Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Stormy Weather ... and Attitudes

I used HDR in editing this photo (just FYI).
I was off on a parts run to Hutchinson when I got the dreaded phone call: "No need to hurry home. We just got rain, wind and hail where we were cutting wheat."

It was all I could do not to cry at the parts counter of Straub's. Yes, harvest is yet again halted in its tracks.

While I can't compete with Mr. Optimistic, in general, I'm a fairly positive person. But the stormy weather is creating some stormy attitudes on the County Line right about now. We started Wheat Harvest 2016 on June 15. Here we are - two weeks later - and we are a little more than halfway done.

At this little space on the internet, I try to leave a bit of beauty and light through photos and words. But there are times when some honesty is in order, too. I can't do a darn thing about the weather. Well, I guess I can complain about it, though it doesn't do any good.
The stormy sky as a backdrop for the Zenith elevator made for a pretty spectacular photo as I turned toward home. OK, there's a positive.

I know that I'm supposed to be all thrilled that it rained for our fall crops. And I am thankful for that. But let's get real: We are wheat farmers.

The current price of wheat at my local co-op is $3.26 per bushel. During the 9-month life cycle of this crop, we've spent money on seed, fertilizer, herbicide and fungicide. Throw machinery costs, fuel costs, labor costs, insurance premiums and land costs into the mix.
I'll tell myself we're breaking even. I'm not sure that's true. But it's why it's even more important to get it out of the field and into the elevator. After rain (and hail in one location), the wheat keeps sagging lower to the muddy ground, making it even more of a challenge to cut. 

We decided not to have any of our acres custom harvested this year because of purchasing the new-to-us combine at a farm sale this spring - and because the price is so low.

I read an article last week that said the price of wheat on July 1, 1976, was $3.50. Yes, you read that right: 1976, 40 years ago, the price of wheat was higher than it is today. Can you think of anything else that has gone down in price in the past 40 years? Me neither.
This wheat stalk must be the optimist in the bunch!
While at the co-op website to check the price, I looked at the weather forecast for the next few days:
Wednesday, 55% chance of precipitation
Thursday, 41%
Friday, 80%

On Monday, Randy fought mud as he slogged through the wheat field across the road, finally giving up and moving to what he hoped was a drier location. It's not drier any more. Randy was not the only thing that got soaked as he tarped the trucks yesterday. So did the wheat and the ground upon which it stands.
Sunshine after the storm went through. We only got 0.20" at home, but that's where he was fighting mud already.
So ... back to the fall crops: The rain was good for the corn. However, since we are exclusively dryland farmers, we don't have a large amount of corn or milo planted. Wheat is far and away our bread and butter - pun intended.
The corn is tasseling and pollinating now. The cooler temperatures are beneficial to that process, too.
Silver lining? I suppose. But we have a long time until harvest on corn, and I'm not counting on anything at the moment. 
Rant over? Maybe. I'll try to be back to my more cheerful self the next time. I do have some pretty photos to share from a 4-wheeler check of the Ninnescah Pasture during another rain delay. The rains nourish the pasture grasses and the cattle look great. Maybe reviewing those photos will lower my blood pressure. Or maybe I need another trip to listen to the water rush over the dam at the pasture.


  1. I'm sorry, Kim. That really stinks! We are at the mercy of the weather...and the prices of grain (and milk...yes, it's probably lower than it was in 1976 too, especially this year). Such an incredible helpless feeling. I sure hope the rain holds off and you can finish your harvest soon!!

    1. Thanks, Alica. We moved to a different location this afternoon. Randy is fighting mud, but he's making some progress, slowly but surely.

  2. Oh wow! Not much to say except I hope things do turn out better for you all. I remember years ago when my late husband was haying and the rains hit. Not only was our hay ruined--on our small place but everyone else too. I right then said a prayer for all the farmers who have to rely on Mother Nature for their lively hood. Hang in there

    1. I know there are much bigger problems in the world and I shouldn't complain. But if this blog is supposed to be a record of life on a Kansas farm, I guess I should tell the whole story - not just the positive things. I know the positives outweigh the trials overall. Thanks for the prayers!