Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff. .

I think that I mentioned last week, that it certainly is hard to keep in mind that it is STILL May around here!! In the nearly 18 years that I have lived around here, I don't ever recall a wheat harvest starting this early!! The kids finished school Wednesday. .and wheat harvest started on Thursday the 24th.
Grant and Tristan are both driving a combine for Papa this year. .
the days are L-O-N-G. .but they are both really liking it!
By Thursday night, we were all out in the fields watching and taking rides. Cami was really impressed at how big everything was. .For those of you that have never seen a wheat field unless it was on the road NEXT to the field in your car. .Here is where your bread starts!
Those sharp little blades go back and forth, cutting the wheat off near the ground. .
and they are swept up into the combine with the blades going around and around in the header.
Cami and I rode with Uncle Joe. .Tristan is driving the machine to the left and Grant the closest one on the right.
I don't know what the enticement is here. .
but this is their favorite part of harvest. .
the part they can't WAIT to do!!
. .eating the wheat and making a "gum" out of it. .
I remember doing the same thing as a little girl too. .
so I guess part of that magic lies in being small!!
Unloading the grain is a DIRTY job. .especially when the wind is blowing 40 mph, as it has here for nearly a week!! No fabulous wheat photos because of that!
Then it's back to going round and 'round the field some more!! Tristan left yesterday to go help my family on their farm for the third year. It was difficult enough for me last week. .knowing how my dad would have been busting at the seams to get started with the highlight of the year for every farmer. .I'm not sure how my family is handling it. .living this harvest with his memory in their shadows. .instead of his person at the head of the party. .but I am praying them strength and peace!!
After the wheat grains are separated from the chaff (the leftover wheat stems and junk pieces). .the straw particles blow out the back end of the combine
Really DIRTY!!
Watching this reminds me of a verse from the book of Matthew. In chapter 3 we're told about John the Baptist's preaching to the people. He advised them that every tree (us) that doesn't produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire (hell). He then goes on to liken what will happen in the harvest of souls on that last day. .to a grain harvest. 
Matthew 4:11b-12 
"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the grain with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, storing the grain in his barn but burning the chaff with never ending fire."
So many people think that the bible is so hard to read and understand. .
But much of it is so easy to picture. .
This verse may not be so easy to comprehend. .if you don't have any farm experience. .
But let me just tell ya. .
You DON'T want to be the chaff!!
If you, as a tree. .
can't look at your life and see any good fruit produced. .
BY you. .
FOR God. .
You may want to reevaluate your stance. .
and make some changes!!
Do it today. .
For it is the ONLY day we are sure about!!
Thanks for stopping by!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Just Couldn't Resist!

I took these photos a couple weeks ago. .and I just couldn't resist showing them to you!
I had worked out one morning, and finished with a few minutes to spare before I needed to get the kids up for school. Enjoying the brisk morning, I decided to give the fish in the pond some breakfast before rousing the bunch. I had to laugh as I turned around to see this. .
One kitty walking out from the waterfall to see what I was doing. .with a second one crawling out of the birdhouse which is sitting in the flower bed near the house. He stretched and blinked in the bright sun. .and the third kitty made his exit too. .
The next morning, armed with my camera. .I took a few photos of the little monkeys again. This one grew tired of me and decided it was too cool for him anyway. .
He nearly didn't make it back into the house. .but it was too cute to watch!!
I'm guessing the fat little toads wouldn't fit this week. .cause they have been trying out new sleeping arrangements in various spots!! 
Enjoy the kick off to summer!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

April Showers. .You Know What THAT Means!!

Well. .the school year is officially over around this place!!
Though it just ended yesterday, it FEELS like it is mid-June to me. Everything is blooming early. .and the heat is on!! Tomorrow is slated to be 99 degrees. We have already had several days in the mid 90's. Come along and see what is new here.
A lump of blue/purple salvia is coming along very nicely. .a gift from GonSS from her garden to mine in April. .I have been just tickled with it's progress. .I notice with her photos. .and from my mom's garden (I was able to ID this plant at her house! She knew what it was, I hadn't known that before) that this will freely self seed, and fill in a nice area of the Memory garden.
The wintersown Carnival morning glories are starting to climb up the rustic cedar fence. I can't wait to see the blooms. 
The cosmos did a super job of reseeding themselves to fill in this area on the east side of the pond. .I don't think I had any there last year. .so they must have traveled across the yard. The variegated cattail clump to the right in the photo has developed catkins. .will have to get a close up when the wind isn't blowing 50 mph!
The butterfly milkweed has established himself well. .and looks to have even reseeded in the area. It is really stunning in the midst of the purple larkspur. This weekend I hope to deadhead some of the dying larkspur to make way for the summer blooms.
The Ratibida are just starting their blooms. .The burgundy Mexican Hat coneflower plants were the "new plant" winners around here last year. .surviving the drought and heat and blooming for nearly 4 months. The yellow Ratibida are really nice too. They bloomed last summer, but they weren't that great. .these blooms seem to be larger and more showy! They self-seeded well. .and I will no doubt be digging them out for years to come!! 
The holly hocks are certainly making a statement this spring! Never do I recall having such nice looking plants. .and blooms from them. Earlier in the week as I shot these photos. .I scared a hummer out of them. I was tickled that there is still one out. .and that provoked me to refill my feeder and hang it where I could see it better. And then I was gone all week, here and there and everywhere. .am hoping to see him this weekend.
The blooms are red, burgundy, light pink, and white. Even the foliage has been relatively unscathed by insects. Maybe the chickens have scared them all away!!
The Russian garden is in bloom. Though the bluish sage in the middle is just starting and hard to see. The blanket flower have reseeded themselves in the garden. .but it just seems to be taking a long time for it to fill in. .It's coming!
I've been pretty happy with my patio plants so far this year. I found this cool looking foxtail fern and used some hot pink petunias and gomphrenia plants. Finally the honeysuckle bush is tall enough to give some relief and afternoon shade to the deck and it's inhabitants. 
The view from the boys' upstairs room shows the shape-up of the fish pond. The bushes to the far right are the caryopteris. .
Amazingly. .they are starting to bloom. .nearly 2 months ahead of schedule!!
One of the daylily plants shared by my friend Pat is blooming. .Pat. .if you stop by this post. .ID this one for me!! The other clumps have buds on them too. .so now it will be a short wait to see!! 
Wheat harvest started this afternoon. While the guys were in the middle of all that. .Cami and I hung out in the yard. .just taking deep breaths!! We jumped. .and played on the swings. .and checked out the flowers. .and peeked in the bluebird houses. .
Guess what we found?? 
A few TINY little bluebirds in the house by the road. Squinting with one eye through a 2 inch hole into a dark box provided only the glimpse of beaks and movement. .so we googled baby bluebirds. Cami couldn't see anything in the hole. .but she was pretty impressed by the tiny, naked birds we saw in the google images!! Can't wait to see them grow!!
Have a wonderful weekend!!
We are needing one around this house!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's a Done Deal

Well. .this morning it is official. .
We now have TWO high school kids at our house!!
We enjoyed a BBQ Sunday evening to celebrate Grant's graduation from 8th grade. He had a few buddies stay afterward for the night. .and they got up and rode the bus to the junior high for the last time yesterday.
The principal made and served them breakfast. .then they practiced their walks. .and were done by 10:30. Cami and I showed up to help decorate the gym a bit for the ceremony. .you can see we were joined by lots of other excited 8th grade moms.
After we were finished. .we picked up Grant to run errands. .First on his list was getting his grad gift. .a cell phone (yes, we are the mean parents that don't think our kids need cell phones until they start driving). He was texting everyone he knew as soon as it hit his sweaty little palm. .Next he took some money he had already gotten for graduation and opened a checking account at our bank. He and Tristan are LOTS different in their attitude of money. .he priced cool checks and generic checks, and then decided that the extra $9 wasn't too much in the long term scheme of things. .so he got motorcycle checks with foiled printing. (Tristan would have just bought the ones he wanted to start with)
The ceremony was at 7:00 last evening. .and the temperatures were warmish. .mid 80's already. Grant thought he was going to DIE!!
The kids cleaned up well. .and despite the ridiculously HIGH heels, there were no accidents or injuries from kids tripping on the stairs or the stage!
This 4 year old was not interested in a nap, since her "far away" Grandma was present. .she thought, to play with her!! So this is how she spent her time during the graduation ceremony in the sweltering gym!!
. . .dressing up Barbie girls on mom's ipod. And then she fell asleep on my lap just as the kids were getting up to get their diplomas!
I still don't know what was so funny. .
But dad was excited for the boy that is most like him!!
And, he was too cool to take nice shot with his mama. .so a little force was exerted. .and we got one!
These three kids shared cribs together just about!! Kayla and Grant are about a month apart in age. .and they used to go to daycare at Michael's house (Mike is a couple months older). They have always acted like siblings!! Once Grant informed Kayla's mom that they were going to get married. .She told him that they were too young. .to which he confidently replied. ."We're almost 8!" Anyone who knows Grant, knows that he doesn't often lack confidence in anything. Kayla's mom then reminded Grant that they were both "barely 7!!" It's the minor details!
He and Michael share a lot of the same interests. .and have always been great buddies. .Grant has even been adopted. .and ADOPTED. .Michael's "Papa Mike" for his own Papa! The diplomas were all signed!!
So. .after the dance, he camped out in his friend Jacob's yard last night. .
and I suppose that as SOON as he hits the door tonight. .
The LOOMING question of. .
"WHEN do I get to go take my driving test"
will be a daily battle at our house!!
The summer will fly. .
as it always does. .
and his high school career will begin before we know it!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Great Wildflower Hunt

Mother's Day weekend was absolutely GORGEOUS!! Perfectly warm temps in the low to mid 70's, little wind, if any, glorious blue skies and lots of big, white, puffy clouds. .the kind just waiting for a mama and her babies to lay on the trampoline letting their imaginations run wild.
Blanket Flower (gallardia) and toothed evening primrose. I will have to go back next week to see what the grayish spiky flowers turn out to be. .my guess may be a lupine or a leadplant. .they were nearly blooming, but I couldn't quite tell what color they will be. .guessing purple.
Everyone enjoyed their own activities around our home.
Saturday afternoon, Devin, Cami, and I decided to take a four-wheeler ride through our pasture, scouting for wildflowers and wildlife. We so seldom have great spring rains like we have enjoyed this spring, that we don't always have the wildflower varieties growing that I have seen this year. From the house, we can't really see any wildflowers in the pasture. .
The lay of the land was exceptionally gorgeous Saturday. .with the different greens, yellow/gold, and pinkish lavendar. .quite a rainbow of color. Jeremy's shop is the first building, with the front of our house visible behind the large elm tree.
. .except for the liatris in the fall. But driving through the grass, we scoped out a nice handful of different varieties. .with others getting ready to bloom.
Here are some sand hill plums on the few little brambles that are out there. I have never actually picked these myself to cook up. .but I tell you. .they make the most DIVINE jelly you will EVER eat. .and it's not sold in your local supermarket (probably not, anyway-farmer's market, though. .that's another story!).
Devin and I used my Tallgrass Prairie Wildflowers handbook to try and ID the plants. It was a great workout for both of us. This Toothed Evening Primrose came down to us counting the petals on the real plant and comparing it with a couple different plant photos in the book. Some of them even seem to come down to the leaf shape, since the flowers are so similar. This guy blooms in late spring. .and is found on rocky or gravelly prairie slopes. .which is where we happened to locate them.
We found white yarrow. .
and Sensitive Briar. .the kids enjoyed watching the ferny-fronded leaves curl up when touched with your fingers. I even had to take Grant back later to show him the plant.
We found a few that we didn't take time to ID (because the natives were getting restless). .and now I can't ID because of the poor photo quality (by now, it was getting tiresome for me to jump off the back of the 4-wheeler around the 2 kids in the front-so photos were coming from the 4-wheeler, sometimes while it was still moving. .HA!)
Addendum: Thanks to Gaia Gardener. .this plant IS a prairire larkspur. It looks a little different than the one in my wildflower book. .but is nearly identical to the pictures listed on kswildflowers.org
And a few that I couldn't ID. .Anyone have any idea what this is?? Cami and I noticed it along our driveway on our walk Friday morning. I can't find anything quite like it in the book I have. It's pretty. .and in 14 years. .I have never noticed a plant like that around here.
Addendum: Gaia was correct twice. .this is a velvety gaura plant. They are found throughout Kansas. Unfortunately, someone mowed it off before it finished blooming here. .and I haven't seen it anywhere else in the pasture! Very pretty blooms!! Thanks for your help!
The annual cheat grass (or drooping brome grass) is just gorgeous right now, with it's golden lavender seedheads.  Unfortunately. .it will soon turn yellow and die, leaving little grass behind. .Jeremy noticed that the native grass underneath the cheat is very scarce and very short. .as a result of last year's severe drought. He is having Devin mow some of the pasture down, so that the grass can get some sunlight and moisture to survive.
I don't know what this little grass tuft was. .it had really fine blades. .almost like the ponytail grass sold in nurseries. .except that the blades were pinkish-purple. .wish I would have had my shovel!! And now I can't remember where we saw it at!
Nearly 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. .our Kansas wheat crop is nearing harvest! The head are turning from the green to a golden color, signifying ripe grains!
I'm smitten with the stuff!!
Devin used my camera on our way back to take this photo that I think seems pretty iconic of our home in Kansas. .barbed wire fences. .big blue skies. .wide open spaces. .and the promise of what people here do the best. .FEED AMERICA!

The person that started the rumor that Kansas was flat and boring. .
Didn't see ALL of Kansas!!
Say a prayer for the midwest farmers when you eat your daily bread tonight!!
Have a blessed week!