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!

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Sometimes you just can’t get ahead – The Harris family

First and most aggravating, is we are still dealing with the second cutting of Alfalfa that has been rolled and rolled and rolled again because of the rains we are having.  We will never complain of the rain anytime but I might complain of the stuff I can’t seem to mark off my to-do list because of it.  Really thought with the wet spring we might get six cuttings of alfalfa instead of just four or five this year.  Next up and falling further behind is the burn down of wheat stubble.  I relearn a lesson every year that it is a good idea to spray finesse in the spring on the wheat.  That basically saves the first summer spraying.  This year, we only put finesse on the farms we knew had a bad problem in an effort to conserve cost.  Where we did not spray we have a huge mares tail problem.

I can finally say we have a good stand of cotton only because Marshall planted it twice in two different directions.  I don’t think he was willing to admit defeat on the first attempt at a stand of cotton.  If you know of a big broadcast header for a John Deere stripper you might give me a call!  I keep accusing Marshall that he planned this as an excuse to use the Allis Strippers that are in the barn with the broadcast headers on them as well.  You know the strippers that I will inherit because he will never sell them – the 1982 models.  I could make someone a really good deal on them.

Adding to the urgency of time constraint because of the rains; we leave in about a week to head to Disneyland.   We are looking forward to the fun and the “getaway” but not looking like all the farming will be caught up before we leave.  Suppose it will be here when we get back but sure hate leaving without it all done.

This year, we seem to have a lot of eye problems with our cattle.  Seems it’s that way across the state; we’re taking several to the vet every day.  I have a bull that I bought last year that might even lose one of his eyes.

Last but not least, we are still running kids to ball games.  They both have week-long tournaments this week.  Going separate directions is not fun.  The girl’s softball team may even make it to state.  Have a few more games to win but in our regional tournament they are “ranked” second.   Pretty good considering they are a fairly young team and most of them didn’t even own a glove the first of March!

Well here’s to hoping I can get caught up!  “Catch” ya next week.

From the seat of a combine – The Harris family

Well it has arrived our final day of cutting wheat.  I was hoping that Zac would be able to narrate this post for the blog and give a complete report of harvest in southwest Oklahoma, but he is still on the combine.   I am writing this Friday morning, the first day of June. He is moving to the last two fields that are across from each other – about 210 acres left.  He says that with no major problems he should finish today.  I am hoping in time to surprise Kenda at her softball game.  I am certain he just wants to be finished before the next chance of severe weather has time to strike.  This seems like such an odd year.  Huge wheat harvest, great yields and most were DONE in the month of May.  It is just unheard of to be done this early plus following a severe drought that we endured last year.  There must be no other explanation but that God is always so good and He enjoys showing what He can do when we trust Him.  We watched God split storms to go around us, watched Him stop fire and protect homes and watched Him deliver the crucial moisture we needed at specific times.

Mowing down the wheat stubble after harvest.

Zac says he is really excited to see the final numbers come in on the average of bushels per acre.  The yield monitor is showing some really exciting numbers.  I agree with Zac when he said every year you put a crop in you hope for a year like this is proving to be.

When you are in the fields, you can see all kinds of God’s beauty.  Zac has been able to see coyotes and all sorts of wild animals. An amazing dust storm blow over the mountains and the magnificent clouds as well as endless lightning storms were breathtaking.  All of this set before him while driving a combine.  Zac will be the first to tell you, “there is nothing more beautiful than the seat of the combine!”  After nine years of harvesting with him I have to tell you I agree!  But a close second is seeing the piece of himself he puts into every crop every year and feast or famine he feels every inch of the soil.  It takes a special man to turn the soil, to care for the crop and watch it grow for months. Then in an instant, it’s gone; either by Mother Nature or by the man himself!

As the last few combines roll by, take the last few looks around because wheat harvest 2012 is almost completely in the books!

Beautiful clouds as a storm moves in near our farm.

What a day! – The Harris family

What a week – Zac really thought he could keep you updated more frequently but apparently he is failing! Ha! So I, Amy, have been nominated to write this week’s blog entry.  I hope I don’t get fired!  We have been cutting LOTS of good wheat … such a blessing.  We are finally about half done or maybe a little over half as of 11 p.m. on May 23.  We have had quite an exciting evening.  A fire struck out on a neighbor’s wheat stubble about 4 miles south of Zac’s dad’s house.  All hands on deck left harvest equipment to grab a water hose or drive plows or load vehicles with irreplaceable items.  With all this wind, God was just good to stop the fire without any structure fires and without it going to the far North Country.  In all the drive by vehicles, it was nice to have some Farm Bureau friends, The Null Family.  Janice was so helpful in everything from spraying the house down to helping load items from inside.  Her two young men, Brian and Colvin, were a blessing too.  They showed up with the water trailer and did a great job saturating the roof and ground around the house and diesel tanks.  This is what it means to be a Farm Bureau family.  Even when it is every wheat farmer’s prime time to make money; the family you have in Farm Bureau stops harvest to come lend a helping hand.  We’re praying no hot spots spark up in the next few days.  It certainly won’t take long in this wind to get some damage done in a hurry.  We seem to still be averaging well over 40 bushels an acre.  I can’t wait to see the final farm averages.  Zac says we just can’t seem to get any acres in a day because we are driving slower than we have in a few years because of the amount of bushels being run through the combine.

Volunteer fireman Trapper Heglin took this picture. Four fire stations and 8 hours later, the fire was out.

Another look at the wheat stubble fire.

We are still in the middle of softball and competitive t-ball and the last day of school is tomorrow!  This is me doing my happy dance!  You should see it – it’s pretty priceless!  Even with school ending, it seems we won’t be slowing down too much.  Well I still have dishes and laundry to do, backpacks to prepare for the last day of school, teacher gifts to get ready, meals going for tomorrow night’s supper and the task of picking up what all the little fingers found today!  Have a blessed night.

Crazy days of hay, wheat and … softball – The Harris family

I shot some pictures last week of the baler at night from my point of view; this week I wanted you to see just what one field looks like after baling it.  I baled 220 acres of alfalfa and scored about 1,450 mid-size square bales.  In my vocabulary a mid-size bale is

We filled up most of our barns with a cutting off of his alfalfa hay field.

3’X3’X8’ and weighs about 850 lbs. (for this cutting).  That’s A LOT of hay.  We filled up most of the barns.  I missed Rylan’s first competitive t-ball game because I was hoping to get finished before the rains hit.  I still had 20 minutes of baling when the rains started.  I probably would have gotten done but Kenda’s show steer escaped his pen and was on the highway.  Luckily one of the softball mom’s was coming home from the girls’ tournament in the city and called

The joys of hay season and plugged up balers.

Amy.  She stayed in a hotel in the city with some of the other girls.  I told her she was not allowed to go on “vacation” again during hay season!

It seems like my kids are playing ball all the time.  I bought Amy a Volkswagon Jetta diesel around the first of April and she has already put 5,500 miles on the car!  I don’t remember playing ball this much when I was that young.  Rylan, my kindergartener, plays at least 2 days a week and Kenda, my eight year old, plays a double header one night a week, practices 2-3 times and sometimes has a scrimmage too!   Most days I don’t remember what my living room or my wife looks like other than driving down the road – usually in opposite directions!   The only days off from ball seem to be Wednesday and Sundays and we teach at church those days!

Speaking of being hooked up; I started hooking my old combine up to the headers today.  We bought 2 new ones if you recall from earlier blogs, but I retained the right to lease one of our old ones so we could run an extra combine that I trusted.  Since I am waiting for the new ones to be delivered early next week, I just couldn’t stand not having a combine in the yard as I am watching all the harvesters head to Texas loaded down!

Our Sam’s Club purchases for this year’s harvest crew.

Amy and I had our own experience of being “loaded down!”  We had to leave a vehicle at her parents’ house after the funeral last week because she was sick with the flu and couldn’t drive home.  We decided to leave the suburban because it stays parked most of the time since we bought the jetta.  Well we kinda forgot that this week we would need to make our big haul to Sam’s Club for our harvesting food supplies.

Amy does a great job keeping us fed during

Harvest food and Trale – a snug fit for the Jetta!

harvest but it requires about $1000 worth of products from Sam’s.  We went in the Jetta!  We were completely loaded down, but the food will be completely worth it.

Finally, we’re getting ready to plant cotton.  Sure would have liked to have tried to plant April cotton but we just barely missed it because of the rain.  After praying every day for 76 days last year for God to send moisture, I won’t complain any because He shows us how good He is with many answered prayers.  So our cottonseed and Hydra-Hume is here sitting in the barn.  Hydra-Hume is a product of humic acid that helps make the nutrients already in the soil more available to the plant.  I’m planning on re-schooling Marshall, my dad, on all the electronic components in the tractor for auto-steer, etc tomorrow.

I still need that grain cart driver, please apply now!  Time is running short as there is a strong possibility that a sample of wheat will be taken in just over a week!  This may set the record for earliest wheat crop to be cut.  Can anyone recall an earlier time?  For me, I’m excited to get harvest here but others I still think are in a little bit of denial that wheat harvest will be so early.  Over the last year days, all of the fields have turned yellow and there’s not a field of green wheat left in this part of the world. You can still see some green heads in the terrace channels and outside rounds but these 100 degree days and blowing winds will change that in a hurry!  Hopefully you can see the difference in wheat from this picture that my phone snapped!  Probably in two weeks I will be updating from the seat of a combine!  Stay tuned and have a blessed week.