Meet Clint and Jessica – The Wilcox Family

Clint combining wheat, June 2013

Clint combining wheat, June 2013

As we rapidly approach Mid-January we realize how time flies, we run so quickly throughout the year as agricultural producers that we can find ourselves moving from one project to another without reflecting on what we have accomplished.  When we do reflect, it’s rewarding because in no other industry can you put a seed in the ground on Monday watch it emerge on Saturday and see it transform into another plentiful crop of seed in a few short months.  This blog is an opportunity for us to take the time to reflect and share a bit of our busy lives in agriculture with you.

Clint and Jessica in the Canola, April 2012

Clint and Jessica in the Canola, April 2012

We, Clint and Jessica Wilcox, farm in Northwest Oklahoma near Fairview.  We grow wheat, canola, grain sorghum, and we have a few head of cattle along with running a full service Crop Insurance Agency.  We are representing the At Large position on the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee this year, while residing in District 7.

January started with planning meetings for the YF&R Committee, and we are excited about all that is to come this year and the opportunity to serve. Being a part of the YF&R State Committee is a great way to meet other young Oklahoma Farmers, and to learn from each other. Farming varies greatly across Oklahoma, but it is amazing how much Farmers have in common with each other!

Clint manning the booth at the KNID Agrifest, Jan. 2014

Clint manning the booth at the KNID Agrifest, Jan. 2014

As stated above, Jessica and I are crop insurance agents. We always have a booth at the KNID Agrifest farm show in Enid.   It was good show with a great turnout this year.  I guess with warmer weather everyone was tired of breaking ice from the previous weeks and ready for a break in the action.  These farm shows are like a giant reunion for the agriculture community, it’s always great to see old friends!

We spend most of January catching up around the farm, office, and house.

Cold days are spent in the office working on crop insurance, and in the shop working on combines and other equipment, and maybe if Jessica is lucky I will try and finish up some of the projects in the house that have been going on for many months if not years.

Clint and Jessica in the Canola, April 2012

Clint and Jessica in the Canola, April 2012

Besides farming and crop insurance, Jessica and I enjoy anything outdoors. If the weather is nice and the chores are caught up you can find us on a lake, golfing, or 4-wheeling somewhere across Oklahoma (and sometimes in CO).

We look forward to sharing snapshots of our lives with you this year. Be sure to follow along with all of us YF&R committee members, and thanks for stopping by!

Harvest, haying, and a summer wrap-up – The Graves Family

A rain gauge with almost 2.5 inches.

A rain gauge with almost 2.5 inches.

Wow! What a summer this has been! The winds have changed for our area. We have received much-needed rain since the last blog I submitted. I don’t know the exact total, but I can comfortably say we’ve received at least 5 inches of rain at our farm, if not more than that. Our neighbors, friends, and family here in the Midwest have received varying amounts from that. Some have been much more than 10 inches this summer! It’s so wonderful to see everything green! Even if it means the thistles, pig weeds, sandburs, and goat-head stickers. It’s been a chore mowing, but watering the yard and gardens has been cut down by two-thirds.

Harvest is a great time for all ages.

Harvest is a great time for all ages.

Harvest began about June 20, and that is the last we’ve started in about eight years. We only had about half the acres of what we cut last year, but thankful for that. One cut we usually have, about 1,000 acres, of our neighbors, went all into wheat hay. We cut another 490 acres for another neighbor, whom we cut about the same last year for him. Our farm had about 1,200 acres that we cut. One field that really surprised us was our big dryland field. It is some ground we rent, and this was the first year it was planted to wheat. The field is 873 acres. That is very large! We spent 3 days with two combines, grain cart, and two semi-trucks staying busy the entire time. The crop adjuster said it was the best dryland he had seen, so we cut it and it made 23.9bu/acre. We had two irrigated fields also, each 120 acres. One made 23.17bu/acre and the other made 30.62bu/acre.

We had extra help the week of harvest from the grandkids this year. They are starting to be old enough to help more and more. Plus, Dalton, my oldest nephew, and Jolena, my mother-in-law, were busy with the second cutting of alfalfa when harvest was going on. I had a neighbor gal come and babysit the kids while I was in the alfalfa field or running after the guys in the wheat field. I don’t think we fed less than ten people for lunch that week.

Cutting alfalfa.

Cutting alfalfa.

At the beginning of June we swathed and baled one circle of wheat hay for our neighbor, and 1-½ circles of wheat hay for ourselves. Our alfalfa has done well this year. We’ve actually been able to swath and bale the corners at all three cuttings. The guys just finished baling the third cutting about a week ago. It took a little longer due to rains, but we were ok with that. Jake and Matt began cutting feed for a neighbor this week. We also have feed we will swath or have a silage crew come and make the feed into silage. The guys will pack the silage into a bunk and we will feed it to our cattle this winter.

A field of milo.

A field of milo.

The rest of this summer has been full of working calves, moving cows with their calves to different pastures, spraying, stacking hay, loading hay, mowing, and working fields. We’ve had some damage from a few storms, but mainly tree limbs breaking. Gary and Jolena were able to take a break and head to Colorado to relax. Jake was able to go with some friends to Lake Texhoma, and even brought back striper bass for us to enjoy. Matt, the kids, and I headed to Oklahoma City the first week of August and had a fun time seeing the zoo and science museum. I was also able to go to the Women in Ag and Small Business Conference, and really enjoyed everything there. The speakers were great and the sessions were very informational.

My garden is finally producing. I didn’t get it planted until the middle of June. I’ve made pickles and pickled okra. We’ve harvested squash, cucumbers, jalapenos, basil, spearmint, strawberries, and okra. I’ve only picked one tomato, but there are many more on the vines.

Working cattle and waiting for rain – The Graves Family

So, I think it’s been a couple months since I’ve blogged, sorry about that. I’ve had good intentions, but those don’t bring results, do they?

Alfalfa after a hard freeze.

Alfalfa after a hard freeze.

The biggest topic for everyone in the last couple of months has been, in my opinion, the weather. Matt and I get our weather out of Amarillo, TX, along with our local stations. The weather man on one of the stations said it the best when that last freeze came. He called it “weather whip-lash.” What a way to say it! We had three consecutive weeks in April where it would be 80-85 degrees on Monday, and by Wednesday night it would be 29 degrees. Needless to say it did damage our wheat and alfalfa. To what extent is still to be seen. Saturday night, May 18, we received a ¼ of an inch of rain/hail mix. The rain was great, but I don’t think we had enough hail, or big enough, to damage the wheat too much.

Jake pushing the calves, Matt and Gary catching the calf in the calf cradle, and Xander in the background loading the ear-tagger.

Jake pushing the calves, Matt and Gary catching the calf in the calf cradle, and Xander in the background loading the ear-tagger.

I think all the cows have calved. Jake and Matt brought the first-calf heifers and some young cows in this week and worked the calves. They said one calf had literally just hit the ground when they went out there. The cow was still licking it clean. They left them in the pasture and went back for them later. The cows and calves then were taken up to Kansas to pasture for the summer. We don’t want to over-graze our pastures, so we have some relatives that watch them for us through the summer. I know we lost three calves from the heifers. Two of them got stepped on by the cows during those cold spells when they were all huddling together. It’s sad when it happens but it is rare. The guys will bring the rest of the cows and calves in this week. They will vaccinate, brand, castrate (bulls only), and put in ear tags in all the calves. I think we have around 210 heifers and cows, so the guys have a big job on their hands. And yes, for any of you wondering, we do keep the calf testicles and I do fry them up for the guys. It is not something I grew up doing, so I had to ask around for a “recipe.” So far they’ve been good!

The alfalfa is looking good – a little curled on the top from the freezes, but I don’t think it will affect it too much. I reminded Gary the other day, we actually did our first cutting of hay the first Friday of May last year. Which was the earliest I had ever help cut hay, but it got hot early last year, too. I think the first cutting of hay will be in the next week or two. I saw some blooms on the field next to the house. We have four irrigated alfalfa circles, and the corners are dry-land. Last year we did not get enough rainfall for the corners to be cut at all. They look hopeful so far.

Cattle grazing on one of the Graves' irrigated wheat pastures.

Cattle grazing on one of the Graves’ irrigated wheat pastures.

Some wheat looks okay and some not-so-okay. The yields at the end of harvest will tell us best how much the lack of moisture and the hard freezes have affected it. I did look at a wheat head last week on the irrigated circle and it looked hopeful. Last year we started cutting the last week of May, but I don’t think we’ll start that early this year. The kids and I missed the first week of harvest because we traveled with my parents from Kansas to Iowa to visit both set of my grandparents. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well when the main cook on the farm leaves at a very busy time, ha-ha, but they let me come back without too much grief. We unfortunately will not get to make that trip this month. I am hoping that maybe in September we might get away to see my grandparents.

Gary has been busy spraying and top-dressing wheat and alfalfa. We had the aerial sprayers spray the fields last weekend for weevils. They kids enjoyed the airplane getting close to the house. Jake and Gary also freeze-branded the heifers and the young cows about a month ago. If you’re not familiar with that process of branding, it is branding using dry-ice and not a hot brand. It lasts longer and makes it more suitable to use on cows that you will have for several years.

Jake welding together panels for new corrals.

Jake welding together panels for new corrals.

Matt and Jake have also been busy with moving our feeder heifers off of pasture and taking them to the feedlot. Matt picked out of our home-raised heifers the best ones he liked for replacements for our cow/calf operation. Another 25 head of the home-raised heifers were sold to Gary’s nephew and wife. I’m not sure if they are going to use them in their cow/calf operation or just feed them out. After the heifers were moved that made room for all the calves from the sale. Since January the guys have worked about 475 head of bulls and steers. According to the papers, most of them were supposed to be steers already, but on one bunch 90% were bulls. That made a long day for the guys. The guys cut all the bulls that we put on pasture or feed in the feedlot. That makes for a better-tempered calf and keeps our people safe in the industry. It could be one of us, an employee at the local feedlot, or the individuals at the slaughter house. And it makes for a better-tasting end product, which is beef in your grocery stores. We even test our own product every day. We have one of our calves fattened in the feedlot and then slaughtered to fill the freezer.

The yard-work is in full swing, too. When Jolena’s not at work or helping the guys with endless tasks, she is on the mower. With the addition of her and Gary’s new home almost two years ago, along came more yard to mow. They planted a beautiful yard. I am busy getting flower beds weeded and planting my vegetable garden. Matt and the kids help in the process. We have garlic, onions, peas, potatoes, and strawberries planted. We hope to get the rest in this week.

We are getting over-loaded with pets. We have the five ducks, and then we now have 13 chickens. Twelve of them we bought at Atwood’s in Woodward, and the last chick was brought home from Xander’s Kindergarten class. They hatched out over 140 chicks in an incubator in their classroom and the students we allowed to bring one home if they wanted to. Our recent addition this week has been two litters of kittens given to us by a friend. That made a total of 9 kittens, but we gave one to Matt’s nephew. We tried to give a few more away, so we have a few spoken for now.

Matt, Lisa, Xander, and Keira celebrating Easter at Lisa's parent's house.

Matt, Lisa, Xander, and Keira celebrating Easter at Lisa’s parent’s house.

Xander is finished with school. He had his Kindergarten graduation May 17, and had a great time! He has started his first year of T-Ball and is enjoying it! Keira and Xander started up their Harper County Round-up Club play days last Monday, also. It’s going to be a busy summer, as usual! We also have some very exciting news! I’m expecting Matt and I’s third baby! I am almost through the first trimester and so far so good!

Today, May 20, is nice and cool and it’s even sprinkling a little. The guys are bringing in the rest of the cows and calves and it’s so loud from the cows and can’t hear myself think!

Fly over states – The Harris Family

The Harris kids waiting for Luigi's flying tires at Disneyland

The Harris kids waiting for Luigi’s flying tires at Disneyland

It’s been too long since we last got acquainted, but here is the run down.  We had such a blessed wheat harvest and with the right recipe seemed as though we were “running” behind.  Wheat harvest took about 5 days longer than expected because of a tight harvest crew and some breakdown issues; that threw our hay cutting and baling behind schedule.  Remember I mentioned how purple the creek bottom looked? Then with the few sprinkles and cooler mornings in early June, hay baling took twice as long as expected.  To top it all off, the wind blew like crazy, I guess blowing in all this dry, hot weather.  I say all that to say this is why I NEVER book a vacation and the one time I do this is the circumstances we are stuck with.  But my request for what Amy calls the farming fairy was answered and Brent Straub spent some sleepless nights spraying for us.  You can always count on a good farming neighbor.  It was sure nice to go on vacation and not have the stress of leaving something undone at home.

The Harris kid had a chance to enjoy Disneyland, including the fireworks headboard in the hotel!

We left for vacation on Saturday, June 23.  I was busy trying to do everything humanly possible to get as much done on the farm as I could – I didn’t have time to sleep.  Quite frankly, that’s all I cared about for the first few days of vacation was what time we had to get up and when nap time would be!  We arrived in Los Angeles, CA, the next morning after a short flight and made our way on the shuttle to the “magic” of Disneyland.  The kids had a great time!  We were there Sunday through Thursday and had a late night flight to Dallas.  We pulled in our driveway about 4:00 am.  Amy stayed up doing a few loads of laundry because our daughter, Kenda’s, Softball team won their league in 8 and under softball and qualified for the state tournament, which started Friday morning in Preston, OK.  They ended up fifth in the tournament.

So back home to Hobart we go ready to take on the list at hand!  Alfalfa was ready to be laid down and baled again.  It is amazing what hot, dry weather does for your hay baling week.  Last month, it was a two-week-plus affair, and this trip, it lasted about 6 days start to finish. We put a lot of little squares up this time – about 2000 – plus 200 mid-size squares.   The cotton crop looks good considering there are rows going several directions, several sizes. I just got done spraying it for weeds and bugs.  Finally, the cattle do not need attention for pink eye every other day.  We have a decent chance of some much-needed rain tonight that would be a huge blessing in many ways.  It would get the alfalfa, cotton, and grass a lot further down the road towards making a crop.

Since I have been making paths on all this machinery I have plenty of radio time, this allows me time to ponder important things in life.  For instance, Jason Aldean is someone I would like to meet and shake his hand.  He is a huge advocate for agriculture through his music that hopefully the non-agriculture population can at least know something about production ag.  Rylan’s favorite singer since he was two has been Jason Aldean, and I am so glad of that.  I think it’s so true about the general population and how they perceive the  “Fly Over States” and I’m grateful for a celebrity to acknowledge the importance of who we are.