MANHATTAN, Kan. — As the days wind down in June, wheat harvest has just now begun for our family. It’s a late harvest this year, but we are glad we are able to get into the fields to harvest the grain. It’s perhaps my most favorite event of the year on the farm. We’ve watched this crop since last fall when it was sown into the soil and emerged as a small plant. We’ve watched as it’s carpeted the ground, survived a cold winter, transformed into the most vivid green before ripening into the most beautiful yellow. We’ve invested a lot of time and hope in the crop, and now it’s time to harvest the grain.
One of the other reasons I love wheat harvest is because the entire family is involved. Since the kids are out of school for the summer, they get to experience harvest in all of its glory as well. Both Banks and Isannah have always played an active role in wheat harvest. When both were younger many of their nap times happened in their car seats while I would drive meals or machine parts out to the fields. I would hold my babies on my hips, and we’d wave to the combines and cheer as they’d roar past making another round in a field.
Every year my kids get to help bake cookies, pack meals and distribute drinks for our harvest crew. They get to sink their toes in the spilled wheat before it’s shoveled up. They love to drive out to the fields and watch our crew and machines run. They enjoy meals out in the field and riding in the combine’s buddy seat next to their dad or grandpa as they move from one side of the field to the other cutting the wheat. It’s a beautiful tradition we experience every summer, and I often wonder if harvest will call my two home when they are older with children of their own.
Last night, after we had driven out to the field with food for the crew, the guys began walking back to the tractor, combines and trucks to continue cutting the wheat into the night. As we were walking back to the car, my 4-year-old daughter began weeping. The weeping quickly turned into sobs. As I was attempting to calm her down to find out what was wrong, she was pointing to the combines and grain cart already moving to the opposite end of the field.
After encouraging her to take deep breaths so she could express what was wrong, she began to hiccup her explanation while tears rolled down her face. It turns out she had planned to ride in a combine after dinner and clearly she was not in one of the cabs. She wanted me to call one of the combines back so she could get in and help cut wheat. I assured her she’d get to ride later. Hesitantly, she climbed into her car seat and we drove home.
For the next few hours, Isannah would ask if it was time for her to go cut. Near bedtime, my husband briefly came into the house to get an item before getting back out to the field. Isannah cornered him and asked if it was time for her to go cut wheat. He knew she would not take “no” for an answer. So even though it was already past her bedtime, at 9 p.m., the two of them headed back to the field. According to Adam, she fell asleep on the drive out to the field, but woke up to help cut wheat for another couple hours.
He carried her to bed shortly before midnight, both exhausted from another day of wheat harvest.
This morning as we all slowly made our way to the breakfast table, Isannah, still sleepy eyed with dirt on her face and wearing the same clothes from yesterday, sat down at the table, crossed her arms and proceeded to ask Adam, “When are WE cutting wheat today?”
How can you not love wheat harvest when it’s clearly a family affair?
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.
— Kim Baldwin, McPherson County farmer and rancher, Kansas Farm Bureau
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