23 Jun Jada: Meet the Spicers; A difference between borders
Meet the Spicers
The Spicers: Hattie, Hannah, Hunter, Sam, and Cathy. Not pictured Hailey.
When we travel to our second home away from home, Kiowa Kan., you will also find it used to be called “Combine City”. There were two huge, high volume dealerships, a Massey Ferguson and John Deere Dealer, which sold several combines. Today, they are no longer here, but the town remains home away from home to several harvesters. This year, there were at least 15 harvesters in town.
We have been coming to harvest for Sam Spicer since the beginning of Perry Hoffman Harvesting. Sam has dealt “Harvesting Hoffman’s” for a long time.
“Your grandfather, Pete, first cut for me in 1968. I went to an employment office in Kiowa, Kan., and heard there was a man with 5 combines looking for work. Your uncle Galen also cut for me for several years, and then your dad started and still is cutting our wheat,” recalled Sam of his history with Hoffman Harvesting and relatives.
My dad also cut for Sam’s dad, George Spicer, who farmed until he passed away at the age of 80. He loved to farm. George and his brother bought their first piece of farmland at the age of 15. They went to a family member for a loan and got the land bought after agreeing to sign papers with 18 percent interest. When they thought about it afterwards, they could not believe the rate but were glad they were able to buy land. The land was so good—and cheap compared to today’s prices. They paid their loan off in a year. They continued to buy land together and farm until they passed away.
Sam had the same love for farming. He began helping drive the tractor at the age of 11. His job was the night shift. Later, he went to Northwestern State University based out of Alva, Okla., where he majored in economics and sociology, then returned to his first love—farming after graduating at the age of 22.
In the fall of 1982, Sam met Cathy at her grandpa’s auction, fell in love and married her in the spring of ’83. Today they have four children. Hannah, a recruiter at a university, Hailey, who will marry a youth pastor in October and continue her mission work and church camp counseling, Hattie (12), and Hunter (9). The family is close knit and loves to spend time together. They are also active members of Grace Bible Fellowship.
Hunter feeds a bottle calf—part of the hobby farm.
In addition to Sam and Cathy’s farming operation which includes canola, alfalfa and wheat, the family owns many other businesses. He owns a cow/calf operation with stockers and feeders, oil and gas wells, and a construction company that performs dozing and grating roadwork, as well as, build locations for oil wells. He also is a partner in a business that does conservation work for the government. The business builds terraces, waterways and ponds.
One of many baby goats located on Cathy’s hobby farm.
Cathy’s role in their businesses keeps her very busy doing bookkeeping, organizing and cooking for their help. She loves baking, cooking and canning and owns a hobby farm. The hobby farm includes: chickens, geese, pail calves, goats, sheep- they only have one ram at the moment, pigs and a horse.
“I do it for the kids. When classes visit our farm they have so much fun and I enjoy teaching them about common farm animals,” Cathy explained her hobby.
Cathy also loves to garden. She is also getting her yard ready for Hailey’s wedding in October.
Some of Cathy’s flowers in front of their house where Hailey will be married.
This year was Sam’s 39th crop. Sam has a quote in his bathroom that says, “I love my job, I love my boss, I am self employed.” The Spicers are living life and loving every minute of it.
A difference between borders
The combines were parked for a day because of the rain. Hoffman Harvesting wrapped up harvest last night in Kiowa, Kan.
As we headed north, we found out that freeze and drought affected the crop from the Kansas/Oklahoma border through Texas. As a result, the wheat was thin. If it didn’t look like a poor crop, looks were deceiving. The crop yielded from 5 to 20 bushels per acre in the Olney, Texas area.
The Kiowa, Kan., crop was definite proof of the difference in crop from the Kansas/Oklahoma border. Burlington, Okla., which is just south of Kiowa, ranged from 20 to 30 bushels per acre and Hazelton, Kansas, located just North of Kiowa, ranged from 40 to 60 bushels per acre.
Farmers in the Kiowa area are noticing a difference with crop rotation. There are several fields planted with canola, corn and other crops to help rid the land of three main problem weeds: wild oats, joint grass and rye.
Monty Williams, a custom sprayer in the area said his customers noticed an 8 bushel difference in their wheat crop after a year rotation away from wheat. He also said that 80 percent of his customers are using the no till technique.
We left Kiowa, Kan., this morning and are now in Pratt, Kan. The Kiowa, Kan., crop harvest usually moves fast. That is why we are able to move 50 miles away and still be in time to cut both places. The move ran smoothly and was only halted by some road construction on Highway 281.
We would have been moved to Pratt yesterday, but rain in both Kiowa and Pratt halted harvest for a day. Yesterday we finished harvesting for the Spicers and cut some wheat for Bud Alright. He is a former harvester who made his way from Vernon to Cardson, Alberta in Canada.
Jada Bulgin can be reached at email@example.com. All Aboard 2009 Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.