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.

What a difference a couple months make – The Leonard Family

Hello all from what is now very wet northeast Oklahoma. As a farmer and rancher, and as a seed dealer, it is very hard to explain the attitude changes that the farm and ranch families go through in dealing with the weather and Mother Nature, but I will try.

Hail from a storm on  March 30.

Hail from a storm on March 30.

Two months ago at every supper table and church across this part of the state, a prayer was being said that went thing like this: “Lord, please let it rain.” Yesterday, I would bet that most were saying something more like this: “Thank you Lord for the rainfall. Please let it warm up so the grass will grow and I can plant some corn before it’s too late.”

On the seed side of our farm two months ago, I was thinking I might not even plant corn this year unless it rains so I can send the corn seed back. Now it has rained too much and it’s going to be past the crop insurance coverage date before it even dries up!  From our side of the seed business it sure makes planning inventories very hard, and now we must move the corn seed north to farmers who are still able to plant corn. Then we will find more soybean and milo seed for our customers to plant later in the year.  It has also hailed and froze the wheat crop at least two or three times in the last month. So far it appears that we haven’t had a lot of freeze damage to our wheat, although we’ve seen some. We once again have freezing temps in the forecast this week. Our wheat is a good three weeks later in development than it was last year at this time, so I guess we won’t see a May wheat harvest this year like we had last year.

Muddy fields have hampered springtime field work.

Muddy fields have hampered springtime field work.

We have been able to get three fields of corn planted so far – 165 acres out of the 1200 acres we had planned to plant. I have been trying to stick to my strip-tillage plans because of the great benefit it provides in managing soil erosion along with precise placement of the fertilizer. However, it has been so wet that we have had to go around standing water in places and work the ground wetter than I like to. I usually try to avoid fieldwork in wet conditions because of the compaction that is caused by rolling across the wet fields with the heavy equipment.  So far it has been a tough year on the no-till and strip-till farmers because we have to wait a little longer for our soils to dry out because of all the residue that we leave on the soil to act as cover, which helps reduce soil erosion when it rains.

With all the wetness, we have been able to get our spring cattle working done earlier this year, and our herd health program is in place.  I hope that we feed our last hay this week and that the cattle are all out on grass by the end of the week.  For some of us it has been the longest feeding season we have ever had, starting with haying last September because of the drought and now haying here into late April because it has just been too cold for the grass to take off and grow.  We were just lucky to have enough carryover and new-crop hay to last this long.

Katy stuck on the forklift trying to put the new doghouse into place.

Katy stuck on the forklift trying to put the new doghouse into place.

We have also been able to get our new office in the seed barn almost done with just the cabinets left to go.  We also have gotten to some of the projects that always take the back burner, like hauling off the scrap iron pile to the recycler, completing the last of the winter maintenance on the harvest equipment, the spring cleaning of our shop (the kids love that project) and even the kids finding time to build the dogs a new house out of the leftover lumber from the new seed barn.  Be sure to ask Katy how wet it is as you see from the picture of her stuck on the forklift trying to place her new doghouse in the back yard!

We hope all is going well for everyone, and at least for this week, farmers around here won’t be saying that they need rain. After the last two years, I almost find myself feeling guilty about that!

Wheat, hay, fairs and an international visitor – The Leonard Family

Cleaning up fields with a bulldozer.

Fall is here as we have now had a killing frost and survived the Tulsa State Fair!!!

After a month of fixing washes and drain problems with the scraper and bulldozer, we are now into planting wheat here in northeast Oklahoma.  We also baled the last of a very short hay crop, rolling up about 50 bales of Bermuda grass and weeds.

We have cleaned up an old house site at one farm and fixed several terraces and waterways around the farm trying to prepare for wheat planting.  We started planting wheat on October 4th and are now down to 115 acres of our wheat left to plant before soybean harvest starts in a couple weeks.  We do have 300 acres of custom planting to do for a neighbor to help him out as well as ourselves since we have the new drill to pay for.  I also planted about 350 acres of rye grass and cover or vetch into pastures for me and other neighbors this fall after getting the new drill.

What a year this has been with record heat and dryness, then record-early killing frost, and now 4.5 inches of rain over a two-day period this weekend after just planting 600 acres of wheat.  I’m guessing that at least we will be out replanting spots if not whole fields because of the hard, quick 3.5 inches last night.  Don’t take me wrong; we needed the rain very badly – just not that much that fast right after planting.

Greg and Danish visitor Jens Peter Hansen discuss Greg’s equipment.

Last week we had a very interesting visitor that found his way to us from Denmark from reading this blog and contacting Oklahoma Farm Bureau and arranging a visit to our farm while he was in Oklahoma speaking at a conference in OKC.  Jens is an extension specialist in Denmark and was very interested in the precision farm tools that we use on our farm.  After looking over some historical data, we looked at the machinery we farmed with. Then we went out and rode in the tractor planting wheat with our new 40-foot grain drill using RTK auto steer with saved guidance lines.  He had a great time and I very much enjoyed the exchange of ideas and learning much about the extension service and farming in Denmark.

Tulsa State Fair livestock show preparations.

I attended our local county extension PAC committee meeting this week to help out county ag extension agent plan what programs we need in our county.

Katy showed her heifer at the Tulsa State Fair, and we all got to find our coveralls that weekend as the high temperature on Saturday was in the low 50s and then dipped to around 27 the Sunday morning she showed.  She loved washing the calf at 5:30 a.m. when it was 27 degrees.  We all had a good time, and at least for Katy her calf placed in the middle of her class

Kody is still doing well at NEO A&M College and is excited that the first tractor he bought is going to be delivered on Monday. He bought a John Deere 7800 MFD with a 740 loader to replace the tractor we had stolen last year while we were at state Farm Bureau convention.

A little rain and a sudden corn harvest – The Leonard Family

This is Katy writing this week.

The Leonard clan spent last week on a well-deserved family vacation. Before we left, we received approximately .2″ of rain, and while we were gone another .2″ was received. The small amount of rain gave the soybeans a little growth, but they still have a long ways to go to make very much of a harvest.

When we arrived home, field scouting was done through the soybeans only to discover blister beetles have moved into some of the fields. Therefore, spraying was begun to rid these pest from the fields.

We quickly also discovered a very early corn harvest is upon us. So, we quickly started working on the combine and corn header to get them ready. On friday, we began corn harvest. With the temperature in the 100s, it is been hard to cut very much during the day due to the risk of over-heating the engiens of the machinery.

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.

Finishing up harvest, planting, and cleaning up – The Leonard Family

Hello from the Leonard Farm; this is Katy writing this week. This past 2 weeks we have finished harvest and the double-crop planting. We finished combining last Sunday. The double-crop planting was finished Friday where we planted for a neighbor.

We have been cleaning the combine so that it is ready for corn harvest since we got about an inch of rain. Also, we have been delivering and selling seed to neighbors who are trying to finish planting.

Monday we went to a seed customers’ house to get some black boxes that had seed in them. Because every box means that much less we have on our bill, we then loaded 44 on a semi to be returned to Channel.

Tuesday, Kody and Dad went to Inola to get some extra seed so we had some extra on hand. Mom went and watched me play basketball at Quapaw that night and when Dad and Kody got home they came to my game.

Wednesday, we power-washed the combine. Dad was on the forklift and Kody and I were on a pallet, one with the soap brush and the other with the power washer gun.

Thursday, we went to get some more black boxes from a customer, and then came home and collapsed them so more could go on a truck.

Friday, Kody went back to custom planting and the rest of us put signs up in front of the corn and soybean test plots.

Saturday, Kody finished custom planting and the rest of the family mowed grandmas’ yard and rested.

Well, this week has been a week of finishing up.

“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!