What a difference a year makes – The Leonard Family

Greetings from the Leonard house. This is Katy writing this week. Who would have thought that a month ago we would be sitting and waiting for it to dry out after approximately 15 inches of rain in the last two weeks? Two weeks ago my dad had surgery on his elbow and wrist. So he has become the one arm bandit and the drill sergeant. We, as in Kody, mom, and I, decided that we were going to take him on vacation to Palm Coast, Florida, for a week.

The Leonard Family visiting the Daytona International Speedway.

The Leonard Family visiting the Daytona International Speedway.

While we were in Florida we visited St. Augustine which just happens to be the oldest town in the U.S. We also visited Daytona Beach and with the NASCAR fanatics that are in my family, we had to go to the Daytona International Speedway and go on an hour and a half tour of the speedway.

Also, while we were in Daytona Beach we visited Bubba Gump’s. While we were there we saw several people fishing on the shore at the beach. We asked one of the guys fishing if they caught very many and he said one day he caught 16 baby sharks. He said if people really knew what was swimming in the water they might think twice before going in the water. Mom and I enjoyed searching for shells each day. We returned early Saturday morning after dad had got lost in Kansas City, Missouri.

Okay, now it’s time for dad’s views.  It’s so amazing how a year can be so different from the one before it.  This year started off very dry then got very wet from March through the first of June and then no rain for 60 days and now it has rained over 20 inches in the last three weeks.  From a crop producing viewpoint, crops don’t grow well in either extreme too wet or too dry.  That being said, here is this year’s crop report so far.

Water standing in a field at the Leonard home.

Water standing in a field at the Leonard farm.

Wheat was very good but about a week later than normal in harvesting.  Corn was a disaster from start to finish. It was too wet which caused us to be working the ground too wet which caused compaction on what ground we were able to get planted. Then it got hot and dry in June and July which made the ground get very hard. The roots of the plants hadn’t gone very deep because of the early wet ground and then when it did try to pollinate we had near 100 degree temperatures and very dry conditions.  Now with the 20 inches of rain in the last three weeks, the corn has suckered out and greened up and is even growing new ears but with no pollen left they are only blank ears.  So corn harvest, when it does ever come about, will be late and short as we only got less than half the acres planted that we wanted to.

Milo that got planted late when the corn didn’t get planted looks good now and is heading out.  I have never seen milo this tall but then again I have never seen this much rainfall in the first of August either.  Soybeans that got a stand in the dry soils of July now are dealing with the third week of water standing on top of the ground and not enough oxygen in the root zone in the soil. So they are very yellow looking but still growing.  The biggest issue with the soybeans now is the Roundup resistant weeds and the fact that we can’t get across the ground to spray the weeds.

To add to this, the local crop duster and his three planes went to Iowa to spray corn fungicides the last two weeks so our weeds have been growing fast with all this rain.  Now the beans are starting to bloom and that greatly reduces our options on what we can use to kill the weeds out of our beans when it does stop raining. (Boy I never thought I would ever say those words in the first week of August about wanting it to stop raining!)

We are all busy getting ready for school and the county fair, going to workshops and preparing for the new year of seed sales.

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Photo feature: Wheat harvest in northeast Oklahoma – The Leonard Family

The Leonard family sent us these photos from the wheat field taken during wheat harvest 2013 on their farm.

Time to harvest and time to plant – The Leonard Family

This blog entry was written by Katy Leonard.

Things at the Leonard house became very hectic the week of June 16. I left the morning  of June 17 to go to basketball camp in Cleveland, Oklahoma, and it was raining when I left so we didn’t cut any wheat.

However, Tuesday, June 18, is when they kicked wheat harvest into gear and haven’t really stop since then. Dad is combining, Kody is planting, and mom and I are in charge of loading Kody and trying to keep everyone else happy. Along with trying to keep everyone busy at our house, we are having to run dad’s seed customers their seed when they are in need of it.

When I came home from camp the afternoon of June 19, they put me straight to work helping clean some of the wheat dad had cut that we are going to keep until winter. When Kody came home to load the planter he realized that the inside tire on the tractor had a leak around the value stem, so we aired it up and told him to call us if it went flat again. With our luck he made it home, but the next morning it was completely flat so we had to take the dual off and have the local tire repair shop come fix it so he could get rolling again and keep up with dad.

Along with all of this we had the county fair lamb tag-in the morning of June 22. In the midst of all of this, I work at a vet clinic in Vinita on Mondays and Fridays. On June 22 Dad said wheat harvest should last about 2 more weeks if we don’t get the semi stuck in a hidden mud hole like we did the night of June 19 or break a sickle in half. But here we are on July 6th done with our wheat but helping a neighbor finish his.

Thankfully, this year’s yields were very good. But it’s amazing that three weeks ago we were too wet to plant, and now we are too dry to plant all of our acres to double-crop beans.

Seed treating, pasture mowing and planting milo – The Leonard Family

This is Kody writing. Over the past two weeks or so we have been treating seed, mowing pastures, planting milo, and preparing for wheat harvest and planting double-crop soybeans.

This week started out with my dad and sister treating approximately 1700 units of soybeans, which our customers wanted, treated for planting in the month to come. While they treated, I made a little trip to Stillwater to get my FFA Grain Production Proficiency ready for the national contest next month.

Leonards6-10-13CattleinYardMy dad on Friday finished mowing our rental pasture to keep the cows from getting pink eye from the fescue stems. Though the John Deere 8410 tractor we used to pull the 20-foot bush hog may of been over-kill, it got the job done.

If you were to ask my dad if planting milo before a 4-inch rain was a good idea, I think he would say yes. That pretty well sums up the luck we had planting milo. We will just say we have to replant it.

One of the Leonards' grain trucks clean, polished and ready to roll.

One of the Leonards’ grain trucks clean, polished and ready to roll.

We have also wrapped up the finishing touches on getting the combine and header ready for wheat harvest. I greased the combine and header, along with making one last glance to make sure we did not miss anything that needed fixed.  We have washed, serviced, polished and fueled the trucks and swept the bins.

Finally, we have fly tagged our heifers and fall-born calves to help keep pink eye and the flies in general away while we are going hard farming for the next month.

P.S. Dad says by next week at this time we will be cutting wheat in northeast Oklahoma, barring any more rain.

A time to sow (after the snow) – The Leonard Family

Preparing a field to plant corn.

Preparing a field to plant corn.

Over this past month we have planted about 500 acres of corn, though it may be a little late, some is better than none. What makes it hard to work around is the weather when it rains ever other day and it even snowed on May 3rd!

The new seed warehouse is still full of corn and soybeans. Dad says he sure hopes all the corn disappears soon, whether it is in the form of farmers planting it or returns. Between rain showers and planting corn, we have been working on the combine and header to get them ready for wheat harvest. We also serviced our trucks getting them ready for wheat harvest. We have hauled off the remaining bit of corn we had leftover from last year’s harvest off as well. We hauled the corn to a local poultry feed mill – Simmons Foods in Fairland.

After finishing planting we moved on to spraying pastures and spreading Bermuda grass seed on a 5-acre piece of ground near a cell phone tower. Last weekend Katy bought three sheep and went 50-50 on another with me to show at the County fair in August. While at the sale we got volunteered to build a bracing stand for the lady who bought the sheep from. So over the weekend Katy and I have been constructing and welding the stand together.

The Leonard family at the 2013 Oklahoma FFA Convention.

The Leonard family at the 2013 Oklahoma FFA Convention.

Last month we attended the state FFA Convention in OKC where Katy was with the Afton FFA chapter and Kody won the state proficiency award in grain production entrepreneurship.  That was a great honor for him and his FFA program, and now along with the scholarship money he won he gets a chance to apply for a National FFA proficiency to represent Oklahoma.

Greg has been busy with the Oklahoma Farm Bureau farm bill task force working to help get as good a farm bill for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers as possible this past couple months. He is glad it has once again passed through both the house and senate ag committees, but really hopes that all this work again this year doesn’t end up with a repeat of last year’s farm bill efforts where nothing ended up getting passed on the house floor and no farm bill passed. Greg and the kids have also finished the new office in the seed warehouse during all this rainy time.  It’s going to be a nice addition to our farm to have a place for the business to be outside of house while providing a break room for all working on the farm.

Mary is now out of school and busy keeping us all going in the right directions, along with feeding and helping Katy with her animals.

What a difference a couple months make – The Leonard Family

Hello all from what is now very wet northeast Oklahoma. As a farmer and rancher, and as a seed dealer, it is very hard to explain the attitude changes that the farm and ranch families go through in dealing with the weather and Mother Nature, but I will try.

Hail from a storm on  March 30.

Hail from a storm on March 30.

Two months ago at every supper table and church across this part of the state, a prayer was being said that went thing like this: “Lord, please let it rain.” Yesterday, I would bet that most were saying something more like this: “Thank you Lord for the rainfall. Please let it warm up so the grass will grow and I can plant some corn before it’s too late.”

On the seed side of our farm two months ago, I was thinking I might not even plant corn this year unless it rains so I can send the corn seed back. Now it has rained too much and it’s going to be past the crop insurance coverage date before it even dries up!  From our side of the seed business it sure makes planning inventories very hard, and now we must move the corn seed north to farmers who are still able to plant corn. Then we will find more soybean and milo seed for our customers to plant later in the year.  It has also hailed and froze the wheat crop at least two or three times in the last month. So far it appears that we haven’t had a lot of freeze damage to our wheat, although we’ve seen some. We once again have freezing temps in the forecast this week. Our wheat is a good three weeks later in development than it was last year at this time, so I guess we won’t see a May wheat harvest this year like we had last year.

Muddy fields have hampered springtime field work.

Muddy fields have hampered springtime field work.

We have been able to get three fields of corn planted so far – 165 acres out of the 1200 acres we had planned to plant. I have been trying to stick to my strip-tillage plans because of the great benefit it provides in managing soil erosion along with precise placement of the fertilizer. However, it has been so wet that we have had to go around standing water in places and work the ground wetter than I like to. I usually try to avoid fieldwork in wet conditions because of the compaction that is caused by rolling across the wet fields with the heavy equipment.  So far it has been a tough year on the no-till and strip-till farmers because we have to wait a little longer for our soils to dry out because of all the residue that we leave on the soil to act as cover, which helps reduce soil erosion when it rains.

With all the wetness, we have been able to get our spring cattle working done earlier this year, and our herd health program is in place.  I hope that we feed our last hay this week and that the cattle are all out on grass by the end of the week.  For some of us it has been the longest feeding season we have ever had, starting with haying last September because of the drought and now haying here into late April because it has just been too cold for the grass to take off and grow.  We were just lucky to have enough carryover and new-crop hay to last this long.

Katy stuck on the forklift trying to put the new doghouse into place.

Katy stuck on the forklift trying to put the new doghouse into place.

We have also been able to get our new office in the seed barn almost done with just the cabinets left to go.  We also have gotten to some of the projects that always take the back burner, like hauling off the scrap iron pile to the recycler, completing the last of the winter maintenance on the harvest equipment, the spring cleaning of our shop (the kids love that project) and even the kids finding time to build the dogs a new house out of the leftover lumber from the new seed barn.  Be sure to ask Katy how wet it is as you see from the picture of her stuck on the forklift trying to place her new doghouse in the back yard!

We hope all is going well for everyone, and at least for this week, farmers around here won’t be saying that they need rain. After the last two years, I almost find myself feeling guilty about that!

Seed and calves everywhere – The Leonard Family

This week’s entry was written by Katy Leonard.

In the past month we have been unloading a BUNCH of seed in to the new seed warehouse, which is almost full. We have also been busy every evening tagging our spring calves, which with the weather the way it has been, the calves have been more like winter calves. There for awhile our garage was a baby calf barn it seemed like, from just warming some calves up, to doctoring and nursing them, to just keeping them alive.

But with all of that said, spring calving season is very close to being complete. Last week we took a load of yearling steers, a few cows that lost their

calf, and a bull to the sale. Dad has also tried to strip-till in preparation to plant corn. However, according to the calendar we will be planting late because it has rained and it was snowing this morning.

In the mix of all this, I went to OYE in Oklahoma City and showed a Hampshire ewe, which I placed 5th out of 27 in my class.

This last week Kody, my mom and I have been on spring break. Kody tore out fence and rebuilt it at our rent pasture. Dad is really hoping that the ground will warm up and dry out so he can start planting corn.