Early July Farm Update

Harvest is in full swing on the farm and there is no chance of things slowing down anytime soon. Today will be our last night of swathing grass seed and we just began combining grass seed fields that were swathed a couple weeks ago. Once swathing is completely finished, we will be operating four combines during the day and then baling windrows at night.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Grass Seed Harvest

Contrary to popular belief, barley, wheat and rye are not the main crops grown on our farm. Kentucky Bluegrass is the main seed crop grown, and the grains are used as rotational crops. This year alone, we had around 750 acres of Kentucky Bluegrass to be harvested. KBG generally stays in the ground for 4-5 years and then is taken out and replaced with a grain crop. Crop rotations are used to help prevent disease and weed resistance as well as to help restore and provide certain nutrients back into the soil.

In our previous post, we explained the process of swathing, now you will learn about combining, where the seed goes after it leaves the fields and baling.

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Kentucky Bluegrass is harvested using a tractor called a combine. Combines have large headers on the front of the machine that feed the windrows of cut grass into the machine, where the seed is then thrashed from the stalk. The seed is then stored in a large bin (under the red top) until it is full and ready to be dumped.

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Once the combine is full, the driver empties its bin of seed into semi-trailers. After the semi trailers are filled they are then taken into the seed processing and cleaning facility to be dumped.

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Upon arriving at the seed cleaners, the semi is weighed so they can know how much seed was brought in. After it is weighed, it goes into "the pit" to be dumped. Each trailer has a contraption on the bottom that opens with a crank, where the seed empties from.

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The seed is then unloaded into a pit where it is transferred and stored in its own bin until it is ready to be cleaned. The dumping process generally does not take very long but if there are multiple trucks in line, it can be a LONG and HOT wait.

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This is what Kentucky Bluegrass seed looks like before it is cleaned. When it is ready to be cleaned it is ran through a series of screenings, decreasing with size each time to clean out the chaff and other particles, until finally you just have the seed. Kentucky Bluegrass seed is sought after for its beautiful blue green color and lushness. This seed is exported all over the country and world and used for lawns, sports fields and golf courses. It has even been used to seed Olympic sports fields and the Pasadena Rose Bowl!

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After all of the seed is thrashed from the windrows, the remaining straw is then baled into large bales. Baling generally takes place at night when it is not too dry and there is some dew on the grass. If the grass becomes too wet though, baling has to be finished in the morning when it starts to dry out again. You do not want to put up wet bales as it can pose multiple problems, like mildew and even hay fires.

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The hay bales are then stacked for customers to come and get from the field. Some is also hauled away and delivered by the farm. The hay is mainly used to feed rancher's cattle and horses.

Featured Employee- Brad Klann

Brad Klann is the owner of Brad Klann Farms and Co-Owner of Mecca Grade Estate Malt and also August's Featured Employee. Take a few minutes to get to know Brad and learn where it all began. Of course, if you would like to know more, feel free to reach out at: bradklannfarms@hotmail.com

Thank you for all all that you do Brad and for being the patriarch of two great businesses and your family!

Name/Nickname: Brad or Bradley

Age: 61, Senior Discount Age

Quick Background: I grew up on our farm, farming at my father's footsteps as a little boy, I always wanted to be a farmer. Growing up I was very active in 4-H and FFA and received my State FFA Degree in 1974. I have pretty much lived in the same house my entire life, except when attending college for a couple year.After high school I went to Oregon State University to major in General Agriculture. After being at OSU for one year, I decided I could learn more at home about farming than at college but really I just wanted to be at home farming. Then I thought, I should attend a trade school, so I enrolled at Central Oregon Community College so I could be closer to the farm, while also learning something useful for farming. The next year, I enrolled at COCC, and started to go through their one year Industrial Mechanics program, learning how to do all types of welding, machine work, hydraulics and and electrical. While going through the Industrial Mechanics program, I discovered some of the classes were the same for the Automotive Technology program, so I went another five terms to receive my degree in Automotive Technology and became a certified mechanic. 

I graduated from COCC in 1978 and after graduation incorporated with my parents on their farm and also rented ground from them. In 1983, I met my wife Debbie, who lived one mile down the road, whose parents bought my Great Uncle's ranch. In 1983 we bought another 160 acres to farm and after that bought another 320 acres to add to the existing farm. When my dad retired in 1990 we took over the rest of the farm from him. In 2003 we acquired more farmland and in 2011, Seth was able to purchase our family's original homestead. 

Job Description: Every day on the farm is different, I never know what challenge has to be dealt with and I am also on call at the malthouse when the need arises. My job description would include all of these: CEO, financial planner, accountant, counselor, doctor, vet, meteorologist, agronomist, heavy equipment operator, tractor driver, truck driver, electrician, plumber, mechanic, welder, designer, engineer, fabricator, carpenter, educator, pest controller, spray applicator, geologist (rock picker), controlling weeds, fireman, irrigator, husband, father and grandfather to four. I enjoy sharing my skills and knowledge and learning from others. 

Favorite Thing About Mecca Grade and the farm: The most gratifying thing about the farm is being able to farm some of the same ground my great grandparents farmed over 100 years ago, adding acreage to the farm, making improvements and being able to keep the farm in the family for many generations. 

My favorite thing about the malt house has been planning and designing the business, the prototype malt machine and the final 12 ton malt machine. Then seeing everything come together to produce a very high quality estate malt. Being able to get a second crop off of something we raised on the farm, actually growing it again in a controlled environment, then kilning it at the right time to make the desired color and flavor qualities that brewers and distillers desire. I also really enjoy meeting brewers and distillers from all over and seeing what they do. 

Freetime Hobbies: I enjoy hunting, fishing, packing into wilderness areas with my horses, roping calves at branding in the spring and fall and spending time with my grandkids and family. 

Favorite Beer or Spirit: I do not have a single favorite, it depends on what I am in the mood for. Pendleton whiskey, Bailey's over ice or in coffee, Mecca Light, Dwinell Country Ales Fruit Machine, sour beers from the Ale Apothecary and recently a whiskey I tasted from McMennamins made out of our malt that smells like honey…it could easily become a new favorite. I can't wait to taste it in another three years after aging. 

What Would be Your Last Supper Meal? Venison steak grilled over a campfire, fresh green beans with bacon, potatoes, dutch oven berry or cherry cobbler, all cooked out in the wild. 

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