Kicking off 2014 – The Williams Family

Editor’s Note: This year’s Harvest Watch blog will feature posts from Oklahoma Farm Buraeu’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee members. These young agriculturalists live across our state and will share their views on agriculture as they tell their personal stories.

For more information about the Williams family, visit the Meet the Families page. Information about this year’s participants will be added with their first blog post.

The Williams Family

The Williams Family

The fire is lit, the cattle are fed, the wheat is fertilized, and the holiday season has come to a close. Here on the Williams’ Farm it is time to prepare and plan for the year ahead. This year our family has been elected to serve the state YF&R in the position as Chairman.  For the New Year, our committee of young agriculturists wanted to allow readers the opportunity to experience our daily lives…basically giving agriculture a face and a story. Each member of our committee has different interests and operations that contribute to the 2nd largest economy in Oklahoma.

Morgan and Ava.

Morgan and Ava.

Our farming operation is located near Red Rock, Oklahoma, established in 2004.  In ten years we have gone through many changes and growing pains, and feel very blessed to be the operation we are today. I, Martin Williams, and my wife, Crystal, daughter Ava, and son Morgan are an integral part of this farm.   For this month’s blog, Crystal and I will each contribute so you will see through the lens of a 6th + generation farmer and a young farm wife who grew up in town with no ag background. We currently raise winter wheat, winter canola, corn, soybeans, barley, grain sorghum, alfalfa, pecans, cattle, and a little hay.  We also sell commercial soybean, corn, and sorghum seed, and have a small business of controlling algae in lagoons at the Phillips 66 oil refinery in Ponca City, OK.  Sounds like a lot, and it is, but with three exceptional employees and other part-time help, it is a very enjoyable way of life.

In the ten years we have farmed, every year has brought significant changes, which we hope to share in a later post. Generally at this time, all of the crops have typically been harvested and the winter crops planted. This year we harvest various crops from May-November. January is typically a slower time for us. Last year at this time we were harvesting pecans…this year we haven’t started yet.

Spring seed orders slowly trickle in, but for the most part we are maintaining equipment and feeding cattle.

Feeding in the snow presents many challenges.

Feeding in the snow presents many challenges.

This past weekend we had record-low temps. Monday morning the outside temperature as many of you know, was -7 degrees. Feeding cows was a challenge, as Marty’s pickup had trouble starting due to the temperature causing the diesel to turn to gel. Therefore, plans changed as far as getting different vehicles out to feed and break ice.

The guys are also hard at work in the shop finishing up re-building portions of a worn-out no-till drill (John Deere 1850, 30ft with 48 rows). It’s taken about 2 weeks, about 40 man hours to complete this particular job.

There are mechanic jobs that the guys can do themselves, depending on the time of year, and other jobs that we depend on other mechanics to complete. For instance our John Deere 4020 sat outside for 23 years and needed the motor rebuilt. We just picked it up today from a John Deere dealership in Blackwell. They rebuilt the engine, hydraulic pump, and injection pump along with the new injectors. Previous to that we had stripped the tractor down to engine and frame, and converted the starting system from the old 24-volt system to a new 12-volt system. As you can see there is still work to be done. The plans are to repaint the tractor along with a new instrument cluster in the dash, new seat, tires, and rims, and don’t forget of course a new diesel tank, lights, and new decals.  

Wintertime brings with it opportunities for maintenance.

Wintertime brings with it opportunities for maintenance.

It all makes sense if you know Marty, who happens to love antique tractors and basically enjoys taking tractors out of the graveyard to the shop to resurrect in a sense. It’s not just a tractor to him, but instead the consideration of the history and life of each tractor, instilling a high sentiment. Usually he can re-tell the full history of each tractor (who owned it, how many acres it plowed or disced – it’s “medical” history).  I have learned that it has actually been cost-effective for him to take on this kind of project at times, when instead of purchasing a “new” tractor, we can find something like this that can be rebuilt for cheaper and seems to be as trusty and dependable as a new piece of equipment. This tractor will be used to mow waterways, auger grain, unroll bales for the barley modules, as well as harvest pecans. All work for this project should be completed by the end of March.

The John Deere 4020 Marty is bringing back to life.

The John Deere 4020 Marty is bringing back to life.

Trash day on the farm.

Trash day on the farm.

And of course, along with working around the shops and office, comes the trash. So this week we had our much anticipated “Trash Day Parade”. This typically consists of our Uncle Steve’s blue pickup bed mounded over with trash, along with an old bed trailer attached and full…led by THE trash truck shown here. We are proud to represent the “Clampits” of Noble County. We take ours to the Davis Disposal, which is about 8 miles north of where we live. 

As far as the family, I am busy  homeschooling our soon-to-be 6-year-old daughter, Ava. She has started piano lessons with the new year, along with her other two music classes and gymnastics. Morgan, the two year old, is busy playing with new toys and waits for time in the shop with the guys. The big birthday party for both kids is in planning mode for the end of what has turned out to be a very busy month.

This weekend we head off to San Antonio for the National Farm Bureau Convention. Marty will be serving as a delegate, and both of us are also helping with the National Young Farmers and Ranchers Discussion Meet. Blogging is also on the list! We have much we would like to share, in hopes that readers without much agriculture background can gain insight and appreciation for what the young and seasoned American farmers do every day of the year.

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.

A quick summer update – The Leonard Family

This week we have worked a few cows with pink eye, done some repairs in the shop, and dad has been going to seed dealer meetings and trying to collect and clear seed accounts.

Also, we have been working with show animals trying to prepare for the fair. We have got about an inch and a half of rain. We also went tractor shopping.

New ground, replanting, soybean seed and the farm bill – The Leonard family

Hi again from northeast Oklahoma.  Its hard to believe that it’s almost May and the wheat is already starting to change colors and the barley is getting yellow already.  In the last ten days, we have seen the corn start to grow and also had to replant some low spots that

One of the many tractors we use on the Leonard farm.

didn’t get a good stand due to too much water in the fields at times.  Many neighbors have or are baling their first cutting of fescue hay and we will do ours next week.

I attended a seed dealer in-the-field training day learning about seedling disease, planter setting mistakes, and many issues with the insect populations and how the mild winter has and will likely affect the corn growing season this year.  It was a good day spent with the company agronomist out in real corn fields, learning new things and reaffirming some old ideas that need refreshed every now and then.  Our seed business has kicked into

It's a busy time of year trying to keep up with the supply for our seed business.

overdrive this week with the shipping of soybean and milo seed.  We have unloaded 6 semi loads this week with two more due the first of next week.  For every load we get, we then have to either unload it at a farmers farm or unload it here, break it into smaller orders, and then have the farmer pick it up or take it out to their farms.  All this has to be done as we keep our other stuff going while making room in the warehouse to keep floor space for the next load coming in.

Greg moving seed back and forth to our customers.

This past week, we got the opportunity to lease another 200 acres of farm ground as a neighbor retired and sold his farm.  We were able to get the rest of his families farm ground

Maintenance on our new lease ground.

that didn’t sell.  So with new ground it means soil sampling, fixing drainage issues (moving dirt with the bull dozer and scraper), getting the weeds that have grown so far this spring under control and ordering more seed to have to plant the ground.

 

 

It take some bulldozing and scraping on our new lease land to prepare it for crops.

Another item taking some time this week has been the movement of a farm bill in the senate Ag committee.  The Farm Bureau farm bill committee has been trading phone calls and emails almost daily since last week when our chairmen testified before the house Ag committee in Dodge City, Kansas, to when the bill got voted out of the senate committee this week.  Its been a real honor to work with this group of men and see the respect that our elected officials have for the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and how closely they have wanted to work with us on the farm bill.

Kody and Katy have been busy with Crop Judging contests, track meets, prom and Kody with his graduation stuff and preparing his valedictorian speech.  They also feed their animals (which grew by two this week with two new FFA sheep) and helping dad sort seed, fix tractors, check our cows and keep the neighbor bulls on their side of the fence.

Mary has been busy with spring follies this week at her school, helping her mom now back in Vinita with her rehabilitation, and keeping all of us in place and on time for all of our meeting and contests.