Category Archives: Favorite Things

The Wheaties Are Coming!

THE WHEATIES ARE COMING!

THE WHEATIES ARE COMING!!

The last week of May signals the beginning of wheat harvest in Southwestern Oklahoma and northern Texas. A sea of golden wheat waves across the plains igniting the annual migration of the custom wheat harvest crews to the area. Common nicknames for the harvest crews are “Wheaties” or “Wheat whackers”.   The crews will spend the summer months harvesting wheat from northern Texas all the way to the border of North Dakota and Canada and beyond.

A typical crew will consist of the owner, their family, and a group of hired hands that travel with them from one wheat field to the next. The owner carries the financial burden of owning the combines, trucks, travel trailers, and assorted other equipment to make the annual harvest migration. The owner’s wife makes sure the family and crew is fed and tended to as needed. The workers run and maintain the equipment, and assist in moving it from one farm to the next. A typical owner nearly always has a farm at his/her home base that extended family members will manage during the wheat harvest season.

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Tommy and David checking on the 2013 wheat crop

The third part of the harvest equation is the local farmer growing the wheat. The farmer will often use the same crew each year. More often than not, the “harvest contract” is a good, old-fashioned handshake agreement.   Once the arrangements are in place, the waiting and praying begins.

The crews work efficiently over long hours every day, but weather, dew, and equipment failures will interrupt the harvest schedule. The farmers and custom harvest crews alike pray the hail will stay away and the fields and grain will be sufficiently dry for cutting. Once the crew finishes one farmer’s acreage, they move on to the next farmer.

Some non-Oklahomans have often wondered why OK-TX wheat farmers don’t buy their own combines. The answer boils down to economics. Combines – the machine used to harvest the wheat (think “Frank” from the movie Cars) cost around $400,000.00 new, before you add on the wheat cutting head. Some models can be equipped to accommodate inter-changeable heads, meaning they can harvest wheat, corn, soybeans, etc. Since most wheat farmers in Western Oklahoma don’t grow the other crops, it only makes $ense to hire a custom cutting crew to harvest the wheat. Food for thought:  Next time your daughter wants to rent a limo for the prom or her wedding, let her hire a tractor, cotton stripper, or combine instead – they are worth a lot more than a limousine, and you might just make a farmer’s day!

Wheat harvest time is not all work and no play. Along with the unexpected weather delays, most crew members, affectionately known as “Wheaties” or “Wheat-whackers” to the locals, get an evening or two off now and then to head into the nearby towns. The average Wheatie is in his late teens to early 20s, earning money for college or other interests. When the wheaties come to town, the young ladies of the area check them out. Romances blossom and fade during the two or three weeks the crews are in town. The local guys turn a bit green with envy during this time, but the ones in the know realize, “This, too, shall pass.”

And just like that, the wheat harvest is over for this year. The Wheaties pack up and roll on down the road to harvest the next plot full of waving wheat, golden ripe and ready.

Thank you for joining me once again on the Red Dirt Roads bordering the wheat fields of Southwestern Oklahoma.  Join me next time for a couple of book reviews.

Always in Red Dirt,

Southwest Sara

For a quick video look at a wheat harvest in progress in the Frederick area, watch this YouTube video.

Combine pricing can be found here:
https://configurator.deere.com/

http://caseih.ironbuilder.com/Series/Harvesting.aspx
Sources: Tommy Sadler, Dave and Tawna Shultz, Tom Boyer, Neil Johnson, Warren Crawford and personal experiences.

Christmas Music To My Tastebuds: “Woody Candy Co. Is OPEN”

This sign has magical powers. It makes my taste buds sing Christmas tunes.

Note – we published this post on Dec. 11 last year.  I believe it’s so important that I’m re-publishing it this year…11 days earlier! ~ RDK  This little neon sign holds a special power over me every year. The moment the “on” switch is finally flipped by a mysterious candy maker, an invisible beacon begins to sound across the prairie…over the north side of OKC and across Edmond…until it reaches my taste buds. It’s like Christmas Music, only in my mouth! What is so powerful, so unique and so delicious as to send me swooning around this time of year? It’s Woody Candy Company (Oklahoma’s Oldest & Finest Family Owned Candy Company), going strong since 1927. Their full array of special candy recipes are offered every year to the public ~ from Thanksgiving weekend through Valentine’s Day. After that? Closed again…until the next year.

Find where the origin of the powerful beacon at 922 N.W. 70th, Oklahoma City, OK.

Claude and Lucille Woody set out 93 years ago to do one thing very well: “To make the best candy in the world.”  In MY world, there is no doubt that they succeeded.  I personally think there must be something very special about the name Lucille. I may have to change my super-hero persona to a cowgirl who rides horses, shoots targets with precision accuracy AND makes “the best candy in the world!”

I want to take you there, but I can’t take all of you. There’s not enough room in my car.  So instead, I will take you there with a few photos I “shot” today with my six-shooter (my Canon PowerShot SD970IS).  I hope you can go on your own.  And if you do, tell them Red Dirt Kelly sent you.  This message will confuse them since they have no idea who I am.  But it will be fun for me!  I’ve gone to this store for eight years in a row.  I was introduced to this magical place by my friend Joanne, and now I’m introducing you in case you don’t know about this special secret.

And one more thing…comment on this blog, and I will enter you into a drawing (to be given away next Friday) for your choice of either: 1) A box of Toffle; 2) A box of their version of what you know as Aunt Bill’s candy; or, 3) A box of their delectable “Turtle” candies – caramel, chocolate and Oklahoma pecans. The average price ranges from $15 to $30 per box.  If you’ve never had Toffle, you might not understand what it’s like to have a glimpse of heaven on earth.  Toffee, sweet, salty, crunchy with HUGE pecans…it’s a dream…

Continue reading Christmas Music To My Tastebuds: “Woody Candy Co. Is OPEN”

December in Altus, America

Snow is falling on this chilly fall night, causing me to shift gears from Thanksgiving clean-up to Christmas preparations. Amy Grant will sing about a “Tender Tennessee Christmas”. Those boys from Alabama serenade us with “Christmas in Dixie.” Becky Hobbs will sing the song she penned, “Oklahoma Christmas”.  The rest of us enjoy singing our favorite Christmas carols at church over the next few weeks, counting down to the day we celebrate the birth of Christ.

The song that will best describe me this year is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” . . . if only in my dreams. My husband and I established our home in rural Indiana shortly after tying the knot at Tulsa in 1988. Even though I am very happy here, Southwestern Oklahoma will always hold a special place in my heart. With that in mind, it’s time for another visit to the red dirt area of Altus – even if it’s only in my dreams.  (Cue the wavy screen effect)

So, what is so special about Altus this time of year? Too many memories for me to recount here, instead let’s take a peek at some of the current Christmas celebrations happening this month.

Jimmy Geigle has organized the 3rd annual Toy Run for motorcyclist this year. It is scheduled to take place Saturday, December 1 at 12:30 pm. Riders from across the state will join the run with a parade escort to deliver toys to the Altus Fire Department. The toys will be distributed by the Salvation Army and DHS.  Folks around Altus are generous to a fault, but it never ceases to amaze me when the pictures from the Toy Run are posted. Many of the motorcycles look like they are carrying the entire contents of Santa’s sleigh!

The annual Christmas Parade steps off from the parking lot of Western Oklahoma State College. on Sunday, December 2, at 3 p.m., Complete with a police escort, marching bands, floats, and of course, Santa’s grand arrival via Altus Fire Truck, the parade is a ton of fun for people of all ages. While the Altus Times reports this as the 32nd annual Christmas Parade, it has been going on for much longer. From watching it as a child, sometimes perched on Papa’s shoulders, to riding a motorcycle in the parade for several years during the 1970s, memories of the Christmas parade fill my mind with happiness untold.

Christmas would not be Christmas without cantatas and candle-lit services. Tabernacle Baptist Church will present a cantata on Sunday, December 16. Southside Baptist Church will share their cantata on Sunday morning, December 23. Emmanuel Baptist Church will celebrate the Reason for the Season with a candle-light service on Christmas Eve. A quick google search gave the above information – there are probably other churches in town with their own Christmas celebrations. Take time this season to remember that Christ’s birth is the reason for the season.

The Christmas lights of Altus shine brightly this time of year. Families and businesses deck the halls with many gorgeous displays, making a drive thru town at night a festive affair. Nothing, however, can top the “Christmas in the Park” display at the Altus City Park, located on East Broadway, between Park Lane and Park Avenue. The park becomes a magical mix of vision, love, labor and lights, a tradition that began around thirty years ago, with the vision of Sonny Tims and a handful of other longtime Altusans.

Rumors abound that this could be the last year for the lights, due to vandalism. Thanks to a handful of dedicated elves, this year’s show is now in progress nightly. Park your car or truck at the Altus High School parking lot, and take a stroll thru the park. Enjoy the work of the elves as you gaze at the lighted Christmas trees and animated displays while creating some new memories for you and your family.

Before or after enjoying these treats that Altus has to offer during December, take time to patronize some of the locally owned businesses and restaurants. Some favorite stops along the way are the Sunshine Café and Roberts’ Drive-In (which is now a sit-in diner) on East Broadway. The Grapevine Café or Benny’s Pizza & Mexican Restaurant on North main are also quite tasty. To finish off your shopping list, visit Petal Pushers, Scott Farms (for your “Made In Oklahoma” gifts) or the Sandyland Vineyard.

(Cue the wavy screen effect)

Looks like I have been off in dreamland way too long now. It is time to get bundled up, go outside and shovel some snow. Wonder if I’ll see some Christmas lights out there?

 

Sources:

Jimmy Geigle
http://www.altustimes.com/view/full_story/1390548/article-3rd-annual-Toy-Run-for-Kids-to-be-held-Saturday

http://www.altustimes.com/pages/full_story/push?article-Altus+Christmas+Parade+registration+being+held%20&id=20929552&instance=top_stories

http://sandylandvineyard.com/SandyLand_Vineyard/Welcome.html

http://scottfarms.net/default.html

http://www.petalpushersflowers.com/

Friday 5 O’Clock Funnies: Why I’m Going to Die Someday Known as “The Googley Eyes Lady”

You know one right? Someone in your community or circle of friends who is known by the things over which they obsess?

Say for instance…my daughter’s kindergarten teacher. She is known as “The Cow Lady.” Her room is covered in things painted in black and white splotches. Jersey cows show up on her clothes, on her desk in ceramic form, and on her stationary she uses to send notes home to parents.

Or, perhaps you know a “John Deere Tractor guy.” My grandfather became one of these people. He purchased a couple of collector renditions in John Deere yellow and green, and before he knew it THAT was the THING that people gravitated toward when buying him gifts.

When we cleaned out his garage after he died I knew things were out of control. There were John Deere clocks still in their package. John Deere miniatures still in their boxes. A John Deere combination thermometer and barometer hung on his garage wall.

So, you know one right? Well, you may know another very soon…and it may be me!

For some strange reason, I think I’m becoming “The Googley Eyes” lady. True story.

I think it all started with the Weepuls. Weeples? Pom Poms…right?

In the 70s they were yellow and emulated the Yellow Smiley Face “Have a Good Day” craze. In the 80s, they turned red, white and blue and held little flags. Some had antennae, and some had sunglasses. But they ALL had ridiculous tacky feet to stick on any surface, and…googley eyes!

The foot residue is probably still on high school lockers installed in the 80s to this day. It’s probably carcinogenic and eats young children when no one looks.

But the googley eyes? Ah, they’re actually kind of funny. They wiggle when you tap them and if you take them off the Wepuls-Weeples-Pom-Poms you can stick them on other things and make your friends laugh.

I used to HATE Weeples, but love the googley eyes. And THAT, ladies and gentleman, is where my downfall began.

Flash forward thirty years.

One night I’m sitting in my living room watching Saturday Night Live.  I’m more than a little excited because their guest star is Christopher Walken.  Everything he does on SNL is funny to me.  He stares straight at the cue cards, he has ONE tempo, ONE voice, and ONE approach and he cracks me totally up.  But my Walken fandom meter rose even higher after I witnessed this: Continue reading Friday 5 O’Clock Funnies: Why I’m Going to Die Someday Known as “The Googley Eyes Lady”

FM Transmitters, Static Interference, and Life’s Purpose

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to travel to the desert of southern California where I joined 72 other dudes at Joshua Tree National Park for a men’s retreat put on by the Hilltop Church in El Segundo, CA. It was a great weekend and I might have more to say about it later, but not in this post.

This post is about something that occurred during my 2-hour drive back from Joshua Tree to LAX airport the Sunday afternoon after the retreat.

If you know me in real life (outside of this blog) you probably know that I’m somewhat of an audiophile. I love music… all kinds of music. I don’t go anywhere without my trusty iPod or Grooveshark and Pandora accounts. I almost always have headphones with me and when I’m going to be spending more than 5 minutes driving somewhere, I always rely on my Satechi Bluetooth FM transmitter to keep my tunes playing. This is not a product plug for Satechi, though if they wanted to send me a few more of their awesome products, I’d be fine with that. However, I LOVE THIS FM TRANSMITTER.

It’s the best FM transmitter I’ve ever owned. It requires no wires. It simply plugs into the A/C adapter in the car and automatically pairs with my phone via Bluetooh anytime I start my car. For those of you that don’t know what it means for a phone to pair via Bluetooth, all it means is that as long as the two devices are paired together wirelessly, any audio that would normally come out of my phone (iPod, Grooveshare, Pandora, YouTube, etc) automatically plays on my car stereo on whatever channel I have the Satechi tuned to. It’s amazing technology and it’s quite possibly the best sound quality I’ve ever gotten from an FM transmitter… wired or otherwise.

As good as this device is, like any FM transmitter, my Satechi is only as good as the availability of a free FM station to play it over. In OKC, I use 88.3 FM. There’s nothing on the dial at that point and so the sound is AMAZING. There is no interference and I can listen to my music at the highest fidelity possible short of using an audio in cable or going analog. Continue reading FM Transmitters, Static Interference, and Life’s Purpose

Red Dirt Ramblers, Stop #3: The Vintage House Restaurant, Burlington, OK

 

Kevin (prounced kee-vun) Kraft sits down with our dinner group to tell stories about the Vintage House restaurant development after he and wife, Lori, serenaded the dining room. Kevin runs "the smokehouse," cooks the steaks, and owns the restaurant with his wife.

Julie’s view:

After leaving Dan McGuinness in Edmond, Kelly and I knew we were heading north, but we didn’t really have a set plan.  She suggested that I call Nancy at Cordero Farms.  An answering machine greeted me, so we decided to just head north on I-35.  Our other option was Alva, OK.  By this time, it was getting dark, so we decided we needed to find a place to spend the night.  Earlier in the day when Kelly mentioned we might go to Alva, I decided to call a sorority sister who lived there.  I only mentioned that we might be going that direction and that I would call her if we decided to take that route.  I added that I didn’t want her to hear that I’d been there and her be upset with me if I hadn’t called.  I laughed; she simply said that she’d know if I showed up.  Hmmm.  It turns out she was not kidding.  Kelly called the bed and breakfast that she’d heard so much about, and got us a room. One room…the only one available.  After she made sure it was okay with me that we had to share a room AND a bed after only meeting a few hours earlier we committed to the reservation.  I mean, we were in the middle of nowhere by this time.  I could also tell from Kelly’s end of the conversation that we were being invited to the local restaurant for a late dinner.

Continue reading Red Dirt Ramblers, Stop #3: The Vintage House Restaurant, Burlington, OK

We have “Favorite Things” too…

One of the iconic segments for Oprah’s show is her Favorite Things series – especially her Christmas show where the audience receives one of every product she reveals.  Bloggers sometimes highlight various products because they’ve been asked to place products on their site for a particular promotion, or for a payment of some sort.  Shows on T.V. highlight various products that work well and sometimes the public isn’t privy to whether or not it’s a “planted advertisement,” or if the product feature is a genuine information sharing gesture.

So, to clear this one up from the beginning, there is NO product support here.  Our “Favorite Things” will have an indy bent.  We’ll talk about a product or idea because we like it, and that’s the only reason.

I’m sharing one of my “favorite things” with you today because it took me a few years to finally hit a product that worked well for my coffee service.  I used to take my favorite coffee beans, grind them daily, then add a bit of “Sugar in the Raw” turbinado sugar plus a little half-n-half once the coffee was brewed.

However, about a year ago I found these Roland imported demerara sugar rough cut cubes.  I love them because sometimes I just want a hint of sweetness, and other times I want a bit more; there are various sizes and I really like that about them.  I don’t have to fill my sugar bowl with the granular product only to wipe up spills, and these cubes lend a foodie flair when I have company that the loose sugar didn’t have.  I purchased my box from the International Pantry gourmet shop in Norman, Oklahoma with a gift certificate given to me by my brother.

The International Pantry has been around since 1978 and is one of the few shops that feature a full line of Le Crueset cookware.  I love the orange color and have plans to start trading out my 25 year-old cookware soon for a piece at a time.

What’s the difference between turbinado and demerara sugar?  All brown sugars have some degree of molasses added to them, but the demerara is just a bit lighter, and is said to have less of a “honey” finish to it than the turbinado.

So, if you’re looking for a little something special to dress up your coffee service and love the warm flavor of demerara sugar over white sugar like I do, you might give these sugar cubes a try. I got mine for about $5.95 in the store, but you can also order them on Amazon for $4.50 plus shipping. My supply looks like it may last right at one year.

I love them!, Red Dirt Kelly