“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!