Friday, October 15, 2010

A Time of Harvest

Milo to harvest and the newly planted wheat on the County Line
October 2010

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.
For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.
Edwin Way Teale

At the County Line, autumn is a time of harvest and a time of sowing. But after a couple of weeks of non-stop wheat sowing, it was time to harvest our milo crop.

We actually started milo harvest on September 22, but then took a timeout for planting wheat. This week, we've returned to harvest mode.

We have 290 acres of milo. We planted our 2010 milo crop in June. Randy uses milo in our crop rotation as a way to get rid of cheat grass on wheat ground.

We don't have any irrigated fields, and milo is more drought tolerant than corn or soybeans, two other fall crops we could add to the rotation on the County Line.

Input costs for milo are less: The seed costs less than corn and soybeans, and we don't usually have to spray for bugs. However, the yield potential for milo is also less, so there's definitely a trade-off there.

Later this fall, we'll also fence off milo stalks and use it for grazing for our cow herd.

We're used to seeing cattle on the milo stalks. But, on September 22, there was another kind of visitor. As we drove along a shelter belt, we flushed out some monarch butterflies from the trees. They didn't stick around for round two of our harvest.

Since we got a little bit of rain last weekend and into Monday, we had to cut samples of milo and take them to the co-op for moisture testing.

My friend, Carry, runs the grain through a machine at the Zenith Co-op to determine moisture levels.

The co-op won't take the grain if it tests higher than 15.5. A week ago today (October 8), we were all set to cut milo, but the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op, where we usually take our grain, had a transformer fire on October 7.

With no electricity to the elevator, we had to take the grain to the Stafford branch until they got a generator late Wednesday afternoon (October 13) and could again take loads of milo. We rented a semi from my brother, Kent, since we had to haul further than normal.

Last year, the milo was "harvested" in one night when a hail storm worked its way down the County Line. And, as luck would have it, that's where our entire 2009 milo crop was planted.

As with most harvests, there are always some kinks in the schedule. On Wednesday, we had to have a combine tire repaired. Yesterday, a belt on the combine broke, and I made yet another unexpected journey to Hutchinson for parts after my expected lunch delivery.

But, even with some inconveniences, we are thankful for the harvest. This year, prices are just about double the 2009 price levels after last week's run-up in grain prices. So we are ready to get it out of the field and into the bins.

We hope to have the milo harvest finished up Saturday, if we don't have too many additional catastrophes. (Nobody hold your breath!)


Read more and see earlier photos from this year's milo crop by clicking on these previous posts:

Half Full? Or Half Empty


Sunshine and Raindrops


  1. How do you manage meals when you are the truck driver? I used to pack an individual cooler for everyone, putting in enough food to last all day! They could eat it whenever they decided.

    Milo and wheat were Marion's two crops, too. We also had no irrigation.

    Your farming sounds so much like Marion's. I enjoy reliving it through your blogs!

  2. Thanks, Jane! Other than helping move trucks and other vehicles, I haven't had to drive to the co-op to dump grain this year for milo harvest. Our hired man has been doing it. With meals to the field, helping move people and vehicles and parts runs, it seems to keep me busy enough.