PPR Paul Orr

Paul Orr of Orr Farms in North Platte, Midwest Messenger Producer Progress Reporter

We are making progress. As soon as the planting is taken care of, it's time to think about the sprayer. We upgraded the sprayer this year, but we have time to learn about the new machine as the fields dry out once again. Dad does all of the spraying and it is usually taking place as we sort and haul cattle to summer pasture. I'll let the corrals dry up one more day and then we'll get in and sort and get all of the cattle out to grass.

By the calendar, we usually start cutting alfalfa around the first of June. The alfalfa looks very nice this year. It’s clean – no blooms yet, though. I usually try to cut at 10% bloom. We transition seamlessly from hauling cattle to putting up alfalfa and then on to grass hay. The first cutting irrigated grass usually happens right about the time of the NebraskaLand Days concert. Which is usually the third week in June.

Around that time we also ditch the gravity-irrigated corn and get ready for the first irrigation. By the calendar we usually start to irrigate around the first of July. We have the old way of diverting irrigation water out of the river and putting surface water back into the ground. And we also have the new way – pumping water out of the ground and putting it back on the surface. The circle of life.

If anyone thinks irrigation tubes are just a lot of work – it's a lot easier than it used to be. Old timers used to do their irrigating on horseback. They would bundle up some tubes and throw them over the back of the saddle horse. Before tubes and irrigation canvases were invented, you would dam the entire ditch with dirt and cut the bank.

And then there was the neighbor who would set a ditch of water at night and then go down to the bottom end and go to sleep in the furrow with his arms outstretched. When the water hit his hands and woke him, he would go back up and set the ditch again. He was also a golden gloves boxer.

I'm looking forward to the Sutherland rodeo on the Fourth of July. My family has been going to the parade, barbecue, rodeo probably as long as there has been an Orr farm. I heard there used to be a neighbor a hundred years ago who would give airplane rides out in the field during the rodeo.

Another neighbor, Tiny Star, was in the Sutherland rodeo in 1949. He won the saddle bronc riding and do you know what he did after that? He went home and set three ditches of water.