The Evolution of a Modern-Day Farm Wife

Archive for the ‘Kansas’ Category

Guessing Games

It’s a guessing game…

Wheat Harvest 2014

Wheat Harvest 2014

The 2014 wheat harvest has entered McPherson County, Kansas.


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.


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!


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.





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…


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!




Makeshift Snow Shoes

It’s freezing outside today.


It’s also blowing which makes it feel even colder.

Like -12 degrees cold.


It also snowed last night.

Everything is covered in about 3 inches of snow.

It’s really pretty…until you go outside.

Even the birds are trying to stay warm today.

Angry Bird (Baldwin Farms Edition) Hand over the dog food and nobody gets hurt.

Angry Bird (Baldwin Farms Edition): Hand over the dog food and nobody gets hurt.

So with the below freezing temperatures plus the wind, we’ve decided to spend as much time indoors today.

I’ve been organizing a lot of photographs I’ve shot over the last 6 months or so.

Man, I take a lot of pictures.

Anyway, I was looking at some photos from two weeks ago when it snowed just before Christmas.

Banks does not have snow boots, but the temperatures were warm enough that we just had to get him in the snow.

So what do you do when your kid doesn’t have snow shoes?

If you’re me, you improvise and use plastic grocery bags from a recent shopping trip.

My name is Banks.  My parents didn't think I needed snow shoes this year.  Now look at me.

My parents didn’t think I needed snow shoes this year. Now look at me.

Banks didn’t seem to care much about what he had covering his feet.

He just thought the snow was pretty cool.

Luckily my daddy made a path for me with the tractor.

Luckily my daddy made a path for me with the tractor.

When we set him down on the snow he decided to take off and explore.

This is pretty cool stuff!

This is pretty cool stuff, man!

He’s a pretty independent little guy.

Banks, be careful!

WHOA!! This is pretty cold stuff, man!!

WHOA!! This is pretty cold stuff, man!!

A face full of snow didn’t seen to phase him though.

In fact, he went out past the tractor tracks–with the help of his daddy.

Let's do this more.

This is awesome!!  Let’s do this more often, man!

We didn’t stay outside for very long.

In fact, when we said it was time to go inside, Banks tried to get away.

I want to stay and play!

I want to stay and play!

I guess the kid thought that wearing two layers of socks, two layers of pants, two layers of shirts, mittens, beanie, jacket, shoes, and his double bags on each foot deemed him extra time outside.

Who would’ve thought a double layer of plastic grocery bags tied to a kid’s legs would make a little boy so happy?!?

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.



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.




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.




Don’t judge!

Wheat harvest needs to be over.

Are we there yet?!?!?


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, 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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