We didn’t have much crimson clover this year, 42 acres. So this two day harvesting job was going to be a breeze. And the way that you can tell you’re a farmer right now is if you read that and started to giggle, because there is little about harvest of any crop that ever turns out to be a “breeze”. This year our crimson crop was no different.
It started out great. Round 1 around the field was was dull at best. But then came round 2 and some surprise “slugs” that were left behind from the swather. When you cut (or swath) it’s usually at night when there is more moisture. Great to keep the seed on the stem of the crop before you harvest it, but if the cutter gets plugged it causes a huge dense wet area that will rarely dry out on its own.
So as we started in round two of the field the growling and terrible noises coming from inside the harvester were hard to ignore. After a few plugs that caused us all want to itch our skin off (unplugging a clover harvester is dusty and dirty and super itchy), we decided to skip those areas and come back to pitchfork them out to help get the drying process started.
But then the wind started to blow the exact direction we were headed on one side. And for 1500 feet we could see nothing, nada, zilch. The best (worst) part was that it was also the side of the field that had all those surprise slugs. I’ve never paid so much attention to combining in my life! It was unnerving.
So move to day two and all is looking good. Until I jumped out to check the sieves (cleaning area) at the back of the combine and smelled smoke! A bearing had gotten packed with dust and caused so much friction that it actually ignited. Crimson dust is especially flammable. Then when we had made the corner, the smoldering dust on the back of the harvester had shifted onto the ground and started the stumble on fire.
We caught it early. Had a water tank all ready to go, got the fire out and all was fine. Just a few new bearings later and we were back at it. So while it only added a day or so to our harvest, I think we are all a little glad to be saying goodbye to the extremely dusty, itchy and challenging year of harvesting crimson clover! Next up, grass seed harvest!!