Harvest

The very word harvest conjures up many childhood memories. As far back as my memory recollects, wheat harvest was a time like no other. Sure, there was stress, arguments, breakdowns and a rush to get the grain to the elevator, but there was also pride, hope and dreams fulfilled.

My dad quit farming shortly after I graduated from college in 2002. I really can’t remember my “last” harvest on the acres he worked, but I do have memories spanning most of my childhood. From my flip-flop that got lost in the bed of the truck and was later retrieved at the elevator, to the grape pop in glass bottles and the fights that ensued over the window seat in the truck, harvest time was special. Dad worked his butt off from the beginning of the work day until there wasn’t a speck of sunlight in the sky. He was dirty, tired and frazzled, but once the crop was in the bin he was happy.

Mom always said, “after harvest” we could get new shoes or get something special that we’d been wanting. They also got to pay bills, allowing them to farm another year. Most times, harvest was during the middle of June or sometimes later and since the Fourth of July was always so close, Dad would splurge (totally break the bank) on fireworks. He would come home with gigantic boxes – one for each of us 3 girls – and we would light stuff on fire well into the night. He’d also buy rodeo tickets to the local prorodeo. Most times for every night, getting the same row and seats if he could. Or we got a new belt, pair of boots or some jeans.

Since my husband has taken over his family’s 100-year-old farm in Clark County, the wheat crop has been less than stellar. His first crop was a failure because of drought conditions, as were the following crops. This year however, he managed to get the wheat in the ground when he needed to and received some necessary rains at the right times. It was nice to see the bin on the combine get full fast and not take quite a few acres to fill. I could see the pride in his eyes when he was crunching numbers in the truck and telling me what it made. It sure made my heart happy to see him relieved and proud all at once.

It was also the first time both boys had gotten the opportunity to ride in the combine while wheat was being cut. Shaun’s no stranger to the tractor and anytime he gets a chance to ride in the big machinery he will have to be peeled out of it, kicking and screaming. Chance was just taking it all in. Seeing them enjoy it made me pretty darn proud.

As always, I had the camera with me and found the right shot to take. Enjoy! Happy harvest!

A broken down combine gets checked out while another dumps, June 24 in Clark County, Kansas.

A broken down combine gets checked out while another dumps, June 24 in Clark County, Kansas.

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Dozens of name badges

In the nearly 12 years I have been at my current job, I’ve hardly thrown out a name badge from various meetings, conventions and functions I have attended representing my place of employment. Partly because they have my name on them, but mostly because they show where I’ve been.

On nearly every one of those badges is a ribbon with MEDIA on it. I take pride in my job, but at times it can get pretty repetitive telling someone what I do and who I work for if they are outside the agriculture industry. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s wonderful we have all the news and information we cram in each issue for our readers; and that I can travel then consequently write about all I learned. What I get tired of is the misconception of what media in agriculture means.

I have a bachelors degree in agricultural communications from Oklahoma State. What does that mean? Well, I took journalism classes to teach me how to interview, write and take photographs. I also took classes ranging from agronomy to animal science. I even took an agricultural law class. The aim was to have knowledge of both sides – journalism and agriculture. When I graduated and left college, I felt as though I had a great mix of both subjects and in my first job as a general assignment reporter at a daily newspaper I was equally prepared enough to write about the school board as I was an agricultural meeting I was sent to cover.

In the last month I have questioned my chosen career path because of frustrations stemming from the most basic part of my job. Calling a farmer or rancher. I fear my luck has run out because of a couple of guys who just won’t call me back. It’s hard to say if they don’t like the subject, my publication or even what I’m writing about.

There’s a saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Well, I’m not a teacher or downgrading the importance of what teachers do. But I often feel as though it would be nice to be working on the farm or ranch every day, but I don’t think I have the skills and my husband doesn’t have the time or patience to teach me (he might though), so I write about it and photograph the beautiful things all around me.

I don’t expect everyone to understand the media, or what agricultural journalism is all about. What I do expect is for someone to take me at face value. Let my actions and not assumptions define who I am as a writer.

phonto

Memorial Day

I’m a couple of days late in posting about my Memorial Day adventures, but in my defense I have been preoccupied with a neat dresser makeover so no time to write. I will share the dresser DIY process when I finally get it done.

On Monday, my mother, older sister and her husband and I went to visit the cemeteries and place flowers on “our” graves. I like to do this with my mom and siblings because it gives us a time to reflect and remember. Plus its about the only time of the year I go visit the graves.

This year since I have the new camera I took it along hoping to capture the scenes of the day, and I did get some neat shots. Although, I did channel my grandmother since we have pictures of relatives graves in our collections. Not my normal subject matter that’s for sure!

First we went to the Maple Grove cemetery here in town, stopping to lay some beautiful sprays my mother had made on my grandparents on the Orebaugh side as well as great grandparents (Orebaugh and Drewes (both who I never had the chance to meet)). Also Aunt Lucille and Uncle Ralph’s (who died when he was 4) graves.

Then we headed to Windhorst to decorate the BIL’s grandparents grave. I got some cool shots of the wheat surrounding the Catholic church there. I persuaded my passengers to look through the church and see the high school monument that has my mothers name on it. My older sister said our great-grandfather Orebaugh helped lay the brick on the outside of the church. (I’ve also been told he helped lay the brick streets in Dodge City.)

We then stopped my favorite little country church near Offerle to decorate the Wetzel side of the family. Little cemeteries are my favorite since the dates are always old and the designs are different. Plus it gives me an opportunity to see where I come from. There’s lots of German heritage in that little cemetery.

Since it was nice weather I talked mom into taking us by the old dairy farm she was raised on. It’s still in the Wetzel family, but has fallen into disrepair. I got some neat shots of the farm, and will have to find something special to do with them for my mom. It was quite the adventure, but I will share that in another post.

Here’s some photos from our Memorial Day journey.

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Broken down

On my way back from a wheat field day yesterday for work, I took a little side trip through the countryside looking for a pretty setting with some wheat fields in it to photograph.

I first swung through Offerle and down the street my great-grandparents used to live on. I thought their house was at the end of the street, but my mind was mistaken. I found the house, and while it still looks a little bit the same, it wasn’t. The porch was closed in and the beautiful gardens and flowerbeds were gone. The huge side yard was gone. Made me sad to see. Least it was still there and I have all of my wonderful childhood memories spending time there with my cousins and family. I wondered what the inside looked like, but drove on, saddened by the change.

South of Offerle I saw a lot of green wheat fields, and just kept driving the back roads. I took a few pics here and there, but the main thing I noticed was all the old farmsteads. Some of the houses were gone and the outbuildings remained. Others were missing the barns and other buildings but an old, falling down house still stood. Occasionally I would run up on a new place, all mowed and proper with a new(er) house and new barns and farm buildings.

I like old houses. They have character and craftsmanship. The builders cared about what they were doing and made the homes to last. I live in a new home, a modular we set in 2010. It was a model home, so it had some wear in it to begin with, but it doesn’t have the character of a home built 50 years ago.

If I was rich, I’d buy one of the old broken down farm houses I seen on my drive yesterday and fix it up. It would be a total money pit, but it would be fun. At least to me anyway.

Here’s a few photos from yesterdays drive.

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Old school

I’m a sucker for black and white photos. Old or new, they just do something for my brain. Recently I found www.kansasmemory.org. It’s a website hosted by the Kansas Historical Society that has historical collections available to browse. From photos to books and much more, there’s a lot to be found.

I found some old cowboy photos and other subjects in Ford and Clark counties, another one from Comanche County caught my eye. I even found where our home is located in a plat book from the early 1900s. Very neat stuff, and I have gotten sucked in by the website (almost as bad as I have by Pinterest).

Here’s some of the pics I found.