11 Sep Brian: Full circle finale
Greenfield, Iowa—Today I’m sipping coffee, looking out my window at the cows grazing in the pasture. I see corn and soybean fields in the distance, their color shifting from green to yellow and brown hues. A few leaves are starting to fall from the trees, and I hear a load of laundry tumbling in the dryer behind me. Fall is approaching, and wheat harvest has come full circle. After 77 days on the road we find ourselves back home.
Our return home marks the end of another successful summer harvest. South Dakota was a record breaker. This year Onida provided us the longest time spent in one place, the highest average yield ever seen, and the most acres harvested in one state. As we loaded equipment for the final time, it seemed odd this momentous occasion wasn’t occurring in North Dakota. The summer seemed abbreviated by missing that stop (and Nebraska), but our services were rendered unneeded this year by poor weather.
One final effort to clean and load machines before the long journey home. We’ve had enough practice to know the drill, but it’s still a hot and dirty job as the summer sun beats down.
The long trip home thankfully proved uneventful. After 46 days in South Dakota it’s nice to finally be back in real houses, with real rooms and with a water heater that provides hot showers lasting longer than 5 minutes. Dishwashers seem extravagant at this point, and refrigerators that hold more than two days of groceries feel luxurious. Mail is delivered daily, breakfast is no longer shared with ten people, and unlimited internet means that streaming movies is suddenly an option again and on a TV larger than 20 inches. For all the enjoyment wheat harvest brings, rediscovering the pleasure of not living in a house on wheels is remarkably satisfying.
The excitement of rediscovering toys and endless floor space to play is acceptable chaos. Not washing cloths at a public laundromat requiring pockets full of quarters also seems exciting. Sometimes the most mundane tasks suddenly seem easier to complete in your own home.
We now find ourselves working in reverse order. Equipment is cleaned and put away. The school year is beginning. Everything is taken out of the house trailers. If getting ready to leave seems like a big job, returning home always seems a bigger task. The combines might be temporarily parked as wheat harvesting has come to an end, but another type of harvesting is underway.
Silage chopping is the next big task to complete on our farm. As we prepare high-quality feed for our beef cattle this winter, it is also the first glimpse of what our fall harvest will look like. Much of the Midwest has seen drought conditions develop, and here in Iowa our crops have been severely damaged. “Splotchy” isn’t a very technical term, but it best describes the green, yellow and brown spots throughout the fields caused by lack of rain. Thankfully the crops in Minnesota are faring better. Fall harvest will begin earlier than normal, so we work diligently to prepare equipment for “COVID Combining, stage 2.0.”
With silage chopping completed Cameron and Glen work to replace worn chains and sprockets on the 16-row corn head. Virtually all of Iowa’s crops have been severely stressed by a flash drought (red and orange indicating the most severe). It will be an early fall harvest.
So here we we are once again. We’ve come full circle, back to where it all began. South Dakota provided the perfect finale. Still it can be emotional ending the harvest season we have come to love. The smell of fresh cut straw. The sound of wheat rustling in the wind. The unforgettable sight of the sun slipping away beneath a sky of neon hues.
I know you understand. It’s why you’ve been a part of the harvest all summer long. We’ve been sharing this adventure together, and we all share a unique connection to the land. We do if for the way it makes us feel. For the memories it leaves behind. It is the reason why we labor. For the love of the harvest.
It’s almost impossible to choose, but I’ve tried to compile the best images from the summer in the video below. It is your chance to take one last combine ride for the season and enjoy the beauty of the wheat fields. Jones Harvesting thanks you for being a special part of the AAWH family, and we can’t wait to continue sharing our passion for the harvest next year. Until we meet again stay safe, healthy and be kind to one another.
Jones Harvesting would like to thank the All Aboard Wheat Harvest staff and all its sponsors for allowing us to share our unique story of agriculture in a special way. We are proud to be a part of such a dedicated group that was committed to sharing our content this summer with readers despite the challenges COVID-19 presented. We are all in this together.
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by Unverferth Manufacturing Co., Inc., Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Agri-Pro, Gleaner, BASF, and High Plains Journal.
Join the conversation by leaving a question or comment. Brian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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