I still complain. I try not not to do that though. There's a lot of positive things going on. The fall has been exceptional. Yesterday, I took the back road through the countryside looking at fields and the golden leaves of fall, on our way into town. Most of fields that were crops to be harvested, just short weeks ago, are now stubble. Some of those fields have already been cultivated in preparation for the winter.
The promise and hope that went along with the planting at springtime has, for the most part, run it's cycle. Crops that looked so promising over the summer, turned out to yield only a portion of what was expected. Too much rain, and too much heat, all at the wrong times stressed the crops and they didn't produce the seed that it looked like they would earlier on. The heat burned the plants and caused the seed to not develop properly and not make good weight.
I didn't fail to notice that there were still a few fields to be harvested. That set me at ease a bit, considering that I've still got a bit of time left in the field complete our harvest. As much as it feel like I'm the last one still out there, it's good to know that there's others, like me, still plugging away.
I think, or at least I'm pretty sure, that combining might be my favorite farm activity. It's hard for me to say right now. I know it's my favorite when I start the harvest. I also know that, when I turn off that key for the last time for the year, that feels pretty darned good as well. Right now, I'm somewhere in the middle of that.
I've always liked combining. I'd ride with my dad on our old combine that now rusts to nothing, sitting in the bush. Eventually, I got to put my time in, driving it. It had no cab. I'd wear a handkerchief around my face, looking like some sort of harvest bandit, to keep from breathing in so much dust, but would still come home itching, snotting and hacking up gobs of grain dust. My dad taught me to weave back and forth in the evening to keep the header clear of the crop that would build up on the edge of the pick-up when it got damp. And that, if a wad of crop slowed the thrashing part of the combine down so much, that it threatened to plug it up, you could, if you were lucky, jump up and use your foot to help roll the exposed pulley, right beside the seat and help push that wad through. It's a wonder I never lost a leg.
We eventually bought a different combine at an auction. It was bigger, had a cab, but still no heater. A cab is a nice thing to have on a combine. It probably adds years to the life of a farmer by preventing breathing in as much dust. But it's also a green house on a hot summer day if you have no air conditioning. This combine had a tank of water above the cab that a foam roller would rotate in and a fan would blow outside air through the damp roller and keep the cab cool. It worked well enough. Unless the field was too rough, then it would rain inside. On cold fall nights, I would use a radiant propane heater in the cab to keep warm. The cab wasn't so airtight that I had to worry about gassing myself with propane exhaust but I'm not sure why it never blew up from the open flame and the light mixture of dust in the air.
There was another combine between that last one and the one we have now. As much as I've been complaining about it lately, this new combine is pretty nice. The most dust that I breathe is what I get from cleaning it off for the night. The cab is lightly pressurized so when you open the door, the dust stays out. If I can't find anything on the radio, I can plug my phone into it and listen to music off of that. Pretty much all of the adjustments are made from the seat on the fly so I can adjust to different conditions without stopping. The seat had about 800 adjustments on it to make you comfortable as you can be in a glass bubble, and everything adjusts to be as comfortable as you possibly can. I'd have to say, it's pretty luxurious.
...........I've still got the better part of a week left to go, but harvest is getting closer to being done. I haven't even really had time to slow down yet and breathe. Or try figure out what I'm going to do with the grain we have in the bins. I know that the seed guy has been hinting at what I might be interested in planting next spring. It never stops.
I am submitting this post to Dude write this week. It's where guy bloggers come together to submit posts, that get voted on from Sunday to Tuesday evening to see whose was most popular. I encourage you to pop over and take a look at them and maybe come back and vote on your favorites.
You can get there by clicking on THIS LINK.
Good morning, friend!ReplyDelete
I love this post. It is truly amazing to see how your writing has evolved from the first posts when I 'found' you, or you 'found' me - however that happened. You may not have noticed it, but your writing has transformed some, but in a good way - much like the slow shaping of a clay jar on a potter's wheel.
I pictured that ride down the back roads, taking in the glories of fall with you from your words - very cool. Sounds like you're seeing the world more and more with your writer's eyes and THAT is awesome.
I loved the description of the various combines in your history of farming, starting with the memories of your dad. You kept to the theme of your 'ride' and allowed us a 'peek' inside those machines which is way cool because some of us may never get to see one in person.
I am also glad to hear that you are nearing the end of your harvest to come to the part of 'job well-done' and you can breathe a little, maybe write a little more and tell us all what winter is like in the life of a farmer. I wish I only had a week - right now I am setting my sights on making it to this coming weekend and the writer's conference. Then I will be looking toward fall break and an escape to the beach. My milestones are small but I certainly look forward to semester's end.
Hope you have a fabulous Sunday!
Hello, My friend!Delete
WoW! Thanks for those kind words!
I've been thinking that I'd like to try to get back, a little more, to writing about.....just things?
While I appreciate the posts that are requiring me to respond to things, (actually, those posts saved me when I was stuck on what to write.) I want to try to start writing things that are more random thoughts that I can work on being a better writer. Sort of, the posts that I began writing.....only better? If that makes any sense?
I"m struggling with being descriptive, but I also don't want to get posts so long that people get turned off, before they start. I really find that to be a challenge because often, I feel that I need to explain what I'm doing to people who need to have the complete run down on what I'm doing, because they haven't been subjected to it before. It's a bit of a challenge. I try to balance that with not boring the ones that are familiar with farming as well. I don't know if I'm having any success at that, but I'm working on it?
The end of combining isn't the end of the work. It just means the transition to different jobs. But it's a major hurdle to get past. I think there will be plenty of material to keep me writing well into the snow. :)
Hope your beach is waiting for you, whenever you get there. :)
So I have to ask, what do you use as plow downs between crops? I sell ag supplies and have no idea what I'm doing...ReplyDelete
Sometimes we plow, often we cultivate. But we use a disc as well at times. It just depends on which application is the best one for the job.Delete
........Ag supplies eh? Know of any good deals to be had? At say, discounted pricing? :)
Sounds like you are going to be busy! Hopefully you will get everything harvested on time.ReplyDelete
Hi Holly! :)Delete
It's still pretty early. There's still all of October to work with. But you're right, I'm going to be busy. It always seems to get the more hectic the closer we get to freeze up. Then things stop and shift into winter jobs.
Ken, it's about time you named that combine, or opened that up for your readers to do.ReplyDelete
Oh Man....that's a pretty good idea. I wonder if there's still time to pull something like that off?Delete
There's ALWAYS time. Let's name this ride!Delete
Good luck with your submission! When I was a kid, my grandma used to tell me about when the threshing gangs would come and harvest the farms. Things have come a long way since then.ReplyDelete
Thank You Debra. :)Delete
A long way indeed!
I actually got to help with thrashing one time, when one of our neighbours used to do a bit of it just for old times sake.
I have a lot of respect for the farmers that did their job that way. I think it was pretty hard times.
I like a comfortable ride. Maybe my next vehicle should be a combine.ReplyDelete
The bigger you are, the more respect you command on the road.Delete
.......or in the mall parking lot! :)
I'm not sure your blog shouldn't have been Ken-HarvestBandit....ReplyDelete
Glad the harvest is almost over for you.
Ken-HarvestBandit........stealing the crops before the snow show up?Delete
I think it's great that you enjoyed combining with your dad and you still enjoy doing it today. Do your kids (?) enjoy it as well?ReplyDelete
There's so much going on this time of year. One of my kids is working out, so he's only around evenings, and weekends but there's always jobs. Grain hauling, baling straw. Cutting hay, raking that and getting it baled. Then there's cultivating the fields before it freezes. Cows to bring in off pasture, fences to repair before that.Delete
But when they were smaller, they took turns riding along. The good thing is that most of the newer equipment have passenger seats for riders. I wasn't so lucky when I was a kid. But it was more about function in those days than comfort.
Anytime someone mentions a combine all I can think of is Beavis and Butthead when they are coming up with a master plan for something and Beavis always says they need a combine.ReplyDelete
Speaking of your ride, you should see if that show can "Pimp It"
All master plans should have a combine in them!Delete
The other day I was at the parts store and they had these cool coloured light tubes on display. I started to think it might be pretty awesome to have some green underglow on my combine. I don't think I've ever seen that before. That would really pimp my ride. Or maybe a sub for the stereo?
Ken the Harvest Bandit... great visual! Not quite the "ride" most guys learn about with their dads.ReplyDelete
Hi Reanna. :)Delete
I guess it isn't, is it? Although, it's more common around here. I think I'm pretty lucky with all the different types of things that I've been able to drive.
This was great, Ken! I loved the details you give, along with the walk through the past. I'm glad your new combine is comfy and dust-free and also glad you'll be finished soon.ReplyDelete
When you mentioned feeling relieved that there are still some other farmers with fields to harvest, yet, it made me think of when I've run different races and not caring if I'm at the front of the pack, but just always being happy that I'm not last :)
I'm not overly competitive, but you're right, I don't really like being the last.
It's funny, you made me think of something.
When you combine, you can only go so fast before you lose efficiency and the grain that you want starts to go right through and out the back. Each crop varies, and you have to find the top speed that you can go. That being said, if you're combining alongside your neighbour, efficiency seems to go out the window, and sometimes it's just more of a race to see who can get to the end of their field first. Everyone wants their combine to be the best! :)
I used to fall asleep in the combine's cab with my Dad. Thanks for the reminder.ReplyDelete
One of our kids loved to ride but couldn't stay awake once he got in the cab of the combine or tractor. He'd always end up stretched out across the floorboards, snoozing away. :)
Ken, recanting those memories with your Dad made me think of mine and all the little tricks of life that he passed on to me. Great memories. I hope you have a bumper crop this year Ken!ReplyDelete
I think we all have those little tricks buried someplace in our memories. Just waiting there for the day that you need them and maybe, stir up a thought or two of the people who passed that on.
Great post, Ken!ReplyDelete
It is funny, because my father told me all kinds of tips or tricks when I was younger, and I always rolled my eyes at him. But now that I am older, I find myself remembering what he taught me and even instilling that wisdom onto others.
I also enjoyed "taking a ride" with you in this post. Great writing, and very descriptive.
Thanks so much.Delete
A lot of my fathers wisdom didn't really sink in when I was younger and knew everything. :)
We had the problem here of too much heat and very little rain. Our crops here suffered as well. I hear the bad corn crop will be driving up the price of bacon next year.ReplyDelete
The impending bacon shortage seems to be on everyone's mind these days. You give me a pig.....I'll make you some bacon!Delete
Ken, your casual comments about injuries and deaths sprinkled lightly through this post made me tense up inside lol... I saw a movie a few months ago in which a young man gets eaten up by one of these big farm machines and it freaked me out pretty well. It was a true story too. So... I'm just very grateful that you *didn't* in fact lose a leg or two... and that you stopped breathing in so much dust early on.... and that you still have all your fingers here to type with! The new combine sounds absolutely luxurious and I'm glad you have a comfortable way of spending your days on the fields :)ReplyDelete
Hi LIR! :)Delete
The community is riddled with farmers, missing various fingers or arms. Accidents start to happen when you get tired and try to cut corners to speed thing up.
Luckily, I only need 2 fingers to type with. :)