Fall harvest and fall planting – The Wilcox Family

Since we utilize no-till production practices, we burned the last two years wheat stubble on this farm to give our canola stand a better chance at surviving the winter.

Since we utilize no-till production practices, we burned the last two years wheat stubble on this farm to give our canola stand a better chance at surviving the winter.

Fall is a busy time here on our farm. We are running about three different directions at the same time! We have finished up cutting our sorghum (milo) and started planting canola as of late Sunday night. Hopefully we will catch a rain here before too long, we have missed the last two, and while we are not terribly dry at this point, last years drought is still too close for comfort. Bring on the hurricane rain!

September is also full of meetings for us. We host crop insurance meetings, attend our county’s annual Farm Bureau meeting, and this year we have the addition of Farm Bill 2014 meetings. We are proud that our Representative Frank Lucas found a way to overcome a dysfunctional Congress and pass the 2014 Farm Bill into law, but now we farmers have to make lots of decisions that will affect us for the next 5 years (at least). I love fall, but I’ll be ready for winter so we can slow down a little.

Till next time… Clint and Jessica Wilcox

Cowboying in Canada – River Mitchell

Wow, what a summer it has been! It’s back to the university for the last semester of my college career, trying to get back into the swing of studying and feeding cows. I thought you guys might like to hear about what I did this summer!

Highs in Saskatchewan were in the mid-40s when Mitchell arrived.

Highs in Saskatchewan were in the upper-40s when Mitchell arrived.

I had the opportunity to spend most of summer in Canada with family friends, the Slades, who ranch in south central Saskatchewan. It is always neat to go see new areas and different ways of doing things, so I jumped at the offer to go stay with them for the summer! Let me tell you the first thing I noticed when I arrived was even though it was nice and balmy in May in Oklahoma, in Canada it was still in the upper 40’s for daytime highs! You can bet the long handles came out pretty quick! Lucky for me I was only there a week and it started warming up. (I will stick a picture in of when I arrived where you can barely see any green grass and some snow in another. Also a cowboy with sheepskin chaps standing on a porch, don’t see that real often in Oklahoma!). There is so much I got to do, learn, and see this summer! I will start with the Ranch.

Tall grass due to frequent rains.

The Slade’s ranch is 12,000 acres, half of which is deeded and the other half is owned and managed for Ducks Unlimited (DU) Canada as a Conservation Ranch. In the summer operation, the ranch custom grazes about 1000 cow calf pairs and 800 yearlings. The cattle are grazed in a rotational system in 160-acre paddocks (a quarter section of land). Stocking rate is about 30 pairs per paddock and half that on DU land. Typically around 200 pairs in a herd and the cattle would be left in the paddock 5 to 10 days depending on grass and cattle condition. The paddock is typically grazed twice through the summer. One of the neat things about the rotational system on the ranch is that no fertilizer is being used on the grazing side. (The picture of jeep is really tall grass!) Alfalfa makes up 20 to 50% of the forage in the fields, giving a nitrogen boost to the surrounding grasses. Also the herd sizes are big enough that the fields gets a decent stomping and manure and urine put back into the ground, which has an enriching effect. The ranch custom-grazes herds from May through October and retains a small herd of cows for the winter. (Notice the pictures of the cowherds, predominantly Angus influenced)

Michell9-4-14StormCloudsThe Slades also cut about 3000 acres of hay that is imported into dry areas of the U.S. Haying normally begins around the middle of July and goes to end of August. Rain is a big factor in putting up quality hay, it rained on average 4 days a week for 6 weeks straight, starting June 15th. Let me tell you I am from Southwest Oklahoma and didn’t think I would ever see that much rain!

Branding on the Slade Ranch.

Branding on the Slade Ranch.

Some of my favorite times this summer were the calf brandings! I was used to processing (vaccinating, branding, worming, etc.) cattle through a squeeze chute, but that is sure not how they do it up north! The calves are sorted off their mothers into a pen that is about three times longer than it is wide. Then cowboys on horseback rope them by the heels and drag them by a Northfork (hook that goes over the calf’s head) that is tied to a rope and staked to the ground and the calf is stretched and held by the horse and heeler (I will put a few branding pictures in of brandings). This immobilizes the calf allowing him to be processed without the use of a chute. All that is required is a cowboy skilled with a rope! The neighboring ranches all help at each other’s brandings. It is a social event as much as work, with lots of food and storytelling going on after the brandings. There is also a competition factor to see who the top ropers are and lots of pointers being given to the younger guys. It was really neat to be around such talented cowboys.

So basically it was an awesome summer! Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Be Blessed,
River Mitchell

Wrapping up wheat harvest and rocketing through summer – The Wilcox Family

A field of swathed Canola is about to get wet.

A field of swathed Canola is about to get wet.

Hello again! It feels like forever since I have sat down to write a blog post. Lots of exciting things going on here on the Wilcox Ponderosa, the most exciting of all of these is the fact that it is raining again! We are very thankful for the rain God has blessed us with starting back at the end May.

For many of my fellow farmers the rains came right as their wheat harvest was beginning and made harvesting below average wheat that much more “fun”. We were able to get our wheat and canola out in a mostly timely fashion. This year the combines/tractors/trucks all ran pretty well, whew!

We were lucky to have my Brothers help for most of wheat harvest… And this is why…

We were lucky to have my Brothers help for most of wheat harvest…
And this is why…

The 2014 wheat crop brought a myriad of challenges: early severe cold, drought, late freezes, oh, did I mention drought? We went 168 days here in Fairview this winter and spring without a single rain event that precipitated over a quarter inch. Some of our farms further to the North and West of town received even less, it was a really tough year.

As we put Wheat Harvest 2014 behind us, my thoughts turned to the same thing as everyone else’s – sweetcorn season! Wait, am I the only one that gets excited about sweetcorn? Anyway, my family in Eastern OK has a long standing tradition of bringing great sweetcorn to Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas, and this year was no exception.

Yes- that’s a backhoe in the corn field- all hands on deck!

Yes- that’s a backhoe in the corn field- all hands on deck!

It’s been a busy summer on our farm- Thanks for following along!

It rained, and rained, and rained some more over in East OK this spring.

It rained, and rained, and rained some more over in East OK this spring.

Harvest came and went, and rain has returned – The Kinder Family

Hello everyone! It has been a few months since I have blogged but it has been a busy few!

Kody and Ashley in front of the White House during Farm Bureau's Congressional Action Tour in Aprl

Kody and Ashley in front of the White House during Farm Bureau’s Congressional Action Tour in Aprl

Kody and I attended the Congressional Action Tour in Washington D.C. with our fellow YF&R committee members as well as the State Board. It was a great trip! We are so glad to be part of an organization that gives such fun and educational opportunities to us! We had an amazing time and got to see A LOT of beautiful monuments.

Harvest 2014 has come and gone for our families. It was a hard one for the Kinder side, as it was the first one since “papa Jim” had passed. He was always such a big part of the farm and the rock of the family. We got through it, though it was tough.

As for my family, it was a short harvest. Not many acres to cut, but it got done and the combines are back in the barn until next year!

Running water over a low crossing of Deep Red Creek.

Running water over a low crossing of Deep Red Creek.

RAIN! RAIN! RAIN!! We have got some rain over the last few months! The picture is just a few miles south of our house in Cotton County. It is Deep Red Creek. It was such a beautiful sight and sound to see so much water flowing in Southwest Oklahoma! Thank you Lord for the Water!

We continue to be busy with our jobs. Kody is still protecting Cotton County as Sargent for the Sheriff’s Department. I continue to work at FSA! We have our cattle program that is being offered right now, so that is what takes most of my time. I count cows and calves all day! It has sure been worth it to see the farmers smile again after the terrible years of drought!

We hope that you too are enjoying some water in your areas!

Until Next Time!!

Kody & Ashley Kinder

Harvest has arrived! – The Wilcox Family

Swathing our canola into windrows

Swathing our canola into windrows

The end of May and beginning of June is a busy time here on our farm. We have started wheat and canola harvest! Before the combines get to rolling in the fields, there are many hours of shop work that must be done to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible when the wheat and canola are finally ready to go. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be breakdowns by any piece of chalk, though. Harvest and breakdowns are like peas and carrots, they just go together! Besides combines, there is the swather, the grain cart, tractors, headers, trucks and trailers that must be checked out to see if they are in good working order, too. Is it any wonder that our parts guys know us really well by the end of June?

Canola moisture was too high, so we switched to wheat

Canola moisture was too high, so we switched to wheat

The few fields we have harvested so far this year are yielding below half of what we usually grow in the same fields. This is disheartening, but we are thankful to have anything at all to harvest. The drought has really hit us hard up here in Northwest Oklahoma. It is also a testament to the amazing plant that wheat is. Some of our farms had less than 3 inches of moisture during the entire growing season (October to early May). The fact that the plants even grew is amazing!

Thanks for allowing us the opportunity to grow a safe, nutritious grain and oil seed for you and your family. I will have more pictures and I’m sure a good story or two for next month!

You can follow along with many farmers across the country as they bring in harvest by searching/following the #harvest14 hashtag on Twitter.

Rainin’ and Rollin’

 – The Harris Family

May has sure had a “boat” load of surprises. Hobart has seen the most amount if rain  consecutively since probably 2008. We received 5 inches over 5 days – it couldn’t have more perfectly timed.

Summer crops were in the ground and are shooting upwards with the big drink they received.

Today, the last day of May, the first combines are rolling in the Hobart area. More pics to come. Praying everyone is blessed and has a safe harvest and summer.

A make or break year – The Harris Family


The light tan spots in this field indicate freeze damage to the wheat crop.

The light tan spots in this field indicate freeze damage to the wheat crop.

For wheat farmers in southwest Oklahoma the proverbial rain has hit. Not only was there severe drought damage to the winter crops, but the late freeze on April 20 sealed the deal on failed crops.

Wheat can withstand a late freeze at different stages for different amounts of time.  If wheat is headed it can withstand 30 degrees for up to 2 hours. If wheat is in the boot stage it can withstand 28 degrees for up to 2 hours. If the flag leaf is out it can withstand up to 26 degrees for 2 hours – the process continues.

In Hobart, temperatures were documented as low 22 degrees and we were under 28 degrees for 6 hours. In layman’s terms: a disaster.  Zac was with a crop adjuster all day yesterday and most of the day today.  Let’s just say it was a tough 48 hours in our home realizing that 80% of our main crop was not harvestable. Today Zac is swathing his Ruby Lee seed wheat – because the head is dead inside the stalk.


The problem we will be experiencing for the 2015 crop year is the significant loss of seed to plant for future crops.  But this is nature’s way of ensuring the strong will survive.  Our faith will remain strong in Jesus Christ, this isn’t the end but the beginning. He always provides!

On another note, Washington, D.C. legislative action tour was great.  Getting to hear from the Oklahoma delegation makes us feel like we could be a part of the only sane state in the U.S., trying to bring common sense back to Washington.

The summer weather outlook Zac Harris received doesn't look favorable for agriculture

The summer weather outlook Zac Harris received doesn’t look favorable for agriculture

With the prospective light frost, we will see if the fresh milo that is coming up can survive.  This will definitely be a crucial year for many farmers. The wise ones will be here to farm another year and the not so wise might not be. It’s a make or break year in Oklahoma! This will take years for farmers to recover from the continuous drought we have seen.

Til next time –

The Harris crew