Seeds of Hope: Wheat Planting 2017

Seeds of Hope: Wheat Planting 2017

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Beauty Of Letting Go

The trees are about to show you
 just how beautiful letting go can be.

A friend posted that quote on Facebook last week. I had just visited Dillon Nature Center in Hutchinson on a fall afternoon. I had a few minutes to wander the paths there while I was waiting to pick up another friend who was at the dialysis center.
The trees weren't yet at their peak, but with a hint of fall in the air, it was a beautiful detour after I ran the errands I'd been forced to delay during wheat planting time.

Without my afternoon respite at Dillon Nature Center, maybe I would have read the quote and scrolled on by. But with those images of colorful leaves still on my mind, I jotted down the message on the notepad on my desk.
With other things on my to-do list, I didn't think about the quote until I started to compile the photos into a blog post. But this time, I read the quote in a whole new way.

The trees are about to show you
 just how beautiful letting go can be.

"Letting go ..." It's good for more than just leaves on trees. Someone had said something to me that really bothered me. I don't think the person meant any harm. But I stewed and fretted over the words nonetheless. In honesty, I gave them a lot more weight than they deserved.

I am someone who does better writing my feelings out, rather than trying to speak them. I composed a lengthy email to this person, but I left it in my "drafts" rather than hitting "send." I had a busy day, so it sat in my computer, but it also took up space in my mind.

And then I opened up my work-in-progress blog post, and I read those words about letting go in a whole new way. In that moment, it had nothing to do with the beauty of fall leaves. It had everything to do with "letting go" of the hurt.

So, instead of pushing "send" on the email, I deleted it from the drafts. I may still be working on "deleting" it from my mind, but I'm trying.

Around the same time, my Guideposts devotional had these words:

O God, give me the wisdom to know 
when to hold on and when to let go.
Only a few days before, I had stood in the quietness and watched the sun filter through trees, casting light and shadow over scene after scene.
I decided I needed to reflect His Light, too. I admit it took me awhile to get there.

Psalm 130:3-5New International Version (NIV)

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
On another scroll through Facebook, there was a quote shared by another friend:
Letting go ... forgiveness ... kindness: Those attributes seemed to be the right thing to do - even if the leaves weren't quite ready to do the same quite yet. 
As I was finishing up this post, I got a call from Randy to go and pick him up from a hay field several miles away. And wouldn't you know it, a song came on K-LOVE, Matthew West's "Forgiveness." (Click on the link to listen.)

Here are just some of the words:

It's the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those who don't deserve
It's the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they cause is just too real.
It takes everything you have to say the word

It was just another instance that one of my friends calls a "God wink." 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

And So It Begins Again ...

As the leaves and grasses begin their fall wardrobe change to yellows and browns, it seems counter intuitive that a blanket of green begins to cover Kansas fields.
While the rest of the world is preparing for winter, a new crop is beginning a nine-month journey from planting to harvest. Tender wheat blades erupt from brown soil, like soldiers in a row.
We started planting the 2017 wheat crop Monday, September 26. Randy completed our 1,283 acres on Wednesday, October 12.

The wheat is coming up, despite dry conditions, but it could use a big drink of water. A nice, gentle, soaking rain over several days would be ideal. (We put our final cutting of hay down on Friday, so we did all we could to entice it to rain. Instead, we got summer-like temperatures!)

During the planting "marathon," we added 600 miles to the white pickup's odometer. By "we," I mean mostly "me" as I hauled fertilizer tanks and meals to the fields and shuffled people and equipment from one field to the next.
So, the journey begins again. There are a whole lot of sunrises and sunsets before wheat harvest will roll around again next June.
There will likely be many twists and turns before harvest - whether we're talking weather conditions or market volatility. That's just part of farming.
While the wheat crop is at its beginning, another crop was being harvested. In typical County Line fashion, it wasn't without drama.
The guys swathed the sudan three weeks ago.  It takes awhile for it to dry down enough to bale. But then our baler tractor had to go to the shop for overheating and for hydraulic leaks (AGAIN). They brought it back Thursday evening. And then the baler didn't want to work.
Randy gave up and decided he'd call Case the next morning. And, lo and behold, it worked after that break. Who knows? We're just glad not to have to add another repair bill to the cubbyhole ... at the moment, at least!

In total, we have 200 sudan bales to feed this winter. In addition, we baled another 300 for our neighbor.
We also left some of the sudan standing, and we'll put our "ladies in waiting" mama cows on that to graze. The guys made a swath around the perimeter of the sudan field so they can more easily install electric fence when the time comes. We'll be moving cattle at the beginning of November, and tick another task off the list.

Beginnings and endings ... it's all part of life on the farm. 

Friday, October 14, 2016


The weatherman says summer temperatures will return this weekend. Mother Nature did not clear that move with me. I've been celebrating the cooler fall temperatures by digging out soup recipes. I made Taco Soup this week. And last week, I shared Copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli soup with two families who'd just had new babies. Since it makes a big recipe, we enjoyed the leftovers, too.

To go along with the Italian theme, I made homemade focaccia bread to deliver with the soup. While I still turn on my oven plenty during the hot summer months, bread baking seems more suited to fall and winter temperatures.
Focaccia is a pretty forgiving bread, and it doesn't require expert bread shaping skills to get a good product. It's shaped into a rustic circle or rectangle, so it doesn't matter if the loaf isn't perfectly shaped. (Honestly, no one around here cares if the traditional loaf of bread is "county fair perfect" either. Homemade bread is homemade bread!)

Here at home, we dipped slices of the focaccia in seasoned olive oil, just like at an Italian restaurant. Homemade soup and bread? Yes, please!

While the summer temperatures are coming back for a short stay - ready or not - we know that fall and winter aren't far behind. If you're looking for tried-and-true bread recipes, the Kansas Wheat website has lots of recipes to try.

You, too, could be featured in that collection of award-winning recipes.  Entries for the 2017 National Festival of Breads are being accepted through January 16. The competition seeks the best yeast bread recipes from home bakers throughout the U.S. It’s sponsored by the Kansas Wheat Commission, along with King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast.

Adult amateur bakers can submit original recipes for holiday breads, rolls, time-saving and simple breads, and whole grain breads online. Youth bakers, ages 8-17, can also submit recipes for yeast breads and quick breads. All entries must be made online at and require photos of the entered bread.

Eight adult finalists will participate in the national competition on June 17 next year in Manhattan and receive a $500 cash award. The finalists will visit a Kansas farm during wheat harvest, tour a flour mill and grain elevator and learn about wheat research at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center. The Grand Prize Winner will receive $2,000 cash and a trip to attend a baking class of their choice at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Norwich, Vermont. One youth grand prize winner will be selected and will receive a $300 scholarship. Two youth entries will receive a runner-up prize of a $100 scholarship.

The focaccia recipe I used predates the national contest. But it was a winner at the Kansas Festival of Breads in 2002. 

Whole White Wheat Italian Focaccia
A 2002 Kansas Festival of Breads winning recipe
made by Naomi Johnson, Great Bend
From the Kansas Wheat website
2 cups whole wheat flour*
1 package RED STAR® Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 cups lukewarm water (110-115°F)

2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons dried grated  Parmesan Cheese
1 cup whole wheat flour*
1 ½ - 2 cups bread flour

Toppings (optional): Olive oil, Parmesan or Romano Cheese, Kosher salt, Italian seasoning, fresh herbs
*Contestant used whole white wheat flour in recipe. 

1. For sponge, combine in bowl, whole wheat flour, yeast, sugar, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and water. (NOTE:  I used 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning, rather than 1 tablespoon.) Mix 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest 20 minutes.
2. Stir in salt, olive oil, and cheese. Add whole wheat flour; mix 2 minutes. Gradually add enough of the bread flour to form a soft dough. Knead dough 5 to 8 minutes. Place in lightly greased bowl. Cover; let rise until double.
3. Divide dough into two pieces. Gently pull or stretch each piece of dough into a circle or rectangle ¾-inch thick. Place on greased baking sheets or pizza pans that have been dusted with cornmeal. Cover, let rise 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Dimple dough with fingertips every ½ inch. Brush with oil; sprinkle on cheese and, if desired, Kosher salt. Let rest 5 minutes.
5. Bake in preheated 400°F oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. During last several minutes of baking, sprinkle with Italian seasoning or fresh herbs. Best served fresh. (NOTE: I sprinkled with Zataar seasoning.)

Makes 2 focaccia (16 servings each).
Focaccia is also tasty with cavatini and a green salad.
Today, I'm linked to Weekend Potluck, hosted by these bloggers. Check out the tried-and-true recipes from them and other food enthusiasts!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Light and Shadows at Quivira ... (and elsewhere)

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
 Ecclesiastes 3:11

We were chasing butterflies at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. It was just a bonus that I got to chase the light and shadows, too, as they danced across prairie grasses and goldenrod near the Kids' Fishing Pond.

Dried up grasses and weeds aren't the obvious choices for beauty shots. I can relate: I have to make myself be on the other side of the camera lens.

There is beauty everywhere - even in dried up grasses and grandmas ... especially when LIGHT is applied.
12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8: 12 

A Time to Think

The simple act of stopping and looking at the beauty around us
 can be prayer.
 –Patricia Barrett, author

A Time to Act

Today notice the little things that make your day special.

A Time to Pray

Thank you Lord, that however small or seemingly insignificant our gifts,
You can weave them into Your glorious symphony.
Devotional in blue from Guideposts. Photos taken by me during the golden hour at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Be the Bigger Person

Sometimes, it's just good to start Monday with some pictures and happy thoughts, especially after forcing myself to watch the presidential debate last night. Almost as disturbing to me are the comments on Facebook this morning from my friends and acquaintances - no matter their affiliation.

There is a great divide in this country. The mom in me wants to give the standard speech my kids heard a few thousand times during their formative years: "Be the bigger person." Instead of vilifying those who disagree with you, maybe there's a way to find common ground. I'm certainly hoping we can find it after all the votes are tallied. I'm feeling rather lonely in the middle.
Sometimes, you have to move over and share the road. (And, FYI, I'm not looking to get into a political debate with anyone. This is my little space on the internet, and I'm not interested in spewing hate. There seems to be plenty of that to go around.)

Anyway ... We took the weekend off, but we are back to planting wheat again today. We got only 0.20" of rain. As I listened to the rain on the roof early this morning, I hoped it was more. But I'll coin another one of my favorite phrases and say, "It is what it is."
We got together with family to celebrate a 4th birthday and a new baby in Manhattan before the K-State football game on Saturday. I didn't even get my camera out (REALLY?!) but my sister, Darci, who was there from Chicago, shared this photo of the youngest and the oldest family member on her Facebook page - my dad (Great Grandpa) and Clara, my mom and dad's ninth great-grandchild (5 boys and 4 girls) and my sister, Lisa's, seventh grandchild (2 girls and 5 boys)! Yes, the purple indoctrination has already begun for this newest member of the family, who was sporting K-State garb and bow.)
It was Harley Day at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. I didn't get a single photo of the motorcycles in the stadium because I was doing something much more important. I was holding Kinley so she could see the parade - not just hear the roar! And I was trying to answer questions during the revving and noise.
This photo was just after Jill and family had arrived. Brooke definitely had not warmed up to the loud environment and all the people then. (And she is definitely a mama's girl. She wants to make sure that mama is not leaving her behind.)
She was much happier later. After doing a little research, I think it was Brooke's first K-State football game. At age 2, it was long overdue for a purple-blooded family! Kinley has been several times. She knew enough about the proceedings to negotiate the purchase of  a "special drink" and popcorn before coming through the gate. (For the record, she did not drink the whole thing.)
Grandpa and Kinley had many conversations about the finer points of football strategy during the first half. After watching the band's halftime performance, Mommy and Daddy opted to take the littlest Wildcats home. (Dancing to the music can tire a girl out!)

Grandpa, Brent and I stayed to watch the K-State victory! We traveled to Topeka for a bed and breakfast ... and a little more time with the girls.

Kinley sang "Deep and Wide" with her Sunday School friends during children's time at Susanna Wesley UMC. (I was blocked in and couldn't get a photo then, but it was a wonderful surprise to watch Kinley sing the same song I'd taught to the Joyful Noise choir at Stafford UMC and had sung myself at Byers UMC many, many moons ago. 
I may not have immortalized the singing performance with my camera, but I loved this photo of Brooke's almost-bigger-than-her backpack and my three brown-booted girls as we walked to the car after church.

I relived my childhood by reading the 15 books I'd purchased at the church's book sale Oktoberfest weekend. I read some of them more than once, but it was like being with old friends to read "Fish Out of Water" and "Put Me in the Zoo" and "A Big Ball of String" to the girls. (Kinley listened to every word. Brooke breezed in and out of the book marathon in typical 2-year-old fashion.)
It wasn't all sitting still. Kinley took a bike ride and Brooke and I followed behind doing important things like talking to and petting the neighborhood cat. That was all well and good until the cat disagreed with how close Brooke was getting.
The girls then tried out their photography skills. Brooke did a still-life with the pumpkins that Grandpa Alan had brought from their Iowa garden. 
She also took a photo of the rest of her family.
I gave her a little help with this portrait of her sister, during which Kinley seemed to want to make the pumpkins into headgear.
Kinley had to have her turn as photographer, too.
This was all to work up to my true mission - getting a new photo of Grandpa and me with the granddaughters. It's hard enough getting a good photo of Randy and me. Throw in a wiggly 4 year old and 2 year old, and it's just not that easy. But this one has potential as a Christmas card photo. Yes, it might be better suited to a Halloween or Thanksgiving card with the pumpkins. But you do what you can to get the shot.

As I said before:  "It is what it is."
Speaking of family photos, my brother, Kent, shared a couple of my parents on his Facebook page on Friday.
Kent wrote:
Bob and Janis Moore celebrate the completion of their 60th crop year with today's (Friday, October 7) wrap up of corn harvest and topping off the bins. Many thanks for the bushels of experience, knowledge and love that you've given to our family.
My parents came back to the farm in 1956 after my Dad graduated from K-State, so 2016 marks their 60th harvest year since then. (They were married in 1953, so they've celebrated 63 wedding anniversaries!)

Today, instead of thinking about the presidential debate and my less-than-stellar options in the voting booth, I'll think about family and legacies instead. It'll make me much happier.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Farm Wife Secret Code

21 - 17 - 0.
It's the secret code. It's the secret handshake. It's the right combination.
 It's my overactive imagination at work again.

The "secret code" is actually what kind of fertilizer I'm getting at the Kanza Co-op. It stands for 21 percent nitrogen, 17 percent phosphate and 0 percent potassium. (Why do they have to include something that's 0 percent? It's the law that fertilizer be labeled with the percentages of those three ingredients.) We are applying about 12 gallons an acre.

Randy began planting the 2017 winter wheat crop on September 26. He was hoping for an inch of rain before the planting began. But while areas around us have gotten some moisture in the past couple of weeks, the rain has skirted our fields.

Meal delivery is my specialty. But during these wheat planting days, I add fertilizer delivery to my list of chores.

I take the pickup and trailer to the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op to get the next tank load of fertilizer. First stop is the scales, where the pickup and fertilizer trailer are weighed empty. (After it's full, I weigh on again.)
It's there that I offer the "secret code," telling them what kind of fertilizer I want. They then hand me a ticket, which I take to the fertilizer shed and give to the co-op employee there.
One time last week, I had to wait for my turn. It was my version of a traffic jam - country style!
Once it was my turn, I pulled the pickup and tank into the fertilizer shed. The co-op worker hooks a hose from the co-op's tank to the trailer, then pulls a series of valves to get the right mix of nitrogen and phosphate.

They are used to me wandering around and taking photos. (Sometimes I wonder what the new employees think about the crazy lady with the camera. On second thought, maybe I don't want to know. But I'll bet they forgive me when I bring cookies!)
After the tank is full, I pull back onto the office scales so they can bill us for the fertilizer we receive. Often, the trips to Zenith include filling up the fuel tank with diesel for the tractor. Since the tank holds 100 gallons, it takes awhile to fill, so I try and remember a book to help pass the time.
Then it's back to the field, where Randy can then apply the starter fertilizer blend as he plants.
Randy refills the yellow fertilizer tank on the drill by hooking up the trailer that I brought from Zenith. The "nurse" tank holds 1,000 gallons of fertilizer. Kind of like a big "measuring cup," the tank is marked. That way, Randy can look at the tank to see how much fertilizer he's applied to each landlord's field. The co-op can then bill everyone accordingly. (When I go for fertilizer, I always tell them how to bill the previous tank.)

It means plenty of trips back and forth to Zenith during wheat drilling season. (And it means a hefty bill will soon appear in my mailbox. But we hope it pays off down the road for the 2017 wheat crop. Time will tell.)
Willie Nelson has nothing on me: "On the road again ..." This morning, I'll make three trips "up north" to help get the drill, wheat truck and fertilizer trailer moved to a new location. Early this afternoon, I'll bring Randy lunch when it's also time to get another load of fertilizer and diesel. I will sandwich in a trip to Stafford to deliver a meal for a family with a new baby and cookies for a memorial gathering tomorrow.
There is a fringe benefit to all the time in the driver's seat:  I have a front-row seat to the arrival of fall.