Friday, April 29, 2011

A CraZy Week on the Anderson Farm

It’s been quite a week on the Anderson Farm, from getting spring wheat seeded into the ground to hosting a dinner for Congressman Labrador. Not a typical spring for us, either weather-wise or social wise.

The weather cooperated enough for us to get our Spring wheat planted down at the Tammany Farm. That brought big smiles to the farmers and they moved the grain seeding drill up to the Genesee Farm for Farmer Jay to begin seeding spring wheat up here once the ground dries out enough. Farmer Joe has been seeding garbanzo beans (chickpeas) down at the Tammany Farm, weather permitting. The weather has given us anything from sun to snow all in a week and it has been crazy, not to mention worrisome as our window of planting time is getting smaller as each day passes.

LtoR, Raul Labrador, me, Joe
On Thursday, April 28 we hosted a meet and greet for Congressman Raul Labrador and several area farmers. So the week for me was busy getting ready for the event, as we have never been asked to host this kind of thing before, but hey, we were game and enjoy entertaining. If it's one thing I know, farmers like beef and good home cooked food, so our menu consisted of BBQ Beef Sandwiches, Cowboy Beans, Lentil Chili, Garbanzo/Zucchini Salad and Potato Salad and these recipes will be posted under the “Recipes page”. The desserts were, a pecan tart, chocolate tart, chocolate covered strawberries peanut butter cookies and those recipes will be on the OMG Delicious page of the blog.

Lto R, Joe, back to the camera, Raul, Farmer Jay and neighbor Dan
visiting before dinner was served
While chatting with guests, I didn’t realize Congressman Raul Labrador had arrived and when walking into the kitchen, there he was visiting with Joe.

Daughter, Kaitlyn who helped with the event by
taking pictures and helping with hostess duties

Raul speaking to our guests, it was an honor to have him
in our home, and he has my vote!
Raul was very down to earth and for lack of a better term, “so real” and sincere. After dinner, he gave a brief overview of his time on Capitol Hill and took time to answer our questions. Raul thought the new incoming freshman legislators had a very good grasp and understanding on the true pulse of America. He said many in the Capitol seem to have lost touch with reality and truly do not see how the downturn in the economy is affecting people. There is hope as the freshman representatives are businessman/women, some with no prior political experience, and that many have experienced firsthand the ups and downs of the economy. For example one legislator had lost his car dealership with the GM downsizing of its dealerships, one was a pizza parlor owner and one a funeral director, all real people who understand and connect with Middle America. Finally! Maybe they will get the message the American people are sending and help get us on the right path.

As the evening concluded, someone said something to the effect of "farming is the American dream and we are living it".   It is "the why" that we do what we do day in and day out.  Yes we struggle with high costs of production, hindering EPA and other regulations and environmentalists, but in the end it all comes down to fact that we love what we do.  We are 4th or 5th generation farmers, we are committeed  to feeding our country and we want to hand this legacy down to our children.

As always, thanks for stopping by and email me at if you have questions. Or leave a comment on the page too.   All my best, Gayle

Monday, April 25, 2011

Race Against Nature, Seeding Wheat

Our first day of seeding spring wheat was Friday, April 22, and the farmers, Joe and Jay along with our hired man, Cody were glad to finally be able to get started.  The weather has been a cold, snowy/rain mix and has delayed the process.  We start down at the Tammany Farm which is 37 miles South of our Genesee farm and the weather is milder so we can get into the fields about 2 weeks sooner.   So far we have seeded approximately 650 acres into spring wheat with about 300 acres left to go.  The rain forecast for today (Monday, April 25) is threatening but has not arrived yet, so Farmer Jay is seeding as I write.  We need to get the Tammany farm seeded in order to move up to the Genesee farm and finish spring wheat up here, which is another 560 acres.  We have a short window of time in order to get our crops planted and the time is now through early May, so our guys worked on Easter due to the looming inclement weather.  This year looks to be a race against nature and the guys are putting in long days. 

Farmer Jay has been the one in the tractor seeding the wheat, with hired-man, Cody being the support team by bringing seed and fertilizer to Jay.  The hydro-ammonia (NH3) is 82% nitrogen, the most concentrated form of nitrogen.  This is the building block of protein for the wheat.   Farmer Joe was also on the tractor, but he was spraying the fields for weeds and would keep the ammonia truck filled up for Cody.  

Filling the ammonia from the storage unit into the mobile truck for Cody requires extreme caution and lots of training.  So until Cody has taken a safety course and the farmers feel he is ready to handle this job, Joe will stop what he is doing in the field to fill the ammonia truck so Cody can keep Jay in the tractor and seeding wheat.  A real team effort goes into getting the crops in the field.    This is our job, we love what we do, even when the weather stresses us out. 

Joe filling the ammonia truck from the bulk ammonia storage tank,
Notice the safety goggles, safety measures are important 

As always, thank you for reading this. Email me at if you have questions.  Later on the week, we are hosting Congressman Raul Labrador along with several other wheat farmers for a dinner at our home.  So watch for that blog too!  In fact, I'm off to start grocery shopping as I have a huge menu planned. Gayle   =)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ready, set, go! Spring work is beginning!

Remember what it was like to wait for Christmas to open presents and thinking that day would NEVER come??! Well, its been a little like that around here waiting for Spring to arrive and some mornings it has even looked a little like Christmas with snow on the ground. This Spring has been an exercise in patience and knowing that one day soon, it will be time to finally get in the fields....and today was that day! So with a big smile and packing his lunchbox, Farmer Joe got to go outside and play on his tractor. 

The video explains what the farmer got to do today, and he was a very happy camper.

Just like preparing your garden for the new growing season, we need to prepare our fields and rid them of the weeds.

GPS receiver and display unit.
The above GPS receiver shows the field that is in the process of being sprayed and the yellow color is where the farmer has been and the green part shows what is left to spray.  That way we don't overlap the same area and it helps keep our cost down as well as not using more product than necessary.  Another example of being "sustainable in our day-to-day" work.

The mixing cone holds the bulk glyphosate (generic Roundup) before being
inducted into the spray solution

Another view of the mixing tank  being filled

Rear view of the sprayer from the back of the cab
 As always, thanks for stopping in to read the blog and if you have questions, please feel free to email me at .  Stay tuned for more farm adventures as this is just the beginning. =)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wheat Lab

Vic explaining about a variety of wheat that was being
 grown in one of the greenhouse rooms

Almost  2 weeks ago, I was able to tour both the WSU Wheat Research Lab and the Wheat Quality Lab.  So come along and I'll show you ( in pictures), what I got to see and try to explain what I learned.  Farmers in this area are extremely fortunate in that we have not one, but two land grant universities six miles apart from each other, with the Washington State University in Pullman, WA and the University of Idaho in Moscow, ID and both have Ag research facilities.  This is good for us as you will see.

The wheat greenhouse lab is a secure facility and entry was gained via card entry.  My guides were Vic DeMacon, Senior Scientific Assistant and Gail Jacobson, Wheat Analyst (and also my neighbor).  The greenhouse facility was a vast area with many greenhouse rooms to accommodate various research mainly for wheat.

A wheat plant is grown in flats

Vic among the wheat - check out the huge lights that simulate the sun.
The greenhouse lighting and heating are very expensive costs for the college
 The research that is currently being conducted is to develop a "Rust Resistant" type of wheat plant.  What I saw on my tour were various wheat plants that were being grown and specific DNA was being cross bred to create a better plant.  Some of the wheat plants had come from Minnesota and were being bred with regional plants. So in essence the wheat breeders were taking the best DNA from the plants and creating a new variety. The heads of the male and female plants were encased in protective covers.

I asked Vic how long it would take once the ideal plant was developed to reach the farmer and I was told it is an 8-10 year process.  Amazing.  Many plants are developed for specific areas here in the Pacific Northwest as our growing seasons are very different and range from a high moisture to low moisture depending on geographic area.  The process is time consuming and meticulous records are kept.

Vic explained that they can simulate winter temperatures for the winter wheat plants. (Quick refresher- winter wheat is planted in the fall and the plant makeup needs the cold winter weather as part of its growing process, if it doesn't go into a sort of hibernation during winter, the plant will not make a wheat head when   growing season comes around). 
This cold unit simulates winter season for the wheat plants

These are the plants inside the vernalization growth room
I left the greenhouse complex amazed at all the time, effort and knowledge that goes into the research necessary in order to get a better plant that will naturally defend itself from the rust disease.  To sum it up, when wheat breeders develop plants that can naturally resist diseases, it is a win - win situation for the farmer and the consumer.   So Vic if you are reading this, thank you for your time and as a farmer, thank you for the helping us to grow better crops. =)

Next I went onto tour the Wheat Quality Lab where wheat is measured and gaged by protein content and quality.  This is important as it makes a big difference in baking properties and quality for cakes, breads, noodles, crackers, etc.  I saw many scientific machines that weighed and measured protein in the wheat breeds.  Then after all the testing of the kernels were done, it was made into flour and the final baking test was done in the WSU test kitchen.  Although no baking was being done at the time I was touring, you could imagine the great smells that would come out of this room. 

The charts for different types of wheat grown

The results on the baked goods with different wheat

The cookie on the left is the optimum result and the wheat properties
and varieties make all the difference in the results

WSU has a "baking lab kitchen" in the research facility to test the varieties and
how they will perform when used in cookies or breads

Gail showing me some bread samples

The poster says it all, the gluten protein quality makes all the difference
Again all the testing and knowledge to get a product that will yield the optimum results for the consumer is an extensive process.  The research universities help you and I in ways we never even think of and as a result, we are very fortunate to live in this country.  Thank you Gail for setting up this tour and for all you do in your research, as we the consumer, appreciate your hard work.

As always, hope you enjoyed the tour and if you have questions, please email me at    We are gearing up for Spring work and I'll be documenting what we are doing - right now we are waiting on the weather to give the green light! =)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Crop Dusters and Fertilizer

When I can't be in the field to document what is happening on the farm, Farmer Joe's instructions are to capture on video or pictures what he is doing that day to be shared with you by way of this blog.  =)  So my sweet farmer was very pleased with himself because he remembered to take some video clips of the airplane that was flying nitrogen and sulphur fertilizer on our winter wheat fields.   This is to give the crop sort of a "shot in the arm booster" which I would compare it to getting my morning coffee!  The reason the dry fertilizer is being flown on by air is because the soil is too wet to be driven on with a ground rig.

New video clip (as of 4/8/2011) showing  the crop duster flying the dry fertilizer by our house.

The video below was taken of  the plane getting loaded at the crop duster's field strip.

Fertilizer being loaded onto the plane

While the farmer was taking these photos, I was touring the Washington State University Wheat Research Lab and Wheat Quality Lab taking photos to share what they do to help the farmers in the Northwest. Stay tuned for more on that as I have some good photos and a story to share.