Thursday, July 24, 2014

Soybeans Flourish After Rain

 The soybeans, late like all of our crops this year, have come to life this week following the rain.
Their blossoms, were they larger, would be prized. 
But the prize of the soybean plant is, of course the soybeans. 
The flowers are just a step in the process of production.  
 We are raising seed soybeans. That means that the seed is certified as to variety, and inspected in the field. We will store the crop on the farm until Spring when they will be transported and prepared as seed for the 2015 growing season.
Many of the soybeans raised in our area are used for animal feed, but more and more food grade soybeans are being raised in the US. The process of turning soybeans into foods like milk and yogurt is one that I know little about.
I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal titled "America's Move to Soy Hobbles Dairy. It reveals that US consumers demand ever expanding nutritional choices. The dairy industry must respond with value added options to please modern consumers.  Follow the link to read the article.
When I was young we milked cows for our own use. We had a cream separator in the small milk house by the barn, and a milk pasteurizer that Mom carefully used in our kitchen. Dairy was very straight forward. Unseparated milk carried a layer of cream on the top of the milk. After we sold the cows and stopped milking, homogenized milk from the store seemed like such a treat. We couldn't imagine anything better with a meal. Whole milk was on the table three times every day.
Soybeans, which are evidently a catalyst for change, are guarding their blossoms in the fields of GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Checking the Corn Turns into Adventure

I thought that we were simply going to check the corn fields, but then, life turned into an adventure. I like that about life around here, as long as no one gets hurt too badly. Days are seldom predictable.
It had been a hot muggy day and the evening was continuing to swelter. We decided it was a corn growing day and wondered if we could hear the corn growing in the field. We are cheering for the corn to grow as it has had a very slow start. 
Everything looks good for the corn, so far. The rows are clean and it has canopied, which allows less sun to get down to the ground. That preserves moisture and helps keep weed seeds from germinating. 
The corn has not tasseled. Careful pulling back of the leaf in the center of a plant reveals the tassel is nearly ready to emerge from the stalk. We are hoping that the tassel is fully emerged by the end of July. 
It will take about 60 days for the corn to mature after it has tasseled. By October first we can expect the corn to be fully mature.  That is after our average date for the first frost of the season. We will need a little luck in the cornfield this year.
You may have noticed, the day had been cloudy. The wind began to switch and suddenly there was hot and cold air present as we walked. It began to rain and soon was storming, with rain, wind, lightening and thunder. 
 It was dangerously dark and the wind strong. The ducks and geese were standing on the banks of the sloughs as we passed, unable to cope with the waves on the tiny bodies of water beside the road. A couple of times we heard a roaring sound, almost like a train or a jet taking off, which I believe was a tornado-like force in the clouds. We could see small funnels in the clouds overhead, but nothing seemed to be dipping down very far toward earth. It seemed late in the evening, the clouds and rain were blocking the light.
 Suddenly the visibility was zero. The rain was thicker than a snowstorm. We stopped the pickup and were somewhat disoriented as the rain pelted and a few hailstones fell. The worst of the storm did not last more than ten minutes, I suppose, but I wasn't watching the clock. Soon we could see well enough to continue our drive home in the rain.
There are some trees down and lots of branches. The electricity was knocked out, but came back on later in the evening. There has been some minor flooding. 
But, we needed the rain as corn growing weather makes the fields thirsty in GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Golden Plains Returning

  Beneath the spacious skies, amber waves of grain are returning to the plains.
 The winter wheat has begun to ripen.
 Even the roadside has produced some plants of wheat among the stones and gravel that comprise the  trails that service our fields and farms.
The beards have turned golden, but the wheat itself is still a couple weeks away from maturity. The white heads indicate disease.
 There are signs of leaf disease.
 Overall, the heads are mostly healthy and maturing well.
The white kernels indicate a fungal disease is present. Moist conditions combine with wind to spread fungus in the fields. 
There are kernels present in the white heads, but they will be very light weight. Once the head turns white, it will not mature in the normal manner. 
In this field, the problem seems minimal. 
  Although we now raise other crops, our farming tradition is tied to wheat. It was the crop first planted by my Great Grandparents in the fields of GriggsDakota.
And faithfully as the Summer matures, the golden ocean is rolling across the fields of GriggsDakota once again.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Beautiful Summer

 Summer has come to the road less traveled.
There are birds in the trees, 
 Birds in the meadows,
And birds on the fences. 
 The fence posts seem to have developed personalities.
It has been a disappointing juneberry crop. 
It makes the berries even sweeter. 
And they provide an excellent excuse to stand around in the sunshine. 
Where we drink in the warm sunshine and green growth of Summertime. 
Wandering the roads less traveled in GriggsDakota.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Putting Up Hay

 Hay on the roadside,
Hay in the ditch, 
We all make hay 
 But we never get rich.
 Daddy is a veteran.
Think about that. 
Hard to get young men to care like that. 
Singin' Songs, Songs goin' South 
GriggsDakota bugs will shut my mouth 
Gone, 
Gone with the wind, 
We all know Winter's coming back again.
With gratitude and apologies to Bob McDill, who wrote "Song of the South," made famous by our beloved cattlemen from Alabama. You help get us through the heat and cold of GriggsDakota.