Harvest 2009, days 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11

ARGH!!!! Meant to keep this a lot more updated, but got too busy and fell behind. So,  I’m condensing about six posts into one.

On Sunday, we tried cutting again in the afternoon and the wheat was dry enough we could cut. I’ve picked Sundays to be fried chicken (from Albertson’s) day. I thought we were going to have four or five for dinner, but in the end it was just my brother William and Dad. So we had fried chicken left over for lunches on Monday.

The menu Sunday was:

  • Iced Tea & Lemonade
  • Bread&Butter sandwiches
  • Mom’s Potato Salad
  • Fried Chicken
  • Peach Pie

By Monday we were going full steam. The wheat was now quite dry, around 11 or 12% moisture. So the custom cutters have two combines and three trucks here as well.

In case anyone asks — yes, we can get more combines. The crew we are using has at least five combines in the area that I know of; some crews that operate in this area are much bigger and have 20 combines. But if you get more than about three combines, they get fill up bins and get done with fields a little bit faster than we’re ready for, which is a bad thing. We try to keep notes about which fields went into which bins and keep samples of the grain from each bin; and it also takes time to move the augur, tractor, and associated gear from a bin that’s full to a new bin. So if the bins fill up faster than we’re ready for it creates a bottleneck. Worse is when the combines complete the fields faster than the farmer is ready for, because it’s easier than you think for one field of wheat to look like another field of wheat when you’re just looking at a map in an area you’re unfamiliar with and there’s no roads (or road signs) for a couple miles. Probably every farmer that’s used custom cutters has had at least one incident where the custom cutters got done with one field, thought they knew where to go next, and started cutting into a neighbor’s field. Usually the neighbors are pretty understanding since it doesn’t happen very often and it’s happened to them too, but it’s easier in the long run to have only as many machines and operators as the home farm crew can keep track of and direct. So that’s why we run only about two or three extra combines in addition to our one.

I know that some custom cutters want to use more combines than that so they can get done faster and move on to the next farm. One of the crews we used to use years ago would regularly show up with six to eight combines — and there was constant bottlenecks at our bins, everyone was run ragged, and there were a couple times when they got done with a field so fast they started cutting a wrong field next before anyone could get to them and show them where they were supposed to cut. Dad said he told one crew boss if the guy ever showed up again with six combines, that would be the last year he’d cut for Dad. The next year, that crew boss showed up with the usual six or seven. And that was the last year he cut for Dad.

Anyway, the menu Monday (for about 10 or 11 people) was:

  • Iced Tea & Lemonade
  • Bread&Butter Sandwiches
  • Pot Roast
  • Potato Salad
  • Brownies (recipe follows)

Tuesday was another good day. Not a lot to comment on, except one of the custom cutters combines has been having problems so even though there were two custom cutter combines here, we were only using one in addition to our own combine.

The menu Tuesday (still about 10 or 11 people eating) was:

  • Iced Tea & Lemonade
  • Green Salad
  • Bread & Butter Sandwiches
  • Pork Steak
  • Dirty Red Mashed Potatoes (a fancy name for red potatoes boiled and mashed with the skin still on)
  • Loganberry pie

The pie was interesting — I had ordered a bunch of frozen berries from a local grocery store last fall, intending to make more cobblers over the winter than I did. So I have bunches of different types of frozen berries to make pies with this harvest. I have never cooked with loganberries before and found them to be somewhat like not-quite-ripe rasberries. It took about twice as much sugar as normal (2 cups of brown sugar added to 6-7 lbs of berries, versus the usual 1 cup) but the results were popular. My sister said she liked the pie quite a bit, and the head of the custom cutting crew asked me why I wasn’t entering these pies in the fair.

Wednesday we moved to a field that we were worried about since the wheat was starting to lay down. It looked like it was laying down due to weight and not due to sawfly, so that was a good thing, but even so we figured we should risk it still being a bit wetter than we’d like so we could get it picked up before any more went down.

Turns out we didn’t have to worry! Because the wheat was very dry. Dad said the combine moisture sensor was saying 9% while the stand-alone tester at the bins was saying 7%. Which is about as dry as the wheat can get.

I noticed during the day that we seemed to be filling bins a bit faster than usual. Turns out the rest of the custom cutting crew got done at the other farm they were working at and all moved over here. So instead of our combine plus one or two others and two trucks, we had our combine plus four other and four trucks.

I didn’t find all this out until I took dinner out. Fortunately I always try to cook a bit extra, so there was enough to go around. Barely. 🙂

The menu Wednesday for about 12 or 13 people was:

  • Iced Tea & Lemonade
  • Flour Tortillas (I also brought along some corn tortillas but they didn’t get eaten)
  • Seasoned ground beef for tacos
  • Shredded cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Chopped onions
  • Chopped green, orange & yellow peppers
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Sliced black olives
  • Canned green chilies
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Frosted Carrot bars for dessert (recipe follows)

And yes, we take tacos seriously around here. Well, sort of seriously — I’ve been told that ground beef in tacos is definitely not authentic Mexican cuisine. But for Mex-American tacos, we take them pretty seriously and make sure to have all the various condiments. Although I did forget to take out any diced tomatoes (which I meant to) and I decided early on not to worry about bringing any guacomole.

Thursday we got rained out.

Which is in keeping with Murphy’s Law, because I got two blueberries pies baked Thursday morning and a couple of pork roasts cooked — and then it rained in the afternoon.

I’m writing this Friday and we’re still rained out. *sigh* They tried earlier today and it was 15% moisture, which is too high. And then it showered about an hour ago.

So I still have two cooked pork roasts sitting in the fridge (and taking up a lot more space than I’d like).

But I can report that the blueberry pies are not taking up very much space at all on the countertop, and are rapidly taking up less and less space as the day goes on. If you catch my meaning. 🙂

~~~

Brownies

I think Mom said she got this recipe from my Dad’s cousin Belva. They are very good but very rich brownies — almost more like fudge with flour and eggs .

  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 lb unsalted butter
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract]
  • 1 c chopped nuts
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Melt chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan or double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat well. Stir in nuts, flour and salt. Spread in greased 8″ x 8″ pan. Bake at 325 F for 40-45 minutes.

~~~

Frosted Carrot Bars

From my great-aunt Hazel. A very simple, but very tasty recipe that makes up a surprisingly large amount.

  • Cake
    • 12-13 ounces strained carrots (from the baby food section)
    • 1-1/2 c vegetable oil
    • 2 c brown sugar
    • 4 beaten eggs
    • 2-1/2 c unsifted flour (and no, I don’t know why this recipe specified unsifted flour)
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 c chopped nuts
  • Frosting
    • 3 ounces cream cheese
    • 1/4 c softened unsalted butter
    • 1-3/4 c powdered sugar
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake, stir together carrots, oil, sugar, and eggs. Stir in rest of cake ingredients. Pour batter into greased jelly roll pan, spread evenly. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool cake completely before frosting. (Very important!)

Mix all frosting ingredients in a mixer until smooth and spread on cake.

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