View From the Cab

Stars, Stripes and Sizzle

Pam Smith
By  Pam Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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Our weekly View From the Cab reports highlight the many activities on the farm during the season. Genny Haun reports in from Kenton, Ohio, and Kyle Krier details farm life from Claflin, Kansas. (Photos by Genny Haun and Kyle Krier)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Holidays don't always happen for farmers -- well, not in the traditional sense anyway. While the rest of the country is having a blast on Independence Day, DTN's View From the Cab correspondents will be fitting field operations into the festivities while celebrating the fact that their crops have weathered most of the storms so far this season.

While considered young farmers in this business, both Kyle Krier, who reports from Kansas, and Genny Haun, from Ohio, see their decision to return to their respective family farms as a privilege born not of duty, but of choice.

"That itself is a definition of freedom," said Krier. "I try to remember that many have given a lot to give us the life we enjoy. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of that."

DTN was in Ohio this past week to visit Haun at Layman Farms and found the flag flying proudly over the family's farm headquarters.

Here's what is happening in their parts of the farming world:

KYLE KRIER—CLAFLIN, KANSAS

Mondays are known to test the patience and that's exactly where Kyle Krier found himself this week. "I'm calling it a fix-it day," said Krier.

Middle of the week holidays add to the drama. Mistakes are more often made when employees and employers push harder to be able to take time off. "One of my buddies is having a shed party and I'm hoping to be able to make a stop there. But I'll likely be working hay most of the 4th. There's a chance of rain Friday and if all the cards fall right, I can finish baling by Thursday night," he said.

The second cutting of alfalfa typically carries the chances of the season for profit potential with both relative feed value and tonnage hitting stride. While complaining about rain in central Kansas is never wise, Krier said it has both helped and slowed operations.

"Last week we had a 5% chance of rain forecasted and caught rains of slightly less than an inch to 2.65 inches coupled with just a little hail," he said. "Most of the wheat was out and we were lucky to escape the big hail damage we've seen in other parts of the Western Corn Belt.

Hay samples were running 63% to 64% moisture after heavy dew on Monday, despite sizzling high temperatures. "I was hoping to be in the field by noon and it was 5:00 before we got started. I'd complain, but no one would listen. These are small things," Krier said.

Positive thoughts are central to his outlook on farming. Even when a day goes bad, he works at starting the next with a good attitude. "I firmly believe that we choose our moods. I know it may sound silly, but putting a smile on your face -- even when you don't want to -- makes a difference," Krier said.

Surrounding yourself with people that have that same happy attitude is also important, he noted. Each year the farm has an intern from The Ohio State University. This year's summer worker is from Brazil. "Gosh he's a hard worker and he's so upbeat and eager -- which helps when we run into a language barrier," he said.

Now that wheat harvest is complete, there are some oil projects coming up for the family. They have an oil exploration and well management business. Seismic technology is used to scout and identify potential drilling spots.

"We usually wait until the crops are off before doing exploration so we don't destroy crops," Krier said.

GENNY HAUN—KENTON, OHIO

The corner of northwestern Ohio where Genny Haun farms with her parents and husband strums with everything that is America. Ripe wheat lines up next to corn and soybeans fields filled with amber promise under spacious skies.

"I'm living my America dream -- to farm and raise my children surrounded by family," said Haun. "But I don't take that for granted. The recent trade issues we've seen emerge show just how critical agriculture is to this country.

"One way I try to give back is to tell agriculture's story every chance I get," she said.

The shiny corrugated complex of grain bins shines like a beacon amid the rolling hills of Hardin County. An American flag flies proudly over the farm office.

This year a lush green meets you at every turn -- except for the preponderance of orange day lilies that wildly decorate the ditches. "I hope I don't jinx us, but so far our crops look really good," she said.

Frequent rain events have left a few wet holes in fields, but adequate moisture coupled with hot, humid conditions has put the corn in fast-forward. Some fields are well on their way to shooting tassels and with any luck, will hold off on pollination until the stinging heat passes.

Ron Hamilton has worked for the Layman family since 1997 and oversees the spraying operations. Finding a good spray day has been tough this year with windy and wet conditions, he admitted. It's easy to see the benefit of a solid pre-emergence residual weed control programs this year. Giant ragweed is just now starting to rear up around some field edges.

Another employee, Randy McCune was busy this past week hauling grain to market as more rains locked the staff out of field and tiling operations. "We're kind of in a watch the crop grow and scouting mode right now," she said.

Haun and her husband, Matt, planned to take in some fireworks with their two young sons. "We'll see how that goes. Those big boomers can sometimes set off tearful explosions," she said.

Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.smith@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN

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Pam Smith