You have to admit that there’s a certain excitement that comes with the harvest.
To no-farm people, it’s a mysterious time of year when slow-moving farm equipment comes out of sheds and complicates traffic routes, and fields are buzz-cut with combines.
The young urban grandson of a friend of mine commented on a corn field they drove past on their way to school, saying, “I’m sure glad that field got mowed.”
Now that the harvest has finished up, it brings a sense of relief, even though it brought just as much excitement at the beginning of that long and arduous task.
For the farm wife, who often is called to be a farmer herself by way of the help she lends to the operation in driving tractors or trucks for harvest or handling the livestock chores while everyone else is in the field – then feeding everyone wherever they are working – it’s especially gratifying to be done with that job.
After all, she does triple duty during that time of year.
She handles her job in town and takes care of the home, yard and family all year long. But when the harvest arrives, she adds that to her list of things to get done as well, in whatever form that takes.
I used to joke about leaving my job in town at the end of the work day, then coming home to the farm and starting in on the next eight hours of work.
People laughed when I said that, but they didn’t know I was telling the truth.
This year as I commanded the grain cart (for the first year), I was amazed at the simple beauty of that time of year. I saw pheasants, rabbits and deer come out of the corn fields, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, breathtaking silhouette pictures to keep in my mind as harvesting equipment worked underneath a fire-colored sky as dusk set in.
I couldn’t help but think of the song as I gazed out across the field of ripened soybeans: “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain …” When the sun worked its way down each evening, the fields (known in that song as the “fruited plains”) were beyond description. No camera could do it justice.
The last field we harvested was on a sunny afternoon. I turned the tractor and grain cart around at the end of the rows and listened to The Eagles croon their song, “Lyin’ Eyes.” I was going to be just a little sorry when all of this work was over because at harvest time, people are at their best.
Dreams for the next year are made, people are joking around with each other on two-way radios to pass the time, critical information is shared, people work together for a common cause, they stop at night to eat a hot meal together under a setting sun, reconnecting with family and farm associates, and getting a much-needed break from the monotony.
The beauty of the harvest and of the countryside that time of year makes the ending of fall all the more bittersweet.
And yet, when the dryer bin fans are whirring loudly in the yard, the windows have all been washed on the house, the combine and machinery is washed up and put away, elevator scale tickets have all been located, the garden has been preserved and tilled up, the lawn has been mowed for the last time this year, the leaves have all been gathered, and the last of the clothes have been dried on the clothes line for the year, the farm family knows they get a little respite from the rat race.
That is, until they remember that tax preparation time is coming … and that they need to prepare for winter lambing and calving … and buy seed for next year …. and plan fields, machinery purchases and farrowing schedules.
They know that when the spring rush arrives once again, they’ll probably be seeing more rats’ hind ends, because few are the years when they’re actually out in front of that race.
Stupid rats, anyway.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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