MANHATTAN, Kan. — The other day Facebook reminded me that a year ago we kicked off our fall harvest season. I had posted a picture of the kids climbing into the combine with my husband, and then a picture of the four of us piled in the combine with smiles on our faces. It’s always an exciting day when we fire up the combines and move into the fields.
It means we have a crop to harvest. It also means adding many extra miles on my vehicle.
My mother-in-law and I will begin taking evening meals out to the field. I’ll begin reading books to my kids in the car while waiting for a combine to make its return to our side of the field. You might catch us some evenings driving slowly down a dirt road with our windows down blowing goodnight kisses to my husband because the kids won’t see him again until breakfast. It means driving out to a field and excitedly showing everyone when someone has lost a tooth, or celebrating being selected as the Star of the Day at school, or showing off the newest piece of art that was completed in class, or displaying a birthday card that arrived in the mail.
Yes, we spend a lot of time in the car this time of year. I’m always impressed the kids handle it so well. For them, it’s just a normal part of being a farm kid in the fall. After all, it is how they’ve spent every harvest since before they were even born.
Some days we’ll run home after school and change our clothes before heading out to the field, but more days than not, we go straight to where the crew is. It gives the kids extra time to ride alongside their dad or grandpa, to honk the combine’s horn, to “help” unload the grain by pushing buttons and pulling levers, or to just supervise the entire operation.
We try to keep a routine during harvest for the kids. Many evenings I’ll try to get them in the car and headed home before it’s dark. We’ll still have homework, bath time and stories before I put them to bed. But sometimes exceptions have to be made.
There are some evenings when the kids need extra daddy time, so I’ll ignore the setting sun or the time on the clock. Some days we’ll have to make a trip back out to a field after dark in our jammies because a little one needs to see their daddy one more time before bed and Facetime just isn’t cutting it.
Fall harvest will lead into wheat sowing followed by more fall harvest. The goal is to be completely done by Thanksgiving. Last year we went a few days past that.
Regardless of when the harvest is completed this year, you can bet my kiddos and I will have some quality time driving to and from fields this fall. We will be completing reading assignments while waiting for the crew to come to the edge of the field for a meal, enjoying the cool and crisp weather that will soon be here, and I’ll be snapping a picture every once in a while to document our trips out to the fields.
Yes, it’s the eve of fall harvest and we’re ready to begin this season.
“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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