Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Harvesting

Yesterday we wrapped up corn harvest at the farm, which means we are done combining for the year!

I am thrilled that it is over.  Not that I really know what it feels like to be a single parent, but the term “harvest widow” is very accurate.  Travis and his parents have been out in the field practically every day, all day, for the last month.  We went straight from winter wheat seeding to soybean harvest to corn harvest, with no break in-between.

During harvest, and for the majority of the summer for that matter, the farmers get up in the early morning and don’t come home until after dark.  Luckily, the days have been getting shorter so they aren't typically out past 8:30pm at our farm, but it does make for long days with me and the kids, and them out in the field.  For me, it seems like I am constantly making food to bring out to the field and trying to keep both kids from going crazy…or me go crazy from the kids.

However, the farmers ride the high of excitement that comes with harvest at the end of the growing season.  Travis keeps saying he wishes he had more crops to harvest (particularly corn).  It seems that if a farmer has a very wet combining season, they can’t wait until it is over.  But if the weather is good and the conditions are near perfect, the farmer gets a little too eager and wants to be combining 24/7, day in and day out.

In North Dakota, as soon as the month of October hit, cooler temperatures moved in.  I’m not sure if is because of the really warm summer, but I think that my body climatized itself for Arizona weather (hot and dry).  I have been freezing!

When Travis moved back from the California desert where he took his first job in architecture out of college, it literally took him over a year to adjust back to the Midwestern temperatures.  He still has to wear slippers with socks whenever his shoes are off while I am walking around barefoot.  I am looking forward to this weekend when the temperature is supposed to get up near 60 degrees again.

Unlike the many of the other crops we grow, corn can be harvested in cooler temperatures with some slight moisture like rain…or snow.  We’ve had both the past week, but that did not slow us down.

Notice the corn all leaning.  It has been really windy, which makes the cold weather feel even chillier.  It has been cloudy and sunny, which is reflected in the rest of the photos.

We only use one combine when harvesting corn because it is a bulkier crop and takes up more room after it has been harvested.  The combine goes up and down the rows and never stops.  Typically my mother-in-law drives the combine and my father-in-law drives the grain cart.  She unloads the hopper of the combine while both pieces of equipment are moving.

After that she continues to combine and he goes to the trucks to unload the grain cart.

Travis is the hauler.  He unloads the trucks in the grain bins (or sometimes to the elevator) as they get full.

Many farmers store corn in on-site bins to air dry it with motorized fans.  Too much moisture in the crop results in deductions at the elevator.  Fortunately, this year’s crop was not too wet, so we were able to take some loads into town.  We only have so much storage (and Travis dislikes cleaning out grain bins).

Combine. Grain cart. Truck. Grain bin. Repeat.

The only time that the combine stops is if something breaks down or to re-fuel.  We have been fortunate to have very few breakdowns this harvest.  To re-fuel, we have a service tank in the back of one of the pick-ups that Travis drives out to the combine.  This is the opportune time for Charlie to fit in a combine ride during corn harvest since it is when it is not moving.

Meanwhile Levi watches the progress in the warm Blazer with me.



As for numbers, we averaged around 146 bushels per acre in the four different fields that we had corn, which we are very happy with.  I should say Travis is happy with, because I don’t know any different.  I’m just happy to cash the checks.  Travis is already talking about doing more corn next year.  Until then, we will enjoy a little more down time.

Happy Harvesting!

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