April snow showers bring May flowers? – The Wilcox Family

A late snowstorm on April 14 and subsequent freeze raises questions about canola and wheat in 2014.

A late snowstorm on April 14 and subsequent freeze raises questions about canola and wheat in 2014.

This is the scene in one of our canola fields this morning. We had a skiff of snow fall last night and this morning (April 14, 2014). While this is surprising, it’s not too unusual for us to have a little snow in April (last year it snowed a little on the 1st or 3rd of May). What makes this year’s late freeze so brutal is that our wheat has not had significant moisture since September of 2013 and the drought has stressed the wheat so much that it has literally went from a month behind to right on schedule in ONE WEEK! The canola is drought stressed also, but it seems to handle late freezes better than wheat does, generally speaking.

Getting the planter prepared to plant milo (grain sorghum) on failed canola.

Getting the planter prepared to plant milo (grain sorghum) on failed canola.

On a more optimistic note, Clint has been getting our planter geared up and ready to plant milo on the acres of canola that froze out earlier this winter. Hopefully the weather will permit us to grow a good crop of milo. We were planning on planting Milo (also called grain sorghum) early this year, but with no moisture in the soil profile and a not-so-promising weather outlook we are probably going to push our planting itinerary back and pray for the El Nino they keep talking about this fall.

We did a little prescribed burning on a Bermuda grass field early this month. Burning off the old growth and “thatch” accumulation will help control weeds, allow the new growth to take off sooner, and allow us to harrow the field to make it smoother for us to cut, rake, and bale more efficiently.

When I started talking to Clint about what to write about this month I didn’t think I had much to write about, but looking back we’ve been pretty busy. I think we are just getting ready for the craziness that is May!

Prescribed burning of bermuda grass mimics natural cycles.

Prescribed burning of bermuda grass mimics natural cycles.

Repairs, cattle and meetings – The Leonard Family

My dad, a neighbor, and I baled 125 bales of hay for us on our 1st cutting of prairie hay and 2nd of bermudagrass hay. I mowed the meadows with the help of dad on our neighbor’s tractor.

We also worked on the combine changing the concaves from our small wires for wheat to round bars for corn and soybeans. Also we did some minor repairs like taking a half link out of the feeder house chain and sealing come cracks.

We have been working on getting the planter ready for corn planting next year. Also, we have put new blades on it so that we can get a clean cut through the ground.

Recently we worked the rest of our fall cows and weaned the calves. We sold the steers and kept the heifers to grow out and decide which ones to keep for replacements. Then we ground feed to put in the creep feeder to grow the heifers out.

Dad has been at meetings, he was appointed to chairman of the county excise board, which sets the county budget. Katy left for FFA Alumni Camp Sunday and gets back Wednesday.

“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!