From Where I Sit – Harvest Confessions

It’s confession time. Admit it ladies. We love running those combines!

You may be demure little social butterflies for 11 months of the year. Or maybe, you are the more rugged, outdoorsy type. Or maybe, you are a 9-to-5 type of person to earn some off-farm income. It doesn’t really matter. If you’re anything like the farm women I know, harvest season may well be your favourite time of year. I’m not talking about the lovely fall hues, sending the kids back to school, the return to daily routine, or the new fall line-up on TV. And I definitely don’t mean coping with hubby’s noticeably shorter fuse, countless trips to the local implement dealer for parts, dewey mornings, early frosts, and meals on the run.

I’m talking about what the guys have known all along. I can practically feel the testosterone rush as I take control of this very big, very expensive piece of machinery. Tim (the Toolman) Taylor’s “argh, argh, argh” pretty much says it all. I’ve got horsepower. I’ve got rpms. I’ve got presence. I’ve got respect.

There’s nothing quite like barreling down a 2-lane highway at the breakneck speed of 17 miles per hour on a holiday weekend to get the attention of fellow motorists. Heck, perfect strangers have been known to honk and wave vigorously as they tear around the combine uphill across a solid line.

Imagine that you’ve just pulled into the first field on the first day of harvest. You’re still feeling fresh, enthusiastic and eager, even though you’ve been here before. This is the field with the slough and yard site you circle dizzily. You know the itching from the barley dust will drive you crazy. You know the days will be long and hard. You can expect with certainty there’ll be breakdowns. You just hope they’re mechanical and not mental.

Yet, you’re proud of the way you can run this monster. With an ear tuned to any change in sound, you methodically move up and down the field, greedily gobbling swath after swath. Each time you empty your hopper onto one of the waiting trucks, you do so with pride. Not a kernel spilled. Nice even distribution of the load.

You know much of the year’s income is riding on these next several weeks.

You’re grateful to the guy who stayed up nights inventing this wonder that can take a stalk of grain and very efficiently separate the grain from the chaff. You thank the Lord for every bushel that flows into the hopper, for sunny, windy days and hopefully, a market and a fair price in the end.

You hope the pre-season servicing (the greasing, tightening, and replacing) will carry you through as you coax another season out of the aging beast.

Here we go. Engage the machine. Get those rpms up, lower the header, wave sombrely to the poor schnook hauling the grain and you’re off.

Alone. Hours of solitude with nothing making any demands other than the job at hand. No phone. No CB radio. For me, usually no radio at all. Just me and my thoughts. Some of my best thinking has been done in the din of the cramped quarters of a combine cab.

You running the combine might even mean someone else is making the meals, hauling the grain, and manning the home fires. After all, the one running the combine is the star of the harvest. If the combine sits, then harvest grinds to a halt. Keeping it running at all costs is the name of the game. Beating the clouds, the clock, and the calendar. I love it. Argh, argh, argh.

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