Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hauling In the Grain

The day I finished up my garage project, I got the call from my parents asking if I could help them for a couple days hauling in the corn from their farthest fields. With so much corn to harvest and the fields being about six miles from the grain bins, it takes a lot of people to keep the operation going so that the combine never has to stop and wait for anyone. So the following morning I was up and on the road before dawn heading towards the farm. I don't often get to see sunrises since they are blocked by trees where I live so it was a treat to watch the sun come up as I drove along.

A lot has changed since my days on the farm. Gone are the days of tiny wagons with regular hitches that required two or three trips out of the cab of the tractor before you got the holes to line up and the hitch pin in place. Back then, extendable tongue were the 'new' technology but you still had to get the hitch holes in a straight line to get the pin in. These days my dad has invested in quick hitch technology which means I can hook and unhook wagons without ever leaving the tractor cab. This frees up time when I reach the fields but with much larger wagons that weight a lot more, it takes a lot more focus to haul the loads down the roads safely.

The first order of business is to 'open up' a field. Farmers plant rows of crops around the perimeter of the field called end rows. It allows the combine to harvest corn there without getting into the fences, trees, or roads around the perimeter and also gives them an area to turn in when harvesting the inside rows of the field. Once the end rows are all harvested, the field is considered open and it makes harvesting it a lot easier and faster. The picture above is of a field that has been opened.

Once opened, I can see the rows going through the middle of the field which makes me want to hop down and take a few pictures. For the most part though, I didn't have time to get out of the tractor much. When I brought the empty wagons to the field, I would place them close to where they were harvesting but not in the way when they were turning around. The combine runs non-stop and a person running a large catch wagon follows the combine around so when it gets full, he pulls underneath the unload auger and they unload the grain from the combine while it is still harvesting. This is called unloading on the go. Once the combine has been emptied, it continues on and the catch wagon will go unload the grain into the wagons that I bring to the field. I then hook onto a full wagon and haul it down the roads to the grain bins where my father unloads them into the proper bins to be dried and stored. I pick up the empty wagons he has ready and haul them back to the field and the process starts all over again.

I did this all day long from sunup to sundown for two days to get the farthest field harvested and brought in. It was a lot of work and I slept well both evenings but it is one of my favorite things to do. For us, it is almost equivalent to watching the balance of your bank account increase like the debt clock in one constant circling of dials. After a year of preparation, the fruits of our labor are finally coming to fruition.


sage said...

Gotta get it in before the snow! I never heard of "opening the field"

Ed said...

Sage - They got the corn done last weekend. My posts are written and then posted well after the fact occurred.

Farmers, like any profession I suppose, have a lot of jargon unique to them. These days we have cellphones and private frequency radios but back in the days of Citizens Band radios, we had a lot more jargon than today.