Wheat Harvest – The Best Time of the Year!

combine in wheat

We are smack in the middle of wheat harvest right now!  (Update:  We finished last night before our area got a big storm!)  Hip-hip-hooray!  Seriously, I think wheat harvest is the absolute best time of the year and I feel so sorry for everyone that doesn’t get to experience it!

This year makes my 37th wheat harvest 🙂  We have two main harvests around these parts- wheat harvest and fall harvest.  Fall harvest starts in October and can run to almost Christmas and is long and drawn out.  Wheat harvest, on the other hand, starts mid-June and everyone is usually done by the first of July (although I do remember several 4th of Julys as a kid where we had to miss the town fireworks because we were cutting.)

cutting wheat in Kansas
This was my view most of this week!

In this area, we grow hard red winter wheat.  We plant it in October and it comes up, looking like green grass.  It stays dormant all winter (but still stays a pretty green) and then starts growing again in March.  This wheat is used for all that bread you see in the grocery store and any flour you might buy!  Did you know Kansas is the number 1 wheat producer in the United States?  So, if you eat bread (whether you buy it or bake it yourself), there’s a good chance some of the wheat used to make it came from a Kansas farm 🙂

kids on combine
Here are my kids with their grandpa. This was about 7 years ago! Everyone was so little!

As a kid, harvest was like another holiday!  We all looked forward to it and we’d fight to get the first combine ride.  We had two main elevators that we hauled to- one handed out glass bottles of pop (later switching to aluminum cans) and the other handed out bubble gum.  You could find us kids somewhere in the field or on the road to the elevator during harvest.  Mom pretty much let us go where we wanted and if we wanted to come home, then we had to hitch a ride from our uncle or grandpa (if we were hauling the wheat back to the bins at our house) or wait until supper when Mom brought food to the field.

I have so many harvest memories!  We would play in the grain in the back of a wheat truck, take naps in the combine, try to chew the wheat long enough to make gum (you had to chew for like an hour!), eat our share of raw wheat and come home dirty and scratched up from the wheat stubble!  It was hot, it was windy, it was dusty and it was so awesome!

As I got older and became a teenager, my role changed.  I still had a blast in the field, but I eventually graduated to truck driver and occasional combine driver.  We had converted semis (instead of pulling a trailer like you normally see with semis, my dad and uncle elongated the frame and put a grain bed on it).  The trucks all had quirks, which you learned very well after hours and hours of driving them 🙂  They also did not have air conditioning and there was no radio.

kansas wheat harvest
This is me tarping a truck before taking it to the elevator.

We often cut late into the night (think 2 am), which would result in 80- 90 hour work weeks for almost 2 weeks.  My sister, who was 13 when I started driving trucks, was given the glorious job of keeping me awake at night!  Guess who would nod off?  ….. you guessed it- my sister!  I enjoy a good prank and one night I dumped my water jug on her to wake her up.  It was totally worth it using up the last of my water to see her jolt awake with a scream 😉

There’s an adrenaline rush that comes with wheat harvest.  We have a small window to get it in and June is still prime time for thunderstorms around here.  I have many memories of being chased out of the field by a later afternoon storm.  The last thing you want is for the combine to get rained on because even if the combine bin has been emptied out, there is still wheat left in the crevices.  If you get water in there, you end up with a stinky, fermented mess!  (Ask me how I know 😉 )

kansas wheat harvest
This is my view out the back window of the combine. That’s the auger dumping wheat into the combine bin. When my window gets covered, I know the bin is full and it’s time to dump in a truck.

One year, after driving trucks for a few days, they decided to put me in the tractor and have me start planting the double crop soybeans.  I was basically running behind the combine.  An afternoon thunderstorm popped up and everyone scrambled to get the equipment home.  My sister was riding with me and we were in the far end of the field (it happened to be one of the biggest fields we had!).  I was told to just keep planting until the rain came, so my sister and I are out there just planting away, watching the storm come closer and closer…. and then on the radio, they break in with a tornado warning!  A tornado had been spotted only a couple miles from our field and was headed our way!

There was no shelter and no way for us to get to any.  We discussed jumping in a nearby creek if things got dicey, but until that happened, we decided just to do what any self-respecting Kansas farmkid (who is accustomed to tornadoes!) might do… keep planting! Thankfully, it all disappeared as fast as it popped up.  It was a story we talked about for years, though 😉

kansas wheat harvest
This is the combine dumping into our semi.
kansas wheat harvest
This is the view from the combine seat. That long thing is called the auger. It folds up for when you are out in the field.

My kids love wheat harvest as much as a I do.  Everybody get their first combine rides as babies.  My 10 year old niece got her first combine ride just a couple days ago… she thought it was extremely boring and she can’t figure out what all the hype is about.  Maybe you have to grow up with it?  You catch the excitement of the adults and it just stays with you?

kids during wheat harvest
Here are the twins getting their first combine ride with their other farming grandpa- my dad 🙂

During wheat harvest these days, my job is to run the combine occasionally, which I LOVE.  Yesterday, I started teaching Lindy (who is 11 years old) how to run it, so one day she can help. (Update:  After 3 days of operating it for several hours each day, she’s a pro and is about ready to solo!)  That’s one thing about farmkids- you start learning to drive large equipment, which would intimidate most adults, very early in life!

kids during wheat harvest
Here’s Lindy driving!

Once wheat harvest is over, it’s almost a let down.  On one hand, you’re relieved that the crop is in the bin (this means money for the farmer!), but after the adrenaline rush that keeps you going for a week or more, you kind of feel a crash and it’s rather sad that all of the excitement is over.

kansas wheat harvest 8820
Lindy’s taking a short break while the guys change the fuel filter in the combine.

So, three cheers for the 2017 wheat harvest!!  And if you live anywhere near a field being cut, ask for a ride.  Most farmers are happy to explain all that they do and share the excitement of it all 🙂

Have you ever experienced a harvest season?  Does anyone else have a yearly “thing” that happens that you consider an unofficial holiday?

Feel free to share with your friends!

Life on the Farm- Weekend Recap

life on the farm

What does a weekend look like living on a farm?  Well, it doesn’t look like what a lot of you probably experience 😉  I decided to do a little weekend recap so you can get a glimpse of life on the farm!

I started off my Saturday with a short, easy run to test out my newly adjusted knee.  I started having problems with it after a 3 mile run on Wednesday, so this run was a slow (12min/mile) 1.5 mile run to make sure all was well.  It was super humid at 7 am, which is extra hard on my asthmatic lungs, but I was happy with my knee when it was all said and done 🙂  During that run, I passed my father-in-law in the tractor on his way to get hay and saw my husband leave on his way to go feed our Charolais herd.

After breakfast, the girls headed out to feed cows with Grandpa (they’ve been doing that every Saturday since they were babies) and I headed outside to take care of chickens!  That consisted of feeding and watering broilers (we’re butchering them tomorrow- yay!) and opening up and watering the layers.  I also watched the lagoon goats for awhile to make sure the fence would hold.  I spent a large portion of Friday fixing fence because they decided butting and busting through the fence was an appropriate activity…sigh….

broiler chickens
They’re big, aren’t they? I’m always glad to get to butchering day!
goat in lagoon
Here’s one of the culprits, along with a picture of the fence that they keep demolishing!

I talked to my sister on the phone for awhile….

And then it was time to make dinner!  I decided hamburgers was an easy meal, so that’s what we had!  Elisa (my oldest daughter) had been out mowing cotton stalks, but a 45 minute rain shower chased her in from the field.  Jeff also came in because of the rain, so we actually all ate together.  That doesn’t always happen during the busy seasons 🙂

It continued to rain on and off the rest of the afternoon, so I replaced a zipper on Lindy’s jacket (my first time for that!) and baked for our church potluck.

Also during the day, the girls fed our 4 orphan kittens.  We’ve had them in the house for the last 3 weeks and I am ready for them to be outside!  The girls worked on converting an old chicken pen to a kitten pen, but with the intermittent rain showers, they weren’t able to get it done.

kitten
This is one of the orphans. Isn’t she cute??? I bottle fed kittens quite often when I was a kid (cats have a short life on a farm). I’m glad my girls get to experience it, too!

OnSaturday evening, the kids ate leftovers and went to bed early and Jeff and I had our weekly date night!  We’re very exciting people…. we do the same thing every Saturday night and have for the last 10 years, but we like it 😉  We order breadsticks from Casey’s and watch a Netflix show.  We love all the superhero shows and right now we’re working on the current season of Arrow.

On Sunday morning we did chores before church (the girls have to take care of their horses and Lindy has 3 4H goats and Elisa has a show heifer and I obviously did the chickens again).  Jeff decided to wait until after church to feed the Charolais because of intermittent rain.

charolais heifers
Here’s the herd right after we got them late winter. These girls are all heifers. We also have a mixed cow/calf herd in a different pasture. Having all white cows is definitely different for us!

We had a potluck and business meeting so we didn’t get home until 1:30.  I went with Jeff to feed the Charolais.  He made me feed the pellets while he filled the water tank because I was smart and wore my mud boots 😉

muck boots
My beloved Muck boots! Jeff has been telling me for years to get a pair and I finally did after Christmas. They are SO MUCH BETTER than regular mud boots!!!! I highly recommend them 🙂

We barely beat the rain home!  Jeff went outside to his shop to work, Lindy went muddin’ with her cousin on their 4 wheelers and Reece, Elisa and I went over to my mother-in-law’s to visit.  My in-laws live just down the driveway from us and we visit with my mother-in-law most Sunday afternoons.  On nice days we like to sit on the front porch, but she was in the middle of a cleaning project, so we just stayed inside.

muddy 4 wheeler
This is what the 4-wheeler looked like when she was done!

In the evening, we all went to our last self-defense class at our church.  Our pastor is a former martial arts instructor so he and his wife taught us!  It was fun, informative and enlightening!  They even had a kid’s class.  My girls said they learned a lot 🙂

When we got home from that, we all got ready for bed and hit the hay, lol!  And here we are… Monday morning.

So, that was our oh-so exciting weekend!  It was pretty typical for us.  We never do anything exciting and Saturday and Sundays are just more work days for us!  The animals always need taken care of and during planting and harvesting times, you’ll find us out in the field.  We don’t *do* things the way other people do.  No trips to the pool or the zoo or the lake.  We just stay home and work, but, crazy enough, we love it 🙂

What does a typical weekend look like for you?  Do you like going, going, going or do you prefer to stay home?

Feel free to share with your friends!