It’s hard for me to believe that it’s almost that time of year where we will be spending the majority of our days at my in-law’s house; cooking harvest meals, being on-call to help move equipment and hanging out with family, making memories. Before I moved to western Kansas, I had NO idea how labor-intense wheat harvest was. I grew up in northeast Kansas where wheat is not generally planted or grown. There would be a few fields here and there to harvest in the summertime back home, but nothing compared to the thousands of acres of wheat that are planted and harvested in south-central and southwest Kansas.
The wheat that is harvested in June (and sometimes July) in our area is planted in September or October the previous year. Wheat has the ability to go dormant during winter months, therefore it is planted in the fall to allow the wheat to start to grow, making it more productive in the spring. You get a higher yield (amount of grain from each acre) from wheat planted in the fall, as opposed to wheat planted in the spring. The wheat is then harvested, as stated above, in June or July. We then sell the wheat to an available market, ours happens to be the local coop. It is then sold, from the coop, to a milling company where it is made into flour that is used for baked goods.
Like I’ve said before, I am incredibly proud to be married into a hard-working farm family. My husband’s family has owned and operated our farming operation for many years. Ty is the 4th generation to farm the land, which means my babies, if they choose to farm someday, will be 5th generation. In the past six years, I’ve learned more about farming and irrigation than I ever thought I would. It takes a special soul to love and care for the land as much as my husband and his family does. There is such a pride in raising a good crop, keeping the land fertile, and doing it all with grace (most of the time). Not to say there are not stressful times – our livelihood depends on the grain markets and more often than not prices aren’t as good as we would hope they’d be, but I don’t think there is another profession my husband would love as much as he loves farming. Farming isn’t for the faint of heart, and I truly feel it’s a job that you’re born to do. It’s not easy and times are stressful right now. John F. Kennedy said it best when he said, “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”
This will be my 6th harvest in the Josefiak family. My first “official” harvest was in 2015, right before Ty and I got married. I remember hoping and praying we would be done cutting wheat by July 11, 2015. We were…thank goodness. Harvest was definitely an eye-opening experience. I quickly learned we don’t mess around when it comes to feeding the harvest crew at Josefiak Farms, and I freaking love it. Normally my mother-in-law Laurie, my sister-in-laws Heather and Nikki, and I organize and take charge with the harvest meals. We make meals twice a day (lunch and supper) and take it to the field so the crew doesn’t have to take too much of a break to eat.
I’ve come to look forward to the time we get to spend with family during those 2 or 3 weeks every summer. The kids play in the back yard, watch movies, eat a lot of snacks, and spend a lot of quality time together. Every day during harvest while we are actively cutting, we load up a few tables, the food & drinks, and head out to the field for both lunch and supper. Normally someone stays home with the kids, since the passel of grandchildren has grown – it’s easier if they eat at Mema’s house and stay in the air conditioning. (Sometimes kiddos will go to the field, but in the past few years we’ve kept a lot of them at home just because that’s a LOT of little bodies to haul around!).
When I first helped at harvest, my organizational brain needed something to help me remember what everyone was cooking and when. Soon after I created a harvest meal template. At first it was laughed at, but then I caught everyone checking out what was for lunch or supper and then I laughed. People like to know what they’re going to eat, who’s cooking and when they get their “favorite meal.” There are a few traditions when it comes to cooking at harvest. Prior to last summer, Ty’s grandma has cooked fried chicken every year, and the rest of us made the sides. We also try to have special desserts like my mother-in-law’s sopapilla bars, my sister-in laws’ stromboli and Whiskey Mustard Meatballs, and you know I always make my Potato Pizza Hotdish.
When it comes to planning meals, our cooking crew uses a meal template that I made a few years back. I’ve linked a WHEAT HARVEST template HERE. I’ve linked a GENERIC HARVEST template HERE. Some people have asked why I don’t have a full week of five or seven days on the template. I did that for two reasons. The first one is because if I made the boxes any smaller, we wouldn’t have room to put the main dish, sides and dessert (also ALWAYS write in pencil, because you might have to adjust!). The second reason is because during harvest, there really are no weekends, so it doesn’t matter how many days we schedule on a page, we just roll to the next one once those four days are complete. The guys cut as long as it’s dry, the conditions are good and we’re able to! Once we start, we want to get done.
Anyone else here love to cook? I especially love to cook for huge crews, especially harvest; I’m not sure why but preparing a meal for a large crowd just gives me joy. I think in another life I was an event planner or caterer. Anyway, I’ve decided to share a few of our harvest favorites in my RECIPE BOX. Feel free to screenshot any recipes you’d like to use for your family, or harvest crew!
If you’re new to the farming world, I hope you learned a little about wheat production and harvest in Kansas. If you’re a busy farm wife preparing for harvest of your own, whatever crop it may be, I’m wishing you the best (and safest) harvest season yet! I’ll post stories and pictures on my Instagram to document our harvest this summer – be sure to check it out!
Happy Thursday and God Bless!