Here it is one week later and it seems like a different world in the span of seven days.
Thanksgiving has come and gone and my wife counted 19 people who sat at our kitchen table for several meals at different times over five days. A lot of food was prepared and judging from the lack of leftovers, a lot of food was consumed. It was a great family event in a great Thanksgiving tradition.
There was an even more momentous event this past week. Saturday at 9 p.m. the last ears of corn disappeared in the combine and harvest, 2009 ended. At last.
This is the time of year when I remember what my neighbor Curt told me years ago. He said the saddest day of the year for him was when the last ears of corn go in the combine because it meant he was not going to be able to have any more crops for income until next year.
My saddest day of the year is when my bins go empty because I will not have anything to sell until harvest comes again. Actually, there are other sad days of the year but they are events that I am usually not prepared for when they happen such as a death. Empty bins make for a sad day, but it happens every year and there is no denying the letdown.
I have never felt sad at the end of harvest. When harvest ends for me, I am relieved and this year I was extremely relieved. Other years the fall harvest goes somewhat quickly with a few brief stops for rainy days but most years the 30-50 days of October and November we move along almost everyday and by mid-November we are wrapping things up.
I do not believe I have combined soybeans in November under muddy conditions and I do not look forward to the next time it happens. However, finishing corn harvest in November is normal and that is what happened last Saturday.
It was a relatively warm day for late November; the sun was shining under a blue sky with thin wispy clouds, a day fitting for the last day of harvest. For a brief moment, there was starter problems on a tractor pulling the biggest wagon on the first load of the day but a whack on the starter with a heavy object took care of that. Once the tractor was going, the rest of the day went normally, thank goodness.
To make the day even better, I was accompanied in the combine cab by 11-year-old grandson Graham who was taking in the last day of harvest. Part way through the afternoon I pulled him on my lap and told him to drive. I explained the combine controls as we moved along and in a few minutes, Graham was steering with one hand while using the other hand for the hydrostatic transmission.
Now Graham and I both had something to brag about to our family and friends. It made harvest’s end even more memorable for both of us. It was great day for what had been a memorable harvest for the wrong reasons. Now we had a good reason for a memorable harvest to go with everything else.
After four hours in the combine cab, Graham went back to the house and three hours later, I was done. We started in the afternoon sun and finished in the dark.
It is quieter around here now. The drier ran until Sunday evening working its way through Saturday’s corn. The only tractors running now are the four-wheel drives working to get fall tillage accomplished before the ground freezes.
Harvest started poorly but it is going to end well and that is something to be thankful for even after Thanksgiving. Sad stories need a happy ending.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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