Sunflower from the Sunflower State

Sunflower from the Sunflower State

Monday, June 30, 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday, Grandma! 

I just thought we were going to be cutting wheat on my birthday, June 27. I've spent plenty of birthdays in the harvest field. It's just part of the reality of being a farmer's daughter, then a farmer's wife.

Instead, we got 1.50" of rain Thursday. So we went to Topeka instead. I got to share a birthday celebration with Kinley and her Mommy on Friday. Kinley didn't used to like ice cream. But she definitely liked frozen yogurt. She ate all her Mommy's fruit toppings, too.
We were going to take her to a water park for swimming on Friday afternoon, but the rain followed us to Topeka. So we played with the water table instead.
We also took turns pushing Kinley in her swing. She would swing all day, if you'd let her. (As Brent says, "So would I, if someone was willing to push me!)
On Saturday, Brent drove over from Manhattan and brought cupcakes. Another surprise! It's great to have him close enough to come for family celebrations.

Saturday morning, we also went to the Farmer's Market near the Capitol.
Kinley wanted to pick out the vegetables. (The girl came out of the stroller and the veggies went in after awhile, but she was insistent that she had to carry the peppers she'd personally selected.)
Jill prepped Saturday's noon meal of chicken fajitas and Brent did the grilling. We also used Kinley's green peppers. (It's a surefire way to get kids to eat vegetables.)
While Uncle Brent was grilling, Kinley got a pedicure from Mommy. (Don't they look alike in their concentration and the way they cock their heads?! We'll see if Baby Sister, due to arrive September 3, has the same attributes. By the way, if you ask Kinley what the baby's name will be, she says, "Sister" or "Baby." I guess there's no getting the girl to reveal family secrets, even on Grandma's birthday weekend!)
What a fun weekend! Do I wish we were done cutting wheat? Yes. We'll see how quickly we can get back in the field. We got another 0.90" of rain Saturday morning.

Neither Randy or I can remember having a harvest halted for a whole week due to rainy weather. Now I guess we'll remember the summer of 2014 for that phenomenon. On the other hand, the corn looks great. It's probably about time for another photo with my human measuring stick!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Surprise!

 
There are surprises that aren't so good. Like the huge spider that was in the kitchen sink when I went to get a drink of water last night.

But surprises can be great, too, like the year I turned 49 and Randy treated it like a big birthday. He invited our families to eat out and then go "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" at Music Theatre of Wichita. I didn't know anything about it until we got to the restaurant.

Another one of those good surprises? I found the photos from Lincoln, Nebraska, that I thought were deleted from my camera's memory card. The photo I took of Kinley on our brief stop in Topeka looks like she was dressed for a surprise party, doesn't it? (My Great Aunt Opal sent the birthday hat and some beads from a birthday party at Leisure Homestead. Our little princess loved the crown and the bling.)

The gazebo at the Sunken Gardens, Lincoln, NE
The photos weren't crucial. They weren't from a wedding or from a family reunion. But it wasn't like I could just go back to the Sunken Gardens or Antelope Park and take them again. I thought I was going to have to use my lower-quality cell phone photos for my report from the Great Plains UMC Annual Conference for the church newsletter. It was better than nothing, but I was still a little perturbed at myself for "losing" the photos.

So it was a happy surprise to find them! As I took this photo in the Sunken Gardens, I had thought about Randy's insistence that he wear K-State shirts to golf at Big Red Country courses while I was at the conference.
While I got lots of church business during the day, the gardens did their own "preaching," too.
All the world  is an utterance of the Almighty. 
Its countless beauties, its exquisite adaptations, 
all speak to you of Him. 
–Phillips Brooks, clergyman and author

This email devotional with the quote above arrived about the same time I found the photos.
God's "countless beauties" may be found in a Kansas wheat field ... or exploring perfectly-manicured gardens in a city.
I just have to take the path that opens my eyes to God's gifts all around me.

A Time to Act

Open your heart to the beauty that surrounds you.
(From the same email devotional)

 

A Time to Pray

Dear Lord, please help me to see the beauty of every day.

Today, I hope to see wheat harvest in action again after a three-day hiatus. Randy tried cutting yesterday afternoon and the wheat tested 19. But, with no rain overnight, we hope to be back to harvest mode this afternoon. I'll be taking photos of golden wheat again instead of golden roses.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Whole Wheat Banana Biscoff Muffins

Trends and baking go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Recipes with Biscoff pop up frequently on recipe blogs these days. So does Greek yogurt. This recipe combines those two recipe buzz words. Add in white whole wheat flour and you have a triumvirate of trendy ingredients. 

Biscoff spread can be found in the same aisle with the peanut butter. Like its more well-known cousin, it comes in smooth and crunchy varieties. I always choose crunchy, no matter what spread we're discussing. Since one of our harvest crew has a nut allergy, this was a good substitute.

I had white whole wheat flour in the pantry that Randy brought home from a milling and baking workshop, but regular whole wheat flour would work well, too. And, of course, bananas and chocolate are always a winning combination.

The muffins originally accompanied a harvest meal and did double duty for breakfast. Since the recipe made so many, I also stashed some in the freezer for later use.

Time will tell whether we cut any wheat today. We only got 0.10" of rain here last evening, but yesterday's humidity and overcast skies kept us out of the wheat fields for the second day in a row.

Hopefully, I'll soon need to pull a bag of these muffins out of the freezer because that would signal that we're cutting again. But, whether  you're cutting wheat or not, these muffins will add good flavor to any meal. Enjoy!
Whole Wheat Banana Biscoff Muffins
Adapted from Oh Sweet Basil blog

1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2/3 cup Biscoff cookie spread
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs 
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups ripe bananas, mashed
1-2 cups mini chocolate chips (you choose your level of chocolate!)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a mixer, combine butter and yogurt. Add the Biscoff and honey; mix until well combined. Add sugars and vanilla and mix again. Add eggs, combining well.

In a small bowl, combine the two different flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add a little to the creamed mixture and mix. Add about a third of the mashed bananas and mix. Continue alternating between flour mixture and bananas, ending with banana. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon into muffin cups. (I prefer using muffin liners for ease of removal and for color!)

Bake 12-15 minutes or until nicely browned and the muffins test done with a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin. Makes about 30 muffins. You can also put all or part of the batter into mini loaf pans, preventing some of the scooping.



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I'm linked today to Wake Up Wednesdays. Click on the link to see recipes from blogs across the country.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Golden Field, Golden Hour

Sunset, June 18, 2014, over a CRP field north of our house
Real photographers call it the golden hour.  An hour before sunset and an hour after sunrise, the light shines on the Earth at an angle, diffusing the light and casting a golden glow. During this hour, light is warm, soft, and perfect for taking pictures, or so says an internet search. Gone are the harsh shadows from the sun shining directly overhead. The only flash needed is the soft stream of light breaking through the haze of a summer evening.

So golden wheat at the golden hour should be even better, right? 
One evening last week, the sky was beautiful from every direction. I took the photo above looking south, with the light accenting the clouds, as if God was wielding a paintbrush and was adding highlights to a landscape masterpiece.
It was just as pretty to the north, with more clouds shifting shape as evening turned to dusk.
Just a few minutes later, and the sky and the field transformed again as the sun sank toward the horizon.

Sunset changed the sky faster than a magician makes his assistant disappear.
As the sun was setting, June 19, 2014
The golden hour? Yes, indeed. With a little orange thrown in for good measure.
We'll see whether we'll have more sunsets witnessed from the harvest field today, after Randy figures out if the wheat and ground are dried out after our Sunday evening rain.

Monday, June 23, 2014

We Now Interrupt This Program


"We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program." Remember hearing those words as you were watching your favorite television show as a kid? It always seemed like it was at a crucial moment. You know, like wondering, "Will the Coyote finally catch the Road Runner? And I'm going to miss it because the president needs to tell us something?"
In some ways, you feel like that when there's a rain during wheat harvest. We got 0.70" of rain here at home yesterday evening, where we were cutting wheat. We'll see if we got more or less at other locations where we still have wheat to cut. (We are nowhere close to being done.)

Earlier in the day, the clouds dotted a bright blue sky and made for a beautiful Sunday afternoon ride.
The sky provided a picturesque backdrop as we approached the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op to take a load of wheat.
But, by 6:30 or so, Randy was racing to get as much cut as he could before the skies opened up.
It sure made for a pretty backdrop for the golden wheat. You have to look at the bright side, right?
Even more importantly, the rain gave the corn a good drink of water at just the right time. Some of the corn is tasseling. The rain and the cooler temperatures forecast for the beginning of this week should make for good growing conditions for the corn and for the alfalfa.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Equal Time

Our photo shoot in the corn field across the road yesterday had this funny outtake. My human measuring stick was trying to keep the airplane-sized mosquitoes off his face. This blooper made me laugh, in spite of the pesky dive-bombers. 
Wheat is grabbing all the headlines, crowding out the attention like an older sibling suffering through the baby's birthday party.  But wheat is our major crop, and harvest is the culmination of nine months of growing. So far, the yields have been between 12 and 35 bushels to the acre. Test weights have been averaging 59 pounds per bushel. After our best crop ever last year, it's a reality check. It just illustrates the unpredictable life on a farm. We are impacted by factors over which we have no control, like the weather.

While we've been busy elsewhere, the corn crop has taken off like a junior high boy outgrowing his tennis shoes. I decided it was time for a growth chart check. You know the ones:  You line the kid up with heels firmly squished against the wall. You make sure he's not standing on tiptoes. You line up the book on top of his head. You have the pencil locked and loaded to record the height milestone on the door frame. You ooh and ahh over how much he's grown. 

The corn is growing faster than any toddler at the moment. We took these photos yesterday while we were waiting on the wheat to dry out. We didn't get any measurable precipitation yesterday. It was just a sprinkle, along with overcast skies and humidity.

Compare yesterday's pictures (above) to the photo from June 6, two weeks ago. Pretty amazing, right? My human measuring stick is about to get surpassed in height.
The photo below was taken on May 28, less than a month ago.
Now, it's nearing the tasseling stage.
It evidently is an all-service buffet for the deer around here, too. They seem to have bellied up to the corn bar.
The rains we've had during the past two weeks have been just what the farmer ordered for the corn crop. It's also good for the alfalfa.
After I delivered supper last evening, Randy took a brief time out from the combine to check the hay. It was dry enough to rake together two windrows this morning. Baling may come after he gets off the combine tonight. Meet my husband, the multi-tasker.
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I'm linked to the Country Fair Blog Hop hosted by Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom, Dirt Road Charm and High Heels and Shot Gun Shells and Country Linked. Click on the links to check out their blogs. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Me and My Shadow: Kansas Wheat Harvest Style

"Me and my shadow, my shadow and me.
"We're always together, as close as can be."

The song from "Peter Pan" playing in my head was accompanied by the rhythm created by the combine's reel and the occasional beep from the machine's monitor as we rumbled through the wheat field.
Snapshot Kansas' Tuesday assignment this week is "Harvest." I figured I could show a few different views of harvest, since I have an inside connection with a handsome combine driver.
He chauffeured me through the field and I tried to take non-typical photos to share.
The combine stairs and platform formed a pretty red frame for a snapshot of our amber waves of grain.
I'd like to say harvest is in our rearview mirror. I guess it is, in a manner of speaking, if this photo is any indication.
But, in reality, we've just gotten started. I just might have lots of opportunities to post to Snapshot Kansas this week.

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I'm linked to the Country Fair Blog Hop hosted by Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom, Dirt Road Charm and High Heels and Shot Gun Shells and Country Linked. Click on the links to check out their blogs.