Wheat harvest has arrived earlier than normal for our part of the country. The mild winter and spring really pushed the wheat ahead of schedule. Most of our wheat was planted last fall in September and October. The wheat comes up out of the ground and grows until winter sets in and then it goes dormant while it is really cold; however, this year that dormant stage wasn’t very long.
Farmers wait patiently until the fields turn entirely golden and the moisture of the kernels is somewhere around 13%. If the wheat is too high in moisture the grain buyers discount the grain quite a bit. If the grain gets too dry, the kernels weigh less and that means you are selling less to the elevator than you could be. Wheat is priced to sell by the bushel. A bushel of wheat weighs 60 pounds. The more weight you sell the better your profit.
Our wheat is also checked to see how much “foreign material” is contains. This could be weed seeds or chaff that the combine didn’t get cleaned out because I didn’t quite have it set quite right. If it has too much FM, the wheat is also discounted.
|Here is wheat in the grain tank on the back of the combine. I really should wash my windows before I take pictures again.|
We cut wheat with this combine and header attachment. The Farmer has been looking to get a bigger header and combine, but the last 5 years have not been overly friendly to us weather wise, which means we have not produced a lot of crops or had an abundance of extra money floating around to buy a new combine. A combine is a HUGE investment; in fact, most combines cost more than a lot of houses in this area, so we will make this set up work for at least this year.
It appears that wheat harvest this year will be interrupted by several activities for the kids, especially the 4-H’er. We have a junior cattle show and a geology trip planned. The Farmer says he will let me off work so I can be mom those weekends. I also have some tremendous babysitters that are all farm girls which means they are all involved in FFA. Wheat harvest during State FFA Convention means that the boys spent time in the combine and with the grandparents. Last week, my parents took the kids. Mom is teaching them to sew. The 6 year old is the most excited about sewing-he was singing about going to grandma’s sewing camp.
This weekend we went to the cattle show. I was dragging my feet about going since we had wheat that could be cut, but my awesome brother in law and nephew were in town and helped out so I could leave with the boys and the heifer. We left the wheat field at 4:00 and made it to the show 30 minutes before entries closed. We camped in the trailer that night until a thunderstorm came through and then we slept in the truck. I am so tired from the past few weeks that I slept fine. :) Rosie, the heifer, gets tired of waiting to go in the show ring and likes to throw her head around, so we are going to try a new approach this week and see how things go.
The 4-H’er and I have been trying to figure out his recipes to bake for the fair this year. We have settled on a couple of recipes, a theme for a gift basket and what he wants to decorate. I sure am glad he is becoming a self- starter, finally! Usually, we need to have everything planned out before wheat harvest, because harvest usually goes straight into putting up prairie hay which takes us into the fair season. We will have to see what happens with the rest of this harvest. The weather can always change things rapidly. He and grandma found an awesome cookie recipe last week, so that is now settled.
We did have a break in the harvest with a little bit of rain. The corn, soybeans and pastures were needing a little bit of moisture. Wheat has to be completely dry to harvest; we even have to wait for the dew to burn off in the morning before we can start cutting. At the beginning of harvest, the air was so dry that we could start cutting around 8:30 in the morning.
The boys did help with harvest some this week. They are finally old enough that they enjoy the time with mom and dad and know what to expect. I know that I need to pack A LOT of extra food in my lunch box, because they always run out of snacks and raid my stash. Not that I don’t need to lose a few pounds, but eating helps keep me alert.
I do run the combine most of the time. I learned how when I was pregnant. I absolutely could not stand the heat and the combine was air conditioned. The job is not physically exhausting, but it is mentally tiring. You are constantly listening to the machine, making sure you are cutting high enough, but not too high, making sure your reel (the black thing that goes round and round) is low enough, but not so low that it throws wheat heads out and making sure that you are going to fast enough that the combine is running full, but not too fast that it doesn’t have time to get the grain separated from the straw and you are throwing grain on the ground.
I know I do a better job when the kids don’t ride with me, but I love having them and their commentary of the days events.
It is thundering outside right now. Looks like I will be checking cows in the morning to make sure we didn't have any more hit by lightning. We also have a group of heifers that are having a pink eye epidemic of sorts. Hopefully, we can get them re-vaccinated and treated with some antibiotic before they go completely blind.
Have a wonderful week everyone! -A Kansas Farm Mom