My Chariot Awaits

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Harvest in Eastern Nebraska

If you want to learn about farming in Nebraska, our eastern Nebraska farming friends wrote a great post with the “help” of Flat Aggie. It has a lot of informative pictures and interesting farm facts that you may not know.

You’ll be glad you checked it out! –> Flat Aggie travels back to Nebraska for Corn Harvest

You could also check out this picture of a combine in an eastern Nebraska cornfield if you’d like.

Smut

Combine Fungus DustMy friend Shauna asked in the survey if combines on this side of Nebraska are turning black like they are on her side of Nebraska. Not long after I read that question, I was driving along and thought I saw smoke in the distance. Turns out it was just a combine at work in a field with some type of fungus.

We went out to see Brad when he was picking a field like this. We turned colors from just climbing the ladder to get in and out one time. The dirt or whatever it was just stuck to you.

It’s hard to have your knees out of the picture when you’re all squished in a combine.

Don’t worry Joanna and Emily, the jacket washed well and is now clean.

From what I understood from Brad’s dad, this happens when corn is stressed at the right time. It could happen if there’s even just a little bit of hail at that right time. This year dry land corn was stressed all growing season, so this is not the year to try and determine when that time is.

I’m sure my extension educator reader would be a much better informer on the specifics of this, but I can show you a picture of this “smut” on a sad, little ear I picked up from this field.

corn with smutI can also show you the view from inside the combine.

Thankfully not every field is like this, or we’d be seeing “fires” everywhere.

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Exciting things await for the post on the 15th! If all goes well, we’ll be having the California version of Farming on the 5‘s!

Q&A

A few people had some questions on the survey that I can easily answer. A couple had some questions I’m not qualified to answer.

I’ll stick with the easy ones.

How much earlier will harvest be than in non-drought years? Brad thinks it’s about three weeks ahead of normal, which means it’s happening during his birthday and not my birthday!

How is your harvest?  We have only been harvesting for three days now, so it’s fine so far. We’ve had no mechanical or emotional breakdowns yet.  As for other farmers in our area, a few are finished, a few are in the middle, and some are like us and just starting.

How many generations of Brad’s family have been farmers? Is there a family farm where memories and love abound? On one side of Brad’s family, his great grandpa moved here to farm and then his great great grandpa followed. Both sets of his grandparents lived close by while he was growing up, and they both farmed.

Brad was raised on a farm. He is one of five children, four boys and a girl. The oldest four were born within a five year span! They have a lot of fun memories from their childhood.

Now all four boys are back here farming. How that works is complicated. They decided around ten years ago to each be their own farm operation, so they don’t share fields. If one “hires” the other to do something for them (i.e., scout crops, haul corn, spray a field, take care of cattle), they pay them for their work or trade services.

How do you stay connected to a farming spouse during long hours, long absence, and long lonely days? I’ve been wondering that myself. I’ve been remembering how Brad felt like just a roommate during planting season this year and wondering if it will feel like that during harvest. I think I’ll designate a post to that question. Readers, start thinking, so you can share some good ideas!

Can we buy oats from you? What is the current price of oats? Sorry, the only oats we have out here are in my cupboard – steel cut, old fashioned and quick oats. We like to have options. I think they run around $4 for the sizes of containers I have.

Are the combines all dirty out there too? I have great pictures for a post on that coming soon! Great question!

For the questions I’m not qualified to answer…

It would be interesting for your readers to understand that within this one state there are SO many acres of corn and also the variance between crop maturity from east to west. So true and even the variance in farming practices. I just don’t know if I really know all the differences! All I really know is that the east end of the state gets more rain and is always ahead of us in planting and harvesting.

You should blog about the variability of different brands of equipment. Were you being sarcastic again Justin? I’d LOVE it if you wrote a post about the variability of different equipment brands. All I know is that John Deere is green and Case is red.

Thanks for your questions! Feel free to ask anytime!

Farming on the 5’s (The Farmer’s Wife Edition)

When I pulled myself out of bed this morning my plan for the day was to drive to a nearby town to Zumba with friends, followed by a play date, and then I hoped for a productive afternoon at home while the kids took some great naps. That plan changed quickly when Brad texted at 7 letting me know I might be needed to drive the grain cart. Flexibility is the name of the game out here.
Grain CartI still got a fun workout in, and we had an abbreviated play date. Then it was time to hurry to the field. It was reminiscent of my last year experience driving the grain cart, except this time I didn’t overflow the semi and kill the tractor at the same time. Last year I had scribbled directions, and Brad only sat with me once. He must have thought I had a higher level of tractor intelligence than I do.

Today Brad wrote out directions that made more sense to me, and he sat by me and shouted directions (STOP!, pull forward….SLOWLY!, pull up the auger…THE OTHER WAY!, SHUT THE GATE!) every single time I unloaded. I think I’m one or two times away from trying it on my own. Now if I could just open the tractor door to get inside it.

Here’s the back of the last semi I loaded today with only a few directions from Brad.

Semi Loaded with CornI also had a riding buddy today. He may have whiplash since I haven’t mastered letting off of the clutch.

He liked to sit by me when we were driving but had fun on the floor when we were waiting.
I didn’t run into anything, cause corn to be spilled, or spill any corn; but I’m quite insecure with my grain carting ability. See these two farmers talking?

Farmers DiscussingI’m sure they were discussing the plan for what to do next AND discussing my grain cart driving. I was not raised driving a tractor or helping with harvest, and so I don’t have the instinct that I figure normal grain cart drivers have. Junior High students out here can do what I did today without thinking twice about what they’re doing. I’m tense half the time, have to think really hard, and second guess myself often. I’m just sure there are things I’m not doing that the seasoned drivers would do or things I do that make those farmers wonder.

So I’m insecure, but I have handsome boys in my life.

Did you notice the cloudy skies?! It actually snowed at our house today and rained some too! I don’t know if it accumulated to much, but it’s better than the nothing we’ve had for the last who knows how long.

More survey results coming soon!

Harvest Food

During the “busy” seasons of farming like harvest and planting, the kids and I tend to eat without Brad. If we wait for him, we’d likely be eating supper at bed time. I like bed time, the kids need bed time, and I don’t eating supper when it’s my bed time snack time. We eat pretty simple usually (e.g., quesadillas, scrambled eggs, peanut butter sandwiches). I don’t see the need to make something “unsimple” the kids might not eat; and by the time Brad gets home, he just wants a meal of ice cream.

I think I’ve taken food to the field maybe twice. The one time I remember I just made quesadillas and wrapped them in foil. All that “taking food to the field” entails is overwhelming to me. You have to think of something to make that they can actually eat in the field and that can be easily transported. You have to pack up all the paper products they might need to eat what you made, unless of course you just wrap quesadillas in foil. You have to figure out where they are and remember the directions for how to get there, which could be quite a few miles away. Then when you arrive at the field, they may or may not be at a point where they can eat what you brought. On top of that you have to feed yourself and the kids too.

Overwhelming. It feels like an area in which I need to mature.

All that is why I asked the food questions in the survey. Here is what the survey said to the questions of what do you eat while your farmer is in the field:

I try to make meals during harvest that will travel well in his Thermos. He also eats some of what we had when he gets home if there wasn’t enough in his lunch. Some currents favorites: Chilli, Quesedilla Casserole & Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole
I try to make a big enough batch so we have enough of whatever for us. Basically though I told the guys they could fend for themselves and I would keep our family alive until one or two of the kids are in school. 🙂
We usually all eat the same thing… easier that way
I don’t change my cooking during Harvest except to eat without my husband…food the same….he eats when he gets home at midnight.
Whatever we want!
The same as what goes to the field. Its a simple menu until harvest is done and cattle are worked.
This all depends on my time, energy, what’s in my pantry & what we are hungry for!

Here are a few favorite “take to the field” meals ideas from my survey responders:

I don’t necessarily take him food, but he packs quite the lunch box. (Most of the fields are in locations my van doesn’t like!) He has a Thermos food container that we put a lot of left overs in for a “hot meal”. We’ve also begun to freeze smoothies in plastic freezer jars. They thaw for a mid morning/early lunch snack. They’re great additions to the regular fruit and veggies, trail mix, chips, and sandwiches. Packing a lunch 5 days a week all year takes way more creativity than we seem to have.
Some gals bring an amazing 3 course meal, but I’m not that good! Some things I take are lasagna, hamburgers, sloppy joes or BBQ pork/beef, or cold sandwiches and chips-always bring his favorite candy bars or munchies and something to drink.
Sandwiches, Cinnamon rolls, Scalloped potatoes, Fried chicken, Watermelon, Cookies
Runzas (These actually were mentioned twice!)
Today, it wasn’t my husband I took to but rather my little 3 year old and his papa (my dad). Since I was at my parents house I found stuff for turkey sandwiches, chips & chocolate cupcakes!
Tacos are really good, two tacos in tupperware=yum
I like an ice cold diet coke brought to me when I mow the lawn on a hot summer day. (I hope I can oblige someday Dad!)
BBQ burgers with cheddar cheese!
Anything hot!!! Sandwiches get old fast!:)
I don’t take meals frequently, but I have taken pizza, Subway, ice cream.
Cold sandwiches (chicken salad, ham, Pb& j) hot sandwiches (sloppy joes, grilled chicken with pesto, BBQ, hot roast beef) stromboli, frozen fruit cups, grapes… my husband likes (but doesn’t require) food he can pick up with his hands. Usually lunches are packed; suppers are eaten together at the field.
Crockpot meals-Philly cheesesteaks, Italian sausage and peppers.

Thank you for all your ideas. I will be referring to that list when I attempt to take a meal to the field, and I will attempt to sometime this year. If you have any other ideas please leave a comment. When it comes to meal ideas I need inspiration even when I’m not considering taking food to the field.

Harvest Thoughts

Before I share all the other interesting thoughts on harvest, I need to let you know the thoughts in the previous post were all from Nebraska farmers’ wives and many of them have young children. The farmer wives with teenagers in Oregon might have completely different thoughts.

Now I present to you all the other fabulous responders’ first thoughts on harvest. I thoroughly enjoyed reading them and you will too.

-Corn (Brad’s answer and 2 others)
-Fruit of labor/fulfillment of a long season
-Corn, Golden color, Combines
-Picking Corn, Combines, Tractors, Busy Farmers, My dad unavailable to babysit
-Grain, because of your heading picture. But otherwise it’d probably be either Missions-related, or the 80’s Christian rock band.
-Wheat harvest – hot summer in western Nebraska – VENANGO to be exact.
-My grandpas John Deere tractor, the smell of turkey in the oven, gravel roads, visiting grandparents in Laurel
-Excitement! It’s a time to see the fruits of your labor. This term could be used literally as in farming or also figuratively as in planting seeds in new relationships, etc.
-Busy. Seems that this time of the year is when the farmers are the busiest.
-Fall (x2)
-Fall, crops getting harvested. My second thought is the Harvest of Christ
-Long hours
-Sandwiches
-Fall, combines, beautiful colors, thankfulness
-Combine
-My favorite Yankee Candle scent… and FALL in the Midwest
-Bounty
-Long days working at the grain elevator
-Orange, Pumpkins

Don’t stop reading now. The answers to “any other thoughts on harvest” are just as good or better. I especially love the memories people shared.

-It always makes me think of fall, pumpkins, warm drinks, family get togethers, Thanksgiving, warm days with cool winds and football.
-Love this time of year-cooler weather and just the thankfulness that another year of crops is being brought in-even in a dry year like this one.
-I liked when friends came to help cut silage. We had to make lunches. Loved the smell of new harvested silage (That’s from my mom!)
-I guess the main theme of all of the various uses is seeing rewards after a combination of hard work and patience. Okay, all the uses except the Christian rock band. Though they probably worked hard and were patient too.
-Watching my grandma fix lunch (meaning a snack to tide them over) to take to the field OR have at home if the men happened to be “in” at that time – dried beef or summer sausage sandwiches OR both – home made lemonade – squeezed while I watched – Or iced tea that she brewed with tea leaves and a strainer – SO SO good!! And always some type of sweet – cookies or bars…Oh how I loved to be at my Grandparents for harvest – we got to stay for the whole 2 weeks or whatever it called for – my Grandpa would spoil us by buying a case of 7-up and a big box of Hershey bars – we never got pop or candy at home – so it was a fabulous treat – also Grandma would take one of us to the grocery store with her each time she went and let us pick something special – I always picked pop-sickles – another thing we’d never get at home.
-It just reminds me of farm life, visiting my grandparents’ farm
-Even though we are not currently & directly involved in farming/harvesting this year, I still feel the excitement for those who are. It’s a time of hard work and hopefully, reward!
-Afterward, the landscape is kind of drab and ugly.
-I remember riding in the combine with my Grandpa and he went back for 1 stalk of corn on a row he missed. I think that is how God is like with people who don’t know him. He would have been willing to die for just 1.
-As a farmers daughter late nights and corn husks flying around. Sometimes a crabby daddy.
-I wonder if harvest in NE is as bad as deer season in WI?!
-Wheat…beautiful wheat fields.
-Love this time of year!
-corn, cooler weather, good thoughts of home, hard work, my family. I wish I could be there. I wish my dad had taught me how. I wish I could help every year. The smells, the dust, the grain truck, my legally blind grandpa taught me how to drive, how to let up on the clutch, to hit it just right. Driving to the Coop. I would love to take meals to the guys.

-I think of long hours in the field after long months of preparation and prayer. After the work is done, it’s important to celebrate the bounty. It’s also important to give thanks to the Lord of the Harvest. I even like to thank the farmers. Thank you, Brad!
My dad worked at the grain elevator and I helped in the summer during wheat harvest. So I always think of working there and all the trucks that drive through in a day. That and working long days 7:30am-10:00pm for a week or two straight.
-long days for farmers and their families

If all those great responses made you think of something you’d like to share about harvest, please feel free to leave a comment!