Let it rain – The Kinder Family

Rain falling outside Ashley's office on March 26.

Rain falling outside Ashley’s office on March 26.

Today there is this wet stuff falling from the sky in southwest Oklahoma! We aren’t sure, but we think that is called RAIN!!!!!!!!!!   It is great and we hope that is will continue to come down, The Good Lord willing.

We also received a little shower last week that perked up the wheat. Hope that it and the rain today will help so that we are able to have a fair wheat harvest in the months ahead!

Kody and I are getting excited about going to Washington DC for the OFB Congressional Action Tour that is coming up on April 6-10. We are looking forward to meeting lots of new people as well as getting to spend some time with other YF&R Committee members.

A weather radar view of the storm that moved through Oklahoma on March 26.

A weather radar view of the storm that moved through Oklahoma on March 26.

There hasn’t been a lot happening around our part of the world right now. We are very grateful for the blessing of rain and hope that you received some too! Next month we will be talking about our DC trip. Until then, take care!

Exploring the Young Farmers & Ranchers Group – The Williams Family

Early morning “cloudy” sunrise on the beach. First time many have seen the Atlantic Ocean.  Well worth the frigid temps.

Early morning “cloudy” sunrise on the beach. First time many have seen the Atlantic Ocean.
Well worth the frigid temps.

The weekend came, along with another plane ticket taking us to Virginia Beach for the National Young Farmer’s & Rancher’s Conference.  On the plane ride back, I started thinking again about who might be reading this. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a prospective new YF&R member who isn’t really sure what this committee or organization is about.

Marty and I really didn’t have much experience with Farm Bureau and the YF&R group 6-10 years ago. Our county YF&R group has generally been small and inconsistent … not surprising as our age bracket is busy starting new jobs and families, which really isn’t a viable excuse as any age bracket is stretched in commitments and priorities. It is a challenge nonetheless. When we were elected to the state committee, we really didn’t know what to expect since our experience at the county level has been nonexistent other than helping with the farmhand Olympics at the county fair. The past 3 years we have served our state committee have provided the most informative and eye-opening opportunities for us to see how Farm Bureau works as well as each respective committee. Heck, I’ve got to meet people and see places I otherwise would never have gotten to see. Flying out of Virginia Beach, an amazing hub of commerce & trade, history, Naval presence, and contribution to agriculture, I am so appreciative of these opportunities.

Keili Summey, AGED OSU student, coming from a non-ag background. Competed in Final 4 National Collegiate discussion meet in Virginia Beach.

Keili Summey, AGED OSU student, coming from a non-ag background. Competed in Final 4 National Collegiate discussion meet in Virginia Beach.

This is a grassroots organization. One may think sure, the grassroots starts at the county level, and it does, but for me personally I have gained a little more insight into where exactly the involvement and education begins. It doesn’t begin with just YF&R, although this great committee presence is involved. It really starts with the kids. Kids involved in 4-H, FFA, Collegiate YF&R … and surprisingly with non-ag kids who are mentored into these great programs. I have heard more testimonies about kids with no ag background  (impacted by FFA leaders) who are great advocates and leaders of ag.

Both the county YF&R committees and our elected state committee are involved in mentoring kids young and older. We sometimes collaborate together with other counties and organizations (examples are Ag in the Classroom, OSU extension agents, etc.) to do just that. YF&R’s purpose ranges from mentoring programs for kids of all ages, to get them involved, teach leadership skills, and promote anything that has to do with agriculture (safety, legislation, education, etc.).

Great young leaders from our State committee enjoying time with fellow farmers and ranchers,  learning how to be better leaders and advocates back home.

Great young leaders from our State committee enjoying time with fellow farmers and ranchers,
learning how to be better leaders and advocates back home.

Why is this relevant or important to you, the reader? You may be like Marty and I six years ago. Wondering, what is YF&R? What is Farm bureau, I thought it was an insurance company? How do I commit to meetings when I have no one available for childcare? What can I do if my county YF&R committee isn’t very strong? Or more importantly, what you can do to encourage ag and non-ag kids interested in agriculture but without much direction or family support to support an industry that supplies the basic essentials for human life?

You don’t have to be an “expert” in farming or ranching to be involved with this organization. You simply have to have an interest and passion to learn, mentor, or advocate for agriculture.

The 2014 OKFB Young Farmers & Ranchers committee.

The 2014 OKFB Young Farmers & Ranchers committee.

The challenge that has been presenting itself within these three years is making time and eliminating excuse after excuse, to strengthen our county YF&R presence. Goals of the program are to provide state committee members not only a firsthand look into how legislation works for agriculture and other important issues, but also to see agriculture at work in our state, nation, and world. Perspective, networks, and leadership are broadened.  Individuals serving on this committee show up, commit, and sacrifice personal time to invest interest in creating a stronger county and State Farm Bureau team.   Ultimately the goal for members serving on the state committee is to take back what we have each learned about networking, commerce and legislation, and educate our county members (prospective and current), the non-ag consumer, and our youth.

If you have any questions about getting involved with your county YF&R or Women’s Leadership Team, please check out our Oklahom Farm Bureau website at http://www.okfarmbureau.org.  Contact information is available there under the tab “member engagement”. We want nothing more than for more members to these great committees.

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!

When life gives you lemons
 – The Harris Family

The past few weeks have been full of surprises: weather and big decisions.  You know Newton’s theory “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” applies to agriculture too. This wheat crop has seen lots of different stages. From a slow start due to drought, through the winter months and some late winter rains, then warmer weather brought the wheat out of dormancy and it started looking exceptional. But then come the lemons, or better yet, the freezes and harsh conditions.

When wheat advances to the boot stage (the stage before the seed heads fill with grain), it is a critical part of the maturing of the plant. At this stage, wheat can only stand freezing temperatures of 28°F for up to 2 hours without having at least partial damage to the wheat. Hobart, OK, saw temperatures drop to 27°F twice in the two weeks. And better yet we saw 16°F in late March. It wasn’t in the boot yet, but still the crop was advanced enough to sustain damage from the cold weather. Although the more recent temperature drops have been preceded by moisture pushing the warm air from the ground, hopefully giving a little protection. In addition, the temperature is taken at 5 feet above the soil level. When you consider that information, and the possibility of warm air from the ground, we were perhaps spared a lot of damage from that area of insulation. Time will tell whether we received a significant damage or only partial. Also, with the added moisture, it makes rust (a disease in wheat) a much bigger factor when considering a million-dollar crop. Do we need to spray to fight against the disease or has the freeze already committed all the damage for us? Those answers will be answered in God’s timing. In fact, the Daily Oklahoman came out and wanted to do an article about the wheat freeze. It came out on Sunday the 21 in the business section.  As I cut open the stem of the wheat plant to find the head, I was amazingly surprised at the length of head that is there. We are looking at a good crop if the good Lord is willing. Science will never be able to explain the mercies of His grace.

In the midst of all these decisions, Oklahoma Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers hosted its annual conference in Yukon, OK, April 4-7.  We visited Producers Cooperative Oil Mill.  They process canola and cottonseed oil. We learned about the entire process from seed to oil.  Among many interesting facts, we learned that when orange juice companies want to add pulp to their juice, they use the fibers processed from the cotton seed to “bulk” it up.  We also were privileged to visit Express Ranches’ cattle operation and their Clydesdale barn. What an operation! We finished our tours at Devon Tower.  The building is such a piece of artwork! The views are breathtaking! Look for YF&R at the state FFA convention and the OFB Legal Foundation’s Golf Tournament on May 3.
On this Earth Day, celebrate ways we can be good stewards of what the Creator has given us.  Every farmer and rancher around the world were the very first environmentalists because by protecting the environment it sustains our way of life. Living off the land and what He gives us is the best way of life for our family.

I believe Martin Williams’ Facebook status said it best: “When life gives you lemons make wheat hay and plant milo!”

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!