Timeline of a coincidence

September 19, 2012

Do you look for signs — cosmic signals to explain, direct or confirm? I used to find them, or they would find me. These days, life is busier and if they are there, I’m not seeing them. Last weekend, one such sign was undeniable, an in-your-face cosmic coincidence. The timeline leading up to the moment went like this:

December 2011 – D. decides to take on photography as a 4-H project.

May 2012 – One spring photo trip includes a visit to Old Cowtown, a living history museum in Wichita, Kan. We happen upon an old-time baseball game. D. asks two of the players if he can take their photograph.

July 2012 – His great shot earns him a purple ribbon at the county fair and qualifies him to take it to the state fair.

September 2012 – We visit the 4-H building during the state fair, fingers crossed for another purple. We find our county’s display, but have to wait behind a dad and his kids who are taking a photo of a photo — D.’s photo. He turns around, apologizes for blocking our view, but says this photo is of him and his friend.

That’s right. The subject and the photographer meet at precisely the same moment, months later. We share an incredulous stare and laugh.

Sign, coincidence, fate, karma? The significance might be simple, the chance to share a great image, and to give a young photographer a boost. That’s good enough for this proud 4-H momma.

Here’s his shot. Hope you enjoy, too.

Baseball players at Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita.

Baseball players at Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita.

2012 wheat harvest is off to a record start.

Wheat harvest is off to a record start this year . We started cutting on Saturday, May 26. That’s 15 days earlier than our previous record start date, according to my farmer-in-law, who has kept a daily journal for years and years.

We had high hopes for our crop this year (and every year). We had good planting conditions last fall and good moisture during the growing season. However, by mid-April and early May, temperatures turned hot and the rains stopped. The plants were tall, but we get paid on the weight of the kernels, not the vegetation. We worried about the wheat kernels drying too fast. Small, hard kernels weigh less than plump, hard kernels. Wheat is priced per bushel, with each bushel of wheat weighing 60 pounds.

We do quick calculations throughout harvest. We’re still early, but yields look OK. We won’t know for sure until the last scale ticket from the co-op.

Each harvest has memorable moments. The best of the year so far: Grandpa let D. steer the combine. I was riding with V. and we could see both of them smiling from ear to ear. (We were, too.)

D.’s take afterward: “Grandpa says I’m a natural.”

Looking forward to another day of harvest memories.

Early wheat

April 17, 2012

This spring’s warm temperatures have ripened our wheat crop way ahead of schedule. Kansas Ag Statistics officially shows that the crop is two to three weeks ahead of average. For us, that means harvest could be as early as late May. That would be a record-setting start.

My farmer is always anxious to harvest wheat as soon as possible, but losing three weeks of prep time is a big deal. We held our breath this past weekend when tornadoes pummelled Kansas. Some reports showed as many as 100 tornadoes passed through in just a few hours. As we watched the news, we couldn’t help but think about those whose crops were destroyed. My 10-year-old farmer spoke from experience when he said, “I hope they have insurance.”

Here’s what our fields looked like today. All the fields are “headed out” (grain emerged) and the seeds are pollinating. After that, the seeds will start “filling” or reaching maturity. The wheat will be golden and the heads will droop when the crop is dry enough to harvest.

Kansas ripening wheat field, April 2012

For now, we’ll enjoy these lush green fields with so much promise.

This ewe lamb (female) is just a few hours old. She is a cross between the Hampshire and Suffolk breeds. My 4Her plans to show her at the county fair this summer. Boy and lamb will spend lots of hours together until then.

Wool coats

December 11, 2011

Our farm animals are putting on their winter coats. No one does it better than our sheep, though. Don’t Molly and our other young ewes look warm, even fashionable in their wool coats? Our sheep are mainly a cross between the Hampshire and Suffolk breeds. D. shows lambs at the county fair for 4-H.

We shear them once a year, in the spring, and deliver the wool to our area sheep association. They pay 29 cents a pound — a little spending money for D.

In the Woods

November 25, 2011

On a  cold, gray, windy, post-Thanksgiving day, D., E., Cesar and I headed to the woods.

Farm kids in ripe Kansas hard red winter wheat

Wordless Wednesday

November 3, 2010

Family portrait through E.’s eyes:

Wheat harvest

June 30, 2010

Sharing scenes from our 2010 wheat harvest:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqsxVkG7_7c

Cutting began on farmer-son’s 9th birthday, a perfect gift from my farmer, farmer-in-law and Mother Nature. Farmer described this year’s harvest as excellent cutting weather with average yields. We’ll take it. Last year, we flooded out.

For farmers, harvest is stressful, exhausting, hot and rewarding. For those who watch or ride along, it’s a thrill. For my farmer-son, it’s his favorite time of year.  He spends all day working with his dad and grandpa, in the combine or wheat truck or making the inevitable machine repairs. They come in about 10 p.m. to eat a full late dinner. Then, off to sleep to do it again the next day — year after year, if you’re lucky. And we are, even with the occasional weather disaster or poor yields. Wheat has been harvested on this family farm for more than 70 years.


April 29, 2010

I was never interested in creepy-crawly creatures. I’m more enamored with the four-legged, panting, drooling kind. However, thanks to my work with Extension 4-H School Enrichment, I can spell — and use in a sentence — worlds like chrysalides and proboscis. And, butterfly larvae are staring at me right now, merrily exploring their cup — their sealed cup — on my desk.

I helped develop the Life Cycle Miracle (butterfly hatching) program last year and I just wrapped up this Spring’s classroom presentations to nearly a dozen schools and hundreds of elementary students. The students capped off the program by releasing the butterflies they raised.

It’s been a wonderful opportunity to see the 4-H experiential learning model at work. Here’s a summary:

  • Experience – Youth do before being told or shown how.
  • Share – Youth describe results of the experience and their reactions.
  • Process – Youth relate the experience to the targeted life skill.
  • Generalize – Youth connect the life skill discussion to the larger world.
  • Apply – Youth use the new life skill experience in other parts of their lives.

It’s been fun testing out the project at home with D. and E. The other day, we struck gold. We witnessed one caterpillar make its chrysalis when it shed a final layer of skin. D. described it perfectly:  It’s like the caterpillar unzipped its sleeping bag. E. released one batch of butterflies last week. Pure joy for her, the butterflies, and me watching.

If you’d like to do the project, go here to download the guides: http://www.sedgwick.ksu.edu/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=481.

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