I guess I have completely fallen off the blogging bandwagon. This harvest season has just been too busy. Honestly I don’t know why, because it probably took a fourth of the time that it typically takes to harvest. We had the more acres planted this year than we usually plant and without the rain we harvested a smaller amount of beans and corn. We had a ton of rain this fall, because of El Nino and it has really slowed harvest down. As of yesterday we sent of our last load of beans, so I can officially say we are finished. I know I mostly talk about sweet potatoes, but my husband mostly row crops. It ended up taking us two months to completely dig up all the sweet potatoes. We ended up loosing an acre and a half of potatoes with all the rain. Some of the potatoes were flooded in the field and then some of them had so much water that they busted open, making them unsaleable. Even with loosing potatoes and having mold issues, I am very happy with our potato harvest. I am also excited about the prospect of growing our sweet potato business. Most things this year just went so much smoother. We dug up potatoes and stored them so much easier than last year. I haven’t had to stay up to crazy hours boxing potatoes this year and for that I am thankful. As this farming year comes to a close and we look forward to next year, we are not sure where it will take us. I know we will continue to row crop and we will do sweet potatoes next year. We hope continue to grow and expand.
Well I have definitely took a break from blogging and I can explain why. I sat down probably more than a month ago and started to write a post. At that point things were bad and depressing I just couldn’t blog about it. I just couldn’t put it all out there and tell the world that we had a horrible summer. Things are just not going good for us with our farming operation. We are in the middle of a severe drought and at this point things are only looking worse. I just couldn’t bring myself to finish my post on such a sad note, because the truth is, this has been one of the best summers I have had in awhile. I have really been counting my blessings lately. Summer with my family was great and we had tons of good quality fun. I think when times are tough, you really pull together and learn to enjoy the little things. Instead of worrying about paying money to take us to paid activities, both Jody and I focused on spending quality time just playing with the kids. We’ve spent time working together as a family. So I guess I am saying, I can’t complain, because God has given me this day and time to spend with my boys, and I appreciated every second. On the business side of everything, we really don’t know where we stand. We have had almost no rain, so nothing has grown this summer. This drought has affected us and continue to affect us. Our corn crop was only a tiny fraction of what it should have been. The majority of the corn was cut by the dairy for corn silage and we only saved a little bit for our deer corn business. We had sweet corn that didn’t make anything at all. We planted ten acres of sweet potatoes this year and had really tried to do everything right. I’m actually so thankful for all those potatoes, because the good news is they still grew. We knew that there should have been more, but we are happy for the ones that we do have. We will have at least the same amount as last year, but probably many more. Hopefully that business will still continue to grow. No matter what happens, we have faith that things will be ok.
The soybeans are all finished!! Yayy!! We are finally getting things marked off of our to do list. It feels really good now we just have to wait on some rain. Sadly crops are looking terrible right now, because we have went so long without any to little rain. The only good thing that we have is that our crops are spread out so far that some of our fields have gotten more rain than others. These last couple of months have been hard to sit and watch the fields. I think it might be because I am a little more attached this year. I actually am the one who planted the majority of our soybeans. It wasn’t my first time driving a tractor, but if was the first time I had to spend so much time driving one. It definitely was harder than I thought it would be and it was exhausting riding in the tractor for hours. But it was something that had to get done and I was glad to do it. It felt good to accomplish something on such a grand scale. I also saw some wildlife and got a break from my kids, so I really can’t complain. I have to do something to keep myself busy over the summer. We actually are currently on vacation! Awesome I know, farmers of get vacations. It just takes some different preparations. We had to get something’s taken care of first and we are only going for a couple of days. I will gladly take it though!
I’m sure you guys are tired of hearing about sweet potatoes. That’s pretty much all I have to talk about right now at this point in time. We are finished with our second round of planting. This time we used plants that we had bought from some farmers out East of us. We are trying some new varieties, that I am really excited about. We are doing some real red potatoes with orange flesh and some purple and white potatoes. My plan is to make a colorful variety box to sell around Christmastime. I think sweet potatoes would make a great Christmas gift, don’t you! Well fruit baskets are a thing so surely a potato basket isn’t too crazy. We are about a whole week ahead of schedule with potatoes this year. Now the next move is to watch them and “cultivate” when the weeds start growing. Of course, potatoes are not the only farming thing that my husband has been up to. He has been very busy this week and I bet next week will be just as busy. I love and hate this time of year. I love all the excitement of planting and preparing for spring harvest, but I hate that we are so busy. We stay so busy we rarely have time to do anything as a family that doesn’t involve farming. This past week we have been getting the combine ready, spraying, and planting corn. That is just a little of what has been going on. We feel very behind, because usually all the corn is already planted and most of the soybeans. The weather played a big part in putting us behind, you just can’t plant seeds into completely dry ground. Thankfully now we have been getting lots of rain to help us out. Well because we are so behind my husband had to ask for my help driving the tractor. Asking for my help is not ideal, because I really don’t know what I am doing. I mean I know the basics, but I do not know how to troubleshoot. I just don’t feel very comfortable doing something so important. I was terrified that I would do something wrong, but in the end it all worked out.
All I can say after this past weekend of planting is wow! The difference between last year and this year was huge. I don’t know if you read my blog last year and really got the picture, but we had no clue. My hubby and I both were excited to start a new adventure, but we made big mistakes that ended up costing us money in the long run. Last year my whole world shut completely down and afterwards it took me weeks to recover. This year was so much smoother and I can’t even explain how much better I feel. This year we knew we already had one big cost saver and that was the fact we had planted our own slips. We did that back in about late March and we did all the work ourselves, so hey they were pretty much free! So the week before our plant day, my hubby, me, and this young guy we have hired got out cut as many slips as we could. We ended up with about 40 boxes or I was figuring 30,000 slips. We knew on the first day last year we had planted about 15 boxes, so we figured that was a good number to start with. The plan was to plant all those slips and maybe come back with the helpers and cut some more slips on day 1. We weren’t really sure if that would happen that fast, but we knew it was a good shot. The night before my hubby made some final adjustments to his machine and it was working much better than last year. The plant depth was perfect and we practiced running faster than last year. Then on the day of our first plant day, I woke up and didn’t have a babysitter. Last year I had to do a lot of the work so I was worried about not having someone to watch the boys. It was all good though we loaded up plenty of toys and headed to the field. It ended up working out perfect, because then all I had to do was be a runner. I was able to take plants across the field and pick up used boxes quickly. I could run go get plants out of the cooler and by mid morning all the stress was gone. My boys and I actually really enjoyed riding around in the field and staying cool in the shade at times. They played in the dirt and I stayed busy keeping things running smoothly. Plus I didn’t feel guilty when I slipped away to take the boys to their T-ball celebration picnic on Saturday. (Which I really didn’t want them to miss) They finished up the first 40 boxes by about 12:30 and then took a lunch break and started working on cutting slips. Amazingly with 8 people they got 45 boxes cut in about 4 hours and we were finished by 5 that day. I had to run boxes back and forth to put a cooler that we borrowed for the day. Yayyy no plants in my living room this year. My hubby was planning on that 45 boxes to finish up the field, but of course it didn’t. On day 2, they planted all 45 boxes by about 1:00 and had to come back and cut 10 more boxes so that they could finish. Everything was done and cleaned up by 4! We celebrated by hosing the kids down with the extra water that we had brought to the field and kicking back to watch the potatoes grow! After everything was finished I sat down and done the math. We actually planted the same about of plants on the 3 acres, that we planted all together last year. So if all goes well that one field will yield just as many potatoes as we did last year! That makes me excited and nervous at the same time, because we have to find places to store all those potatoes……
Alright so before I get started on this blog post I think I need to add in a little disclaimer. I actually have four or five different blog posts going at one time. I write them out in my head while I am driving at work or trying to go to sleep, then I sit down, and type a bunch of stuff down. I don’t really get to finish the post off and then publish it, so it sit for awhile. That might be why you may notice some of my blogs are “behind” So if your reading this and you think hey it’s raining cats and dogs outside, please don’t think I am crazy. I promise when I originally wrote the start of this blog it hadn’t rained. Plus you may notice as your reading the rest of my blogs for this growing season that I will probably stay behind what is really going on.
As the saying goes when it rains it pours, or I guess I should say when it doesn’t rain it doesn’t pour. My part of North Carolina had a bit of a drought during the month of May. We didn’t have a single drop of rain for about 30 days and all the crops were starting to look really thirsty. Rain is an integral part of the farming process and without it we were starting to have some problems. Things really weren’t critical, because May isn’t always our wettest month. So we sort of expect to not have loads of rain, but once we do get rain, we are going to be incredibly busy. First we have got to get soybeans planted, which I really don’t help much with. There is still corn left to be planted and barley to be harvested. All this would have worked out so that we wouldn’t be doing it all at once if rain would have happened sooner. Then on top of all that, we are about a week away from our sweet potato slips being ready to plant. We looked at the slips yesterday and they are looking perfect.
Please do not look at my messy yard and my horrible photography skills. But these are what the slips looked like about three weeks ago. Now they are the perfect height to cut! I am so excited that all of our hard work has payed off. We are ready for year two with sweet potatoes. My hubby has been working long hours to clear our fields and make the beds. The worst part about planting sweet potatoes is that once we start planting it will be all hands on deck. We have hopes that it will go much smoother than last year! I am a little stressed that all this will be happening while I am finishing up school. The end of the year for a teacher is pretty busy. I am sure I will be blogging more on all the craziness later!
We have really really been very busy. I honestly haven’t had time to even think about trying to sit down and write down everything that has been going on. This always feels like the busiest time of the year for me and my hubby. Well Spring and Fall are probably both equally busy, but Spring is a pretty tough time. Things have to be planted and things need to be harvested. We have lots of stuff going on right now, I don’t even know if I can remember it all to get it down on a blog post. First off the grain corn had to be planted. Even though my hubby does that every year, each year still ends up being so different. This year we had a lot of rain and cold weather right around April 15(the target date for our area) So it put him planting later than he wanted to plant. It worked out though because some people we know had to replant. He then moved on to getting fields ready to plant soybeans. He hasn’t planted any yet, but he is working on it. The other major project that we have is sweet potatoes. They never really went away this year. I honestly thought when we started this project, we would finish up around Christmas. We were still boxing up potatoes in February and in March we moved on to sorting them for seed. The small potatoes that are too small to sell are used to replant to get the sweet potato slips. We decided this year to try out growing our own slips and if it worked, we would know we could do it again. It is much cheaper to grow your own slips than to buy them and we are looking for ways to improve our inputs all the time. So to make a sweet potato slip, you have to start with making sweet potato “beds.” This means you push dirt up into a little hill and place all the seed potatoes on it. Then we covered the potatoes with dirt and plastic. The plastic is to keep them warm, because in April it is still too cold for potatoes to really grow. Once the weather warmed up, the plastic came off and they are really growing now. I didn’t take any pictures of the process when we were actually making the beds, so I can’t really show you what it looked like. We are still behind where I thought we would be because of the weather. It’s amazing how you don’t really pay attention to the weather until your livelihood depends on it. Then you start obsessing over it. We still have a good ways to go before our planting season is finished. Last year we planted all our sweet potatoes around June 15th, so that’s our goal this year.
Well I have kind of skipped out on blogging the last two months. I thought I was doing pretty good putting out one or two of these things a month, well that has just fallen apart. Blame it on my four boys that keep me running around. I tend to write my blogs in my brain at night before falling asleep. I have plenty of ideas floating around, but I haven’t had the time to put them on the computer. So I kind of forgotten all the ideas that I have had. I guess I will just take a few minutes to update what we have been up to the last couple of months. First, we have been working on my laundry room project. I knew when I started thinking about redoing anything in my house it would take awhile. I figured I would pick a time of the year when I had time off, so last spring break(yes exactly a year ago) we went to lowes and bought some things to “freshen up” my laundry room. It was the last room in the house that hadn’t been painted and the floor had some issues. To make the long story short, well a year has happened. I’ve had plenty of time off, but I haven’t been able to get to the laundry room. I can’t remember when I started painting but I finally did get some of the painting finished. About a month ago, our washing machine broke and that was the push I needed to work on the floor. After a month of working on my project mostly during the weekends, we finally have the new floor down and some wall repairs finished. I still have tons to do on this room, but it is starting to come together. I am so incredibly ready to be able to wash clothes in my own house again. I have spent the last 4 weekends at the laundromat and it stinks. Especially having little boys running around and getting into mischief. I plan on building a bench for the entryway and possibly something to sort laundry in. For now it is nice to have everything back together.
The other project that we have spent some time on has been bedding sweet potatoes. I didn’t really get to help as much as I wanted, but I still ended up shoveling a little. The sweet potatoes have to be sprouted and planted early so that we can have sweet potato slips in May. I never imagined sweet potatoes were so complicated when we started this journey. Those little things are very complicated. We have big plans this year to plant many acres more. I’m really hoping this year runs much more smoothly than last. This time around we know what we are doing and my hubby has all the equipment set up. It is hard to believe that planting season is here.
I went back and checked and I have been blogging for a year now! My very first blog post happened last February. I haven’t blogged very often but I have at least posted about once a month, so I am going to say that is pretty good. I have enjoyed sharing some of my stories with my small crowd of followers and I have enjoyed more being able to have a place where my creativity could show. It is tough being Momma, farmhand, and full time teacher and I like being able to share that with my little world. This has been a great month, but a busy month. I have been trying to spend as much extra time as I can on preparing our taxes. I am the only secretary that we have and I am afraid, I have done a horrible job this year. I guess I am paying for it now. I knew that we needed to keep up with things as we went, but I just kept putting it off. Anyway here we are and I am putting in lots of overtime on this job. My hubby has taken this opportunity to spend some time helping some other people work on their equipment. It’s really has been a blessing, even though I still haven’t been able to see him much. The weather in our area has been exceptionally beautiful and it has made me ache for spring. We have spent some time making our plans for this year’s planting. The plan is to have more sweet potatoes than last year, twice as many in fact. We are going to have some more sweet corn and grain corn. My hubby wants to plant just about everything that he has in corn and not as much in soybeans. The plans are for everything to expand. I’m not nearly as nervous about having more sweet potatoes as I was last year when we were just starting. I guess I am going to just play with kids, work on taxes, and sit and wait until its time to start planting….. Sounds pretty great to me.
Well I know complaining about January being sort of boring would be a bad idea. I should be enjoying the simplicity of it all. The ease of our day to day life right now. I am slowing down and catching my breath and I am extremely thankful for such a break……. but I am slightly bored. I have even been leaving work before 4:30 most days. That way I get home with plenty of time to get dinner on the table and love on my babies. I can’t be completely bored, because three little boys keep me on my toes. My full time job definitely keeps me on my toes. January is not a break time for farmers, even though for me this feels like a break. The winter time is when most farmers get a chance to work on or service their equipment. January is just such a peaceful time and a planning time. Even with a break we have tons that can be done and that has to be done. I have to finish wrapping up last year by getting all our taxes and records complete. My hubby has to start getting things prepared for next year and we have a little bit of learning to do before we start. We both were able to attend the South East Regional Vegetable and Fruit Growers Conference in Savannah, GA. I had a good time and learned a lot. I don’t want to go into everything, but it really helped me to see what we have to do differently this year with our sweet potato crop. I got up early this morning to sit down and start my own planning. After that my husband and I can work together to get everything going. We know this year we are going to grow some of our own slips. That way we will cut down on some of our cost. We also already have all the equipment pretty much set up and ready to go. This year we will feel a lot more prepared. Last year it was at the vegetable conference that my husband started with the idea to grow sweet potatoes. So I guess you can say we have been doing this for a year now!