The Evolution of a Modern-Day Farm Wife

Posts tagged ‘alive & well in kansas’

Guessing Games

It’s a guessing game…

Wheat Harvest 2014

Wheat Harvest 2014

The 2014 wheat harvest has entered McPherson County, Kansas.

heydude1

Combines are running in fields around the Inman area and the harvest continues to slowly move north.

In fact, there were combines running just a few miles south of us yesterday afternoon.

HEYDUDE2

Our combines have yet to enter the fields to begin our harvest, let alone run any test cuts.

When will our harvest begin, you might ask??

Well, harvest is in our immediate future, but your guess is as good as mine!

HEYDUDE3

That’s why I’d like you join me in the great guessing game that takes place every summer leading up to wheat harvest.

Here’s how to play…

  • Leave your guess–including the date and time– when you think we will deliver our first load of the 2014 wheat harvest to the elevator.
  • You can leave your guess in the comments below OR go to the Alive & Well in Kansas Facebook page and leave your guess there.
  • One entry person person, but feel free to share with your friends :)
  • We’ll use the ticket we receive at the elevator as the official timestamp.
  • The winner will get some yummy Kansas goodies (including products made from wheat) mailed to them.

Be sure to “like”  the Alive & Well in Kansas Facebook page  to stay up-to-date on the 2014 wheat harvest at Baldwin Farms and to see if you have the best guess.

-Kim

 

 

Wheat Harvest Anticipation

Wheat Harvest Anticipation

It’s getting closer and closer to the 2014 wheat harvest for everyone in our area.

As we anticipate the beginning of our 2014 wheat harvest here at Baldwin Farms, here’s a little video I created  to help get you ready for our harvest as well.

Think of it as a pre-game warm up :) .

 

The Kansas wind has been blowing these last few days, which is helping dry out everything from the wheat to the soil.

There are reports that the combines are beginning to fire up south of us, and local elevators are reporting that farmers are beginning to bring in wheat samples to test moisture percentages.

Last year I wrote about why we have to patiently wait until the conditions are just right to begin harvesting our wheat and why it’s important to run test cuts and take wheat samples in to get tested.  You can read more about it by clicking here.

While we’re waiting, the guys have been doing maintenance work on the machines to prepare for harvest.  We’ve also been busy in the kitchen baking cookies and other sweet treats to deliver to our crew once they begin cutting.

Wheat harvest is one of my most favorite times of the year.

Luckily, since school is out by the time harvest begins, I get to experience wheat harvest in all its glory!

To me, it’s an extended holiday.

Family and friends come home to help.  Some take vacation days.

Multiple generations spend time together working toward a common goal of getting the crop in.

There’s stress like summer storms that threaten the process.

There’s great anticipation as we complete a cycle that we began the previous fall.

And there’s a real sense of community.

Everyone is focussed on the same thing and everyone has a job and responsibility to help make this process run as smoothly as possible.

Be sure to subscribe to Alive & Well in Kansas to get the latest on what’s going on here at the farm this summer–including the latest from harvest.

subscribe

 

We’ve also created a Facebook page that you can “like” to follow the latest updates from the farm.

Be sure to "like" the page for updates

Be sure to “like” the page for updates

 

Feel free to join us as we prepare for harvest!

-Kim

Pearled Sorghum, Spinach & Strawberry Salad

 

closeup

Aside from wheat, our farm produces corn, soybeans, and grain sorghum.  Grain Sorghum–also known as milo– is harvested in the fall.  I don’t generally take a lot of pictures of this harvest because I try to stay away.  You see, milo is itchy.  Very, very, very itchy!

Just a few more rows to go!

Just a few more rows to go!

Kansas is the top producing grain sorghum state in the country.  It is a cereal grain known as the “camel of crops” due to its heat and drought tolerance.  In Asia and Africa, grain sorghum is used for human food consumption.  In the U.S., however, it has generally been used as livestock feed and is increasingly being used in ethanol plants.

As I was driving home from school this year I caught a nice little segment on NPR about a “revival” of sorts concerning the growing importance of  grain sorghum and how farmers are including this “ancient grain” in crop rotations due to the fact it requires less water.  The story also discussed how there is a rapidly increasing market for this grain for American food consumption because grain sorghum is gluten free.

Nu Life Market, based in Scott City, Kansas, is helping get this grain to the tables of American consumers.  Their facilities mill grain sorghum and package products including Sorghum Bran, Whole Grain and Pearled Grain Sorghum Flour, and Pearled Sorghum.

Since the Whole Grains Council has identified Sorghum as the June Grain of the Month, I thought I’d give it try.

I used a recipe that Nu Life Market has on their website for a Pearled Sorghum Strawberry Salad–although I made a few minor adjustments.

The results were positive–even a teenager liked it!  With that being said, I’m adding this to my rotation of summer salads.

ingredients

Pearled Sorghum, Spinach & Strawberry Salad

  • 1 cup White Pearled Sorghum Grain (from Nu Life Market)
  • 1 1/2 cups of Water
  • 6 cups of Fresh Spinach Leaves (I used a 10 oz. container of spinach)
  • 2 cups of Strawberries (Not going to lie, I used the whole 16 oz. container–I have no regrets!!)
  • 1/4 cup PLUS 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of Honey (Blaze Fork Honey–straight from McPherson County, Kansas)
  • 1 tablespoon of Lemon Juice
  • Pinch of Pepper
  • 1/4 cup of Sunflower Kernels 

The Run-Down

Add 1 cup of the pearled sorghum to 1½ cups water.  Cover, and bring to a boil.  

Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. 

After 15 minutes, remove the lid and allow excess water to evaporate off while cooking for another 5  minutes. 

When the kernels are soft and fully cooked, remove from heat and mix in 1 tsp of olive oil to cooked sorghum kernels.  Cover and place to the side until your salad is prepared.

To make the dressing, chop ¼ cup of strawberries (approximately 3-4 large strawberries) into small pieces.  Add the ¼ cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, lemon juice, pepper and chopped strawberries into a small bowl and whisk.

Slice the remainder of the strawberries and toss in a bowl with the spinach leaves, sunflower kernels, pearled sorghum and dressing.

Serve immediately.

finished

The recipe said it makes 4 servings.  I think I could have fed 6-8 people with the amount of salad we had.

I served the salad with grilled chicken breasts that were sprinkled with garlic salt while they grilled.

Adam serves on the United Sorghum Checkoff Program board and has come home from many meetings with some interesting recipes.  This summer I plan to try some of them out and share them with you.

If you’re looking for a simple, yet “different” salad this summer, you might give this recipe a try!

Enjoy!

 

Rain: Wordless Wednesday

I’ve been focussing my attention on my family and school responsibilities for the last few months. Since I’m almost officially on summer break, I’ll be back in full swing with new posts and a lot of photos very soon.

Here’s a sneak peek…

image

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If you’re on Facebook, feel free to “like” the Alive & Well in Kansas Facebook page.

Until then, here’s a little video to help brighten your Wednesday. Oh, to be young again!

-Kim

 

 

Snow Days & Sun Dogs

Although school is back in session for me today, I was home the last two days since school was closed due to the weather.

I must admit that the wife, mother, and teacher in me LOVES snow days because I get to help Adam around the farm while including Banks in all of the action.

On Tuesday it snowed all day long.

But just because the schools were closed didn’t mean we got to stay inside watching movies and sipping hot chocolate while staying wrapped in our blankets all day.

The cattle still needed checked and fed.

Snow?? You don't say!

Snow?? You don’t say!

The girls had been fed extra hay the evening before the storm blew in, but they were still happy to get their corn silage for breakfast.

Bellied up to the bunk and chowing down.

Bellied up to the bunk and chowing down.

They also got a little extra to top off their breakfast in the form of range cubes.

And if you know our cattle, you know they LOVE range cubes.

Some extra goodies for the girls in the form of range cubes.

Adding some extra goodies for the girls in the form of range cubes.

Once the girls were chowing down, Dwight did a walkthrough to check on everyone to make sure they were all healthy and not showing signs of calving.

Wellness check.

Wellness check.

After the cattle were fed we were able to go inside and Banks was able to show Dwight his latest favorite YouTube video called What Does the Farmer Say? by Kansas farmer Derek Klingenberg.

Let me show you how to do it, Grandpa.

Let me show you how to do it, Grandpa.

Seriously, if Klingenberg is making any money on his videos by the number of times played on Youtube, the Baldwin household is making major contributions.

We know the words.

ALL of the words.

On Wednesday, the snow had stopped falling, but it was cold and windy and the cattle still needed fed.

So we loaded up and busted through drifts to get to them.

The bunks needed shoveled out.

Adam shoveling snow.

Adam shoveling snow.

Once the girls saw Adam scooping out the snow, they knew what would be coming next.

Hey, you missed a spot.

Hey, you missed a spot.

The sun made it a bright morning, but the wind still made it very, very cold.

A really cool thing that we were able to see Wednesday morning was something called sun dogs.

Sun dogs in the Kansas sky.

Sun dogs in the Kansas sky.

It’s one of those things I’m thankful for snow days for…otherwise I would have probably missed it.

It lasted about an hour Wednesday morning.

According to the weatherman, these sun dogs come from ice crystals in the atmosphere that act as prisms and refract light.  Apparently it happens during very cold weather.

Scientific explanation or not, it was a sight I had never seen before.

Feeding cows wasn’t the only thing we did during my snow days.

We were also able to enjoy the snow.

Banks slid down our “hill” for the first time.

Weeeeeeee!

Weeeeeeee!

He loved it!

He also loved eating two bowls of snow.

And a side of snow to go with my snow.

And a side of snow to go with my snow.

I know farmers and ranchers would rather it not snow because it makes choring and calving a lot more pleasant, but I must confess that I sure do appreciate a good snow day or two.

And That’s a Wrap!

I know we were cutting corn and soybeans in September.

I know we were cutting soybeans and milo in October.

I know we were cutting milo in November…until yesterday.

I don’t exactly remember when our fall harvest started, but I’m happy to report that we are officially done!

Just a few more rows to go!

The final rows!

This has been a long, busy fall.

Between school starting, a little boy toddling, wheat sowing, and a husband traveling, I’m thankful to wrap up this fall’s harvest.

It was time to be done.

Get that milo unloaded and sent to the elevator!

Get that milo unloaded and sent to the elevator!

School has kept me very busy this fall, but Banks and I have still been able to get out into the fields to visit Adam.

The Baldwin boys taking a break from sowing wheat.

The Baldwin boys taking a break from sowing wheat.

We’ve kept him company in the combine.

Riding in the combine.

Riding in the combine.

We’ve kept him company in the tractor.

CAUTION: Driver in Training

CAUTION: Driver in Training

We’ve kept him company in the fields.

Three generations: Only two chose to wear pants.

Three generations: Only two chose to wear pants.

This little boy enjoys spending time with his daddy–especially if it involves buttons to push, levers to pull, horns to honk, and wheels to turn.

Banks taking over the steering in a soybean field.

Banks taking over the steering in a soybean field.

Let me take over, Daddy!

Let me take over, Daddy!

We’ve delivered meals to the fields.

Meals to the field.

Meals to the field.

We’ve shuttled people to the fields.

We’ve sat in the car, rolled down the windows and watched the machines go through the fields.

This little boy can watch the machines go for hours.

This little boy can watch the machines go for hours.

We’ve also listened to the guys radio each other while eating Cheerios half naked in our living room.

Little man sitting underneath the radio listening to what's going on in the field.

Little man sitting underneath the radio listening to what’s going on in the field.

And now things will begin to slow down.

Cattle will need to be moved and fed this winter.

Projects around the house and on the farm will get done.

Wheat will continue to grow.

And we can all get some much needed rest before the next busy season rolls around.

All Farm Dogs Go To Heaven

When you introduce your home and your family to a cute, furry ball of energy, you rarely think about that animal’s final days.

As that puppy grows and chews through everything, it’s lucky to be alive some days after destroying shoes, furniture, gardens and a variety of other items only a cute, little pup can get away with destroying.

As the puppy continues to grow and mature it becomes a faithful, trusted companion.

And it’s only when that old companion begins to slow down do you begin to think of what’s next.

In fact, you pray that you won’t have to see him suffer and have to make the decision of doing what’s best for him.

You hope that in his old age, when it is his time to go, that he’ll just go peacefully.

Die of old age after living a long, good life.

This is the story of Tucker.

Tucker the Wonder Dog

Tucker the Wonder Dog

I didn’t know Tucker when Dwight and Cindy brought him home.

I wasn’t even in the picture yet.

But from stories, I know Tucker was such a small ball of red and white fur that you could fit him in your hand.

By the time I came along Tucker had survived his youth on the farm–something not every pup can do.

He’d avoided getting run over by farm equipment, kicked by cattle, bitten by snakes, killed by coyotes, and running off to fall in love.

Tucker had made it to adulthood against all odds.

After all, he liked riding on the farm equipment, chasing and nipping cattle, torturing snakes, fighting coyotes, and crossing busy roads to make, Ahem, “love connections”–with a registered Bull Mastiff, none the less!

After a trip to the vet, Tucker decided to sever his ties with his female friend and stayed closer to home focussing his attention on his jobs.

We've got a job to do before the storm!

We’ve got a job to do before the storm!

Tucker loved his jobs.

He obsessed over his jobs.

Luckily for Tucker, his jobs and his obsessions were one in the same.

Tucker’s sole purpose in life was to keep the cattle in line and to irrigate fields.

Tucker felt it was always necessary to let the cattle know who was “The Boss” on Baldwin Farms.

He felt cattle needed to be constantly reminded of this fact.

Constantly.

Obsessively.

These are my cows and I tell them what to do.

Who’s the boss?  I’m The Boss!  Get it right, cows!

Whether cattle were being unloaded from trailers, being fed in the bunks, being chased back into their pastures, or being worked, Tucker’s job was to remind those cattle that he had supreme reign over them.

During certain times of the year Tucker would have to be put in the house so the calves could be worked peacefully without getting reprimanded by Tucker.

If Tucker was put inside and something was being done with his cows WITHOUT him, Tucker would whine and cry and mope and let everyone in the vicinity know that he was being denied his basic rights.

If the cattle weren’t needing to be ruled over, Tucker would switch his focus to irrigating the fields.

Tucker allowed Dwight to ride the four-wheeler with him to get to the irrigation.

After all, what lowly beast would actually walk to the irrigation?

Not Tucker!

Photo by Troy Wedel

Photo by Troy Wedel

Tucker would be faithfully by Dwight or Adam’s side as they would open and close gates allowing the water to flood the corn or beans.

Good job, boy!  You're doing it right!

Good job, boy! You’re doing it right!

Tucker oversaw the flow and control of the water.

I'm Tucker

I’m Tucker

Whether it was morning or night, he always insisted on testing the water by plopping his hairy body into a furrow or two and subsequently causing people like me to run far away from him when he emerged in order to avoid the inevitable showering of mud.

Come on in, the water's great!

Come on in, the water’s great!

It was also mostly during his times irrigating that Tucker also tried his hardest to control the wild toad population.  If it hopped, Tucker couldn’t resist torturing and eventually killing toads.

Even though the toads would make Tucker’s mouth froth, and he’d drool incessantly, Tucker just couldn’t resist them.

He was obsessed.

I think I see a toad!!

I think I see a toad!!

If you couldn’t find Tucker near the cattle or irrigation, you could usually find him napping near the air conditioner while gracing Cindy with his presence.  When Cindy worked in her office, Tucker would usually be at her feet waiting until the mailman or the  Schwan’s man stopped by the farm to gift him a treat.

Tucker was an absolute part of our family.  He was always nearby, if not underneath, the dinner table waiting for Dwight to toss him a sampling of the meal.

Tucker tolerated Rowan, Eli, and Banks.  The only time he’d intentionally approach the little boys was when they dropped food on the floor or when they had one of his chew toys.  Tucker’s response in both situations was to scoop it up quickly and then to get just out of their reach.

All of the boys--including Tucker.

All of the boys–including Tucker.

Tucker loved playing catch with anything that was thrown, but refused to let it go once he brought it back to his human.  He enjoyed a good game of tug, and would usually prevail.

Tucker didn’t live a life of luxury.  He slept where he wanted to sleep–usually on the wooden floor or the pebbles near where the cars are parked.

He never experienced a dog park, a gourmet doggie treat, or a Christmas sweater.

I doubt he ever made a trip to get his hair professionally done–even though he needed it at times.

He was a simple, hard working farm dog.

Safety first...and to avoid the truck from beeping.

Safety first…and to avoid the truck from beeping.

If he had Dwight to drive him around, Cindy to keep him fed, some water to lay in, some cattle to reprimand, and a snake or coyote to cross his path on occasion for added excitement, Tucker was happy.

Some people say animals don’t go to heaven after they die.

I’m not sure where I stand on that topic.

I just hope that one day we all find out for ourselves if they are there or not.

But one thing is for certain today:  Life on the farm for Tucker was heaven.

tuck and dwight in truck

Well done, Tuck.  Well done.

Are We There Yet?

You know the scenario:

Family is taking a long car ride.

Parents in the front.

Kids in the back.

Everyone is smiling and happily singing their songs.

Then the kids start getting restless.

And in a whining, nasal sounding, annoying tone from the back of the car the question is asked:

“Aarrreee weee there yeeettttt?!?”

That’s where I’m at.

We’ve been harvesting wheat since Thursday, June 20th.

Let's get this wheat moved.

Let’s get this wheat moved.

I’ve been told that wheat harvest on Baldwin Farms takes 10 days.

Ten days.

Ten days!

Ten days?!

It is now July.

July.

July!

July?!

Adam has always said that the first day and the final day of harvest are the best while the rest is just a grind.

I get it, man.

I get it.

Hang in there, man.

Hang in there, man.

We have been so close to finishing up harvest this week BUT it’s rained just enough to keep us from finishing up in the fields.

It’s strange how you pray for rain all year and then when it finally does rain you’d rather it show up a little later–in this case because you want to finish harvest.

Cindy and I delivered the last meal to the last full field of wheat (at least for this year’s wheat harvest) on Wednesday.

We are down to clean-up cutting in a couple parts of a couple fields that were too wet when the combines went through the first time.

Getting closer to the end.

Getting closer to the end.

The harvest crew that we had helping just a week ago has started thinning out.

We’re down to running one combine.

We’re down to running one semi truck.

We’re back in some fields planting milo.

Large straw bales are now dotting the landscape that was–just a week ago–fields of waving wheat.

The swathing and baling crews have come in to transform the leftover wheat stubble into giant square bales.

The end of harvest is so close.

It’s about time.

My car is an absolute mess.

My laundry has piled up to scary heights.

My kitchen needs a serious cleaning.

My son is getting tired of getting tired in his carseat.

I'm a happy boy BUT you're pushing my limits, lady!

I’m a happy boy BUT you’re pushing my limits, lady!

My summer break is half over.

The 4th of July has passed.

I’ve completed a week of Vacation Bible School.

I want to see my husband again…in our house…at “normal” hours.

I delivered Wendy’s hamburgers and fries to the field this week.

Wendy’s.

Wendy’s!

Wendy’s?!

Don’t judge!

Wheat harvest needs to be over.

Are we there yet?!?!?

Waaaaaah.

And then I have to remind myself that the wheat pays the bills…

…And that we’ve been blessed with a great harvest this year…

…And that if we lived a little further west we would have been done with harvest long before now simply because we wouldn’t have a lot of wheat due to the drought.

So I tell myself to suck it up and to count our blessings.

Yes.

Yes, we are ALMOST there.

The Bright Side

You’ll never see the bright side unless you go through the storm.

The calm after the storm.

The calm after the storm.

The good news is:

The crew has the morning off…
There could’ve been a lot more damage…
Everyone is safe.

Yesterday afternoon we had one heck of a storm blow through that caused zero visibility at times, downed trees, power outages, property damage, increased heart rates (at least for me), and stress eating (again, at least for me).

We knew a storm was coming.

It was on radar.

Storm's coming.

Storm’s coming.

The combines were running.

Over the radio, Adam said that they could finish cutting the field they were in within 15 minutes.

They were racing the storm.

I was driving south to my in-law’s house to help Cindy pack up the evening meal to the field and all I could see to the north was a wall of dust.

Within minutes that wall reached us.

I think you can see from the video that it was pretty powerful…and stressful!!

It was calm after the storm.

But the damage was evident.

Snapped power line.

Snapped power line.

Flipped gravity wagon tangled with one of our augers.

Flipped gravity wagon tangled with one of our augers.

Damage at our local elevator.

Damage to a construction project at our local elevator.

Rearranged planes. (Photo by Jeff Smith, S & S Farms)

Rearranged planes. (Photo by Jeff Smith, S & S Farms)

Snapped corn stalks.

Snapped corn stalks.

Damaged uncut wheat.

Damaged uncut wheat.

The guys have been out today surveying the damage and cleaning up.

They’ll be walking fence lines later to make sure the cattle are in and stay in.

And maybe–just maybe–we’ll be able to start cutting wheat again later this afternoon.

All (little) Hands On Deck…

Everyone is here now to help get the 2013 wheat crop harvested.

My sister-in-law, Emily, and her sons arrived Sunday morning to help with harvest.

Rowan, Emily’s oldest son, was caught off guard last week when he was told over the phone that we had started wheat harvest.

All this little boy needs is a field of wheat, a combine and a bottle of water.

All this little boy needs is a field of wheat, a combine and a bottle of water.

He later told his mom, “Mom, they can’t start wheat harvest yet!”

When Emily asked him why they couldn’t start, Rowan replied, “They can’t harvest wheat yet! I’m not there!”

Emily had to assure Rowan that there would be plenty of wheat for him to cut once they did arrive.

Rowan has grown up in the combines.

Rowan watching Uncle Adam and Grandpa hook up the wheat header on one of the combines.

Rowan watching Uncle Adam and Grandpa hook up the wheat header on one of the combines.

He takes a special interest in wheat harvest.

Rowan takes a look at some straw.

Rowan takes a look at some straw.

There have been days when that little boy has climbed into the cab at the start of the day and not come inside until it’s long past his bedtime.

Come on, Uncle Adam, let's go cut some wheat!

Come on, Uncle Adam, let’s go cut some wheat!

If he needs to, he’ll take catnaps in the seat right next to his grandpa or Uncle Adam.

You can’t get him out of the machines.

Technically you can get him out to eat or to conference, but other than that he’s perfectly content.

Taking a short break from the combine to eat.

Taking a short break from the combine to eat.

He watches and takes in everything.

A serious discussion.

A serious discussion.

Luckily, Adam and Dwight have allowed him to be part of the harvest experience.

A serious discussion taking place.

A serious discussion taking place.

I really believe that if his legs were long enough, Rowan could probably operate a combine or the grain cart because of the shear number of hours this 5-year-old has put in over the years.

One of Rowan’s special jobs while in the combine is to operate the unloading auger.

When it’s time to unload the wheat into a grain cart, Rowan is responsible for getting the auger arm out and letting the wheat unload into the grain cart.

It’s a very important job.

Those buttons need to be handled with precision.

It’s no surprise that Rowan has been in the combines every chance he’s had since they arrived here on Sunday.

He was ready to cut wheat.

And luckily for him, there’s still plenty of wheat that needs to be cut.

Now that Rowan has arrived, we have a full crew and we can NOW get the rest of the wheat harvested!

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