View From the Cab

Work to Find a Life Balance

Genny Haun and Kyle Krier represent the new crop of agriculturalists. They stepped up to welcome readers into their homes and onto their farms this season. (Photo courtesy of Genny Haun and Kyle Krier)

DECATUR, Illinois (DTN) -- Genny Haun hates bugs. Or perhaps a better way to say it is, they like her a lot and because of that, she has had a lifelong grudge match against most insects.

"I'm pretty sure my parents considered me an unlikely candidate to be a farmer. It didn't take much interaction with biting insects to land me in the ER during my childhood," said Haun, who farms with her parents Jan and Cindy Layman near Kenton, Ohio.

Fortunately, her children don't seem to have the same allergic tendencies. In fact, her nearly 5-year-old son, Carter, has a new obsession with fishing. And this wholesome yearning is pushing the family hook, line and sinker back to the farm pond this summer -- mosquitoes and other critters notwithstanding.

Meshing the demands of farm and family are what is both good and bad about being self-employed. Perhaps it is the smell of corn pollinating or how the lawn kicks up a different scent as summer progresses, but this week our View From the Cab participants were both feeling a need to squeeze more family time into the schedule before fall harvest kicks into gear.

Kyle Krier, Claflin, Kansas, threw the tractor into park and kidnapped his wife, Melanie, for an impromptu getaway to Wichita over the weekend. "There's always another job to do on the farm. The challenge is to set priorities and make sure we don't forget those important to us," he said.

Krier and Haun are letting DTN peek into their lives and follow their farming operations throughout the 2018 season.

Here's what has been happening in their part of the farming world:

Genny Haun -- Kenton, Ohio.

A bit of Tennessee lake time over the July 4th holiday brought a welcome respite for Haun and the rest of her family. They came back to find Ohio temperatures had cooled a bit just as corn was beginning to tassel and pollinate at Layman Farms. The cooler temperatures were also welcome as postemergence sprayers finally made it to the field to finish up herbicide applications.

"We went from what felt like 9,000 degrees to 77 degrees on Friday," Haun said. "It's been slowly inching its way up this week, but we're hoping night-time temperatures are low enough to help with corn pollination."

Weather conditions were also favorable enough to get a tiling project completed that had been on the books since last fall. "It feels so good to get that done as it had been kind of hanging over our head for a while," she noted.

Haun was also gathering the information needed to put together a mailer promoting cover-crop seeds that she and her husband, Matthew, sell as part of their farming endeavors. The couple maintains a dealership for Ebberts, a family-owned seed company, with operations in Indiana and Ohio.

Cereal rye is the most popular cover crop in the area, she noted. However, some local growers occasionally like to add oats to break up compaction. Last year, Layman Farms mixed a bit of rapeseed into cereal rye. Crimson clover is also gaining in popularity as a cover crop in the area.

Plot day to show off these cover crops, as well as the corn, soybean and wheat seed they offer, is coming up. Haun stressed the need to plan with regard to adding cover crops into rotations. Last year, the family tried various establishment methods that included flying cereal rye into standing crop; seeding through Y-drops in standing crop and direct seeding following harvest.

"We got the best stand with aerial application," she said, noting that moisture likely helped with establishment.

Working side-by-side with parents and a husband means family time all the time. So while those trips to the pond to fish with the children are super special, she stresses that business hours are mostly sacred.

"When I go to the office, I'm at work. And when I go home, I get that break from work. That helps give me a work/life balance," she said.

Kyle Krier -- Claflin, Kansas

The last bale of second-cutting alfalfa had just been made. The stacker was finishing up and tarps being stretched over the harvest. The rain in the forecast was just beginning to make an appearance, and Kyle Krier saw an opportunity last Friday. "I made a last-minute decision and headed to the house and told my wife to pack a bag before another job appeared or I collapsed," Krier said.

"Wichita is only two hours away, but we took in a concert and just enjoyed some much needed time together," he said. Wheat, corn, soybeans, milo, four cuttings of hay, custom baling, hay sales, crop insurance sales and oil-well management don't leave a lot of cracks in the schedule.

"It is not about catching up or finishing up jobs as much as it is managing the work load," he noted. "Sometimes it is a matter of just asking yourself: Do I have to do this job on this day? And then, you have to make yourself quit and take that time."

By Monday, Krier was back at work spraying wheat stubble with burndown application of paraquat and dicamba. Palmer amaranth waits for no man, and managing this weed to avoid adding to the seedbank is one job that can't be put off, he said.

This week, he'll be planting about 20 acres of sorghum sudan grass. He also has several requests for custom swathing and baling jobs.

Crop insurance wheat acreage and production reports are also on the chore docket for this week. Many wheat yields in his area were in the 50-bushel-per-acre (bpa) range -- close or higher than the actual production history (APH). But there were still some in the 25-to-35-bpa range, he said.

At the end of the day, his 2-year-old son, Brock, is waiting. There's also a new addition to the family coming in October. "There's nothing like a child to give you purpose. Brock brings a sense of joy to every day," he said.

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