I’ve been pretty blessed so far in life to see some pretty amazing things. I’ve seen the salmon running in Alaska; looked out over the Grand Canyon; and travelled Europe listening to Big Ben chime, searching for the Loch Ness monster, and trying to figure out how the Leaning Tower of Pisa is still standing, but I’ve never found anything that compares to the combine finding that last pass of harvest.
Harvest is the culmination of an entire year’s work, and the only thing anticipated more than the start of it is the end of it. As soon as we pull the planter out of the last field in the spring, we’re already looking forward to the day the combine pulls into it. Seeing that finished product making its way from the field into the combine fills even the humblest man with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Those trucks heading to the elevator and bin sites are the physical result of an entire year’s planning, working, and praying.
Now I know I just said that harvest is the culmination of the year, but it’s also the groundwork for the next. Every hybrid and variety is evaluated as it goes across the yield monitor, every tile hole or wet spot is flagged, and soil conditions are looked at in preparation for the next year. As crazy as it may seem, harvest is just as much a beginning as it is an end. It’s when the decision about which seed to plant and which ones to pass on is made, where what kind of tillage needs done for next year is decided upon, and there’s no better view than from the driver’s seat of the combine to see just how well the herbicides worked.
We finished harvest a few days ago, and let me tell you, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. After the past couple years being pretty rough, this fall seemed like a breeze in comparison. In the words of my dad, “I think this may have been the easiest harvest I’ve ever done.” Considering the hours that man has put in between running the combine and the corn dryer in his lifetime, that’s really saying a lot. I’m not entirely sure that it’s been the easiest harvest we’ve ever had, but after the past two years of barely finishing before Christmas, I’d say it was pretty high up on the list.
I take a lot of pictures and videos during harvest for my blog, YouTube channel, and social media, and every single time my dad catches me recording anything, I get an earful. There’s nothing my dad hates more than anything involving pictures and the internet, but the one time he doesn’t mind my having my camera out is when I’m getting a picture or quick snippet of video of him finishing up that last pass of corn. It’s the pass we’ve been chasing since we planted the seeds in the spring, and it’s a moment worth remembering.
It’s a moment worth remembering, but like I said before, the end of one growing season is the beginning of the next, and we were back in the fields the same day getting ready for chasing next year’s last pass of harvest.
Erin Holbert was born and raised on a farm in west central Indiana.