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.
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