes, so I made several YouTube videos for my job. I made my “practice” video on Blachford Farms, then I worked on client videos during the rest of the summer. The link below shows the entire process of Ron and John putting up haylage last year. It was the same process this year. Check out the video: Blachford Farm Alfalfa Haylage 2012.

Below, they are wrapping “wet” bales of alfalfa. Normally, this would rot or mold. However, it is okay in this situation. They bale up the hay while it is still wet and then wrap it in plastic. The plastic wrapping seals the hay and keeps it from going bad. This is fairly new technology in the “hay” world and it is quite exciting to utilize on the farm.photoDSCN0826

{Missouri Memory}

I absolutely love the process of cutting hay, letting it dry and then baling, wrapping or piling it up. It smells soooo absolutely wonderful. When I was in middle school, my very first job was raking hay on the local custom hay crew. It paid $4 per hour. I loved the job because I got a really good tan and my parents let me get my very own cell phone so that I could call for rides or help if I needed it.

The next year, I had the same job but I got a raise! I was still in middle school. I made $4.25 per hour. My Mom and often laugh about that first summer job, because she had to haul me to fields all over Boone & Audrain Counties so I could work. She knew all along that it was costing more for her in time & gas than I was making each day.

Her efforts from driving me around were finally worth it that fall. We went shopping together and I wanted to buy a new shirt. She said, “Well, you have your own money. You can buy that if you want to.”

I said, “This shirt is $12. That means I had to sit in the sun and rake hay for three hours to pay for it…I don’t think I want it that bad.”

My Mom and I still talk about my first job as the “rake girl.” I gained a huge sense of responsibility and satisfaction from learning to drive that little tractor. More important than the few hundred dollars I made, I also learned the value of time & money.DSCN0808

{Another Missouri Memory}

When I was growing up in Missouri, my Dad had some hay plastic wrapped just like we did this week in SD.

It was the first time he had ever tried this new method and we were all excited about the “plastic bales.” Normally, farm kids climb and play on the rows of hay. It is like a personal on-farm jungle gym. My sisters and I liked to play tag up on the long rows of bales.

So, we climbed up on the plastic-wrapped bales and jumped and played just like always. Our cats & their claws followed. By the time four girls and all the cats finished playing we had unknowingly ruined our poor dad’s hay.

He had to go back the next day and duck tape over all of the holes from our little toes and the cats claws. Then, he patiently explained why we couldn’t play tag on these particular bales of hay.

It wasn’t funny then, but it sure is now!

South Dakota to Missouri

This week, I left South Dakota for Missouri on Thursday. I was sad to leave Riley & Moda, but John will take good care of them. I’m kinda bummed because by the time I come back they will be “teenager” cats and not kittens anymore. photoWhen I arrived, my sisters were eager to fill me in on their summer plans & work so far. They have been building fence and hauling hay.

They have fallen into a “summer fencing schedule.” The girls, my Dad and a few other helpers get started as early as possible building fence. They try to beat the heat. Then, they quit at 3 or 4 in the afternoon and head to the pool.

I am glad they are finding a nice work-life balance. My Dad is 50 now and he has mastered the art of working with girls ranging from ages 10-19. Some might say he is mellowing!

When I was in high school, fencing days did not end with swimming! I am excited to be home for this new tradition.

Holstein Round-up

As the saying goes, “Good fences, make good neighbors.” When your cattle get out, it is not a good thing. It is stressful. Especially when you live along a frequently-traveled highway, like Papa. DSCN4992Even though we try to avoid letting the fences fall into poor repair, sometimes the cattle still get out. Of course, this happened right when I pulled into Centralia at about 8:30 pm! Papa always has a few Holstein steers that he feeds out until they are fat and ready to be “harvested.”

This Holstien stands in his yard all the time, it was his big Christmas present last year. DSCN4997Here’s how our Holsein round-up went. Luckily, just one got out.

  • Somebody called my Uncle Jed to let him know one was out. Uncle Jed confirmed that the sighting was not the statue cow in the front yard. It was indeed a moving animal.
  • Uncle Jed called Dad.
  • Somebody called or found Papa and Mamoo at the Country Club.
  • Dad called me.
  • I called Savannah.

I was heading towards the farm on Highway 22, when I saw my grandpa tearing out of the Country Club heading towards home. He and Mamoo were spitting gravel and hustling down the road to put in the renegade steer. Apparently, their supper was interrupted. Up ahead, I could see Uncle Jed heading toward the farm.

Within five minutes, we were all at Papa’s farm.

Question: How many Angell’s does it take to put one steer back in?

Answer: Sierra, Savannah, Sam (a friend) Papa, Mamoo, Uncle Jed and Aunt Jill. Seven. DSCN4998DSCN4995 This may seem like a bit of overkill, but I think each of us just wanted one person to come and help them.DSCN4989 In the end, it was basically a social event. The steer walked right back in the hole he found to sneak out! We didn’t have to do anything. Uncle Jed fixed the hole and I visited with Mamoo and Papa. I have sure missed my quirky family!

I missed that goofy cow in Papa’s yard. I missed Papa’s poor driving. I missed all of the relatives and our occasional steer round-ups. I am glad to be home!




  1. Kathy Hasekamp

    We always say there’s nothing like a ‘jog’ with friends (cows) and family (whoever else is helping you put them in). 🙂 Another great story! Keep ’em coming!!!

  2. Derina

    Sierra, I loved reading this the memories of you girls on the hay bales I remember those soo well. It was always a blast to babysit you girls because even though I was a farm kid, I didn’t have hay or cows. 🙂 Plus I will never forget the time you girls said to take Schyler to the barn and she will be okay in the punkin seat while you climbed on bales. Plus one of you had a good idea you thought she needed to join in so you climbed up and she was handed off. Keep up with the great stories.

  3. Jayci

    Additional info to the cow story:

    Apparently when the call went up to the “club” to make Papa aware that a steer was out the waitress put her hand over the phone and shouted “Luther, ya got a cow out…AGAIN!”

    • Sierra Shea

      That’s awesome! I didn’t hear that detail.

  4. Jed

    I was first notified by APB text from our friend and local police chief Larry, which read, “Call Gary. Cow out at ur dads house along 22. Jon didn’t answer”
    I love living in a small town.

    • Sierra Shea

      Now we have…”the rest of the story!” Too funny 🙂



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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!