The Evolution of a Modern-Day Farm Wife

Posts tagged ‘kim baldwin’

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!

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!

 

Zero to Eighty

The weather in Kansas has been wacky. 

So, what’s new?!?

Seriously.

Yes, it is winter.

Yes, I expect snow.

Yes, I expect ice.

Yes, I expect nostril-freezing wind chills.

But, eighty degree temps?!?

EIGHTY DEGREES!

It is MARCH, right?!?

It is MARCH, right?!?

I’ll take it…I guess.

As I sadly stare out my window from my classroom after fielding requests from students all day long to have classes outside.

ALL. DAY. LONG.

The problem is we’ve had some really, really freezing temperatures lately followed by warm, crazy-like weather.

It’s confusing.

One week ago it was literally freezing.

Today, I’m overhearing kids say they should’ve worn shorts to school.

Zero to eighty in a week.

Goodness.

I don’t think the wheat likes it either.

The snow that came with the below-freezing temps has helped the wheat by insulating it.

Snow keeps the wheat insulated from the cold.

Snow keeps the wheat insulated from the cold.

The problem is that when the temps rise, the snow melts, and then another front blows in with freezing temperatures which leaves the wheat vulnerable.

The warm temperatures have melted the snow leaving the wheat vulnerable.

The warm temperatures have melted the snow leaving the wheat without any protection.

Adam and Dwight scouted fields on Friday.

All I can say is that we’re hoping the wheat bounces back after this last cold, freezing spell…

…And that the temperatures stay above freezing.

Although the wheat can’t seem to get away from the crazy, inconsistent weather, Adam and I were able to get away for a few days and go to Del Mar, California, for some meetings.

Getting his feet wet in the Pacific for the first time.

Getting his feet wet in the Pacific for the first time.

Dwight and Cindy were able to go as well.

For a farm family, getting everyone off the farm at the same time is a nearly impossible feat.

But we did it, and enjoyed our time in sunny Del Mar.

Breakfast in Del Mar.

Breakfast in Del Mar.  Look, Mom, no wool socks!!

The time change left us waking up long before the sunrises.

Surf's up, farmer dude!

Surf’s up, farmer dude!

I found it funny to see the birds, the surfers, and the Kansas farmers out on the beach every morning before the rest of the coast was awake.

Since we’ve been home, Banks and I have been anxiously awaiting calving season during the below freezing/freezing/above freezing temperatures.

Eat your food, cow, and then have your calf already!

Eat your food, Cow, and then have your calf already!

Today we hit above 80 degrees.

Look, girls, here comes more chow!

Look, girls, here comes more chow!  Look, girls, I’m not wearing a jacket!!

I suppose this warm-up has its positives.

We finally had our first calf of the 2014 calving season late last week.

Our first calf of 2014.

Our first calf of 2014.

Isn't she pretty?

Isn’t she pretty?

Two more calves have shown up in the last 24 hours and I’m guessing they’re going to keep on coming.

The first bull calf of 2014.

The first bull calf of 2014.

Hopefully the temperatures stay nice and warm for these little guys to keep showing up and to give the wheat a chance to break dormancy and begin to grow.

After all, drastic temperature changes can shock our plants and animals.

We don’t want sick calves and we don’t want dead wheat.

I say bring on spring!

And for heaven’s sake, let’s keep the temperatures consistent.

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.

Overshadowing Phil

Banks and I have been making our rounds everyday after school checking on the cows as we prepare for our calving season to get underway.

Just checking on the cows.

Just checking on the cows.

No babies on the ground yet, but we’re getting close.

Look, Mama, it's Bob!

Look, Mama, it’s Bob!

I was convinced we’d have at least one on Friday or Saturday since we had some weather moving in.

We had a mix of snow and ice early Saturday morning.

It was enough to make things pretty slick.

Add in the wind and it also feels pretty cold.

But still no calves.

No calves here, yo!

No calves here, yo!

This all made me wonder how much longer it’d be cold before it would start warming up.

With all of the Super Bowl hoopla, I had forgotten it was Groundhog Day, but when the game became a blow-out I started surfing the web.

According to news reports obviously overshadowed by The Game, Punxsutawney Phil–you know the furry weather “forecaster”– apparently saw his shadow this year.

That’s right, SAW his shadow.

That means there’s six more weeks of winter to look forward to in 2014.

We haven’t even started calving yet.

We haven’t even started calving yet!

Being the teacher, I like a good snow day (or two or three or four), but being the wife of a farmer I have to remember that it’s a lot easier for everyone around here when the cows calve in warmer weather.

That's a calf in the front seat of the truck in 2011.

That’s a calf in the front seat of the truck in 2011.

That's a calf in the office bathroom during a previous winter.

That’s a calf in the office bathroom a few winters ago.

My friend Kelly, a rancher in New Mexico, posted on her Facebook page, “Tomorrow is groundhog hunting day…”

I’m assuming she’s not done calving either.

Thanks, Phil.  

You better watch out, Phil.

You see, around these parts we go beyond just hunting groundhogs.

We actually have groundhog feeds.

One of the local churches in Inman hosts an annual “Groundhog Feed” every year–regardless of what Phil sees or doesn’t see.

This is St. Peter’s United Church of Christ’s 72nd annual Groundhog Feed.

Grilling Up Groundhog!

Grilling Up Groundhog!

It’s a great fundraiser for the church to support their local mission projects.

People come from all over and pay $10 a person to eat all the sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, rolls, pickles, apple sauce, pie, and German sausage they want.

Oh, that kind of ground hog.

Oh, that kind of ground hog.

There’s a lunch rush from 11am until 1pm and it starts up again at 4pm until they run out of food.

People line up out the door.

Once you pay you are sent to the church’s basement and wait until the seats are filled.

An escort gives a brief talk on the process of seating and eating and then everyone is escorted upstairs into the dining hall where long tables fill the room.

You stay in line until your group reaches its tables and then begin filling the seats in a nice, orderly fashion.

Filling in the seats at St. Peter's.

Filling in the seats at St. Peter’s.

The meal is served family style, which means you never know who you’ll sit next to or across from, but it’s guaranteed you’ll meet someone new and see old faces, too.

What type of pie would you like?

What type of pie would you like?

Besides, the meal is worth every penny.

Last year we sat with some teenagers from out of state.

Did they say we were eating groundhog tonight?!?

Did they say we were eating groundhog tonight?!?

They were visiting their grandparents in Inman.  Their grandfather was too ill to go to the feed, but they experienced the tradition for him.

This year we sat with some folks from around town.

Tradition:  It’s one of the beauties of small-town America.

Pass the sauerkraut, please.

Pass the sauerkraut, please.

Although eating ground hog won’t speed up winter or calving this year, it is always a nice way to spend a cold evening with folks.

Besides, we’ll be busy soon enough with calves.

Let’s just hope it’s nice and warm when they start arriving.

Makeshift Snow Shoes

It’s freezing outside today.

Literally.

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

Like -12 degrees cold.

Brrrr.

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?!?

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