The summer countryside on the Great Plains is beautiful when the “amber waves of grain” contrast against the dark green cornfields and spacious blue skies. With fewer wheat acres on our farm this year, harvest came and went quickly.
I set out to capture wheat harvest in action last week, but instead I found wheat harvest “inaction!”
Making repairs is a big part of what happens on the farm, and this photo is as realistic as any. One might think newer equipment would require less maintenance, which is somewhat true, but newer equipment can be far more complicated with more opportunities for problems.
Wheat harvest brings back memories for me. On the dryland farm where I was raised, we had more acres dedicated to wheat production, and harvest was a critical event in the course of the year. I remember sitting in an old, hot truck listening to AM radio with one of my big brothers waiting for the combine to come and dump a load of grain. Of course, back then the truck wasn’t all that old, and AM radio actually played some pretty decent music. I recall my brothers taking a small handful of wheat and chewing it like gum. Yucko. I never did acquire a taste for that! I remember walking through the scratchy wheat stubble to deliver the 4:00 lunch, and sitting in the shade of the truck drinking iced tea and eating freshly baked cookies while the “menfolk” ate.
After harvest, the wheat straw was baled into small bales. When we picked them up from the field, I always got to drive the old Farmall H tractor and pull the trailer where the bales were daringly stacked six or seven rows high. My father and brothers would then unload them onto an elevator that would use a conveyor type mechanism to carry the bales into the hay loft. Besides the sweet smell of fresh straw, the hay loft was a great place to hide, or hunt for a litter of baby kittens. The straw was used later in the year for bedding for baby pigs and also as garden mulch.
Soon we’ll put the combine away until soybean harvest in late September. We’ll stack a few straw bales in our barn tomorrow morning, and next year they’ll be used in the lambing shed and in the garden. My kids will love having more bales to climb on in the barn. Maybe they’ll use it as a place to hide, or hunt for baby kittens just like I did.