The last of bermuda hay and show season in full swing – The Bolen Family

Baling the last of the 2013 Bermuda hay on the Bolen farm.

Baling the last of the 2013 Bermuda hay on the Bolen farm.

The first week of September we baled our last cutting of Bermuda grass for the season. We could probably get an October cutting, but we will use the last growth for our weaned calves. Usually we will cut the last cutting close to the end of September or first of October. This year has really been a good hay year, so we have satisfied our customer base and are happy for a break. The alfalfa will have to be cut at least one more time though.

The girls’ show season is in full swing. We attended our county fair the first week of September. They showed a total of seven sheep, and two sheep made the sale. This past week we attended the Oklahoma/Arkansas state fair in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. All three girls took two sheep apiece. They had three class winners, two second place and a dough place. As the picture shows, Bay had reserve champion cross and third-best overall. All three girls received super showman awards as well.

Bay Bolen with her reserve champion cross and third-best overall lamb at the Oklahoma/Arkansas state fair in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

Bay Bolen with her reserve champion cross and third-best overall lamb at the Oklahoma/Arkansas state fair in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

We really enjoy the livestock showing program as a family. As a parent, there are numerous learning opportunities surrounding these events. I could write a book on the lessons I think our girls have learned by this program. I’m sure Myndi and I have learned a thing or two along the way as well. I guess the main thing they have learned is that you have to stay dedicated and disciplined to have success.  I also believe we are enjoying the journey as a family, and it just doesn’t get much better than that.

Catchin’ Up – The Harris Family

Okay, we have done a poor job throughout the summer updating after wheat harvest, but we’ve taken some great notes so hopefully we can get caught up.

 Late June

Navigating a road in between fields in the sprayer.

Navigating a road in between fields in the sprayer.

June was crazy.  We felt like we were always behind schedule. Although as farmers, we should know by now we don’t make the rain or grow the crops. It’s only by the grace and the perfection of God that we get to keep our jobs year after year. Wheat harvest finished late June, just in time for me to go with the family to Kenda’s state softball tournament. They qualified to go last year and during the regular season had beaten the state runner up. This season didn’t end the way we would have liked – both the state runner up and the state winners in 8U OKKIDS league were on our side of the bracket. They were great teams and we had a blast in Preston, OK, for the last weekend in June. But I had plenty to do when that was finished. Remember, harvest was a month behind my schedule so I hit the road running in July.

July

July seems like a blur. I had planned to take the family on some sort of vacation, but making a living by providing a safe food and fiber supply didn’t allow for that this year. July consisted of much-needed rain, planting only one field to double-crop cotton, spraying, as well as time in the alfalfa field and several doses of working and moving cattle.

A section of sprayer boom.

A section of sprayer boom.

When it rains it gives the weed seed an opportunity to grow – like crazy.  So that means if weeds are growing they are taking nutrients and water from the soil that needs to be used to grow a high-quality consumable product. We had 6 inches of rain in the month of July, so lots of time on the sprayer.  No complaints about the rain because we are thankful for every drop. The cattle had some pond water so we were able to give our solar paneled wells a break.

Also, July was full of planning and preparing; we have decided to jump on the canola band wagon. So that automatically means we had to buy a new planter. Our no-till air seeders aren’t capable of planting canola seed. We are very excited about the new addition to Harris Farms.

August

August has been an interesting month to say the least. The beginning of the month I was spraying, which seemed like it was taking forever because of the small showers of rain and the high temperatures. I can’t spray if the ground is wet because I don’t want to cause the ground to be compacted or risk washing off the chemical I put down. I also can’t spray if the wind is blowing more than about 17 mph or if the temperature is above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. So spraying 6000 acres in late July and August has its own difficulties.

The fire in the pasture.

The fire in the pasture.

One day we are trying to mend the boom on the sprayer. My sprayer has a span of 120 feet, so I have basically 60 feet of boom on each side. I have to be careful of any and all obstacles.  Sprayer booms take a beating even under the most careful eye. My dad and a hired hand are helping fix some areas in how the boom folds up and my 85 year old grandfather calls and says, “Hey, I’ve gotten hung up in a draw trying to spray mesquite trees. I need a tractor to pull the pick up out”. We say we’re kinda busy and it’s gonna be a little bit. He calls back 2 minutes later and says, ” Come now! I’ve got a fire”!  Well it didn’t end pretty as you can see by the pictures. Apparently, he was a little too impatient and got the ground hot with his tires and the grass caught fire.  Around the farm, accidents happen and we need to always be aware of our surroundings.

So now that I’ve told on my grandfather I might as well share about my mishap.

Simply put, because of a mechanical error on a swather, the swather wrecked while I was driving. Luckily, I wasn’t on a bridge or by the creek or meeting a vehicle. The drive chain came loose and I had no way to control the swather.  It safely turned into to the ditch and we stopped hard. The kids had been missing time with me, or that’s the story, so I had Kenda and Rylan with me.  I think it’s because Amy had started the homeschool year back in early August and they wanted a break for the morning. So with homework in hand they came to farm for school work in the tractor that day. They haven’t asked since to ride with me. Although, I’m certain with the couple days of milo harvest coming this weekend that will change. The kids, all three of them, from the infancy stage have all enjoyed harvesting crops.

Upcoming

A new planter on the Harris' farm.

A new planter on the Harris’ farm.

This fall appears to have its own full calendar. We will harvest milo, go to Washington D.C., plant canola and hopefully finish in time to plant our wheat that we use for winter grazing. Then we will plant the rest of the wheat just in time to harvest the cotton before the expected hard winter sets in. Amy likes it if I can be around for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas!

I mentioned I am going to Washington, D.C. It’s going to be a quick trip, September 8-11. We will get to discus with our elected officials how the backbone of providing a safe, consumable product is going and see how they are doing in our nation’s capitol.  Amy and I were privileged to be able to go to D.C. in 2008 with Farm bureau and loved every minute of it. It is a great trip to see how the grassroots organization fights for our right to farm and ranch everyday.

Before I head to D.C., Kenda will show her prospect steer at the county fair. She is very excited. I am too! I can’t believe she is old enough, but very excited about what the future holds. It looks busy!

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.

Transition time – The Leonard Family

The Leonards can see corn harvest winding down and will be complete by the end of the week. This year’s harvest was not as poor as last year’s; but the lack of rain and high temperatures made it a very low yielding harvest. The week brought the completion of one of the tractors. Its front end was overhauled. This is a welcome completion for now; since harvest is almost over, corn stocks will need to be cut up and prepared for the next crop of wheat to be planted.

Greg and Kody attended a seed dealer meeting in Kansas City and Katy and Mary held down the fort at home.

Last Saturday brought some much-needed rain – about half an inch; but it also brought some storm damage. We lost the some trees, the kids’ trampoline and an auger on one of the feed bins.

Kody and Katy are preparing for the county fair with their animals. They both show sheep, and Katy will also show a heifer.

On the 15th of the month, Katy will start her sophomore year at Afton High School. Kody will begin his freshman year at North Eastern A&M College and Mary will start back to school on the 23rd.

“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!