MANHATTAN, Kan. — Fall harvest has come to a screeching halt for my family. We have had some minor issues that have slowed us down, but those issues are always expected during the marathon known as fall harvest. We began back in August picking corn. Since then, we have transitioned to popcorn followed by soybeans followed by sorghum with wheat sowing sprinkled into the mix starting in late September.
And now here we are in November. I can always begin to see the light at the end of the proverbial fall harvest tunnel when we start cutting sorghum. Once we move into our sorghum fields, I know we are getting closer to being done with harvest. We are closer to being done eating sandwiches in the field. Closer to putting fewer miles on my vehicle. Closer to having regular grocery bills for a family of four instead of for a harvest crew. Closer to having my husband home at night to help with bedtime routines. Closer to returning to order and normalcy.
When we start harvesting the sorghum, it’s as if a switch is flipped in my mind. It happens every year. For so many months before the sorghum harvest, I try to stay laser focused on the tasks at hand that need to be done on a day-by-day basis. I do what I can to help the crew stay as efficient as possible. I put my head down and keep moving forward while trying to preserve as much of a routine as possible for the kids. But by the time sorghum harvest rolls around, my focus wears off, and I begin envisioning our anticipated “downtime” once harvest wraps up. I am ready to get the crop in and return to normalcy with my family.
However, sometimes Mother Nature has other plans. Case in point — 2020. The recent change of weather has completely shut down our harvest efforts. We were running full-steam ahead, but our late October ice and snow has made it impossible to get the machines into fields. It’s simply too wet. My husband half-jokingly stated we should be done with harvest by Christmas now.
In the 10 years I’ve been part of this farm, the latest we have ever gone with fall harvest is the day before Thanksgiving. I’d like to aim for the eve of Thanksgiving this year if possible. But I realize we very well could be harvesting into December. Afterall, we still have the sunflower crop to harvest after we get done with the sorghum.
One silver lining to harvest being delayed because of weather is my husband has been home during the evenings. My family has been able to eat warm meals at the kitchen table together. We’ve cuddled on the couch with the kids to enjoy a family movie night. We’ve played board games in the living room before bedtimes. It’s a rare occurrence to have him join us at home in the evenings during fall harvest, but it’s one we truly embrace when we get the sweet opportunity.
I know this pause in harvest will soon end, and I also know we will eventually get all of the crops out of the fields. Even though it’s less than ideal — and regardless of my desire to get harvest done as soon as possible — there is a possibility that we will harvest clear into late December. I’ll continue to remind myself that whenever we officially finish our fall harvest it will still allow my little farm family some much anticipated normalcy before spring planting begins and another busy season rolls around.
— Kim Baldwin, McPherson County farmer and rancher, Kansas Farm Bureau
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