Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thank You, Readers AND a Fitness Update

I haven't written about anything running or fitness-related in a while, so I'll do that a bit in this post.

But first, I want to say THANK YOU to all my blog readers! This past July I had the highest number of page-views EVER in the four years I've been doing this blog! I'm not about making money on the blog, but just about sharing what goes on here on the farm, in my running world, and what life is like in rural America. It means a lot to me that those of you who do read my blog keep coming back for more, and that slowly my traffic is increasing over time! It's an affirmation that the content here is good, and that hopefully people are learning more about what life is like up here on the Northern-Montana prairie. :) Kudos to all of you!

So, what's happening in running and fitness for me lately? Well, kind of a lot! Read on!! :)

I'm still participating in the #1MillionMinutes challenge through FitApproach. I pledged that I'd do 2000 minutes, and I passed that a while ago. As of today, I'm at 2520 minutes. Once I realized I'd easily surpass 2000, I increased my goal to 3000, and I am starting to think I'll hit that pretty easily, too, with only about 3 weeks left in the challenge. It's easy to rack up minutes when you're working hard on the farm. I gave myself credit for lots of activity minutes of building fence earlier this week, for example. Mostly, I get my minutes through taking Harvey for walks, running, and yoga.
Harvey the Vizsla! 
I did discover a cool yoga and workout video website through the #1MillionMinutes challenge called Grokker.com. They have free membership or paid memberships, and I signed up for the free one to give it a try. I really, really like it for their yoga videos. I've done a few now and they have been really good. They have videos on every type of yoga you can think of, or any skill you'd like to work on. They have a ton of other workout videos, too, but I haven't tried any of them yet. No yoga studios near where I live, so online yoga is a great option for me, and Grokker is definitely where it's at on that front!
In case you aren't on Instagram...
I've been working a ton on better planks lately. 
Also pertaining to the #1MillionMinutes challenge, a few weeks ago I did a silly MadLib during the Puritan's Pride week and for doing so, I won a prize. You can read that post by CLICKING HERE. Well, this prize came in the mail a few days ago, and it was not what I expected...
What do I do with these?!
I should say that I really didn't know what to expect the prize to be, and they never said, but I definitely wasn't expecting three tubs of powders! There's a meal replacer protein and vitamin powder in vanilla, a pure whey protein powder in chocolate and some sort of fancy pre-workout enhancer powder in fruit punch flavor. I'm definitely not a protein powder or supplement kind of girl, but I'll try most anything once.  Yesterday I mixed some of the vanilla powder into a fruit smoothie at lunch to try it out. Serving suggestion said two scoops per 16 ounces of liquid, which is close to what I had. The powder doesn't really taste that great, but I was full from just the smoothie until about 3 in the afternoon, when I had a snack. So there's that. I don't see myself altering my diet to eat only smoothies for breakfast or lunch, but now and then it might be fine. Or it will sit on my counter for a while and I'll eventually throw it out. We'll see. If anyone has any great smoothie or protein-powder recipes, please share! haha :)  The only requirement is that it shouldn't taste like feet.

In my running and racing world, well, not a ton has been happening. I'm just running about every other day or every third day. Mixing in lots of yoga and strength exercises, specifically focusing on keeping my core strong. No races in July. After three races, three Saturdays in a row in June, I needed a break and July is too hot to race a ton anyway. I am planning on a race on August 22 in Havre, however! It's called the Get Run'N Maroon and Gold Fun Run. Check out the race flier on this website: 1st Annual Maroon and Gold Fun Run. They're offering 1 Mile, 5K, and 10K. It's the first time they'll be doing this race and proceeds will benefit the new MSU-Northern Cross Country Teams in their VERY FIRST YEAR! Believe me, I am ALL ABOUT supporting Track and Field and Cross Country teams, and I'm definitely all about running and racing! There's actually a 2015 graduate from North Star who is going to compete on the new Northern Cross Country team, so I'm really excited that my race fee will be supporting her! Now, just to decide on 5K or 10K distance... :)
Get Run'N

Also, let's not forget about 5k On The Farm, which is the race that Jeff and I are directing and hosting right here on our farm!!! We're offering 1-Mile, 5K, and Virtual Run options. Right now, we have 14 people signed up, with 9 of those as Virtual Run participants! The run is still six weeks away and I expect quite a few more registrations to come in as it gets closer. It has always been a dream of mine to run my own 5K and now I'm doing it! Still can't believe it. :) Proceeds from our run will be going to Montana Farmers Union Foundation, specifically earmarked to education, programming and leadership training for women in agriculture/rural women. Pretty good cause, if you ask me! If you're reading this, and you'd like to sign up for the race or the Virtual Run, just CLICK HERE to go to RunSignUp and sign up online. :)

So, that's what's going on in my fitness world! What's going on in yours? 

  • Have you ever tried protein powders? If so, how do you like them?
  • What races/fitness activities do you have coming up?
  • Have you signed up for 5k On The Farm yet?!?! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Winter Wheat Harvest 2015

What a crazy growing season it has been!

Harvest is really when we see what we have for a crop. It's a reflection of a year's worth of planning and work, mixed with some luck.
Grain cascades out the back of the truck in to the hopper of the auger, where it is carried up into the grain bin.
As you may have read in my harvest post from last week, we started cutting winter wheat last Monday and went pretty hard for seven days straight. The crop is mostly decent in some places for the weather conditions we had throughout the growing season this year. Our bushels per acre are definitely down from what they have been in recent years for winter wheat and in some fields, they're downright poor with barely enough yield to pay for running the combine. The crop is what it is and there's not as much of it, so it's just a matter of getting it cut and moving on.

Jeff walks between the tractor, which powers the auger, and the grain truck.

Montana is the third-highest wheat producing state in America, after Kansas and North Dakota. Hill County, where our farm is located, is right in the middle of what's called the "Golden Triangle,"--one of the best wheat-producing areas in Montana. Hill County had a doozie of a weather pattern this year-- drought conditions through the first six months of the year, then a horrendous 4th of July hail storm. So, what that means is farmers who may have had thinner-than-normal crops to begin with due to drought, then got hit with hail, which in some cases, knocked down what was left. According to this article from the Great Falls Tribune, Hill County experienced over seven million dollars in hail damages: Hill County Hail Damage Could Exceed $7.5 Million Farmers saw a significant portion of that damage. Our own farm was affected.

Winter wheat near Minneota Hall that was cut on Sunday. Sweetgrass Hills in the background.
This is the first year of implementation of the new protection programs for farmers from the most recent Farm Bill and we are learning all about how that works. Let it be known to my non-farming readers that no farmer wants to see their crop do poorly; everyone wants to cut a gangbuster crop every year. No one wants a "hand-out" from the government. But, if there weren't protection programs and Farm Bills in place, there wouldn't be farmers. Some years, the crop is not a bin-buster, but a complete bust. A successful Farm Bill keeps farmers farming and keeps food and land in production.

A wheat field, baled as hay to use for our animals, rather than being harvested for grain.
The above photo is of some land that a neighbor of ours farms. His crop was unfortunately so poor that it wouldn't have paid for him to harvest it. But, you still have to clear the field somehow so it can be ready for it's next crop. So, we used a swather to cut the wheat and make hay bales, which we'll feed to our cows this year. Sometimes you just have to be a bit creative and think of other ways to use what you have.

Grain bins between Minneota Hall and the Inverness Road.
After shutting the combine down for the evening on Sunday night, we haven't started it up again yet this week. It started raining on Sunday and has gone off and on until this morning. Hopefully tomorrow we can cut the last 100 acres or so of winter wheat. Then, it will be time for barley, then spring wheat.

Before the night was over on Sunday, however, we did take part in what is sometimes a harvest necessity, but definitely a tradition: meal in the field! Sometimes, the location where they're cutting wheat is far from the house or it is inconvenient for the harvest crew to come in to the house to eat dinner. So, whoever is in charge of cooking will take the meal out to them. Sunday night was one of these occasions. It just happened that we were cutting right by Minneota Hall, which is an old community call out in the country near our farm, so it worked perfectly to serve the meal right on the cement step in front of the hall!

Carol cooked. We had hamburgers, pasta salad, chips, and fruit, served out of the bed of the pickup.
Carol and Jeff eat while Tom (unpictured) makes another pass in the combine.
When we eat in the field, the guys typically take turns so that the combine can keep rolling.
It seems like it was the winter wheat that was hit the worst by the drought. We had pretty outstanding sub-moisture last fall for winter wheat seeding, and then a warm and mild spring. So, the winter wheat came up hard and fast early in the season, using up all the soil moisture that was available. Then, when the rain stopped, the winter wheat stopped. By the time the storm of the 4th of July hit, it was really too late to be helped by the rain that did come along with it. We've had the rain in July that our crops desperately needed in May and June. Our spring wheat and barley still had a chance to be influenced and helped by a little rain. So, we'll see how it looks when we start cutting those crops.

Harvey stalks a bunny.
Just for fun, here's a photo of Harvey stalking a rabbit. He stalks them and chases them, but almost never catches them. Stay tuned as harvest and farm proceedings continue!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Guest Farmstagrammer!

Hey guys!

Guess whaaat?

I'm going to be a guest Farmstagrammer for National Farmers Union! 

Starting tomorrow, I'll be taking over their Instagram feed as part of their #FacesOfFarmersUnion campaign. It's harvest time right now, so you know the feed will be filled with photos and info about a Montana grain harvest!  I'll be posting different images on the NFU feed than on my own, so check both places and definitely make sure you're following @NationalFarmersUnion and me, @katie.r.bangs so you don't miss a pic!

Head over to Instagram tomorrow, make sure you're following @NationalFarmersUnion and @katie.r.bangs, and let me know what you think of the photos! And, if you're a Farmers Union member and YOU want a turn to show off your farm or operation, let me know and I'll hook you up with the person in charge so you can have a turn. :)