Sunday, September 1, 2013



We have moved our blog to a new blogging site. Here is the new address: 

We moved our site to Wordpress because the format is easier for us to use, and provides us with more options as we expand our blog in the future. 
If you have signed up to follow us by email please sign up with us again! I know there's a way to transfer all of our feeds from one website to another, but we haven't figured it out yet. :)  

All of you have made our blog a success so far, and we have big plans for the future. Thank you all so much for your continued readership and support! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thought of the Week

"Prosperous farmers mean more employment, 
more prosperity for the workers and the businessmen of
every industrial area in the whole country."  
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wheat Grows in the Winter?

     Well, kindofnotreally grows, but winter wheats such as soft white winter and hard red winter are planted in the fall and have the chance to sprout and grow 5-6 inches before winter hits.  Winter wheats are usually planted in September, after the harvest of the previous year's planting is over, and actually need a few weeks of cold weather in order to grow.
Winter wheat in the snow

     Winter wheats provide farmers with the ability to get a crop in the ground before taking a break for the winter, and relieves some of the pressure during spring planting time.  Since fields with winter wheat have already been planted and sprouted, the plants have already begun growing again by the time the farmer gets back in his field to plant spring crops.

     Although typically grown as a cash grain, winter wheat can also be planted as a cover crop for other cereal crops, as well as a grazing option prior to tilling and seeding with grass.  It’s less likely than barley or rye to become a weed and is easier to kill.  Winter wheat also provides good erosion control during the winter, protecting valuable topsoil from being washed away by fall, winter and spring rains and snowmelt.

     Winter wheats are planted with crops such as potatoes, to provide weed control in the spring.  Since the wheat is planted after the typical growing season, and grows quickly before becoming dormant for the winter, it is able to choke out weeds in the early spring.  Farmers will then spray the wheat to kill it before seeding their potatoes directly into the wheat residue.  This system reduces the amount of herbicides the farmer needs to use, helps prevent erosion, and the wheat residue enriches the soil when it is plowed at the end of the potato harvest. 

Hard Red Wheat
     Hard red winter (HRW) wheat has a higher protein content than other wheats, yielding a large amount of gluten, the component of dough that gives it elasticity and captures the carbon dioxide from yeast to allow the dough to rise.  HRW is used mostly as flour for yeast breads, or is blended with soft spring wheats to make all-purpose flour.  It gets its pretty red color from pigments in the bran layer of the wheat kernel.  Hard red winter wheat accounts for more than 40% of the U.S. wheat crop and half of U.S. wheat exports, and is grown on about 23 million acres across the United States.

Soft White Wheat
     Soft white winter and soft red winter wheats  are lower in
protein and gluten, and have more complex carbohydrates than hard red winter wheat. These wheats make the preferred flour for gravies, sauces, biscuits, cakes, pie crusts, cookies, and pastries. They are also wonderful as cooked whole grain or cooked combined with brown or white rice.  About 21.3 million acres if soft white winter and soft red winter wheat are grown in the USA.

     So, next time you use all-purpose flour, eat a slice of bread, or pie, you'll know what kind of wheat goes into it!  Pretty neat to know, isn't it?  I think so!

This would not be possible without WHEAT!

For more information on winter wheat, check out these links:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Harvest in the Palouse!

     It's harvest time all over the United States.  Harvest is an exciting time in every farming community.  It is the culmination of the farmer's entire year's work.  It is when he learns how well his or her plans and methods worked. It is when the farmer receives his paycheck, and hopefully he will have enough to pay his production expenses and be able to care for his family for the coming year.

A deer leaps across a ripened field of wheat.
Photo taken by Wade Lindquist at Bald Butte Ranch.

     Harvest is an intense time for farmers and their families.  There are long days of work.  There is not a minute for anything else - nothing else happens during harvest-time.  It's also a dangerous time for farmers; they're tired and stressed to the max.  They're frequently sleep deprived.  The weather may not cooperate; everything may be ruined by wind or rain coming at just the wrong time.  And, even though they may have maintained and repaired their machinery properly, they may still have equipment breakdowns, right in the middle of long harvest days.

Grain trucks ready to go.
Photo from Todd Strader, T & H Farms.

     For our farmers in the Palouse region of eastern Washington, harvest is one long event, beginning in late July and lasting through the middle of September.  They are just finishing harvesting their winter wheat which was planted last fall.  This includes soft white and hard red winter wheat.  They are harvesting their spring crops this week.  These includes the spring wheats - soft white, hard white and dark northern spring wheat.  Next to be harvested will be dry peas and dry lentils, finally followed by garbanzos.

Mark Richter combining wheat on St. John Farm.
The stalk and wheat head are pulled into the wide "header-bar" in the front of the combine.
Then the chaff (stalk and leaves) and wheat kernels are separated.
The chaff is spit out the back (that's the dust you see in the rear),
and the kernels are dumped into the big rectangular bin on top of the combine.

     Many farmers have just one combine, and harvest their own fields.  In other cases, they may share the work with other family members; their fathers, brothers, inlaws or their neighbors.  There may sometimes be more than one combine harvesting one field at a time.

Pumping the wheat kernels from the combine into the grain truck.
Note the two trucks behind, waiting to be filled.
 The wheat will be hauled to the grainery where it will
be sold for breads, pastries and noodles, all over the world!
     The schedule in most every case depends on the planting date and this season's weather.  In nearly every part of our country,  the rainfall is slightly different as one travels north to south.  Typically, the further north you go, the more precipitation you have. This is the case in the Palouse, so that means that the crop was planted earlier in the southern portion of the community, and so is harvested first.  Families and friends who are sharing the work of harvest work together to harvest the fields which "come off," or are ripened, first.

Three combines at work to bring in the harvest.
That's Todd Strader walking in his wheat field

Combines and tractors, all lined up for a
"Harvest is finally over" photo.
Taken on the Todd Strader Farm.
I think this is an especially beautiful picture, what with the sky and all.

    After a long, intense couple of months, the farmer has all his crops into the grainery.   Then he begins planning for next year!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thought of the Week

"It's important to look closely at all opportunities,
and once you have made a decision,
to jump in with both feet."
David Mirassou, 
grape grower and winemaker

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Hazards of Backyard Hens

WARNING! CHICKENS ARE A GATEWAY ANIMAL! This gal has taken the time to warn us all about the dangers of raising backyard chickens. Something funny to brighten your day!

Friday, August 16, 2013

New Book Review

What I've Learned From No-Till, Cropping Secrets From 58 Highly Successful No-Tillers,  

            by Ron Ross, 2007           
               Published by Lessiter Publications, Inc, 
                P.O. Box 624
                Brookfield, WI  53008

     This is a comprehensive compliation of interviews with farmers from all over the U.S. who practice No-Till (also known as Direct Seed) Farming.  It is well written, well laid out, and has good photos to accompany the interviews. 

     Each of the farmers address situations and issues which are specific to their region, their farm and their land.  While one farmer's methods may not pertain to another's, it is interesting to learn how farmers do things in different parts of the country.  The entire book of all the interviews builds a broad resource for anyone who has already begun No-Tilling or who is interested in converting their operation to No-Till.

     After reading this book, a person will have real knowledge of this method of soil conservation farming, and will have practical information for different situations and issues on their own farm.  The ideas shared by all these farmers about retaining soil moisture, erosion reduction, plant residue, planter adjustments, sprayer nozzles, light bars, fertilizer application and weed control are so practical, most every farmer will enjoy this book, whether he is a No-Tiller or Minimum-Tiller.

                                                                   Posted by Robin W.L. on August 17, 2013