Thursday, October 28, 2021

The 21st: A Look Each Month at the 2022 Wheat Crop


Good ideas are worth emulating. (That's a better word than stealing, don't you think?)

During the last growing season, Stafford County Flour Mills posted a monthly update on the wheat crop to its Facebook page. The mill - which is located in Hudson, Kansas, in our home county - produces Hudson Cream Flour. (It's the best flour there is, if you need a testimonial. They also have a Hudson Cream Flour Baking page on Facebook. Check it out!)

As I said, good ideas are worth appropriating. Since our 2022 wheat crop will be our final one as active farmers, I decided to do something similar with wheat blog posts this year.

 We began planting wheat on September 21, 2021, so I decided to use the 21st of every month for my "wheat report" photos from now until harvest. (Now I just need to remember on the right day!)

A month later, we were STILL planting wheat after several rain delays. 

October 21, 2021

But most of our earlier planted wheat had come up and was thriving.

I went to another field that we'd planted following corn harvest. On October 21, there were some volunteer corn plants coming up among the wheat. 

A freeze will "zap" the corn, and it will no longer be viable. But the wheat is designed to survive the winter. 


Our friend, Rex, ended up helping us finish wheat planting. Our hired man quit during the planting season. Rex retired earlier this year, so Randy put his childhood friend to work driving the disc tractor ahead of the drill.

Rex grew up on a farm, but took a different career path. But he was back in the tractor seat for us last week. We paid him in home-cooked lunches (besides the check).

Rex was Randy's best man 40 years ago. It's good to have friends like that.

I decided to try and take a sunset photo on the 21st of each month, too. (Two things to remember ... probably not the smartest move.)

After Randy finished planting the first time around on October 22, he decided to replant a portion of a field. On October 23, we finally finished ... we think.

You can see that there's still water in the field from the latest rainfall. (We got another inch of rain yesterday, October 27.)

Randy said the time it took to get the wheat crop planted "drove him to drink." (It's water, people!)

Stay tuned for more updates on the 2022 wheat crop, with photos taken on the 21st of each month. 

True confessions: These final three photos were actually on October 23, 2021, when we finished planting.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Fly Like An Eagle


It pays to have a husband with an eagle eye - literally.

Last week, his eagle eye actually spotted a bald eagle. As the song from Fiddler on the Roof goes, Miracle of Miracles, the eagle stayed put long enough for Randy to pick me up and take me to the location for a few photos before the eagle swooped away.

I have horrible eyesight. I've been wearing strong glasses since grade school. For me, glasses are the last thing off and the first thing on every day. Even with properly-prescribed glasses, I squint and struggle with vision.

Randy has never worn glasses. Well ... he sort of wears them for reading -- once he retrieves a pair of his over-the-counter glasses he leaves scattered around the house and in various vehicles.

Randy spotted the bald eagle on yet another trip to Zenith for diesel fuel during wheat planting. The eagle was perched in a dead cottonwood tree along the Zenith Road.

A pair of eagles builds its nest at nearby Quivira National Wildlife Refuge each winter, but it is too far away from a roadway for me to capture a photo. 
A year ago in July, an eagle perched on a pasture fence long enough that I was able to snap a few photos (again, thanks to Randy's "eagle" eye.)

July 2020

It's quite a treat to see them up close. Usually, they land way too far away for my little camera to be effective. 

Both Randy and I have kept our eyes to the sky to catch another glimpse of our majestic visitor. But we haven't been lucky enough to see him again. However, I keep thinking about that eagle and all that he sees as he's soaring through the air over our Kansas plains.
As is often the case, "flying high" seemed to be a theme with threads running through the whole week.  

An early morning soccer game for Brooke and the Fighting Unicorns provided an added treat when a hot air balloon appeared at a distance, then flew directly over the field. Spectators were watching the balloon as it traveled across the clear blue sky. 

But I think I captured the time when some of the Fighting Unicorns saw it for the first time.   

As a parent or grandparent, it's fun (and sometimes amusing) to watch these initial forays into teamwork and friendship. 

Some of my favorite photos of the day were taken off the field. 

... making friends ...
 ... cheering on teammates ...
... their turn to play ...
 ... and time for hot chocolate!
Cheering spectators are important, too!

At church, there was another glimpse of working together to "fly high" for a good cause.

The kids sold cookies in a jar for a mission project for the Zoe Empowers organization. Their goal was to raise funds for 10 sets of cooking pots for their sponsored friend group in the African country of Liberia.

Susanna Wesley UMC photo from their Facebook page

They quickly sold out! Grandma and Grandpa did their part.

Then we watched Kinley and her friends play in bell choir.

That is both a visual - and audio - reminder of the importance of working together. 

 I hope the girls and their friends learn how to "fly like an eagle" and SOAR in this life!

It's a lot easier with teamwork ... whether that's a husband who takes the time to come and get you when there's an opportunity for an eagle shot ... or on a sports field ... or in a church mission field.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Go Big Red: Milo Harvest 2021


Go Big Red!

If we're talking high school football, red IS our color. 

We also cheer for RED when the Fighting Unicorns are playing. 

However, in the college football realm, we bleed purple around here.

K-State vs. Iowa State - Farmageddon - October 16, 2021


But the "Big Red" I'm talking about this week is our Big Red Case combine cutting our Big Red milo crop. ... OK, it's not such a big crop here on the County Line. 

However, Kansas grows more sorghum than any other U.S. state. Our personal milo harvest does not contribute much to the statewide total. We only had 50 acres of milo in 2021, and harvest was done in less than a day. But it's always good to cross another job off the list. And this one was important for a couple of reasons: 1) It's the last of this year's fall harvest; 2) It's our final milo harvest as active farmers. 

October 20, 2021
 (We are still planting wheat to be harvested next summer, so don't usher us out the door quite yet).

The use of sorghum for human consumption is being developed further in countries where malnutrition and hunger are prevalent. In the fall of 2016, the Kansas State University College of Agriculture Ag Report had an article about sorghum:
In the Mara Region of Tanzania, one of the most starved areas of the world, K-State grain scientist Sajid Alavi is part of a research team working to improve child nutrition and health by providing a sorghum-soybean porridge blend to children younger than 5. ... While the results of the five-month study are yet to be finalized, Alavi said the early indications are that children were more healthy and had average growth rates.

Milo is getting some additional traction in the U.S., too, as consumers seek gluten-free alternatives. 

Pheasants are big fans of the grain, too. As we were finishing up the field, we scattered several pheasants.

It wasn't so easy to capture the wildlife action through the dirty combine windows. These were the best I got.

Randy was both the combine driver and the trucker for milo. Our employee just up and quit mid-morning a couple of weeks ago. But that's another story. Randy's lifelong friend, Rex, has been helping us finish wheat planting. So he been driving the disc tractor to get the field ready for Randy to plant after a rain delay last week. (Que the music for "We Get By With a Little Help from Our Friends.")

Once Randy had the truck loaded, he tarped it and off he went to Zenith to deliver the final truck load of milo - and fall crops - for the year.


I may have another job to add to my list after his trip to Zenith though. One of the employees there mentioned "Randy's wife's" cookie baking. I think it was a subtle hint. 

And we are thankful for all the people who make it possible to do our jobs - from the Kanza Co-op staff to the parts counter guys at Case and John Deere to the friends who fill a tractor seat in a pinch. 


A quick look back at the 2021 milo crop:

Milo as it was coming up, June 4, 2021

And, by July 28, 2021, it looked like this:
We cut the crop on October 18, 2021:
That's a quicker turnaround than the wheat crop, which will take about 9 months from planting to harvest.