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The final day of harvesting corn on the Lukens farm near Aneta, N.D. was Dec. 18, 2019. (Katie Pinke / Agweek)

In a marathon harvest, it helps to have a cheerleader

It is finished. Corn harvest wrapped on my parent's farm and I was there to watch the final passes.

For those involved in agriculture, you know the relief of finishing harvest in 2019 or the anxiousness for the many who will wait it out until spring before they can finish harvesting because of crop conditions.

I ventured out to the cornfield on Dec. 18, 2019, to ride along for the final passes of corn harvest simply as a celebratory cheerleader.

I headed toward the field, crossed into the minimum maintenance road and found the path from the trucks into the field, driving as far into the field as I could without getting stuck. I started walking towards my dad's combine when my grain-cart driving brother saw me and came over to give me a ride. First, I rode with my brother Joe as he dumped a load of corn into a truck.

He said, "We have an hour left if there aren't any more breakdowns...I didn't think we'd do it. I thought it would be spring before we finished"

I said, "What are you going to do on the last drive home?"

Pointing toward his cooler on the floor of the tractor cab, he said, "I am going to celebrate and drink a Mountain Dew!"

When it was time to dump my dad's combine, Joe radioed to Dad and said he had a passenger for him.

I climbed out and into the cab of the 2005 Case IH 2388 combine. It's not the usual combine my dad drives but it was the one not broken and still running. I asked about the header on the combine and Dad explained it's an International 1083 from the 1980s. He's kept it on hand and not used it in many years. But with the cold weather adding to breakdowns during harvest, it was the trusty 2388 combine with the 1083 header that got into the field to get the job finished.

I asked my dad, "Do you feel relief or like celebrating?" as we continued down the third to last pass of corn. He commented, "I don't want anything to break." We weren't finished and the final push wasn't ready for my celebratory cheerleading in the cab, yet.

In the final passes, my dad shared with me the decisions farmers are faced with this season, high moisture, low test weights, drying, propane shortages and how will the corn stand throughout the winter?

Since October on my parent's east-central North Dakota farm near Aneta, they've had more than 30 inches of snow. But my dad shared it was always his plan to finish the harvest this year rather than wait until spring. I listened to the experts he quoted and advice he sought out in his decision making to keep going.

The dryer, where the high moisture corn is dried down before taken to the elevator, is broken down and while my dad waits to have someone come fix it, the final loads of corn will wait in the grain trucks. Whether you are close to agriculture or far from it, we all can relate to simply getting the job done.

It's not easy. There are setbacks. You feel like quitting. You press on. You finish the job. Most often, there is no fanfare when a farmer completes his or her harvest or when you or I complete a tough task.

As we completed the final pass, my dad simply said, "We're done" on to the radio to his employees and said the same to me. He dropped me off at my vehicle and paused long enough for me to snap a picture of him in the cab before he drove off to dump his final 2019 load from the field.

I sent out a group text message to my immediate family with pictures my dad and brother to celebrate them and their entire harvest team.

We all need cheerleaders to celebrate the accomplishment of pressing on through difficult setbacks and circumstances to finish.

If you know a farmer, reach out to them before another day or week passes. You don't need to share any insight or advice.

Be there to listen and encourage in what is a difficult season for many, not only in farm fields.