From early spring the farmer watched the green blades stool out to become sturdy grass-like plants. The oats, spring and winter wheats began to shoot their heads, with the welcomed gentle rains they swelled bursting with life. The sun had shone upon them for weeks, until they slowly began to change color.
The farmer and his wife got busy preparing for the first harvest of the year. Combines needed going over, trucks gone through the Vander Schaaf check list. Brothers come to help with the preparation and harvest begins in wheat land where my oldest son lives.
The corn on my farm is showing off its tassel while the soybeans hide their blossoms. The garden has me busy canning as my goal is to have everything caught up so that I can spend a week helping with harvest.
My help is more of a vacation, privilege and adventure. They let me be the cook and babysit my precious granddaughters. Harvest comes every year, yet I still marvel at the work involved. It doesn’t matter if your crops are fruits and vegetables, grains, or row crops. For a whole year, planning and work has gone into putting a crop in, doing whatever is needed to ensure a bountiful harvest. Now we are the finish line.
The weather was ideal, at least for threshing out the grain. My personal temperature rose when the thermometer reached 111 degrees – and the AC in the cabin decided it was too hot to work. I thought so too, but the harvest didn’t take a break. A combine did experience a minor breakdown, you can bet the tools were not the only thing hot during that repair job.
There was plenty of sunshine, but the boys dressed in long sleeves, jeans and a hat. It may be hot, but harvesting small grains can be a dusty, dirty job.
The country back roads were steep as the combines disappeared, the exhaust smoke indicating the power needed to climb the next hill was seen before the combine. The curves built for race car driving had me saying an extra prayer for their safety. Not many cars were seen on the roads, but plenty of antelope or cattle that had left the safety of their pasture. In the black of night, a black cow is not easily seen. But by using two-way radios, we could warn each other who had yet to travel the road.
Of course the wheat prices kept dropping on some rumor. Add in the disappointment of poor yields, a little zing was taken out of the harvest emotional high. But after a few bumper crops, we tried to tell ourselves, that this could only be expected. As inputs remain high, the cost of living increasing, a good crop with good prices is desired every year.
There is a mother’s pleasure in watching her three sons working together, towards the same goal, something they have done all their lives. Yet the weariness on their faces when the days got super long can’t be ignored. Grandmas are nice, but when the little girls greet their amazing mother, who has operated a combine all day with smiles and hugs, I am reminded of the sacrifices that are made to get the harvest in on time.
For the first time my mind almost wondered, why in the world did we encourage them to be farmers? It is dangerous work, plenty of stress in putting a crop, tending to it, and the work of harvest. Drought, storms, illness can happen at any time.
Financial risks are astronomical. Not much has changed in farming.
That’s why I am also pleased that they have chosen to farm. I have always found even playing a very miniscule role in the big world of agriculture rewarding. Each crop that we grow, every head of livestock raised on our farms is more than just bushels and numbers. The fruit of our labors will be used in one way or another to provide food and a myriad of other useful items for other Americans, who without cannot do their work to make this nation the special country that it is.
A lot really does depend on us to do the best that we can do. We know we can only do so much, and that’s why a farmer knows he has to depend on God for all things.