Friday, October 10, 2014

Reaping & Sowing: Farm Week in Review



Autumn. Time for pumpkin-flavored everything and sorority girls exchanging excited "OMGs!" about getting to wear their Ugg boots and leggings while sporting their pumpkin-spiced lattes in their right hands.

Here at the O'Neal farm, autumn is a glorious time for us too, but it doesn't have anything to do with pumpkin-flavored coffee (I do, however, partake in the Dairy Queen pumpkin-pie Blizzards - they are fantastically delicious!). We are bringing in another harvest, and at the same time, sowing wheat in hopes that it will have a favorable growing season. This wheat crop is a little more special than every other wheat crop has been for me for a couple of reasons. First, it is the first crop since Royce and I have been married, like I'm actually invested in this crop. Hello financial risk! Second, I convinced him to give a WestBred wheat variety a try (I work for WestBred so win for me!). Let's hope Winterhawk doesn't let me down. Otherwise I'll never get him to plant another one of my products (kidding... well, kind of).

As for harvest, it is always my favorite time of year, no matter if it is wheat harvest in June, soybean harvest in September, corn harvest in October or cotton harvest in November. The actual harvest process has always amazed me - I must be my father's daughter - and the most rewarding feeling in the world is to look across a field of stubble and know you did your part in feeding, fueling and clothing the world.

Harvest is the perfect time to reflect on the growing season and all of the trials and tribulations the crop has overcome. Even though prices are down this year, it is always reassuring when you actually get to harvest a crop. That is what we as farmers are here for - the harvest. Without a good harvest, we struggle. Harvest is when we (hope to) make money to keep the farm going for another year. Sometimes, we expect a great harvest and our yields don't meet our expectations. Other times, it is the opposite, and we are pleasantly surprised by abundant yields. Either way, harvest takes away a little bit of the uncertainty we face daily with farming. We know how we did, and we can start making a plan on how to prepare for next year. Although like Robert Burns once said, the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry, like I talked about back in July

This is my first fall-crop harvest in Texas so I'm looking forward to it. So far we are just combining corn, and to be honest, Texas corn harvest is pretty darned similar to South Dakota and Michigan corn harvest. Except it is Texas so it is obviously better (How'd you like that total Texan attitude? Good, huh?). Eventually, we will move on to milo harvest (which is incredibly itchy) and cotton harvest (which involves strippers). I'll provide updates as those happen, but until then, I'll leave you with a few photos of drilling wheat and harvesting corn that I captured this week. Because who doesn't love a harvest sunset? They are my favorite!

Royce does a great job making his tractor look good. He might have been laughing at me as I was sprawled out in the dirt to get just the right angle. #photographerprobs
A closeup of the drill - the disks on the left open a furrow for the seed, which is dropped in and then covered up by the closing wheels on the right. It is a pretty cool process, but to get good photos it requires getting super dusty and having a patient husband driving the tractor. 
And they say Montana is "Big Sky Country." Obviously they've never ventured to the Texas Panhandle.
5 points to anyone who can guess what this is!
Unloading corn from the combine to the grain cart, which will then take the corn to the truck.

Did you guess "corn header" two photos above? You did!? 5 points! Then you obviously know that header belongs on that large green machine, also known as "Greenie the Combine."
Taking harvest photos is a very dusty job. Also, watch out for flying corn cobs! #photographerprobs
See what I meant about harvest sunsets? They are the best! 
The only thing that would make these photos better is a Gleaner combine.
Dad, if you are reading, you can rest easy knowing they haven't totally converted me to Green yet.
Eat that corn, Greenie!
This corn has no idea what is about to happen to it. An unsuspecting victim. 
"Did you just say corn?! We love corn!"

What is your favorite part about autumn/fall? I promise not to make fun of you if you say "pumpkin-spice lattes," or do I?? :)

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