Sometimes you just can’t get ahead – The Harris family

First and most aggravating, is we are still dealing with the second cutting of Alfalfa that has been rolled and rolled and rolled again because of the rains we are having.  We will never complain of the rain anytime but I might complain of the stuff I can’t seem to mark off my to-do list because of it.  Really thought with the wet spring we might get six cuttings of alfalfa instead of just four or five this year.  Next up and falling further behind is the burn down of wheat stubble.  I relearn a lesson every year that it is a good idea to spray finesse in the spring on the wheat.  That basically saves the first summer spraying.  This year, we only put finesse on the farms we knew had a bad problem in an effort to conserve cost.  Where we did not spray we have a huge mares tail problem.

I can finally say we have a good stand of cotton only because Marshall planted it twice in two different directions.  I don’t think he was willing to admit defeat on the first attempt at a stand of cotton.  If you know of a big broadcast header for a John Deere stripper you might give me a call!  I keep accusing Marshall that he planned this as an excuse to use the Allis Strippers that are in the barn with the broadcast headers on them as well.  You know the strippers that I will inherit because he will never sell them – the 1982 models.  I could make someone a really good deal on them.

Adding to the urgency of time constraint because of the rains; we leave in about a week to head to Disneyland.   We are looking forward to the fun and the “getaway” but not looking like all the farming will be caught up before we leave.  Suppose it will be here when we get back but sure hate leaving without it all done.

This year, we seem to have a lot of eye problems with our cattle.  Seems it’s that way across the state; we’re taking several to the vet every day.  I have a bull that I bought last year that might even lose one of his eyes.

Last but not least, we are still running kids to ball games.  They both have week-long tournaments this week.  Going separate directions is not fun.  The girl’s softball team may even make it to state.  Have a few more games to win but in our regional tournament they are “ranked” second.   Pretty good considering they are a fairly young team and most of them didn’t even own a glove the first of March!

Well here’s to hoping I can get caught up!  “Catch” ya next week.

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“Gopher” running, fire extinguishers and other farm mom adventures – The Leonard family

Every farming operation has someone usually designated as a “gopher.” On the Leonard Farm, it is usually me, mom, wife, transportation director, chief cook, bottle washer, fill in animal feeder, and usually anything else that needs done at a moment’s notice. During the summer months, that is my title and job description. During the spring, fall, and winter, I teach Special Education at Vinita Public School. Yes, the family has left me as the last blog writer. I am sure it was because as the family “gopher” they knew it is my job to keep the rest of the family going or maybe they just didn’t have the heart to break the news to me “mom it’s your turn to write the blog this week!” This is Mary Leonard, wife to Greg and mom to Katy and Kody. It has finally come that time on the farm for a transition from one crop to another.

Weekend to Monday morning of the past week, we received some much needed rain. It had stopped wheat harvest for a couple of days but gave us an opportunity to have a little moisture to plant some soybeans.

Planting soybeans in northeast Oklahoma.

Monday, most of it was spent sorting and delivering seed to other farmers from Greg and Kodys’ seed business. Katy started basketball camp and I was designated bus driver, feed hauler and runner for getting miscellaneous needed items for the farm. The afternoon was spent looking over the combine and preparing the planter to run when it gets dry enough to plant. Most of the soybeans will be planted through the straw as no-till beans.

Tuesday, the planting engineer “Kody” was ready to plant. Greg made final repairs and figured he could probably get back to combining in the afternoon. Katy continued basketball camp in the morning. I was once again, designated driver. On that day, my job was to help Kody fill the planter with seed and help service the combine while waiting to go back and pick up Katy from camp. Kody had a very productive day of planting; but Greg was not as lucky. A bolt broke sending a metal flighting into the unloading auger, wrapping it around the auger. After much time was spent trying to get it undone the girls’ (Mom and Katy) were recruited to assist with water, fire extinguisher, and torch.  Oh! This cannot be good, we thought! Using the torch was the last desperate measure. It luckily worked without much water and no fire extinguisher. Greg was back in business, but progress had to wait till morning since it was dark.

Wednesday, I took Katy to Oklahoma State University for Plant and Soil Science Academy. We were up and leaving by 6 a.m. and Kody fed all the show animals. Greg helped him prepare for a day of planting. Greg serviced his combine and prayed for an uneventful day of cutting wheat. When I returned from taking Katy to OSU, I was quickly recruited to help fill the planter again so planting could continue. As evening closed, there was no one home to feed animals so; I was recruited to do the evening chores. We were fortunate to have a good day.

Thursday, the day started as usual for this time of planting and harvest season. Kody and I

Greg and Kody stocking up on soybean seed for a day of planting.

filled the planter with seed, greased, and checked for any repairs needed. It was discovered that some parts needed to be ordered but will be replaced when necessary. Greg got an early start combining after moving from my parents’ farm combining their wheat. Most of my day was spent helping keep Kody keep up with seed, mowing the yard, laundry, feeding animals and waiting to be called by Greg or Kody. This was another productive day for us.

Friday, Kody and I started the morning by feeding the animals, fueling, and servicing Greg’s’ combine. We then moved on to filling the planter so he could start planting. It was noon and time to head to Stillwater to get Katy from Plant and Soil Science Academy. I got to OSU in time to listen to her presentation of what she had done and learned while she was there. She spent three days learning about water quality and testing, comparing seed

Katy working hard at OSU’s Plant and Soil Science Academy.

genetics different varieties, visiting the wheat quality lab where they evaluated potential milling and baking qualities of breeders’ lines, learning how to calibrate a sprayer and looking at experimental varieties in the fields. She had a great time and it was educational. On our way home, Greg called to see where we were because he needed help moving to another field. We told him he was in luck – we were almost home. It was another successful day.

Saturday, we were hoping to be our final day of wheat harvest. We were down to the smaller more time consuming fields as far as moving and less cutting time. The daily preparation during harvesting and planting was the same. Kody was custom planting for someone else before moving back to our fields on Sunday. Katy checked in her heifer for the county fair in the morning. I am assisting Kody filling the planter. In the afternoon, it was time to move Greg to another field. The day ended with a few more bags of soybeans to Kody so he could finish the field. Greg has one more field left to cut. Everyone at Leonard Farm is always glad when the final day of harvest comes.

The corn looks good!

For anyone who has ever worked a farm’s transition time and served as the farm “gopher,” they know it’s a prestigious position that’s never relaxed or boring!

Our first week at Tulsa’s Brookside Farmers Market – The Fisher family

Luke was up bright and early for our first appearance of the year at the Brookside Farmers’ Market in Tulsa.

As you can see, we had a lot of choices for fresh picked produce.  We do our best to encourage Americans to eat more vegetables.  Somebody is going to eat good tonight because we didn’t bring anything home.  Luke is the one posing for the picture and his sister, Elisa, is the photographer. It is always a busy day.

Harvest and Driver’s Ed – The Leonard family

Another very busy week at the Leonard’s. However, it’s my turn, Katy, to write the blog as the youngest member of the family on the farm. We are almost halfway done with harvest. But I started driver’s Ed and worked a few heifers in the midst of all the moving of my dad. We had a few minor breakdowns but nothing that the John Deere mechanic can’t fix.  We are still moving right along with wheat harvest.

Harvesting wheat in northeast Oklahoma.

Monday, we started the day with everyone doing their part to service the combine. Kody greases, mom fuels, dad looks for broken or missing parts, and I clean the cab out and wash windows. Then mom and I went and cleaned her classroom and got her oil changed in her truck. By the time we got home, it was time to help move to another field. Dad finished his day with no breakdowns and got home about 8 pm.

Getting the combine ready for the day’s harvest.

Tuesday, we did the same old servicing of the combine. Then started cutting some wheat and about 2 pm he shut the combine off so he could go dump a truck. When he got back the combine would not start, so mom and I brought the jumper pack and that didn’t work. So dad wiggled the battery cables and it started. Then it would not move or do anything and it died; so, he called the John Deere mechanic about 6 pm. Turns out the circuit board in the armrest was fried and he had to get a new one.

Wednesday, we started the day by working some heifers and putting fly tags in their ears. By the time we got done about 8 am, the combine was ready to go cut some more wheat. We sent several trucks to the port at Inola.

Working calves and putting fly tags in their ears.

Thursday, I started Driver’s Ed. so from 7:30 am to 4 pm dad was on his own because Kody was mowing pastures and mom was in charge of running everyone where they needed to be. When I got home, it probably was not an hour and I get a call from dad. It was to tell Kody and I that he plugged the combine and we needed to bring the pry bar and a 4×4 to dig out all the green straw. It was really itchy! But they got him going again.

Friday, I had another day of learning to drive. Kody mowed some more pasture and mom helped move dad. We sent several trucks to the port. When I got home, I washed my show calf and cleaned pens.

Saturday dad took us all to breakfast at the local café. Then we serviced the combine and got several more trucks to the port. Dad had to get moved so he could keep the trucks moving. He also burned the feed accelerator belt off so he had to stop and find a new one.

Sunday we serviced and got everything ready to go. Then dad and I took off in the combine. We got about 10 to 15 acres done and found that the rotor drive belt and speed adjuster were leaking oil. So we went very slowly until the John Deere mechanic showed up just before dark. Then, once that was fixed we finished filling the last truck of the night.

Watch out! I’m driving the combine!

So our week was exciting for me because I’m one step closer to getting my permit, but mom and dad are getting nervous. However, the rest of our week was successful.

A good year – The Webb family

The culmination of our livelihood as farmers begins with wheat sowing and ends with the harvest.  All the rules go out the window and everything else takes a back seat.  All hands

Brandon cutting wheat as storm clouds loom in the background.

are on deck for this flurry of activity we call wheat harvest.  We pray for a bountiful harvest, we pray for everyone’s safety and protection and of course, minimal breakdowns.  We anxiously await the day we can move the combine into the field and get the show on the road.

Our sons, Clayton and Wade, waiting for the combines to fill their semis with grain.

The predictions of an early harvest were a reality this year.  We started cutting on May 22 and finished June 3.  It is the earliest we have ever started harvesting.  Apart from a few popcorn showers the last three days, things went as smoothly as we had prayed for.  We were pleased with the yields and are now ready to start working ground again to prepare for next year’s harvest.

From the seat of a combine – The Harris family

Well it has arrived our final day of cutting wheat.  I was hoping that Zac would be able to narrate this post for the blog and give a complete report of harvest in southwest Oklahoma, but he is still on the combine.   I am writing this Friday morning, the first day of June. He is moving to the last two fields that are across from each other – about 210 acres left.  He says that with no major problems he should finish today.  I am hoping in time to surprise Kenda at her softball game.  I am certain he just wants to be finished before the next chance of severe weather has time to strike.  This seems like such an odd year.  Huge wheat harvest, great yields and most were DONE in the month of May.  It is just unheard of to be done this early plus following a severe drought that we endured last year.  There must be no other explanation but that God is always so good and He enjoys showing what He can do when we trust Him.  We watched God split storms to go around us, watched Him stop fire and protect homes and watched Him deliver the crucial moisture we needed at specific times.

Mowing down the wheat stubble after harvest.

Zac says he is really excited to see the final numbers come in on the average of bushels per acre.  The yield monitor is showing some really exciting numbers.  I agree with Zac when he said every year you put a crop in you hope for a year like this is proving to be.

When you are in the fields, you can see all kinds of God’s beauty.  Zac has been able to see coyotes and all sorts of wild animals. An amazing dust storm blow over the mountains and the magnificent clouds as well as endless lightning storms were breathtaking.  All of this set before him while driving a combine.  Zac will be the first to tell you, “there is nothing more beautiful than the seat of the combine!”  After nine years of harvesting with him I have to tell you I agree!  But a close second is seeing the piece of himself he puts into every crop every year and feast or famine he feels every inch of the soil.  It takes a special man to turn the soil, to care for the crop and watch it grow for months. Then in an instant, it’s gone; either by Mother Nature or by the man himself!

As the last few combines roll by, take the last few looks around because wheat harvest 2012 is almost completely in the books!

Beautiful clouds as a storm moves in near our farm.