Tuesday, July 31, 2012

From the Combine to your Dinner Table, Harvest 2012

What we grow will end up in some version on your dinnerplate.... so come along read how one farm family is growing some of the food you and your family will eat.

Hello America!  The Anderson farm has been busy, first as you know with a wedding on the farm and a short couple of weeks later harvest has arrived. So before I show you what will be ending up on your dinner table,  I have to tell you a funny story on Cody our hired man...  But first to preface this, Cody was the town kid who at age 11 started hanging out at the farm.  He would show up in morning and would ride in any piece of equipment that he could, ask lots of questions, fiddle with things if no one was looking and always wanted to know how things worked.  So when he was old enough we hired him to begin working on the farm and he is now our full time hired man.  Anyway... back to Cody at age eleven, I always thought maybe he had a "crush" on the farmer's daughter (our youngest - Kaitlyn) as she was 15 and our tractor driver. But while preparing the barn for Kaitlyn and Andrew's wedding reception, I overheard Kaitlyn teasing Cody about him hanging around the farm so much when he was little and he said he didn't have a crush on her, he just liked her tractor.   It just shows that you don't have to be born into a farm family to have a love for farming and the equipment. 

And.... speaking of equipment, as America's farms have become more efficient and feed more people today than in the past, the equipment has had to grow to accommodate the increased crop yields.   Last  year, we purchased some farm ground from a neighbor who hadn't farmed in many years and his outdated equipment had sat in an old outbuilding on his place.  Just to show you the progress made in the last 50+ years to present day.....

The "open air" model meant lots of dirt, chaff and dust for the driver

My bike gives a reference point to see just how short the old header
 is ( 14 or 16' header)
The old combines used by the farmer (pictured above) fed about 26 people and through research and  improved biotechnology,  today's farmer feeds about 155 people, all on less ground and using less natural resources than in the past.  Here is a picture of Farmer Joe's combine and as you can see, the 40' header doesn't fit in the lens of the camera 
It's a big job to feed America and big equipment is needed to get  the job done

As combines grew so did the need for bigger trucks, here is what was used for the smaller combines and it would have had racks on them to haul the grain or legumes.  This is the kind of 2 ton truck that I drove during wheat harvest. 

But now semi-trucks are needed and this farm-wife didn't want to learn to drive these big monsters (which is probably a big relief to the warehouse men at the grain terminals! )   =)
This was my truck when we used it to haul in the crops, now it is used as a water or fuel truck

Big trucks for big combines

Sometimes I do miss not being in the field with the guys, but it was my choice to not learn to drive the tractors, combines or semi-trucks - and by doing so, it allows me the time to share what we do with you.  So as the first few days of harvest started last week down at the Southern Tammany farm, here are videos and pictures.  Click here if unable to view the video.

The combine  dumping directly into the semi trucks that are lined up in the wheat field
Usually the combines will unload while moving into the grain cart, but it depends on
how many body's we have in the field, so if we are short a tractor driver & the field is level, we can
dump into the semi- trucks directly if needed

A view of the full bulk tank just before it gets unloaded

Usually the combine will unload into the grain cart and then the tractor driver will
drive over to unload the wheat into the semi-trucks

A view of the tractor and disk for a fire break
And here is a video of Farmer Joe explaining about creating a fire break, as the heavy wheat chaff mixed with hot equipment can start a fire in the fields....

And as the grain was just a bit too green (meaning the moisture content was too high for the warehouse to accept it), we shut down for the week-end, our collection of equipment was parked on a green spot to let the grain ripen over the week-end.

So as Farmer Joe, Farmer Jay, hired men, Cody & Ryan bring in the crops, I'll be giving you almost daily a harvest report.  As always, thanks for stopping by, drop me an email at idahofarmwife@gmail.com or leave a comment too.  Either way, I love to hear from you.   All my best, Gayle

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Round II with Mother Nature

Well our crops have survived our 2nd hail storm once again with minimal damage, especially at our Southern Tammany farm.  This new round of nasty weather from Mother Nature has ratcheted up the nervous level among us and our fellow farm pals.  On Friday, just days after posting  my blog about sitting on pins and needles as we wait for the crops to ripen so we can get them safely in the grain bins, we witnessed a fast moving thunderstorm that dropped pea size hail for 1-2 minutes!   Here is a short video (as I ran out of battery power... oops) that barely shows the intensity of the storm.   Golf ball size hail was reported around the area and that sent Farmer Joe down to check our fields down at the Southern Tammany farm.  There he noted that a neighbor about a mile from us had the golf ball size hail wipe out about 50% of his field.   Yikes.  

I'm just wondering if "Tums" and beer will help me get through this harvest (just kidding) but yes we feel like we are in a race to get the crops in before some other crazy weather pattern hits our area.  Unfortunately, it is going to be a late harvest due to the cold spring...... big sigh.  Here is picture of what the fields look like all around us at the Genesee farm.
Spring wheat is the green field and the winter wheat field behind the spring wheat
 is ripening - but is a few weeks away until ready to harvest (at the Genesee Farm)
 In preparation to begin harvest at the Southern Tammany farm (which is usually 2 weeks ahead of the Genesee farm), we have begun having our own personal parade of farm equipment make its 37 mile journey. It takes a lot of big equipment to feed America. So far one combine, 3 semi-trucks, and 2 tractors along with the grain carts are down there.

Moving the combine down the road on a 2 lane highway.  Just shows how big the combine is

A picture of what the farm parade looks like

This combine is next to be moved down and it travels without it's header

The 40' header will be towed behind the pick-up on a trailer
This tractor with the disk will also go as it is for fire prevention... cuz there is dust, chaff and hot equipment and farm fields are miles away from fire departments so extra precaution is a must.  After the opening round of wheat is harvested, someone will jump in the tractor and disk up the ground as a "fire wall".
Do you notice the "Red" theme among the equipment?
One more semi that will be sent down, and here the hired man, Cody and seasonal help, Ryan are checking lights, brakes lines, and other fun under the truck tasks to make sure everything is working okay.  Just so you know, I sped off on my trusty bike in case they had a really yucky job that they would try to pawn off on me (not really, they know to keep in good graces with the one who supplies the cookies)   =)

Cody on the left and Ryan under the truck

Once again, thanks for stopping by and I will keep you posted as we begin our harvest season.  In the meantime, I am still working on the blog to showcase the faces of the other fine folks who keep our nation fed - so come on back soon.   Besides quality time with the back pack sprayer, I'm becoming quite chummy with the computer as I work on the farm wedding blog too. Hope all is well for you, and I'll sign off for now.  All my best, Gayle (oh and if you have farming questions you want to ask, please drop me an email at idahofarmwife@gmail.com)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sitting on Pins & Needles

Greetings! Last week we gained another great son-in-law into our family, and while I'm working on doing a blog about what a farm wedding looks like, I wanted to give you a "dinner plate update" (i.e. crop report).

If your mom was like mine, you most likely heard the phrase “don’t count your chickens until they have hatched” …. And that is why I titled my blog “Sitting on Pin and Needles” because our carefully tended crops are susceptible to weather destroying them in one fell swoop. And are we nervous?? Yes, but always optimistic.

So far, we have received adequate rain and the wheat looks good.....

But it also meant that the wheat was susceptible to a disease called "RUST" and therefore, extra expense was incurred  as we had to have it sprayed by the crop duster to keep it healthy.... click here if unable to view the videos

The crop duster drops a white paper flag to mark where he has been in the field
For all you garbanzo fans, the plants are doing okay, blooming and hopefully producing lots of pods.

This is what a mustard and/or canola crop looks like, bright yellow in contrast to the rest of the various green fields growing around our area. 

Although we don't have hay, here is a short video of it being bailed just a few miles from our farm

By now most of the hay has been bailed and picked up out of the field

Here is a video of the spring wheat as a storm was blowing in.  I was standing on my back deck filming the swaying wheat... watching it is sort of like watching a fire in the fireplace, mesmerizing

While the thunderstorm missed our home farm, we learned this morning that the wind and rain "lodged" the barley that Farmer Joe is shown (below) standing in down at our Southern Tammany farm.  As you can see, it was chest high, now the crop was knocked down to the ground.  Although it can still be harvested, it means that the combine header will have to be ground level and that is not the best as it means the header could pick up a rock, which would damage the equipment. 

Even with the threat of crop diseases and thunderstorms, we know we are blessed, and that many other farmers (even in the very Southern part of our State) and all across the USA have not been so lucky and have had to helplessly watch their crops wither and die in the parched soil.  We have all experienced drought, hail and other crops hazards, so that is why the Farm Bill is a critical part of keeping our farmers with a financial safety net, because in a split second we may have our paycheck completely wiped out by a force of nature.  So as harvest approaches in the next few weeks, we will be anxiously watching over our crops and keeping that eternal flame of hope in our farming hearts as, call us crazy, but we love what we do. 

As always, thanks so much for stopping by and by all means shoot me an email at idahofarmwife@gmail.com or leave a comment.  All my best, Gayle.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Independance Day America

A piece of Americana, does it get any better than this? 

Farmwife Gayle & Farmer Joe
Farmer Jay, Farmwife Lisa and the 4H "Pig Farmer" Zach

Dear America,

Happy Birthday from a 4th generation farm family who is grateful to be living in this great country.

As we rise each day, we know we enjoy many freedoms that others who do not live in the USA get to enjoy. And even though I speak out against the anti-Ag groups as I feel they are trying to erode the very fabric that has made America what it is today, we all have the freedom of speech and the ability to speak our minds. So as we celebrate America’s Independence Day, make sure and thank those who served to protect our great country and if you know of a farmer in your area, thank him or her for helping keep our nation nourished as well.

In the event you have not seen this amazing YouTube video from some very innovative young farmers promoting agriculture, then I invite you to take a look. These young brothers are telling their story their own way.

Once again, Common Ground has another great video on American Ag and what you pay at the grocery store.

Tomorrow we probably will go to a fun & crazy 4th of July parade and after that, well who knows?! Maybe hang out with the grand-angels and their momma & daddy (but I will definitely avoid spending quality time with the back pack sprayer) and after that , well…. I’m still in the process of getting photos on the other farm faces around our area, but this next week we are gearing up for the wedding reception of our youngest daughter, Kaitlyn and her fiancĂ©e, Andrew-  which will be held on the farm. So more on that soon!

As always, many thanks for stopping by and wishing you and your family a safe & wonderful 4th of July.

All my best, Gayle, idahofarmwife@gmail.com