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KAREN SCHWALLER

By Staff | May 6, 2016

A little bit of nostalgia left our farm today.

I thought those same words when our daughter left for college, only we knew we would see her again on breaks and over the holidays.

This nostalgia was leaving, never to return.

It was an old John Deere 95 diesel hydrostatic combine.

It was the first combine we ever owned – a purchase we made from my brother back in the day. It was one more step forward on my husband’s life-long dream of farming.

As we visited with my brother about it in the days before the combine came to live with us, he told us, “She’s a good ol’ combine.” And she was.

Our children were toddlers when we first met this combine. They were so little that they couldn’t get up the fold-down steps without help.

They thought it was the best combine-because it was the one their dad used.

What it really was, was the best of times.

It’s the machine that harvested crops from our first field – three rows at a time – and where my husband dreamed of what else could be. And it’s where our children first learned to love the harvest as much as their dad did.

A man once asked my husband what he used for a combine. When he said he used a John Deere “95” the man thought he meant a “9500.”

“No,” my husband said, ” … a 95.”

The man seemed a little surprised that someone would be using an old dinosaur like that, but I’ll bet he hadn’t looked in our machine shed before he asked that question.

If he had, he would have seen an Allis Chalmers 190. It showed that we were young farmers trying to get started, and buying what we could afford at the time. It was also fun to drive.

A metal collector once offered my husband some money in exchange for the soul of the combine – but he couldn’t let it go. It just wasn’t time yet.

In the years that have passed, we’ve expanded, all of our children grew up to be involved in agriculture, and our sons work directly with us.

The 95 was demoted to the grove. We bought newer machinery, and in “Puff the Magic Dragon” style, the older our children became, the less that combine was part of their lives.

I mowed around it for years and wished I didn’t have to. After all, it wasn’t doing us any good anymore.

Then today, two men from Audubon County came to take it home with them to use it to combine oats. Money was exchanged and the combine was loaded up on the trailer behind their semi.

All that was left were the farewells. The combine waited patiently above us, looking down on the farm it called home and on the people who took a chance on it all those years ago.

Finally, slowly, the combine left the yard. I watched until the gravel road dust made it impossible to see it anymore.

It was a good run, and all I had to do was look around to see what it helped us accomplish. It was a long time ago, but it was still part of our farm story.

Miley Cyrus sang a song that echoes true for so many things – it really isn’t the destination, “… it’s the climb.”

And for our family, that climb was as long and difficult as it was wonderful, from a rear-view mirror perspective.

That combine played an important role in our climb. There was time spent together in the cab with a hopeful husband and father – and three future farmers – his next dream.

She was a good ol’ combine.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at kschwaller@evertek.net and at www.karenschwaller.com.

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