Monday, May 9, 2016

What's Been Going On?

It's been awhile since I've posted anything, mainly because nothing really interesting has been happening besides the repairing, welding, and cussing that's typical when dealing with the well-used and abused farm equipment that's the norm on the farm.

Last summer, a white board was hung in the barn, and every problem that was encountered with each piece of equipment was noted on the board.  You'd be surprised how long and detailed a repair list can get when you make an effort to write everything down as soon as possible instead of trying to remember what was broken months later..

As soon as the wheat was planted last fall, the long list on the board was slowly worked through and now that summer is almost here, we've finally almost gotten everything fixed and the board close to being wiped clean.  Now, we can start making a new list of everything that needs fixed, breaks, or wears out this summer back on the board.

The last five months or so have also been spent trying to come up with some sort of crop rotation plan to deal with some of the wheat crop frustrations that we've been dealing with recently.  I've changed my mind so many times about the best way to deal with some of the problems (weeds, disease, low prices, dockage) we've had with our wheat crops that trying to write any blog posts about the subject would have just turned into an even more frustrating and confusing mess for anybody that happened to read them.

It's been more or less decided that the best and maybe the only way to solve our wheat problems is to grow much less wheat and grow something else like grain sorghum for a while instead.  A hundred years of more or less continuous winter wheat growing and the problems associated with that type of management might have finally caught up with the farm.  It might take a few years of not growing wheat at all before a proper crop rotation that includes wheat again will be possible.

That about sums up what's been going on for the last five months or so.  


  1. Good to know you are still above ground. I always suspect the worse when someone disappears from the blogging world with nary a word. I have two such people still linked on my sidebar in hopes they just have bloggers block and aren't pushing up daisies.

    Is north central Oklahoma classically considered part of the wheat belt? I always think of it starting in Kansas and going North to Montana. Iowa is definitely not part of it and we always struggled with wheat perhaps getting one good year out of every four. Now we no longer even try it.

    Your whiteboard reminded me of a question farmers get quite often. How to you spend your time all winter when you aren't in the fields? I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I hear that asked.

    1. Wheat is the main crop in Oklahoma and I always understood the wheat belt to extend from about central Texas to the Canadian border. Hard red winter wheat is grown from Texas to about Nebraska, and spring wheat is grown farther north.

      Oklahoma doesn't grow as much wheat (in acres or yields) as Kansas, but it's supposedly more suited for dual-purpose winter wheat, with cattle grazing over the winter followed by a grain harvest.

      Lately, it's been drier than normal in the Fall, so I haven't really had any decent wheat pasture for years. Plus, I've also been dealing with grass weeds like annual ryegrass, cheatgrass, etc. which I've been trying to control by planting later in the fall which cuts into any wheat pasture potential even more. There are herbicides that can control some of the grass weeds, but using them usually means that I'm limited to planting wheat for awhile and can't plant sorghum or grow hay.

      Added to all that, there is more and more disease pressure that can only be dealt with by spraying fungicides in small windows of time to actually work. I don't really want to go down the road of spraying a bunch of fungicide for a number of reasons, and even if I chose to spray, I don't know if it would be effective because it always seems like it's raining or muddy during the two day window that the wheat needs to be sprayed, or something similar.

      It used to be easy to grow wheat, I'd plant it, fertilize it, combine it, then sell it. Now it seems like it's harder than it used to be to grow a profitable crop. It's been slightly frustrating to figure out what I need to do about it.

  2. If I remember correctly, my father always grew the winter wheat variety which would put us on the very northern edge of its growing range. That might explain things.

  3. "It's been awhile since I've posted anything, mainly because nothing really interesting has been happening besides the repairing, welding, and cussing that's typical when dealing with the well-used and abused farm equipment that's the norm on the farm."

    Doggone it! That is interesting to some of us!

    I'm really glad to see posts resumed here.

    1. It might be a little interesting, but it can be tough to write about what's going on without it sounding like I spend all my time either complaining about a worn out piece of junk, spending money like a politician, or engaging in a non-stop cuss-fest.

      On the combine alone, it took a few weeks to replace a front tire, rebuild some augers, replace a bunch of bearings and belts, weld some patches to fix a bunch of rusted out places, buy a new battery, and replace the starter. The worst part is that you have to practically disassemble the combine to get to most of that stuff and/or stand on your head to reach most of the things that need replaced or fixed.

      To get a true picture of what happens on a farm like this (for those that are interested in that sort of thing) I should probably write about some of that, but it's hard to do at times when you feel like throwing a wrench through a wall because your irritating combine refuses to start.