“I like big trucks and I cannot lie…” I’ve been wanting to say that all harvest season! Not that I’m a truck fanatic, but this is what I see from my kitchen window many days of the year. Beyond harvest, we will still be trucking corn and soybeans from the bins to the grain elevator or ethanol plant.
I really don’t like the view, to be honest. But, it’s sure easier to sing a silly song than grumble. I’d rather gaze at a rolling pasture where the creek (you say creek, I say crick) is lined with trees showing their vivid autumn hues of red and gold. Instead, I get to look at Red, White, Black, Money Pit, and Purple Pete. Just as every piece of land we farm has a name, so do the trucks! You guessed it, Money Pit has a tight relationship with the mechanic. Pete is a Peterbilt, of course.
I do hear others gripe about trucks on the road sometimes, but I think most truckers take their job seriously. In terms of logistics, what would we do without them? I always wonder if the people who complain about trucks and truckers consider that our economy depends on the transportation of goods via trucks. Not everything can be moved by rail, as some might suggest. I also wonder if the drivers of small cars who change lanes and pull in front of a truck approaching a red light realize that such a large vehicle needs a little extra space to stop safely. I appreciate the truckers in our harvest crew for arranging their schedules so they can help us get the crop out in a timely fashion. They show up early, work late, and do a good job filling out their paperwork so I can match scale tickets and bills of lading to the correct grain contracts.
Once the grain is on the truck, it is either hauled to an elevator or to our drying and storage bins. Grain that will be transported soon and is at the proper moisture level can be moved into storage bins, as it is at low risk for spoilage. Grain that is too wet will be augered into the drying bins where natural gas powered drying fans force heated air through the grain until the ideal moisture level for storage is reached. While grain that is too wet is prone to spoilage and can create unsafe storage conditions, grain that is too dry is prone to breakage.
Grain is hauled off the farm depending on the timing of the contracts we have arranged with the help of a marketing guru and broker. We have always followed the markets, trends, and technical analysis of pricing graphs, but still work closely with a professional in order to manage the price risk of our crop.
At this grain storage facility, the grain is dumped into a pit. The grain is then transferred out of the pit with a shorter auger, and then moved through the larger auger to the opening at the top of the bin. I watched Joe the Trucker use the tractor to back up the auger to this bin yesterday. Talk about some serious skills! I’ve backed into my garage door before; this farmwife who is missing the “back-up-the-trailer” gene was quite impressed that it only took him two tries to line up that auger over the opening in the top of the bin. This is no state-of-the-art setup, but this is cost effective and gets the job done for us.
While four of the trucks pictured above haul grain, this one is used for bulk transport, such as dry fertilizer. When harvest is finished, we’ll begin fertilizing fields for next year’s crop.
And if there isn’t enough to do during harvest, this time of year also overlaps with planting wheat. The idea of multitasking is not new to farmers! This no-till drill was used to plant wheat into a harvested soybean field. The soybean stubble functions as a mulch to conserve moisture, while the no-till drill allows for minimum disturbance of the soil, thus preventing erosion.
Harvest will be finished ahead of schedule this year due to the drought, and this year’s grain will soon be called “old crop” by those who deal with markets. There are plenty of people who have the notion that farmers can sit back and relax once the crop is out of the field, but Mr. Corn Farmer and the drivers of Red, White, Black, Money Pit, and Purple Pete know there’s plenty of work to be done this winter as they haul grain from our bins to the facilities that ultimately distribute our crop to the end users and consumers. As for me, I’m sure I’ll still be “appreciating” the view in my farm yard of the big trucks that play a big role in our agricultural economy.