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Harvest Update 2017

24 Jul

As of today we have been harvesting for 19 days. Just to give you a small taste of what that means…

  • In 19 days we have worked just under 1500 man hours on the farm. 
  • We have seen 19 sunrises matched up to 19 sunsets. 
  • We have harvested all the crimson clover, all of the peas, half the green beans, all the tall fescue seed, and half  of the perennial ryegrass. 
  • We have had a few successes and some failures. 
  • We have eaten dinner out in the field 17 times.  And the 2 nights we were at home eating, we still ended up in the field hanging out afterward. 
  • I have made 122 meals for our crew and family. 
  • Our boys have spent over 25 hours in the seat of a combine or tractor. 
  • Hoot has asked about 75 million times to get back in the seat of the combine or tractor. 
  • We have had 7 harvester plugs, 3 minor hiccups and two fairly extensive breakdowns. 
  • We have had 18 friends and family members come to say hi out in the dusty fields. 
  • We have had exactly one day off. Well except for my husband Matt, because plants don’t stop needing things just because it’s Sunday.  
  • We have 7 crops left to harvest.
  • There are 5 amazing people who help take care of our boys during our crazy harvest hours!  It takes a village here on the farm raising these crops and kids!
  • We are thankful for great employees, hard workers, good weather, and patience. 

This is what it looks like to get food onto tables.  Lots of long exhausting days and nights, hard work, sweat, frustration, cussing, laughing and cold beer. We are tired and worn out…but in the end we still wouldn’t trade this life for anything else. This is why we call farming a way of life more than a job, and at the same time one you can hang your hat on.  Happy harvesting!!

Cropping Decisions and the Weather

19 Jun

The cropping rotation on our farm, which includes around 11 different crops every year, is planned about 5 years out.  We plan that far out because there are a lot of things to consider.  Examples such as, which crops can follow others, keeping the mix of crops at the right acreage amounts, assessing our risk with each crop, what we can get contracts for, overall economics, level of labor intensity, etc.

But also the weather…oh that darn weather.  When we get a year like this past one, it doesn’t just mean that we wear our muck boots and rain gear more, it means that we have cropping decisions that are made for us by Mother Nature.

This field of green beans is the perfect example.

  • Plan A: Plant to Tall Fescue.
    Didn’t get the ground worked in time due to many circumstances.  On to plan B…
  • Plan B: Plant Perennial Ryegrass.
    It started to rain in early October….it never really stopped until that planting window was well closed.  So plan C it is…
  • Plan C: Plant peas.
    This would have worked, but then we got a contract for another crop that could potentially be better economically.  And finally Plan D…
  • Plan D: Green beans were planted….phew!

This is a bit oversimplified in many respects, but I thought it was a good way to show how much we are the mercy of the weather.  Other factors absolutely come into play, but the weather is one that we just can’t control and is tough to protect yourself against because it can be so unpredictable.  So the weather, economics, cropping decisions…they all play a part in the answer to what seems like the very simple question, “How do you decide what to plant in what field?”

So now this field when I drive by, just sort of exhausts me…it’s been a long road, and one that I will see happy to be harvested.  Of course it’s so we can go ahead and try again next year, Mother Nature willing of course!

Pea Harvest 2016

24 Jun

Peas are always our first crop that gets harvested.  Usually around the middle of June, large pea harvesters pull into the field and start to pick up and de-pod the peas. If you can believe it, these huge harvesters actually operate gentle enough to take the peas right out of the pod while out in the field.final-101

Then they haul the peas in trucks to the cannery where they are washed, blanched, frozen and put into bags, ultimately landing in soups, pre-made food, and in grocery store freezers for you to buy!  Our field alone will produce about 160,000 lbs of peas!!final-105final-104
The harvesters showed up very early in the morning.  So as we drove into the farm Hoot just about lost his mind seeing those big machines working already!  It didn’t take long before he had his papa by the hand and was telling him it was time to head out to the field.  Once there he ate his body weight in peas, and had a ball watching harvest! final-103

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Here’s a video that I took so you can see the sheer mass of these harvesters.

The headers are picking up the vines along with the peas, cracking open the pods, removing the peas and then the pod and vine material comes back out the back of the machine.  Once the harvester has gone through an area all that is left is a row of “trash”.  final-107

And how does the saying go….one man’s trash is another man’s treasure or something right?  So after harvest is over we have one of our neighbors come in and bale the vines and pods off the field.  He then uses it for feed for his cows.

So what is next for this field?  Since harvest for peas is so early, this year we are going to attempt to double crop this land.  After removing the vines and pods, we headed into the field and started to work the ground again.  We plan to plant a late planting of green beans.

If you want to see some more photos of our farm and more specifically of pea harvest last year please check out ItsMomSense. Farming in Focus – May.  Happy Friday!

 

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