It's old hat to a lot of you -- riding in a combine at harvest. For me, it was a first time experience: Harvest 101.
Thanks, Jeremy, for asking me to the harvest bee for your dad, Steve Theesfeld. The outpouring of care and concern from family and friends is a very special part of living in our rural area of Iowa.
Arriving in Ayrshire shortly after noon, the combines had just started a 160 acre field of corn. The machines set out in the field at regularly spaced intervals -- tractor-drawn wagons were ready to roll -- semis were waiting to haul the grain. The gas truck was continually running, keeping the tractors and combines on the go. A tractor with a disc attached was on site just in case of a fire -- it's so dry.
The day actually began before dawn. Combines and tractors were readied for a day of harvest. Neighbors helping neighbors is as old as time...handed down from father to son, mother to daughter.
Coffee and donuts were provided for the drivers as the day came to life. Mid-morning, a brown bag lunch was handed to those wonderful volunteers in combines, tractors and trucks. Early afternoon, the ladies had gathered south of the old Ayrshire school, ready to serve hot sandwiches to the crew when they finished. They learned from their mothers how to prepare a hot meal for hungry workers.
Visiting with the ladies, they couldn't believe I had never experienced the harvest from the cab of a tractor. It didn't take long for them to hail a combine and I climbed aboard. Mike Garrelts was at the controls of Ed Noonan's combine. Mike had answers for all of my questions.
As we made our way, rows of corn were hungrily devoured. Stalks and cobs were spit out and kernels of golden corn filled the back of the combine. The GPS showed us how dry the corn is and how many bushels per acre. When the symbol lighted up that were level one full, Mike swung the spout out and a tractor and wagon pulled along side to offload the grain. It was kind of like an airplane refueling in mid-air. You have to unload the grain before turning around to start back on the next group of rows.
Mike allowed me to stand outside the cab and take photos of the other combines making their way down the rows. There were a dozen combines in the field, with tractors and wagons in their wake. What a sight.
We made a pattern in the harvested field. Our combine has a stalk cutter, clipping the stalk off just above ground level. The stover was spit out on the ground, ready for the baler to come along to make bales for POET. Not all combines are equipped with a cutter, so the pattern of stripes down the field were different in height and color.
In the combine, the trip down and back through the corn field went quickly. We hit a fox hole, which made a bit of a jolt. Mike said he often sees deer and pheasants flee the fields early in the morning. But there haven't been as many pheasants this year as others, he said. Overall, it was a smooth ride, free from dust and dirt in the enclosed cab. I climbed down out of the combine a whole lot smarter than when I got into that cab. Thanks so much.
At the field in Ayrshire, each of the combines made three rounds to complete the harvest. In seven hours, a dozen combines harvested 450 acres of corn from four separate fields. Bean fields had been harvested earlier in the week.
It took Ed Noonan about a week of preparation to line up people and machines for the harvest bee. Steve Theesfeld rode in the truck that Saturday to take the grain to its final destination. Steve's wife, Debra, was always near. It was a rewarding harvest day for everyone.
From one harvest to another, congratulations to the Emmetsburg Retail Association for hosting another great community event. Harvest Fest drew a huge crowd to the VFW where everyone had a lot of fun and a good meal. Many left with prizes of home baked pies or decorated pumpkins.
Thanks to Ardelle,?Elaine and Kim (and their wonderful taste buds) for judging the apple baking contest and selecting my apple crisp as a winner. What a fun surprise.