LEDGER, Mont. – Summers on Montana’s Hi-Line are bar none. The state’s big, blue sky seems to stretch just a little further across the prairie in Pondera County. For Cassie Andrews, a generational farmer who calls this area of Montana “home,” summers may be busy but they are also a very rewarding time of year.
The month of June has been nearly non-stop for Cassie, who farms alongside her younger brother, Brett, and father, Terry. The beginning of the month had them busy scouting their spring wheat fields and the middle of June found Cassie listening to hours of podcasts in her home-away-from-home – the Apache self-propelled sprayer.
“I started spraying the second week of June and I got done right before the rain,” she said.
Cassie was happy to say that on the night of Saturday, June 19, her rain gage recorded a quarter-inch of moisture. The summer rain storm was enough to cool down temperatures and offer the growing spring and winter wheat a quick drink.
“The rain stopped Sunday morning and we went out early this morning and the fields are already dry,” reported Cassie during a phone update on Monday, June 21.
North central Montana is notorious for its wind and Cassie says this year is no exception. Wind can quickly suck moisture out of the ground, especially if it comes coupled with warm temperatures.
“It’s supposed to be in the mid-70s for the rest of the week, but I looked at next week and it is supposed to be in the 90s, so it’s going to be hot,” Cassie said begrudgingly.
Ninety-degree temperatures are not only hard on equipment and uncomfortable for the farmers, but they can also be hard on crops. Cassie said so far her winter wheat is looking great and the crop is just starting to head out. The immediate cooler temperatures will be great for filling heads, but the following week’s hot temperatures have the potential of being detrimental.
“The winter wheat is a little more resilient and these little rains we’ve had have been great. If we can get these heads filled right now I think we are going to have a nice crop,” she said.
The spring wheat is also looking good, Cassie happily reported.
“We have a wonderful stand of spring wheat. It’s all up and sprayed and looking great. Some of it was pretty little when I sprayed, but it’s really starting to go. It’s about shin-high now,” she added.
It seems that winter and spring wheat are not the only thing growing on the farm this year. Cassie and her husband, Mack, are excited to announce they will be welcoming another little girl into the world the end of October. As a tried and true farmer, Cassie is most pleased about the timing of her due date.
“I will get through harvest and most of winter wheat seeding, which Dad was relieved to hear,” she laughed.
It may be traditional to think of farming as a man’s occupation, but Cassie proves the love of the land and satisfaction with a hard day’s work can be a woman’s calling, too. Cassie is proud to be a women in agriculture and there is no doubt she will teach her young daughters to cherish the lifestyle, as well.