Monday, August 31, 2009

Wind-down of Harvest 2009


The Farm Perspective

Harvest around the Palouse is almost finished. Winter wheat, spring wheat, peas, lentils, barley have been cut and all that remains so far is the occasional field where the spring wheat field is still a tad too green to harvest plus the garbanzo beans aren't ready for harvest until mid-September. So this allows a breather from the fast and furious pace.

Yesterday I helped my hubby move equipment from one field to another by flagging. Flagging is something that I find needs a little bit of thought and timing to be perfect. The vehicle flagging for the farm equipment needs to be just the perfect distance in order to give the implement driver enough time to find a place to either pull off or try to move the equipment over when meeting a vehicle. Plus the terminology when referring to trucks or pickups is important. We find that many people refer to their pickups as "trucks". On the farm, a pickup is called a pickup, and semis are called trucks. So when radioing back to the equipment driver that a "truck" is heading their way, it is important to have the terminology right as they would be expecting a semi-truck and would therefore, make width allowances for the big rig. Just one of those little details the normal public doesn't think about.

Last Thursday, we hosted a wonderful legislative aid (Staci) for Senator Crapo around the area. She asked lots of questions, listened intently about concerns those of us in the Ag industry had and all in all, was a good visit. I volunteered to write a follow up letter to give a re-cap on areas we chatted about. We got a nice picture of Staci and my husband so we could send it on for the Idaho Grain Producers publication. It was a good opportunity for us to make a connection with the people that represent us in Washington DC.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Harvest 08.26.09

The Farm perspective

We are finishing up the field of spring wheat next to the house and will be done with it sometime today. The next and last field of spring wheat field is too green and not ripe enough to harvest, meaning the moisture content isn't in an acceptable range in order for the warehouse to accept the grain. So we will have to wait for the field to continue to ripen for another day or two. Good thing the weather forecast is for hot and dry, otherwise it makes for nervous farmers with crops out and bad weather looming.

I'm hoping we can be harvesting on Friday as that is when we will be hosting a legislative aid (L.A.)for Senator Crapo on our farm. This is a great opportunity to help educate those that make laws that affect the Ag industry. Primary focus will be to explain what crops are planted, where we are hauling them, industry concerns, and just answering questions that the L.A. may have. It's a huge benefit to have the L.A. experience first hand what we do, why we do the things we do and she can relate this back to the Senator on what she has learned. It also provides a good rapport for the Senator and L.A. to call on us if they have questions about Ag issues.

The Farmwife perspective

I love to cook and bake, so when my husband asked if we could have the L.A. over for dinner plus invite a few other farmers and spouses over to our house after the tour was done, I said yes! =) Of course, this would be contingent if the other farmers had all their wheat harvested too so I don't know how many will be coming - of course that is just a detail.... So I really won't know if dinner is a go or not until late Thursday when Joe calls the other growers to see if they can come. I only have to work a half day on Friday, so I'll have a little bit of time to whip up come yummy food.

A couple days ago, we hosted a farm couple from Oklahoma. I had met the wife at a Women's Ag Leadership session in North Carolina back in April. So this couple, Hope and Ryan were attending an Ag conference in the Tri-Cities and I invited them to stay with us as they were so close and that they made the effort to come to Idaho to see us. The visit went well and we made new friends. Joe took Ryan out with him so Ryan got to see what combines do on hills, a novelty given that Oklahoma is flat. I took Hope with me to visit an "Agro -tourism farm" called MaryJane's farm and also a friends nature seed plant operation called Palouse Native Seeds. The visit was short, but enjoyable for all of us and our new Oklahoma friends got to see what harvest is like in Northern Idaho.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Harvest, 08.22.09

From here on out, I decided to have two sections, one basic info and facts, the other will be more of an insight of a farm wife.

The Farm perspective:

Harvest is in full swing on the Palouse. There was a sign outside of an implement dealer that said farmers have 3 kinds of seasons, before harvest, harvest and after harvest - which is true! Harvest is what farmer's live for, it's the final completion of all of our efforts and hard work. No one feels rested until the last grain, bean or kernel is in storage.

Two of our neighbors are harvesting their wheat which borders our land, so there is activity all around our house. The semi trucks are a frequent sight on our road, either loaded up with grain to go to the warehouse or empty and heading back into the field. Once harvest is complete then, another kind of busy activity occurs, which is the fall planting for next year's crop and that is a future topic.

Harvest brings a frenzied kind of energy into everyone's life. The day starts early, usually around 5:30am ish, lunches are made, plans to meet the crew at a certain spot are made, combines & tractors are inspected and dieseled up, windows cleaned and we are off to begin another round of bringing in the crops to feed America. Our farm has winter wheat, spring wheat, mustard and garbanzo beans. All our winter wheat has been harvested as well as the spring wheat on our Tammany farm. Today we started harvesting mustard and once that is done, then we will move the equipment up to our Genesee farm to begin the spring wheat harvest.

The Farmwife perspective:

I thought about my very first harvest after we married, I was working off the farm full time and hadn't quite gotten it figured out about the grocery thing and what all I needed for harvest lunches. So as I was making a lunch before work for my new husband, and me being the almost "vegan vegetarian" I only had one piece of Bologna and a little bit of tuna fish, not really enough of each for a sandwich - so I thought, well they are both disgusting, I'm sure they go together and put both the tuna and Bologna in one sandwich. Well, new hubby ate half of the sandwich before he realized how bad it tasted.... haven't quite ever lived that one down. Now of course, I'm seasoned and know what kinds of things to have on hand, make proper sandwiches for his lunch, it makes for a much calmer harvest for both of us. =)

As I said, harvest is a frenzy of activity, especially with two farms, one in Tammany which is an hour away from the home (Genesee) farm. It makes for lots of time traveling between the two and the need to move equipment from one farm to another. Farming isn't just a job, it is a great way of life and what other job affects every single person in the world? Think about it, if every farmer and rancher in the world decided to not do their job, world disaster and famine! Good thing farmers/ranchers love what they do. This is not a 9 to 5 kind of job, there are lots of long hours and for months at a time. For those who have livestock, it is all the time, 365 days of the year. We don't have animals, we only farm, and so from March through October is a busy time on the farm. It takes special people who love what they do to face the challenges of raising crops and livestock given that we have no control over weather and the price of crops/animals. But raising a family on the farm has it's special rewards and we are thankful for the life . As my husband heads out the door, he says, I'm off to feed America! I love it, and tho some may view it as corny, it warms my heart and makes me proud.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Harvest on the Anderson Farm


We got back in the field around 4pm on Monday. Yea! Rain and wheat are not a good mix and the rain can damage the wheat. We will not know if there is any dockage on our wheat until the warehouse tests it . The crops look good, seems to be a little above average, so that is a plus. The crew was harvesting in one of the fields around our house yesterday, and you can smell that heavenly scent. Wheat has a smell all it's own, not over powering, just an aromic, earthly smell. Trucks were scurring up and down the gravel roads taking their golden knernels to the warehouse or their own home storage. We don't use home storage and haul everything into the warehouse.

I sort of miss driving the grain trucks into town and all the activity in the fields. Back in the mid-1990's when combines and trucks were on a smaller scale, most everyone used 2 ton trucks to haul the grain into the warehouse. I would take my vacation from my full time job to drive truck. I loved it, no phone, faxes, email, clients..... it was hot, dusty and perfect. I'd bring magazines or books into the field and read while waiting for the combines to come fill my truck. Once in town, I'd always stop at the impromptu "lemonaid stands" run by entrepeneurial kids. It was just bad karma to not stop, so I'd have lots of quarters with me, even tho I rarely drank the product, I just liked to stop and make my purchase and chat with the eager kids trying to make some money. At the warehouse, I'd have to re-learn the route to go to the correct dumping pit, sometimes making one of the warehouse guys have to chase the truck to route me to the right place. I don't know my directions, so go to the north pit on the east side doesn't mean anything to me.... I need more specific directions like take a right and go behind the warehouse and unload at the first stop. So the warehouse guys learned to help guide me on those first hectic days of harvest. =) Plus they liked me cause I'd bring cookies with me, bribes help. My husband and brother in law also learned to be more specific when coming back into the field after a trip to town. Lots happen when you leave to dump the truck and then make it back, as it takes a while to get into town (can't drive fast or the grain will fly off the top of the truck), there are lines of trucks waiting to get dumped & lemonaid stands to visit. So once back in the field, the terms like head South, go over the saddle and turn North would make me retort back that I needed the "english version"... plus I made my husband's lunch, so he also made it a point to not be cranky with me. Now that combines are bigger, we use semi's to haul the grain in, I didn't want to learn to drive the semi's so I enjoy harvest while riding in the combine or taking refreshments out to the field.