Posts tagged seasons
Making Lunches

We visited the farm last weekend to introduce two of my favorite people in the world to wheat harvest. It's a busy, dusty, exhausting, fun time of the year.

The days are usually really long - starting in the morning and reaching until way past sunset as long as the grain is still dry enough to cut. Dad is super efficient when he's harvesting. Actually, he's always super efficient. And everybody has their place in the wheat harvest train.

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Sustainability Spotlight: Local Vegetable Farm

Meet Joe Miller. He and his wife, Chris, are the full-time owners/operators of Miller Farms, a medium-sized vegetable farm in Northern Colorado. Miller Farms consists of 400 acres of vegetables, additional acreage in field corn, and a few more acres of hay.

In addition to farming, a couple of years ago they started to raise cattle for beef – but it’s not much – they originally got into cattle because their kids and grandkids liked to work with them. This sentiment is telling of why Joe is involved in farming at all: his passion is teaching kids and adults where food comes from. He wants to make food affordable.

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Rained Out: A Story of Mitigating Risk

For all of the technology in modern agriculture - the GPS device in the combine, the weather app on the phone, the wireless electronic truck scale - our food system is still in the hands of Mother Nature.

It's never more apparent how small we humans are in the universe until your game of Pegs and Jokers is interrupted by a tornado warning. There is a false sense of security in having a basement; if a tornado barrels over the house, there's really nowhere to hide.

This is the scary part of being a farmer.

You can plan. You can estimate. You can research and work late nights and get all the planting done on time. But one flood, one hail storm, one extra week without rain can wipe it all away in the blink of an eye. While farming is about knowing how to grow crops in your climate, it's also about business (knowing when to spend money to make money), relationships (you gotta trust people to work with them), and mitigating risk.

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Nitrogen Fertilizer, a Comparison

A few weeks ago I wrote about how nitrogren fertilizer is an essential part of farming because it is an essential part of protein, and thus nutrition for humans.

Across farming philosophies - from conventional to progressive to organic to local - the fact that nitrogen is essential to life is an undisputed fact. Beyond that agreement, however, opinions begin to differ regarding exactly what type of fertilizer is best to use.

While I can in  no way compare to a trained agronomist's opinion, I'd like to offer a (very) brief overview of the options farmers have today about what types of nitrogen fertilizer are available and review a few of the pros and cons of each.

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Farming when the Ground is White and the Temp is Low

I work an 8-to-5-ish job. I have weekends and holidays off, I accrue PTO, and if I'm deathly ill, I have (amazing) coworkers who will step up to cover for me.

This does not describe the life of a small business owner, such as a farmer.

A small business owner works the hours he needs to - meaning 16-hour days during harvest - and takes time for herself when she can. For most farmers, this means that if you want to take a vacation, it's probably going to be in the dead of winter.

So what exactly does a farmer do when the combine is in the shed? Quite a bit, actually.

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Crop Rotation

In case you hadn't noticed, winter is upon us. Snow has blanketed the fields, temperatures have dropped, and the days are short.

So what happens on a farm when the ground is frozen? More than you'd think.

Like all the other seasons, winter is a thread in the tapestry of the life of a farm. While the planting is finished and there are no combines in the field, the soil is not dead.

Although you may think that nothing grows in the winter, this is not necessarily true. My dad follows a precise crop rotation strategy that dictate whether a field lies fallow over the winter or has winter wheat at the beginning of its growth.

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The Harvest Crew

Every year my parents host a post-harvest celebration. They usually go out to a restaurant (that way mom gets to enjoy the time without worrying about cooking) and spend a couple of hours enjoying great company and great food.

The crew has changed over the years. It used to take many more people to get the job done, but with new technology it now takes one combine to do the work of two.

May I introduce you to the current Scheufler Farms harvest crew.

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Milo (Sorghum) Harvest 2015

Scheufler Farms, Inc. Fall Harvest 2015 is officially over. It ended last Friday, when the crew finished in the milo field.

Usually it's the double-crop beans that are last crop standing in the field, but it was a warm, dry fall. Usually the first freeze of the year halts the milo's growth, which causes it to dry more quickly and allow it to be harvested before the last of the beans. The first freeze in Central Kansas came late this year.

Milo, or sorghum, is a lesser-known grain. It certainly has its benefits, however, so I'm excited to introduce you to this commodity crop.

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Fall: Harvest, Planting, and My (Dad's) Happy Place

Fall is a busy time on a Kansas farm. It's the place on the calendar where harvest and planting intersect.

Unlike wheat harvest, which wraps up in less than two weeks, fall harvest lasts from September until all of the crops are harvested. Which, depending on the weather, can be anywhere from November to early January (although that's unusual and not really ideal).

While the rest of the world is thinking about pumpkins and spiced cider, my dad is in the field on every dry day and praying for rain after he's planted the wheat.

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