Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm A Wheat Farmer

By Rob Watson

The legend of Hard Red Winter Wheat, goes like this: When Menonite farmers from Russia were preparing for their move to the United States, they sent their children into the grain bins to pick out the best grains for seeds. When they arrived here in State, they planted these seeds. History records that these seeds gave bountiful harvest. Now, much of the general purpose flour used in the US comes from these seeds.

As you may know, I did not plant pumpkins this year... too hot, too dry. Keeping the weeds down was also a big problem. Finally I got Friend to disk and till the patch to kill the weeds. It looked so nice, all tilled and preped I decided I should plant something. A friend of Friend was planting some wheat that was low quality(low quality as seen by the flour and grain people, therefore not worth much, dollar wise) because it had been harvested after a rain. Friend of Friend assured me it would work well for seed.

Friend came back with his tractor and reworked the ground. I scattered the seed, he tilled it under. I planted about four times the recommended amount of seed because I figured the birds would get the seed exposed on top on the ground and dig up some below. That didn't happen. My stand is very thick.

In this area rainfall has been about half of normal for more than a year. Fortunately my little plot has a well. I watered my 1/4 acre like mad for about a week. Every one of those seed sprouted and came up. Because the real farm ground was very dry, my plot was up and deep green while every one of the real farms were dry and bare. Many of my acquaintances and friends are real wheat farmers. It became a sort of running joke among them that I had the best looking wheat in the county. (Fortunately for them and for you who like to eat, several significant rains have blessed the area. Now their crops are up. But mine still looks better.)

Now that the crop is up, the next task is to find a way to harvest it next June. Friend has a hobby of restoring old farm equipment. One of his projects, a while back, was a 5 foot wide combine. After passing through another owner it is in a not-too-far-away museum. Friend thinks we may be able to borrow it. Transportation may be a problem.

As a joke I have been asking my real farmer friends if they would be willing to come over and harvest my crop. My patch is 60 feet wide and 160 feet long. Real combines have 30 and 40 foot wide heads. Because of trees, there is not enough room to turn one of these beast around... and they all know it.

The other night, at a men's club meeting at church, the topic of harvesting my wheat came up. One member said there was a 14 foot combine coming up for auction... I should buy it ($10,000 to buy, another $40,000 to get it running) and go into custom harvesting wheat. (cutting wheat for the farmers who couldn't afford the quarter million dollars for their own combines) Everybody there got a big laugh out of that. ( they all know I can't even drive one of those things... although I could probably fix one given the parts) I have been unpaid "help" with harvesting various crops but my skills do not extend beyond driving two axle trucks from place to place.

Friend is unconcerned with the problem of harvesting my crop. He is convinced all we have to do is stop one of the combines that regularly drive past my plot and request they harvest it for us. For myself, I see me on my knees with some hedge shears trying to cut a 1/4 acre plot of wheat.

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