Better Late Than Never! A Look at 2014.

It has been way to long since I made a blog post.  Not because I have forgotten about all of you but because this time of year is always fairly hectic for me and blogging and fun stuff often takes a back seat.  Every farm has different preparation methods for year end but regardless of your approach or farm size it takes considerable time and effort.  This year a late harvest (paired with a bit of burn out and procrastination) has found me working overtime in Nov/Dec to catch up.  My hubby counts on me to have our books up to date to help with things like grain and equipment inventories, monthly cash flow, cash requirements (especially at year end), and we use these numbers when considering what to purchase, what to trade, even our crop plan in the upcoming year.  In order to have a successful operation someone should be spending a good portion of time in the office, and I am happy to do what I can to help in that area.

With all of this hanging over my head I have neglected to take some time to blog about our 2014 harvest!  I will try not to bore you with too many details but here is a quick overview of what happened on our operation this year.

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The 2014 harvest was a challenging one.  Every season comes with its own hurdles but for us this one seemed to have a few extra.  It started in the spring with a cool wet beginning to the growing season which put our crops behind.  Excess rain stressed the crops and put them at risk for disease.  This carried through to the fall and gave us a late start to harvest.  We had some equipment changes on our operation which left us with an extra swather (aka windrower) and using one less combine than the year before.  This situation would have worked just fine if the weather would have cooperated but periodic rain and snow throughout the fall ended up causing us many issues.  As winter threatened, tensions rose and the importance of equipment performance rose along with them.  Breakdowns can’t be completely avoided but some days it is considerably less convenient than others if they do happen.  At one point, within 20 minutes of starting up, we had 2 combines down and one combine stuck (none of it was my fault!)  Because we were trying to beat the rain in the forecast, that day seemed to be a little higher up on the anxiety scale.  Luckily we had some great help this year and, as always, are thankful for those who work tirelessly beside us.  After many long stressful days (and nights) we made it through, as we do every year, with a few more lessons learned.

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When crops are just starting out they like moisture, but not this much!  Many farmers around our area had yield losses due to ‘drown out acres’ this year.

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We had the strange misfortune of breaking 3 windows, at 3 different times, in equipment very early on in the season.  This one was my job to clean up.

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As we were waiting for the moisture content of the grain to go down we were hit with 50 K winds gusting up to 90 K.  This causes problems with the crop that is already cut.  The wind blows it out of the swaths and either creates large piles or blows it into the trees where the farmers can’t get at it.  It also can cause some standing grain to ‘shell’ – where the wind shakes the seeds out of the husks and they fall on the ground.  In both cases the farmer loses yields.  In this picture our canola swaths are starting to roll up like giant bales.

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Rainy days in the fall are a good time for farmers to clean the shop, organize and find other odd jobs for their kids!

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And this is what happens when you are forced to clean the shop and organize for 3 days (because of rain) and just really want to get harvesting again.  This may or may not have been my fault.  In discussions with my hubby directly after, I maintained it most definitely was not my fault.  In retrospect – yes maybe I should have known to leave the swath and turn a little wider – but don’t tell him I admitted that.

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Getting ready to switch to oats.  We store most of our oats in bags and Brayden our oldest is learning to help load a bag on the bagger and get it started from one of the experts.

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I love this picture of the farmer (one of our hired help, a retired farmer) surrounded by all the big equipment.  Until I remember that I took this just minutes after my hubby pulled combine #3 out of the slough and combine #1 and #2 are parked because of breakdowns.

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As days ticked by the hubby started to contemplate changing our equipment situation for the next harvest.  We got to host some combine races between a New Holland 9090 and a John Deere S690.  We grow a lot of oats and he wanted to see which one could chew through a tough crop better. I was just pulling away as the NH Demo showed up.

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Brayden is giving the 690 an inspection.

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Although he probably wanted to be riding in the Demo combines, Brayden was getting trained on grain cart operation instead.  He is simply pulling the cart ahead here but his willingness to learn and attention to detail and safety is slowly convincing me to relent and let him be trained in some areas of the farm.

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Long days and long nights.  I asked my youngest to smile for the picture but I think he had spent too much time in the combine and was long past ready to go home.  This is as close to a smile as I could get.

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We were so close to finishing when the snow came.  It doesn’t mean a definite end to harvest in our area, it often snows and then melts before winter sets in for good, but it does mean more difficulties when you still have crop out.

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Somewhere along the line I got time off to clean out my garden.  Here I was teaching the boys how to harvest our sunflower seeds by hand.

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I almost forgot to mention my favorite neighbour!  A wonderful lady from down the road helped me feed the crew this year.  This is the first year I asked for this kind of help and it was the best thing I ever did.  This is what my kitchen looks like on any given day as I struggle to make 3 meals a day for the family plus supper for the crew and keep my kitchen clean (and myself organized).  Every little bit of help I received was greatly appreciated.

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This is the bin yard closest to our house, I love taking pictures of the farm at sunset but I really need to remember my good camera when I leave the house and not use my iPhone!

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This summary of our operation wouldn’t be complete without a picture of our girls and their babies.  The little one closest to the fence isn’t very old.  My boys love going out and checking on the new additions.

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And that is pretty much it for our 2014 harvest!  There are days when I curse this life and the stress it brings, then there are days when I get to pour a hot cup of coffee, drive around our land to look at scenes like this, and feel the peace and contentment that comes with living in the country.  I thank the good Lord that the latter days are far more plentiful than the former.  Now we have one more year under our belt, one more year of knowledge, one more year of life lessons, and who wouldn’t be excited about one more year of equity built?  Bring on 2015, we are ready!

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