LEDGER, Mont. – Early summer on the Montana prairie is one of the prettiest times of year. Mile after mile of greening waves of grain seem to stretch on forever. The growing grain stands out staunchly against the iconic big, blue Montana sky.
As a dryland farmer in the heart of Montana wheat country, Cassie Andrews admits it takes a lot of work to make the landscape look that iconic. With seeding, winter wheat spraying and chem-fallow spraying all wrapped up by the end of May, Cassie and her family were ready to enjoy a slower pace.
“We have had a pretty slow two weeks. We had so much moisture – almost two and a half inches – that there was standing water in the fields,” Cassie said.
The much appreciated and appropriately timed moisture slowed down farming for a bit, but that was okay because it gave Cassie and her family a chance to enjoy a getaway to Yellowstone National Park. The wet fields also allowed the family to wander in to Conrad and partake in the annual Whoop-Up Days, an 80-year-old tradition that involves a weekend of family-filled events, a rodeo, and a parade.
“Conrad Whoop-Up Days always seems like it kicks off summer,” she said.
Back on the farm after the summer-opening celebration, Cassie got to stretch her old landscape architecture muscles. The fields may have been too wet, but the first part of June was an ideal time to do some yard work, mow around grain bins, and do some general tiding up around the farm.
“It was a good time to do all the jobs that are the other side of agriculture,” she chuckled.
Cassie studied landscape architecture in college and she worked in that career field in Bozeman for several years after graduating. She laughed when reminiscing about the microcosm/macrocosm relationship between landscaping and agriculture. As a landscape architect she spent many hours digging holes and coaxing vegetation to life. Now all these years later, Cassie is still digging holes, albeit with the help of large equipment, and still fostering life out of soil. She just does it on a larger scale now.
Cassie says her mother truly has the most beautiful yard, and the first weekend in June the family worked on getting it into its full glory. Cassie’s yard may not be quite as fancy now, but she and her husband, Mack, will be breaking ground on their new house the middle of June and she is already working on designing a stunning yard.
“We are really excited to start on the house and it is going to have a cool yard someday. I planted trees there about three years ago, so hopefully we get some things established,” she added.
After the landscaping and general farmstead tidying up is done, Cassie will need to turn her attention back to the fields. The spring wheat is coming along well and Cassie has begun scouting fields a bit.
“Some things are just starting to break ground. We found a few weeds that are about a half-inch tall,” she reported.
The conclusion was that ultimately it is just a hair too early to start spraying the spring wheat. The consensus is to wait a few more days, but it is a fine line. Cassie wants to find the sweet spot and spray weeds when there is enough emerged to make an impact.
After the spring wheat is sprayed, next on the docket will be spraying another round on the chem-fallow, but that won’t happen until around July 4. Until then, Cassie is enjoying watching the wheat grow.