April showers bring May flowers.
Or so they say.
Because all this spring has brought was a dreadfully rainy and severe storm filled month of May.
I don’t want to know what May weather brings for June. Hopefully hot, dry, and good wheat cutting conditions.
The past few weeks have been crazy.
This is the time of year where I think just about every farmer thinks “How the hell are we going to get this all done in time?” and the answer that is always said goes along the line of “It always manages to get done.”
And, everything somehow usually does manage to get done. Everyone knows you can’t control the weather and conditions, but things always manage to just get done.
Because of all the rain, planting season has been dragging on. Fieldwork has been almost impossible. Those of us running one trippers, vertical tills, discs, and field finishers have barely been able to get into the fields to do secondary tillage before the planters. There were numerous days where the planters were forced to shut down and wait. As soon as we thought we would get caught up and have enough of a timing gap between the fieldwork and planters, it would rain again. Some fields had to be done twice. One field washed out so bad that the county was forced to bring out a snow plow to scrape the mud and corn stalks from last season off the road. Even as I write this, it’s raining again.
The worst storm dumped five inches of rain, seven inches in some places, along with high winds, a few tornados (thankfully not super close to town) and oh, the hail it dumped out. This picture was taken quick by a coworker/friend as he went to the shop to check for damage and to pull all possible equipment inside or under the giant shed. It became a running joke for awhile- “How much rain did we get last night?” “Oh, about half a tire worth”
We should have been done by now, but every cloud has a silver lining, however small. We’ve been able to get a lot of things ready to leave on harvest. All equipment and trailers have been checked over, shop trucks restocked and ready. Two loads of equipment totaling eight combines and one header have already been hauled down to our first stop. The remaining combine, four tractors and carts, shop trucks and fuel trailers, and seven more headers will be taken on final trip down, with another tractor and cart following. One header is waiting for us in at a John Deere dealer in Bucklin, KS which will be a side trip at some point.
On the second trip, I went with and pulled a header and trailer down. We loaded the pickup on the step deck, and headed right back for home. We knew that the weather was not going to be on our side. It started raining just north of Alva, OK, and by the time we got to Medicine Lodge, KS it was really coming down. We had more than enough fuel to last until we had to stop for the night, so we decided not to stop with the other trucks that were with us. We’re glad we did. By not stopping, that allowed us to get into a tiny pocket of calmer storm conditions. We timed it just right- any sooner and farther north by even just a few miles we would have gotten into some really awful weather, and the same would have been if we had stopped for fuel and was even twenty minutes behind. We had the weather on the radio, and I constantly had the radar pulled up on my phone in real time. Baseball size hail, straight line winds, and even tornadoes were all around us, save for our little pocket. We managed to get to Russell, KS safely and park for the night without any damage. It’s not the first time we’ve had to drive in crappy weather, and it won’t be the last, but that storm filled my weather fascination for the rest of the year I think.
All of the hired harvest help is now in town anxiously awaiting our departure. The South Africans, including three that worked for us last year, arrived safely two Fridays ago. Some help has been here for almost two weeks already. It’s been nice to have the extra bodies around the shop and people to do the odd jobs and do some work in the fields so the rest of us can focus on either working on planters or getting ready to leave on harvest. It seems so far that we have a really good group of guys hired, mostly college aged “kids” as per the usual. We have 25 people as of now going on harvest, but that number will fluctuate as we go to job to job and have to call in back up people from home to help.
Matt and I held the mandatory safety meeting this past Saturday, and I think it went well. Some of us have sat through that meeting too many times now to find it interesting, so I redid the presentation and added pictures that have been taken over the years.
On a personal level, this spring has also been insanely crazy. We not only sold my car (we barely use it enough to really justify the cost of having it; we function just fine 80% of the year with just the pickup), but we also are in the process of purchasing our first real house.
For your sanity, however, I do not suggest buying a house two weeks before you have to leave, during planting season, in a rainy spring, and making trips to Oklahoma to haul equipment. I did find out it’s a great way to get a jump start on a summer weight loss program.
We got word from the bank that we were accepted, but due to us leaving on harvest, we don’t officially close until August. The house we’re buying belongs to one of the owners of the company we work for, and he had no problem letting us move in before we left. Thankfully, I was able to give up my tractor for a few days, and managed to keep our pickup with me. I hammered down and in about four long days I was able to get everything packed, moved, and unpacked into the new house. By myself. Big shout out to our good friend Mike and two of the harvest kids- after getting done spreading chicken manure on organic fields early one day, they voluntarily hooked onto a big trailer, loaded all of our furniture, brought it to the new house, and unloaded it inside within a matter of an hour.
Finally got to unpack all of the presents we had gotten from our wedding in March. It kind of felt like Christmas seeing everything again.
Memorial Day weekend was actually pretty laid back for us- we worked all day Friday and Saturday, said screw it on Sunday. We held a big grill out with the harvest kids, the South Africans, and our friends/people we work with. Today, Matt went into work and let me sleep. I caught up on laundry, and some more unpacking, and took more than one or two naps. I only felt slightly guilty.
The current plan is for almost everyone to leave on Thursday. We’ll space out the timing of the groups leaving so we’re not one giant convoy moving down the road.
I still have to pack for the both of us, send the dog off to her “summer vacation home”, and do some odds and ends errands around town before we leave. It feels like we just left on harvest a few weeks ago, not a year ago already. Farming and getting older tend to blur the line of memory.
Haven’t been able to get out the camera lately, not even very many pictures from my phone. To be honest, I’ve hardly had time, and when I do have time, I don’t really feel like Although I did finally get a kickass new Lowepro camera backpack that I’m absolutely in love with.
I did manage to snap a quick pic with my phone between storms while I was moving.
I’ll end with this- no matter how busy you are, or what is going on in your life at the moment, take a few minutes each day just to look at the clouds.