Fields are turning, and combines are getting pulled out of back corners of storage sheds. The auger cart is getting hooked back up, and trucks are getting that final once over before they start rolling to the fields. Everyone’s favorite time of year is just around the corner.
I don’t think there’s any season that the ag industry so eagerly anticipates as it does harvest. The farmers are ready to see another year come to a close, both the good years and bad years. The good ones they revel in their bumper crops and management decisions that turned out to be in their favor, and in the bad ones, they look forward to it being over and having a fresh start come spring.
In every stage of my life, harvest has always been, and I suspect will always be, my favorite time of year, and the reasons for that have changed accordingly over time.
Some of my earliest and favorite memories are of riding in the buddy seat of my dad’s combine. I was a little, bookwormish tomboy, so I’d load my backpack up with all of my current reads to head to the field. I’d spend hours solving mysteries with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys only to be interrupted by the chatter from the two way radios. To be honest, I learned more from those conversations coming through than I ever did from any book I brought along. Once it got too dark to read, I’d watch the corn going through the head until I fell asleep. As anyone who was raised on a farm knows, it doesn’t take long for you to be out like a light.
My teenage years were spent occupied by sports, 4-H, student council, and pretty much everything else I could be involved in, and my years at Purdue were mainly spent there being occupied with plenty of activities as well. My dad always said, “You’ll never get this time back in your life, so take advantage of it now while you still can.” I’ll forever be grateful for his attitude on that because it let me experience so many things off the farm without feeling too guilty about it. I always loved getting the rare opportunity to deliver supper to the fields though and hop in the combine’s buddy seat to catch my dad up on everything going on in my life and ask for homework help with those college ag business classes.
Now that I’m older and working back on the farm, I’m finally beginning to truly understand and see harvest the way my dad does. Nothing compares to that sense of pride and accomplishment of seeing a field of beans cut and headed to the elevator. The field that you planted back in April until 1 in the morning and then got back to the field at 6 to finish it up, the field that you replanted a month later because not all of it came up, the field that you backpack sprayed and pulled weeds in because the sprayer didn’t catch all of them. It’s seeing the actual product of the blood, sweat, and tears (mainly sweat) that were put into making that field.
Harvest time means a lot of different things to different people, even those not directly involved in agriculture. It’s the highlight of the neighbor kid’s year when the farmer next door invites him to go for his very first combine ride. It’s part of every small town church service as they pray for a good crop and the safety of those missing from the pews because they’re in a field a mile down the road. It’s the busy season for the lone diner in town as they package up to go meals to be picked up by guys heading to the elevator and won’t make it back to those left waiting in the field until they’re cold in their Styrofoam containers.
It’s chaotic, it’s hectic, and sometimes it can be downright miserable, but even on the most frustrating days, there’s nothing that can beat a golden sun going down over the horizon of a field of corn being shelled.
There’s absolutely nothing that can beat harvest.