Thursday, September 18, 2014

Winter Wheat Planting

We feel the rush of the changing seasons in GriggsDakota. The cool mornings have not been frosty since the weekend and are not predicted to be for a while. Our daylight leaves earlier every evening and the sun arrives a few minutes late each morning. It is Fall, although the calendar still has it a few days away. There is so much to do...
While the combines were still in the Spring Wheat Field, the Concord Air-Till Drill was planting Winter Wheat. 
This is barley stubble. The barley crop was straight cut, not swathed. That allowed us to leave the stalk longer as we combined with the straight head. That head cuts the grain, then folds it into the machine to be threshed. After harvest, the ground was worked at an angle to the rows of stubble with a Salford RTS. Click on the link to learn more about how a Salford RTS works.
We believe that the additional straw left on the field by cutting it higher from the ground will catch more snow, thereby providing more insulation for the crop through the cold months of Winter. By capturing more snow on the field, we add precious water to the land for our 2015 Winter Wheat crop. 
 The cool of the evening sets in earlier now. It causes the dust to hang in the air near the ground making for a magical look to the evening.
 As we work behind the hill, the sun begins to hide on the horizon.
Our long Summer evenings are over. There will be many hours going forward of working in the dark as we finish our season. 
 But for tonight, we are enjoying light and the satisfaction of accomplishment.
Seeding Winter Wheat continues in the dimming twilight of GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Finishing the Wheat

This is a day to celebrate. The wheat harvest is complete. 
 Are you familiar with the song "The King is Coming?" It was made famous by The Gaithers, a Gospel singing trio. The song was sung regularly by the choir in the church where I grew up. It was likely chosen by the choir director because Grandpa Sonny's cousin had a beautiful deep bass voice which began the song with the following spoken announcement:
"The marketplace is empty
No more traffic in the streets,
The builders tools are silent
No more time to harvest wheat." 
 After that line he started to sing, and he had a beautiful bass singing voice, but by then I wasn't paying attention. I was stuck on the idea that we had run out of time to harvest wheat. 
Of course, since the soloist was a farmer himself, the choir never sang this song during wheat harvest.
 I really had nothing to be concerned about. 
 And yet every year it still concerns me. Will we run out of time to harvest wheat? Will the market place be empty? And we can't build a place to keep it.
Well, to my great relief, we have had time to harvest all of the wheat and the market is a place to sell the wheat. 
Not to say that it wasn't a good lesson. Get that wheat harvested while you can. We do that. We harvest as fast as the weather will allow.  And today we are done for the season. No more wheat to harvest at this time.
But there are still black beans, soybeans and corn to harvest. Let's hope we will have time to harvest it all before the snow flies in GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Isolation Strips

The freezing cold air has been here and blown away. There were places in North Dakota, North of GriggsDakota, where the freeze ended the growing season. We were lucky. That is not to say it didn't get cold. Our thermometer read 31.5 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday morning. It was at or near freezing for four mornings in a row. Frost was spotty, but we escaped without a hard freeze.
The soybeans got a taste of the cold. 
For the most part, the leaf canopy sheltered the soybean pods. 
 On some pods, there is a singed look to the pod, but the plant likely will be able to ripen the beans if the weather cooperates.
Farmer Fred is putting in isolation strips. These mown strips separate seed soybeans from other soybeans. 
 The lawnmower has been getting off the farmstead to travel to the seed soybean fields.
The task is accomplished with two passes of our lawnmower. The first pass is cut at the highest setting. 
 Farmer Fred follows the seeding line, or the quarter section line in each field. It hurts a little when he has to mow down soybeans. Both of these fields are the same variety, but the one on the left is being grown for seed while the one on the right will be sold on the market.
 The smell created by the mowing is fresh and something to savor. The cool mornings remind us that the season is turning. Green and growing will end soon, but not yet.
On Farmer Fred's return trip over the strip, he leaves a clean cut near the ground. 
The strip clearly delineates the seed soybean field from its neighboring soybean field. 
Now we will watch and wait for the soybeans to mature and dry down in GriggsDakota.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Five reasons I love living in North Dakota's Oil Patch

I have called western North Dakota home for almost three years. Often, when family and friends from other areas of the country hear this, their first question is some version of "Do you like it?"

My answer: a resounding yes.

Sometimes people are surprised. "I've heard such crazy stories in the news," they say.

May I now remind you? Life is not always accurately represented by the news media. North Dakota's oil country is not all roughnecks and rowdies. There are hardworking people making lives for themselves because of the booming industry.

Here's the short list of why I love living in North Dakota's oil patch.

1. Our Community. We live in a good community that is working hard to stay ahead of the growth. New development is coming in alongside improvements to the city infrastructure and services. What's more, in 2013 we were named the Best Small Town in America. Who can argue with that?

2. Our Church. We unfortunately live a few hours away from our closest family members. However, we have a loving church family that supports us and helps us grow in our faith. Our place of residence began to feel like home once we were able to plug into a church. And their onsite school gives us a Christian education option when it comes time to send our little one off to kindergarten.

3. Job Opportunities. When I graduated from high school, I had a plan. I would attend college in-state, then move out of state to begin my career. That was a common thought among North Dakota graduates at the time. There were so few career opportunities within North Dakota that we were forced to look elsewhere. Times have changed, and largely because of the oil boom. We have jobs, industry and opportunities right outside our door. I'm so thankful that my husband and I can make a life for our family without leaving this state that we so dearly love. 

4. The Landscape. It's beautiful. Like, really lovely. We're a stone's throw from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There you'll find the legendary burning hills of the badlands. The views are magnificent.

5. The Weather. We have milder winters than the farm in GriggsDakota and the summers are warmer too. It's not Florida by any means, but it is pleasant. Trust me, in the dead of winter when we're hitting negative digits every day, those few extra degrees of warmth make all the difference. One other bonus: It's an arid climate, so we have fewer mosquitos!

There you have it. Five of the many reasons I'm proud to hang my hat in Western North Dakota. What do you like best about where you live?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Welcome to September 12

Today is September 12. Our enemies have not destroyed everything yet. I have been reminded recently that the enemies of family farms are not just those with guns. Many of our enemies are disguised with virtuous cloaks and speak with wide eyes and convincing words. They perceive problems and promote concerns. Their purpose is to destroy the American Dream. But somehow Americans manage to keep dreaming up better lives for themselves and their families. 
The usually reliable weather forecaster has raised the expected low temperatures for our area. We are no longer expecting a season ending freeze today and tomorrow in our area. However, there will likely be some frost. Some farms will get by with no damage while others, particularly those to our west, are predicted to have a freeze. It is impossible to forecast with certainty. Whatever the outcome, we are grateful to be here on this farm, in this country, on this day. Many things in the world seem to be going wrong, but here, many things are just fine. The following is a reminder for those of us who continue to live our American Dream. Welcome to September 12.
Today is September 12.
 We are vigilant.
America is ready.
No one here has forgotten.
 The land in GriggsDakota was calm yesterday.
As was the water.
Are we safer today than we were yesterday? 
I, of course, have no sure answer. 
 Although I doubt we are safer, I believe we are better. 
America will always need vigilance. 
There will be sacrifice in the future as there has been in the past.
All of life flourishes on sacrifices, great and small.
Seed to plant to flower to seed. 
Sacrifice is necessary for families to continue.
We continue to sacrifice for a better life for the next generation.
 As long as there are hungry people in the world, GriggsDakota has a purpose. 
As long as we are energy dependent, there is work to do.
 We want America to fly free.
Today, September 12, we breathe a sigh of relief in Griggs Dakota.
We made it. We are here on September 12. 
Today we continue.