HARVEST TIME IS NEARING

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“RICE”

As a young child, my father was a rice farmer in Crowley, Louisiana; “The Rice Capital of  America”.  Now as an adult I live in Arkansas, rice producing state.

 

Arkansas is the nation’s largest rice growing state, producing half of the nation’s rice and nearly nine billion pounds annually.  Arkansas ranks first among rice producing states. 

 

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Rice production is concentrated in the eastern half of the state.  The top five rice producing counties are Arkansas, Poinsett, Cross, Lawrence and Lonoke.  Arkansas rice is sodium, cholesterol and gluten free.  Rice has only a trace of fat and has not trans  fat or saturated fat.

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Why a Farm Bill Should Matter to You

Are you interested in Congress getting a Farm Bill passed? You may think that it isn’t important to you if you are not a farmer but the farm bill affects every citizen of the United States.

There are many misconceptions about this important piece of legislation. While it is called a Farm Bill, it really encompasses much more than just the farm. A large part of funding in the bill goes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help needy citizens get the nutrition they need. SNAP is important to people all over the United States, especially during these difficult economic times.

There are environmental provisions to help protect our natural resources which is something that is important to everyone. One of the environmental programs we participate in on our farm is the Conservation Reserve Program(CRP). Some of the most fragile land we farm was planted to native grasses in order to control wind erosion. A healthy stand of native grasses keeps the soil in place during times when the Southwest Kansas wind begins to blow. Practices like these help keep our country from experiencing the Dust Bowl Days all over again.

As a farmer, I see the value of having a bill that makes sure that we have the resources we need to produce the food that feeds Americans as well as hungry people around the world. One in twelve jobs in America is tied to agriculture, that amounts to 23 million jobs. You can see that it is economically important for our county to have a healthy agriculture sector.

Healthy families, a healthy economy, healthy foods; if these things are important to you, I would ask you to consider contacting your member of congress and ask them to support passage of the Farm Bill.

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

January 6, 2014

Good evening from chilly Southwest Kansas.  We certainly aren’t the coldest spot in the nation tonight with the thermometer sitting at a balmy 12 degrees after a low of -11 this morning.  Factor in the windchill and it’s plenty cool even for a winter lover like me.  I’m one of the few who will have a smile on my face on the rare occaision we get snow and cold that sticks around for awhile.

Blanket of snow brushed away from a tender, young wheat plant.

Blanket of snow brushed away from a tender, young wheat plant.

We did recieve a couple of inches of snow on Saturday night which is a real blessing since the temperature has been in the deep freeze yesterday and today.  Our winter wheat, which is planted in the fall, grows some during the warm fall days and then goes dormant in the cold winter really needed some insulation from the bitter cold and, believe it or not, a blanket of snow does a great job of protecting the tender, young wheat plant.  An added bonus is that when that snow melts, we also get some much needed moisture to help the thirstly little plants grow when it warms up again.

I checked the evening temperatures and it looks like we will do a steady warm up to around 16 degrees  through the rest of the night and early morning.  Tomorrow we will have a real heat wave with a high around 50 degrees…we will probably pull out the short sleeves for this warm up!  Southwest Kansas winter weather tends to be just like that, freezing cold one day and nice and toasty the next day.

My farmer checking the wheat seed in the drill on a balmy fall day during planting season.

My farmer checking the wheat seed in the drill on a balmy fall day during planting season.

If it sounds like I am a little obsessed with the weather, that would be correct.  Stop into any feed store, coffee shop, grain elevator or any other place that farmers and ranchers gather and you will most likely hear some of the conversation revolve around the weather.  Much of what we do to produce the food on your table depends on Mother Nature to bless us with moisture and good temperatures.  While there isn’t anything we can do to control the weather, we sure do like to talk about what we want it to do, think that it might do or, what weather forcasters are predicting it will do.

Are you interested in the weather?  When you stroll the aisles of the grocery store you might think about how the weather might cause the price of your favorite cereal to go up due to a failed grain crop which will cause the price of the grain to go up…it’s all about supply and demand and Mother Nature pulls on those strings every day on our farms and ranches and at your table.

Wishing you enough warmth to stay comfortable, enough winter weather to let you look forward to the changing of the seasons and enough family and friends so that you may enjoy all of your seasons surrounded by those you love!

Tumbling Along With the Tumbling Tumbleweeds

When you think of a windy Kansas winter day, you may just be able to picture a tumbling tumbleweed or two. I thought I would take a moment to share a few pictures of our most recent tumbleweed blow.

Tumbleweeds caught in the fence.

Tumbleweeds caught in the fence.

I live in the Southwest corner of Kansas where it has been very dry for several years. We haven’t been able to grow much in the way of crops on our non irrigated cropland, but this year we had a small amount of moisture at just the right time for the Russian Thistles to take off and grow into some mighty big weeds. While attached to their roots in the field, they are green and they were about the only green thing growing. Some farmers didn’t do much to disturb them because they were holding the top soil in place during some high wind days. Without something growing on the ground, the top soil likes to take off in the wind and creates dust storms that limit visibility and make breathing outside difficult. When the thistles dry up and a good wind comes along they break away from their roots and begin to tumble across the landscape catching on fence rows, the side of the house or barn, tree rows or anything that gets in their way.

Tumbleweeds everywhere you look!

Tumbleweeds everywhere you look!

We had a strong front come through our corner of the state on December 28th with a north wind that chilled you to the bone. I was heading home after a family Christmas celebration in town when I began to encounter the tumbleweeds racing south across our two lane highway. There were some small ones about the size of a beach ball but many of them were closer in size to a large dog or a small pony! It is almost impossible to dodge them all on a night like that. The best you can hope for is that one of them doesn’t hit you broadside and leave a nasty scratch on your car. I made it home without hitting too many of the blowing thistles. When I pulled into the yard to unload my car, I opened the shed door to put the car in and while I was unloading, the wind whipped about 2 dozen tumbleweeds into the door. I grabbed my gloves(you don’t want to handle the prickly things without gloves) and tossed them back out into the wind. We were fortunate that the wind was just right that night and we didn’t get too many of them hung up around our farm. The neighborhoods on the north end of my small town were not so lucky, they were bombarded with tumbleweeds that blocked streets and alleys, surrounded and covered up vehicles and piled up between houses. The past several days have been spent gathering and carefully burning the weeds. They burn hot and quick so one has to be careful to contain them so that they don’t take off in a gust of wind and light something on fire.

Neighbors work together to burn the tumbleweeds.

Neighbors work together to burn the tumbleweeds.

While they are a nuisance to those of us who have to deal with them annually, people who are passing through and see one will often times stop and try to chase one down and take it home with them. We honor the lowly tumbleweed locally with the Tumbleweed Bazaar, a craft show in the fall. The venue is sometimes decorated with tumbleweeds. Other folks have been known to spray paint the tumbleweeds white and stack and decorate them for a snowman when we are lacking snow. I even attended an event with a western theme where a very creative artist used tumbleweeds and branches to create a horse for their table decor.

Tumbleweed and branches form a horse for a Western themed dinner.

Tumbleweed and branches form a horse for a Western themed dinner.

As irritating as they can be, they do look delicate and lacy and are fascinating to those who don’t have to deal with them on a windy day. So if you are ever visiting Southwest Kansas on a windy day, keep your eyes peeled for the tumbling tumbleweed!

It is peach time in New Jersey

New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher reports that we are fourth in the nation for peach production. New Jersey soils and climate are ideal for all kinds of tree fruits and our farmers harvest the very best for consumers.

Peach promotions and festivals featuring many types of peach products are taking place all over New Jersey. Peach wine has been a tasting favorite for many years.

Our neighbor has been making peach cider for a number of years and it is available at many local farm markets and grocery stores. These farm markets also feature Peach salsa, preserves and jams, and butter.

Enjoy eating healthy local fruits and vegetables!