SHELBY, Mont. – As September winds down, Montana has a definite feeling of fall. The evenings are finally cooling down and the wheat fields are harvested, which means many producers, young durum farmer Klayton Lohr included, can now shift their focus to other tasks that must be accomplished before winter hits.
For Klayton, first on his fall to-do list was hauling all his hay back to the farm’s headquarters. He, along with his brother Kolby and father Kirby, buckled down recently and were able to get all the hay hauled off the field the last full weekend of September.
“I got 584 bales, which is way beyond what I could have ever imagined,” Klayton said.
The hauling was done using two 30-foot trailers being pulled by pickups. Each trailer could hold 14 bales, so the whole ordeal was a bit of a process made only slightly more difficult thanks to the notorious Hi-Line winds. Klayton reported on Saturday, Sept. 26, that wind gusts were easily in the range of 40-50 miles per hour.
Now that all the hay is tucked away, Klayton must go to work getting it all sold. However, the tenacious agriculturalist hasn’t completely shut to door on one day possibly owning his own herd of cattle.
“I might as well get to where I am actually working 24/7,” he says with a laugh.
It is hard to imagine Klayton having any extra time in his schedule. Harvest was one heck of run keeping him plenty busy and sleep deprived. During his phone update on Sept. 28, Klayton didn’t at all sound unhappy about the fact harvest was finally done, which meant the combine could finally be put away.
“Today I’m going to be getting the combine all cleaned out and ready for winter,” he said with satisfaction.
After cleaning it, he said he would most likely choose to haul the combine the 45 miles to the dealership in Conrad for a winter inspection. There the dealership meticulously goes through the combine, especially checking all the major wear points.
“I take my combine in every other year for the winter inspection. This year I’m going to send my sprayer in, as well,” he explained.
So far this year, fall is looking drastically different than it did last year. Klayton recalled that in 2019 a freak, early-season snowstorm swept across much of Montana at the end of September, burying the Hi-Line in nearly two-feet of snow. So far, 2020 is proving to be the exact opposite.
“Looking at the 10-day forecast, we have no chance for precipitation,” he said.
This ideal, moderate weather means Klayton may actually get a chance to do some fall spraying on his stubble fields. It is looking like he has no need to spray anymore Paraquat on his chem fallow, which is nice, but a pass of some pre-plant chemicals over his stubble will help him get a jump on next spring.
“I think spraying in the fall is well worth it. It saves a guy some time and maybe even some money in the spring,” he pointed out.
In addition to spraying, another major fall task for Klayton is he must start making a planting plan for next year.
“The plan right now is to do some sort of a barley to rotate through, just to break up the durum cycle,” he added.
As of now, feed barley prices are up a bit, so Klayton is leaning that way, but nothing is completely set in stone yet.
2020 has been a challenging year for most producers, Klayton, notwithstanding, but through his hard work and dedication, he has proven he truly is vested in this lifestyle. One may think now that the busy harvest is behind him that he may sit back or maybe even go on a vacation.
“I’m going to go help a friend down by Inverness drive grain truck for a bit. Does that count?” he chuckled.
Inverness lies only 43 miles away from his house, but the truth is, Klayton doesn’t really need a vacation. As the saying goes, do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. Klayton is living proof of that. 2020 will soon be wrapping up and Klayton will be setting his sights on 2021. The New Year will be here before he knows it, but for Klayton, the dream will always be the same: honor the generations that came before him by farming for the generations that will come after.
The Prairie Star would like to thank Klayton Lohr for offering our readers a glimpse inside his operation this year. We wish him nothing but the best in the future years ahead!