Monthly Archives: May 2012

Growing Wheat

Spring is the time for planting.  In autumn, we reap a bountiful harvest of crops. At least, most of the time.

Growing wheat is a bit different.  First of all, there are several varieties of wheat and some are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall.  Most of the wheat you see in pictures, however, is some variety of winter wheat.  This wheat is planted in the fall, a few weeks before cold weather sets in.  The seeds sprout and grow just a bit before freezing weather stops the plant’s progress until spring.  Then, earlier than even your lawn, the fields of wheat sprout fresh and green just as winter ends.  Have you seen fields of bright green grass in the spring?  It was likely wheat!

growing wheat

Throughout the spring the wheat grows taller, reaching at least waist-high on a grown man.  From this point the heads of wheat begin to fill out.  That means the wheat is growing not by getting taller but by making the kernels all plump and fat.  After that the plant begins to die, turning from green to gold.

growing wheat And then, right on time for singing “amber waves of grain” and buying your fireworks, the wheat is dry.  These are the fields you often see in photographs with long stalks of wheat, heavy with grains on the end.  Now the wheat is ready to be harvested– right in the middle of summer.

growing wheat

So as you travel on your summer vacation keep an eye out for combines.  Have you seen any harvesting wheat?

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Ride in Daddy’s Tractor

You’ve heard lots about farm life, but you haven’t been able to ride in Daddy’s tractor just yet!  Well hop on board as we plant field corn right in our own front yard!

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The Modern Farmer

a modern farmer

Is this what you think of when you picture a farmer?  Maybe a man wearing overalls and a baseball cap, mud boots and a trusty dog?  Does he have a straw hat and carry a pitch fork?  Is he riding a tractor or a horse?  Try drawing, painting, or sketching your own picture of what you see in your mind when you think of a “farmer.”

For many farmers mud boots will always be a fact of life, but the modern farmer might not be what you think.  This is a picture of Daddy in his tractor.

face of the modern farmer

Yes, he sometimes wears coveralls (mostly in the winter) but check out this tractor cab!  If the flashing screens and hands-free headset weren’t in your original drawing, you are not alone.  Most people don’t understand the technology involved in modern agriculture.

Did you know farmers use some of the most advanced technology on the planet?  In fact the level of research being done to help farmers feed the world is matched only by the military.  Have you ever seen a car driving without a person behind the wheel?  This technology is still a dream for the future, but today Daddy can sit in his tractor, watch his monitors, check the seed spacing, and control the planters functions and not even touch the steering wheel.

face of the modern farmer

In this picture you see the planter’s  Precision 20/20 monitor, which shows all kinds of information about how the seeds are going in the ground.  The GPS monitor shows a picture of the field, where he needs to plant, what has been planted, and how fast he is going.  You can also see the ipad, which records all of that information and allows Daddy to add in more data, like how much fertilizer was added to the field and what the yield turns out to be in the fall.  Using the apps on this ipad Daddy can see which kinds of seed did well, exactly where we need more fertilizer (preventing excess chemical use), what kind of fertilizer (making your food more nutritious), and lots more!  You can’t see it, but also in the cab is an ipod, where Daddy can listen to both music and pod casts of radio farm shows.  The smart phone hangs from the window, allowing Daddy to check the weather with a radar app or make a call to the person running the seed tender with his hands-free jaw bone.  And yes, he can also post to facebook if he wants!

So tell me– is this what you expected the modern farmer to look like?

*Painting from, Artshop 77

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Compare and Contrast

Many family farmers live life just like anyone else.  We shop at grocery stores, check our e-mail, go to football games.  But some things are different on a farm.  For example, we walk almost half a mile to drop a letter in our mailbox or pick up our latest Netflix.  A “neighbor” may live more than a mile away.  And no one plants a sweet corn patch like a farmer!

compare and contrast the life of a family farm

This is a photo of Daddy, Brett and Anna planting the sweet corn patch.  This planter usually plants field corn, (which is NOT good for plain eating!) and is 16 rows wide.  Usually we fill the huge, yellow, bulk tanks on the top full with waxy seed corn.  This week we finished planting all our waxy corn, and that means its time to clean out the planter and switch to soybean seeds.  Before pouring in the soybeans, however, we can fill the small, yellow boxes on the planter with sweet corn seed and make a 100 foot pass at the end of the backyard.

compare and contrast life on a family farm

Then Daddy and the kids can plant, farmer style!

Based on the things you’ve learned from the blog so far, what ways do you think the life of a farm family is different from yours?  How is it the same?  Draw a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast.

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