Saturday, October 24, 2015

On the Farm

Cindy and I visited her parents last weekend which I enjoyed the fellowship as well as visiting parcels of their farm and pasture lands. The above image is from the "Whorton" place, an 80 (80 acres) of a section. This land was purchased by Cindy's dad, John, for his wife and Cindy's mother Lola Jean. It was a present for Lola for taking care of his mother over a year when she was sick with cancer.
Most parcels are described as 80's (80 acres), quarters (160 acres), half sections (320 acres) and full sections (640 acres) which are a mile square. This area is in far northwestern Oklahoma, with a annual average rainfall of 20-25" a year, with very sandy soils which have low water holding capacity. This visit the sandy soils were very dry, and most of the cultivated land is planted with cereal wheat which is in dire need of moisture.
I have hunted quail on this particular property for most of my adult life and always enjoy coming back and reminiscing.
Most of the land parcels are named after people whom previously owned the property or the leaser if the land is leased. Almost all of the quarters in the area have some kind of oil wells which have cattle guards so the oil maintenance workers (called pumpers) can check their wells. This image above serves as the entrance with a cattle guard which allows entrance without a gate but keeps cattle from leaving. Also the image above shows a old corral with a windmill and stock tank. The land is primarily tallgrass prairie plants planted during the Conservation Reserve Program 20-30 years ago when the federal government paid farmers to take marginal cultivated land out of production and plant into prairie grasses and legumes and to be be left still. Recently many farmers have took these properties out of the program and replanted them or began cutting the prairie for hay which my in-laws have done. This land contains mainly Big(Andropogon)and Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium) mainly on the high ground, Switchgrass (Paniucum) in the low areas which hold more moisture, and Sand Lovegrass (Erogrostis) which was planted across the road and has blown in and populated the old CRP plantings. The Love grass is not as beneficial for cattle as the Bluestems and Switchgrass. In the areas which are not planted in CRP the old short grass prairie plants are more prevalent such as Buffalograss, Gramma grasses, native Eragrostis and various forbs. Native Artemisias are prevelant along ditchbanks with wild plum thickets and annual Buckwheat prevalent this time of year.
Artemisia frigada-Fringed sagebrush with Ereigonum annum-Annual Buckwheat, Quercus marilandice-Blackjack Oak and Helianthus spp-sunflower. 
Annual Buckwheat bloom.
Sorry for the quality of the images as they are all taken. from a iPhone. I left my DSLR at home of all places.
You can see the red tint to the sandy soil, definitely common to many parts of Oklahoma. I'll be adding more images and story on my next blog post. Bye.