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.

Did you know? – The Harris family

It has been a great week; busy but great.  The fun highlight was the Young Farmers and Ranchers State Conference.  We have really enjoyed connecting with farmers and ranchers from across the state, discussing the different aspects of agriculture.  This year, the state conference was in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, and as a standing joke it is NOT the armpit of Oklahoma!  It is way in the corner and it feels closer to Arkansas and Texas than Oklahoma.  It was a long drive but completely worth it.  Friday we spent the day learning about chickens.  I must be honest I was not overly excited about all the trees and the fact I couldn’t see even 1/8 mile ahead, but I admit that both forestry and chicken farming have a place in Oklahoma agriculture.   Did you know that in Oklahoma alone forestry has 3 million acres!  Yes that is MILLION!  It is the third largest Oklahoma agriculture commodity and no, they do not count the mesquite trees in my pasture because I asked.   However, my close friend Brent Howard has some bodark trees his grandfather planted that intrigued the OSU Forestry guys!  The Tyson hatchery in Broken Bow handles more eggs than I have seen in my lifetime in just one day and maybe an hour.  So many little chicks-holy cow there was a bunch.  The Tyson processing plant was extremely interesting as we toured their entire process.  It’s amazing how many employees they have at this facility.  I believe they told us it was 1,600.  The plant operates on 3 shifts and one cleaning crew, as compared to the hatchery that only operates on 17 employees and 2 maintenance members.  They get their eggs from local farms within a 2-hour drive, hatch them and send the chicks back out to local farmers to feed for roughly 7 weeks before they are sent to the processing plant.  They process about 260,000 birds a day and use 7 gallons of water per chicken.  What astounded me the most is how many cuts of meat are used and that the most valuable part of the chicken, I assumed was the breast, was actually the cartilage in the back and the entire foot of the chicken.  The foot is considered a delicacy overseas and the cartilage is used in the human medical field.  Not to jump, around but back to the hatchery they vaccinate them 3 times once in the egg and twice before being shipped to a farmer.  Justin, our tour guide, said that if they didn’t vaccinate in the egg most wouldn’t survive because of I believe a lung disease in the embryo.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, obviously in all the storms, we received some more rain.  After last year, you won’t hear me complain about it.  The US drought monitor updated on April 10 states that we are nearly out of the drought.  I would have guessed it would have taken several years of average rain to regain this moisture.  God is so good.   In addition, to reestablishing our moisture in the soil; God has also protected our area from some severe weather.  I know this past week lots of our friends and neighbors weren’t so lucky.  All the large hail that went through Kansas and Oklahoma certainly ruined lots of fields of wheat with lots of structural damages too.

I started laying down the hay today hoping for a few days without rain so that I can get it safely in the barn.  The wheat that had been laid down due to wind is mostly all standing up again.  Grandpa and I took a tour around our places on Monday morning and I would guess 10-20% of our wheat was laid over and today only 5-10%.  I am very pleased with that.

One of our combines is ready to go for the upcoming harvest.

We received a photo message today that one combine is complete and sitting in Enid, Oklahoma.  I am getting excited.   All of the wheat is mostly filled and should start “turning” by the end of next week.  Turning is a term used to describe wheat as it begins to die after, becoming fully mature and turning a golden yellow color.

See ya next week!