The Evolution of a Modern-Day Farm Wife

Posts tagged ‘alive and well in kansas’

Fertilizing the Wheat

When I was a single gal living in town, I had big plans to have the nicest, greenest yard on the block one summer.  We won’t focus on how it turned out–especially since it barely rained that summer and I depended solely on rain to water my yard.

Regardless, that spring I went out and bought a decent sized bag of fertilizer and a handheld spreader.

I cranked, and cranked, and cranked, and cranked while I spread the fertilizer all over my yard.

I thought my arm was going to fall off, but I felt accomplished because I could tell where I had applied that fertilizer.

You could actually see the little white granules covering the ground.

Little white pieces of evidence.

Little white pieces of evidence.

Fast forward to 2015 and Adam has been pretty much doing the same thing except at a much, much larger scale.

He’s been busy spreading urea (dry nitrogen fertilizer) to some of the wheat fields during this first week of 2015.

Generally the guys like to apply urea to the fields in December, BUT it was too wet this year.

Spreading 5 tons of urea at 10 miles per hour.

Spreading 5 tons of urea at 10 miles per hour.

So January it is!

I had a little boy refusing to take a nap yesterday, so I strapped him in his carseat and set off to see what Adam was up to.

I couldn’t help but imagine how muscular my arms would be if I used that handheld spreader to broadcast the urea on the area Adam was covering.

No, wait.  That’s crazy talk!

Adam was using a spreader that holds five tons of fertilizer.

FIVE TONS!

It has all kinds of interesting functions that I don’t fully understand but gets farmers really excited.

And it requires none of my muscles, which makes me excited!

One of the functions that I do understand is that it has a variable rate dry spreader.

Basically, you can punch in some numbers which will increase or decrease the amount of urea that is spread over an area based on soil tests.

So, the areas that need more urea get more, and the areas that need less get less.

Isn’t technology wonderful?!?

You can also punch in a number and the spreader will apply a blanket application.

That’s what’s being done here.

THE Spreader

So while Adam cruised up and down this wheat field at 10 mph, the amount of urea was evenly applied.

Take a look at the aerial footage of how this all works…

We’re hoping it’ll now snow so the urea will get wet, dissolve, and work its way into the soil.

Once it’s in the soil, this will get to the roots of the wheat plants that are just hanging out in the fields during this time of the year.

It's on the ground, now it just needs some moisture to get it moving into the soil.

It’s on the ground, now it just needs some moisture to get it moving into the soil.

When the wheat comes out of dormancy and starts greening up in March, the fertilizer is in the root zone, and the wheat can grow big and strong.

The variable is that we need moisture to make all of that magic happen.

And if we’re going to get moisture, it might as well be snow.

And if it’s going to snow, it might as well REALLY snow!

Here’s to a lot of snow this next week!

For the sole sake of the soil and wheat, of course 🙂

Three Months Later…

Unless you follow me on Twitter or the blog’s Facebook page, August 22nd was the last time you heard from me.  We had started picking corn.  It would be the beginning of a long fall harvest season.

Fast forward three months and we have completed our 2014 fall harvest.

Hallelujah!

These last three months we’ve picked dryland and irrigated corn, harvested soybeans, hosted visitors, cut the grain sorghum, and sown the 2015 crop of wheat.

The final night of our fall harvest, before it began to snow.

The final night of our fall harvest, before it began to snow.

School had just begun when I last posted, and now we have just a few short weeks until our Christmas break.

The weather has gone from summer temperatures to snow falling on the ground.

Banks and I have delivered meals to the fields, graded essays, taken rides in the combines, attended football games, practiced the art of riding a bike, and shot a lot of photos and videos.

We also ran through bean rows on occasion.

We also ran through bean rows on occasion.

Some of those activities can be found online.

You see, I’ve taken to micro-blogging these last three months.

If you do have Facebook, feel free to “like” the blog’s page.  It’s been a way for me to post pictures and short explanations of what’s been going on at Baldwin Farms while I’ve been juggling work, a busy toddler, and wife duties.

Harvesting the soybeans on a crisp fall day.

Harvesting the soybeans on a crisp fall day.

As the temperatures continue to cool down, we’ll be spending more time inside.

More time inside should allow me to get back on the blog wagon.

Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving!

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

 

 

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

image
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.

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