Harvest comes to an end here today. With 16 rows of standing corn to go before everything had been hauled in and all the fields were empty, a bearing failed on the combine doing major damage.
Those last rows will be harvested by a neighbor’s combine and then harvest 2012 will be completed. It is a less-than-glorious end to a less-than-glorious crop year.
However, that does not change the sense of amazement I feel when looking at all the fields I see when I travel anywhere. Once again, a crop has been planted and harvested, even with a major drought working against it.
It is the combine that gets the glory in defining harvest. But the combine is a small part of all that goes to put a crop in the bin.
There were thousands and probably millions of decisions that were made for that crop to be harvested and later used for its intended purpose to feed, or clothe or as fuel.
There were engineers and metal fabricators who had to decide, piece, by-piece, how to make that tractor, implement, sprayer, combine, wagon, truck, auger, bin, grain drier and everything else to be a part that does its job reliably and efficiently.
Once that machine was assembled, companies had to decide on what parts to stock and train service people on how to keep the machine running. Purchasers had to decide which machine would do the best job for them while keeping costs down.
Then there were the fertilizer, seed and chemical companies from manufacturers to retailers who had decisions to make anticipating what products to develop and which ones could be replaced.
Do not forget the people whose decisions provided support in delivering fuel, extending credit, writing insurance coverage and providing information about crops, weather and markets.
When my crop is delivered to whoever buys it, which is another decision, it’s mixed with the crops of farmers around me to keep the process moving to be ultimately consumed as food, clothing or energy.
Then next spring we will do it again.
So when I look across acres and acres of empty fields I have a very real sense of wonderment at what has just happened.
It certainly did not happen easily. Even in a good year, there is a level of difficulty and this year with its lack of rain, made it as difficult as any year I can remember.
Only a month ago, I was wondering if there was enough bushels in my fields to cover what I had already contracted, which was about half of a normal crop.
In a normal year we can fill our three bins with corn, while still selling corn during harvest, to make room for everything. This year we filled two bins and the third will be standing empty, something I thought would never happen.
While a month ago I was concerned about harvest, today I can see that I can fill my delivery commitments with decisions to be made about the remaining unsold bushels.
While it was not a good year, it could have been a lot worse.
Already, decisions are being made for next year by our farm, my neighbors, our suppliers, and the people to whom we’ll deliver our crop in coming months as we all try to get the most from the least.
It does not happen effortlessly, it does not happen easily, and there is a sense of wonderment in what it took in the millions of decisions to create the now empty fields waiting for next year.
And now for the next decision on what to do about a disabled combine.
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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