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!!
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!
I went out today to check on one of our most struggling baby fields. It’s been a cold and tough winter for these young plants. Baby fields are fields that we planted last fall and have not been harvested yet.
These little baby grass plants are slowly…painfully…growing up out of the ground. We planted right into the old stand of grass seed this fall, which is not how we commonly grow grass seed. However as Mother Nature doesn’t always leave you options, this wet fall closed the window on conventional planting for us. This is a risk for us, but we are hoping that once spring comes, this dead looking field behind me, look s a lot more green!Come on little guys! You can do it!