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.

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.

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.

Preparing for the next growing season – The Leonard Family

Editor’s Note: Today we are kicking off our Harvest Watch blog for 2013. Watch for more updates from last year’s families as well as posts from some new faces. We hope you’ll join us as we follow Oklahoma farmers and ranchers through another growing season.

This past month we have been doing our winter maintenance on the tractors and the combine to get them ready for strip tilling, planting, and combining wheat.

Leonards'

The new caddy cart that allows the Leonards to move nitrogen tanks from the tractor to the strip-till bar.

Since our last blog, we bought a caddie cart to put our strip-till bar on to keep the liquid nitrogen tanks off the tractor and to help reduce the wear and tear on the tractor. On the combine, we are in the process of putting a new feeder house chain and getting the auger in the grain tank reflighted.

On the cattle side of things, we have been feeding and haying every day to keep the cattle healthy. We have also been fixing fence at a rent pasture so that dad’s cows will stay in. For some reason, he says it is always my cows’ fault that his get out.

The Leonards working cattle.

The Leonards working cattle.

On Saturday, we worked a group of heifers while he had them up, since my little sister was getting her former show heifers preg checked. We also ground feed for the cows and calves so that Katy and I did not have to this week while mom and dad were gone to Cancun on a Channel seed achievement series trip.

We are also in the process of building a seed warehouse where we will store the seed we sell for Channel throughout the year.

Greening grass and seeding rye – The Webb Family

Brandon Webb plants rye with an air seeder and tractor.

Oh, what a difference a rain makes!  My normally, positive attitude was taking a swan dive just a short, few weeks ago.  I was irritated at the weather and the fact that we had suffered such a hot, miserable summer last year and somehow we were having to endure yet another summer of much the same conditions.  However, a few rain showers later and my faith has been renewed. The grass pastures have greened up a bit and the guys started planting rye over the weekend.

There is always an underlying rhythm that comes with planting and harvesting, and most generally, we all fall into place during those frenzied times. Tractors and trucks run in and out of our home place like busy, little ants to refill, refuel and retool.  One tractor spreads fertilizer while another is in the field cultivating and then comes the mother of all machines..the wheat drill (usually run by dad).

Clayton Webb fills the air seeder with rye seed.

My job is gopher which usually is all-encompassing.  Go take food to the field, go check water, go open/close a gate, go leave a truck here or there, go get parts in Enid or Kingfisher, go get so and so from the field and take them to such and such.   You get the idea.

With sowing comes the much anticipated cooler weather and of course, a renewed excitement for the harvest that will take place months down the road.  Oh, what a difference a rain makes!