Charlotte Rides the Range in Kansas

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), August 6, 2003 | Go to article overview

Charlotte Rides the Range in Kansas


HOWDY y'all! I'm nearing the end of my trip in Kansas, the time has flown by.

I am now staying in Hodgeman County in a little town called Hanston, which is barely sighted on the map! Hanston has a population of approximately 300 people. It has few public services and all but one of the roads are dirt tracks!

The land in Hodgeman County is pretty flat; the only green looking areas are those, which have irrigated crops on them. The prairie grasses are dried out due to the strong winds and drought, which has been ongoing with only 10 inches of rain falling in the last year!

I am staying with the Ruff family who farm over 6,500 acres and have a large feed yard with over 4,000 head of cattle. The calves for the feed lot are bought in at 5 months old with a weight of approximately 450lbs, and are fed until they reach a finishing weight of 1300lbs. The target weight gain for each calf is 2.5lbs per day. The calves are then sold at 18 months to the meat processing plant with the price being determined by the grade and yield. The calves are fed on a diet of silage and high protein grain.

The Ruffs cut about 2000 acres of corn and sorghum for silage every year, producing 30-40,000 ton. They also cut milo and wheat for grain, and oats for hay. Around 3000 acres of this land has to be irrigated, either using ground piping or over-head sprinklers, with the water supply coming from 27 different underground wells.

The Ruffs also graze their Black Angus cattle and calves on approximately 900 acres of pasture. All three Ruff daughters have been very successful year after year showing their homegrown champion steers in Kansas and Regional shows.

The three daughters have all studied at college, and my host mother works as a school bus driver and is a typical farmers wife!

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