was only back from band camp for a little over an hour before
we headed to Manhattan, Kansas for a mini-vacation. Actually,
Dean will be attending the summer meeting of the U.S. Wheat
Associates while the rest of us relax. He worked extra hours
trying to get as much done as he could before we left.
attended meetings of the U.S. Wheat Associates all day. The
U.S. Wheat Associates work all around the world to promote wheat
grown by U.S. wheat farmers. Tonight, we attended a reception
honoring the retiring Chairman of the Board who is from Kansas.
The reception and dinner were held in the Columbian Theatre
in Wamego, Kansas, which has just completed a 2 million dollar
restoration project. The Columbian is a beautiful theatre which
was built by a Wamego banker who visited the Chicago World's
Fair, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition celebrating the
400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the new world. At
the close of the World's Fair, the banker brought paintings
and other artifacts back to decorate his new theatre in Wamego.
It was one of those events which really made you proud to be
from Kansas! The food was outstanding, the entertainment was
superb, and the theatre was sparkling.
Many small towns in Kansas once had opera houses and several
communities have restored, or are in the process of restoring,
these historic buildings. As a community college student, I
had the privilege of performing in the Brown Grande in Concordia,
Kansas, both before and after it was restored. When it was built,
the Brown Grande was said to be the finest opera house between
Kansas City and Denver. Even my hometown of Jamestown, Kansas,
had an opera house - even though the population was never more
than 700 people.
a breakfast meeting, Dean was ready to head for home. We were
going to go to the Fort Riley Museum but missed a turn and ended
up on a road on the north side of the fort - going thru Keats
and up to Riley. Even though Dean and I both graduated from
K-State (Kansas State University in Manhattan), neither of us
ever remembered taking that particular road before. By the time
we crossed Milford Lake and headed into Wakefield, Wayne had
lost all patience with our adventuring on the back roads! Wayne
really wanted to go the Fort Riley Museum but he was happy when
we stopped in Abilene at the Eisenhower Center and spent a few
hours touring the Eisenhower Family Home, the Eisenhower Museum,
and the Place of Meditation, a small chapel where President
and Mrs. Eisenhower are buried.
Abilene, we went to Salina and stopped by to see Dean's brother
and his wife. Since Lawrence was helping deliver a baby, we
ended up eating pizza in the Doctor's Lounge at the hospital!
Lawrence and JoAnn sent home our newest livestock project -
2 hermits crabs, which have been named Herbie and Willie (for
Willie the Wildcat, K-State's mascot).
a nice rainy day! It rained most of the night and most of the
day - a nice gentle rain that soaked right into the ground.
It's cooler, too, very cool for the first week of August. It
was just right for the milo but we did have some alfalfa that
didn't get baled before the rain. That's one disadvantage of
having a diversified farming operation - when one crop needs
rain, another one may not. The kind of rain we had today is
welcome almost anytime. It will help the pastures and didn't
rain hard enough to wash the topsoil or damage the milo.
It will make a mess out of the pipeline project, though. The
extra traffic on the township roads was already concerning us,
and now the roads are soft and muddy so the trucks and big equipment
may damage the roads.
Kansas was planned and surveyed before it was opened to homesteaders.
The land was divided into one mile square "sections"
of 640 acres. From north to south and east to west, parallel
roads were laid out one mile apart so that most sections had
roads on all four sides. It makes it great to get around in
Kansas. Directions are usually given using terms like "4
miles west and 2 miles south". From an airplane, Kansas
looks a little like a checkerboard - squares of farmground and
pastures with roads separating the squares. There are exceptions
- usually where roads do not cross rivers at every mile line
or in the hills and canyons of the Smoky Hills, Flint Hills,
In a cross-country project, like this pipeline that is being
taken out of the ground, the pipeline crosses a township or
county road every time it leaves or enters a new section. It
will be like that all the way across Kansas
August 7, 1997
guys are taking advantage of the rainy days to work on equipment,
getting everything ready to apply fertilizer the next time we
work theground that will be planted to wheat. We will use the
undercutter to put the fertilizer in the ground. The fertilizer
is in tanks on wheels, attached to the back of the undercutter)
which are hitched to the back of the tractor. The fertilizer
moves thru rubber hoses and heavy plastic tubing and finally
comes out underneath the point of the V in the big V-shaped
steel blades that go down into the dirt. The fertilizer will
be placed incorporated into the dirt in the root zone - where
the roots of the new wheat plants will grow once the seed is
planted in September and starts growing. Another reason for
putting it in the soil is so that it won't wash away if it rains
There are many different types of soil, even within the same
fields. Since fertilizer is expensive, we work for a balance
- using only the amount and kind of fertilizer that is needed
for each specific crop in each individual field. For wheat,
we use Nitrogen and Phosphorus. These are the same things people
use to make their lawns look nice and green and keep their flowers
blooming - just in different amounts and applied differently.
Fertilizer can be compared to vitamins that people take - the
purpose is to help the plant - or body - be healthy and strong.
on removing the natural gas pipeline is really going fast. All
the trenches across our fields have been dug and they have taken
quite a bit of the pipe out of the ground. They use 2 bulldozers
- with special attachments - to reach under the big pipe, lift
it out of the ground, and roll it off to the side. The bulldozers
- one a few feet behind the other - just keep going until a
pipe connection breaks or there's a cut in the pipe.
Another bulldozer has started pushing the rocks and lower soil
layers back into the trench. In fact, they've already got the
trench filled in on the first of our fields. Another crew goes
along and cuts the pipe into 80 foot long lengths, which are
loaded onto very long trucks. They're piling the pipe in a pasture
the company has leased.
went to Great Bend today to make Julie's state fair entries
and check out the pet shop's supply of hermit crab cages, shells,
etc. On the way home, we noticed the blackbirds are starting
to feed on the milo. Cheyenne Bottoms, a "Wetlands of International
Importance in the Western Hemisphere", has a resident population
of several million blackbirds. Each year, the farmers in our
area have extensive crop damage from the blackbirds. As the
milo ripens, the blackbirds sit on the milo heads and eat the
grain. We really don't mind feeding the ducks and geese that
migrate thru the Central Flyway and stop at Cheyenne Bottoms.
Usually they don't cause too much damage although the geese
and sandhill cranes sometimes pull out the new wheat plants
in the fall. Whooping cranes stop at Cheyenne Bottoms, which
is a really important stop for migrating shorebirds. We usually
note the changing seasons by the flight of birds either going
north or south. Often, the birds move shortly before drastic
weather changes so we try to keep an eye on the sky and listen
for the ducks, geese, and cranes.
Dean and I had fun tonight. Friends who live and farm near Great
Bend hosted a potluck get-together, complete with Frisbee golf,
volleyball, and a dance (on the sand in front of their machine
shed). Dean & I didn't try the Frisbee golf this year -
even though they upped the limit to 10 tries per hole. Last
year, it had rained before the get-together and Dean ended up
with lots of mud on his boots after hunting his Frisbee out
in the corn field. The golf holes are actually big old-fashioned-type
tin wash tubs. You would think it would be easy to get a Frisbee
to land inside the tub but it's really not. We just enjoyed
the chance to sit back and relax and visit with our friends
and laugh at the DJ's comments as he rode a four-wheeler around
the "golf course" and talked to people with a microphone.