Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What may crop up...

We love to have people come out and take pictures of the sunflowers. Half the fun is seeing where some of the pictures will crop up. This came in the mail yesterday. It was sent by my Alma matter...The University of Kansas. Looking at the picture, I noticed the pretty sunflowers. Then I noticed that is was very definitely our field.

Our field is too popular to hang out with the likes of us. Over the years, it has been on the cover of the Lawrence phone book, on posters, in photography books, in calendars, picked up by the associated press for newspapers, in popular magazines, on TV...local and national. It is clearly too good for us now. I hope it remembers us when it gets too big for it's britches!

Friday, October 16, 2009

What's in a name?

By conservative estimates, we farm more than 3,864,297 fields. Not really! But we do have a lot! It's somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 or 60, depending on how particular the guys want to get when they are harvesting crops. Sometimes they break a field up into sections to be more descriptive, especially if it's a large field. Where we live, we don't have lots of large expanses of open land, but we do have land to farm. So we travel around quite a bit going from one field to the next.And everything has a name. You wouldn't believe how long it took me, as a new bride and transplant to Kansas, to learn the names of the fields. Ted would call me up and say: "Pick me up at Hiller's," and I would have a nervous breakdown when I showed up at the wrong field. (Did I mention this was before cell phones?) Oh, this particular field (with the sunflowers) is called "Around Ted and Kris," because it's...well...around our house.
I don't know that this field has a name. It's a tiny patch in front of the grain bins. I shall call it "George!" And I will love it and hug it and pet it... Sorry, I got carried back to my Looney Tune days. Actually, I think it's just a part of "Around Ted and Kris."

Now this field I know! This is "Rumsey's." Across the highway is "Tornaden's." I call them the separated conjoined twins, because they would be complete, but for the highway that divides them. They are named (like so many of our fields) after the people who originally owned the land.

This is Torneden's. Even though it's just across the highway from Rumsey's, it always gets planted to a different crop. This picture was taken this spring when the creek was out of it's banks.
This is the "Deal Hill." Originally, it was spelled "Diehl," after that owner. But over the years, the spelling has morphed into "Deal" which is how it is pronounced. This field had such a deer problem, the owner decided to have us plant it to wildflowers, which we maintain.
I won't bore you by posting a picture of every field, but I'll tell you some of the more colorful, and/or practical, names.
Let me tell you about our field named 9 Mile. 9 Mile creek actually runs along the edge of the field. You would think that that is where it got it's name. Not so! (Well, not completely.) The field used to be part of 9 Mile Ranch, and that's why it is called 9 Mile.
Like I said, most field's are either named after the previous owner, or the current landlord, if we lease the ground from them.
My favorite field name has always been "Betty's Bottom." It's not actually named after someone's posterior, but rather a woman who used to live across the road from the field. And it happens to be bottom ground (that means creek bottom), thus the name "Betty's Bottom." Across the highway from that field is the "Woods Piece." It is a small field with a very large oak tree in the middle of it.
We have the "Big Field," which is far from our biggest field. It was, at one time, the farm's biggest field when Ted's grandad started farming in this area.
There is "Across Pony," which is a field that you literally have to cross Pony Creek via a low water crossing to get to.
We have small field's named after sizes: "10 acre" and "20 acre."
Field's named by location: "South of Turnpike," "Next to Blooms," "Across from June's."
I won't mention all of the field names, but I will tell you one more: "The War Zone." The story is that our neighbor saw several people walk across the field carrying large semi-automatic weapons. It looked to him like something out of a war movie. The name "War Zone" stuck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No time to waste

They were calling for rain the night before, so the combine was brought in out of the field. It got to spend a cozy night in the machine shed. "Shed" sounds misleading. Growing up, the lawnmower was kept in the shed. Garden tools were kept in the shed. Here, on the farm, all manner of very large (and very small) things are kept in the shed. The shed is actually a huge building. But, I digress...
The next morning, they decided that it hadn't rained enough to keep them out of the field so they got the combine back out of the shed and unloaded it. It was still full of corn from cutting the night before. Not to mention covered with stalks. See them piled up below the window?
Normally, the combine would just stay out in the field. It takes a lot of time (and money) to move a combine.
Ted's faithful pal, Buddy, is always near Ted...or Ted's truck. (See him waiting for Ted to get out of the combine?) Back before Buddy got old and his hip got bad, Ted use to carry him up into the combine so that he could ride with him. Now Buddy is content to just lay near Ted's truck... patiently waiting for him to return.
This is the grain cart. It can be loaded "on the go" driving next to the combine in the field, saving lots of valuable time. When the grain is ready, every second counts. Especially with all of this rainy weather. The grain cart then travels to a semi or a grain truck and loads it up. (Grain gets shoveled around a pun intended.)
Soon these will all have gone back out to the field...whichever one they are in today. That reminds me, we have some pretty odd field names. But that's a topic for another day.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Combine

It's time!!! Time (finally) to start cutting corn. Since everything was late this year, harvest is late, too. We've been waiting (not so patiently) for the corn to dry down enough to cut. We've decided, it's close enough.
This is Ted doing spring cleaning...and I'm completely aware that it isn't spring. He's in there cleaning the windshield. Hey...some body's got to do it!

It's the CLAW!!! Run! Run for your lives!!!

Seriously, this is where you never want to be when a combine is running. This is a corn header. Those big pointy green things go between the rows of corn, and then the teeth between grabs the stalks, cuts them off, and feeds then back to the auger.

The auger feeds it into the combine where the stalk is stripped of its ears. The ear corn gets fed through the combine where thousands of tiny elves pull all of the kernels off of the cob. All of the unusable stuff gets thrown out of the backside of the combine.

Inside the combine are just a few buttons, bells, and whistles.

A panel of lights will tell you what's going on...hopefully. You don't want a lot of these lights to come on. That means something bad has happened.

Time to boot up! Yes, our combine is subjected to software issues, too.

This is the GPS unit. It feeds that computer screen that you just saw. It draws a nice picture of our field and tells us how many bushels are being cut where. It's pretty neat.

Don't laugh at the fire extinguisher! All I'm sayin' is that fields are dry and dusty places. And static electricity is prone to ignite dry dust. Don't ask us how we know this...but that fire extinguisher works.

Some perspective. Don't laugh...I just got back from the gym and I hadn't changed out of my yoga pants.

See ya farmer Ted! He may come home when it rains...or when he gets hungry...