Old Grey has been on our farm for 22 years. 22 fertilizer seasons of running around loaded down from field to field. 22 summers of hauling grass seed, clover, wheat, even filberts on long hot days. 22 years of wear, tear, washing and waxing before each season.
I realize it might seem silly to have an attachment to just a piece of equipment on our farm, but silly or not, I was sad to see her go. Maybe it’s because I always think back when I was a kid and that steering wheel seemed so big! I can perfectly imagine it’s what Hoot is thinking right as I took the photo below! Or maybe it’s the memories later, sitting in the driver’s seat of Old Grey, learning how to drive a semi, while dad sat in the passenger side and told me to “Take it easy on her!” and inevitably cringing while I grinded every gear heading down the road. Old Grey is the truck that didn’t have the get up and go of her new counterparts at our farm, but I’ll be dammed if she didn’t always get you where you wanted to go….eventually.We bought a new truck that is currently being put together, painted up all pretty and shiny. She’s newer than Old Grey by a long shot, has more horsepower, and will be a great addition to our farm. When we bought her and made the decision to sell Old Grey, it was the end of an era. This is the first large purchase that Matt and I have made since buying the farm from my parents. In a way Old Grey represents the past generation on our farm and the transition to the next.
So while Hoot was farming with me on Friday, we went to say our goodbyes. I gave our boy, generation number 4 a chance to stand on the seat and pull the horn one last time, just like I did growing up.
Obviously Hoot didn’t quite feel as sentimental as me, he was just excited to go see the combines haha! But regardless I said my thank yous for being such a great part of our farm, and for always getting us where we needed to be….eventually.
We did have some small amount of excitement this year while harvesting wheat. It was the perfect storm in many ways, mostly in good ways thankfully!
It was on one of those really super hot days we have been having here at the tail end of summer. Probably in the high 90’s and we were two rounds into a field of standing wheat. Hoot had just climbed in the cab with Matt and I to make a few rounds (to make sure we are doing it right of course!) and as we turn the corner in the combine he starts to yell and point, “Burning Mommy!” And sure enough I looked to where he was pointing and saw flames 15 feet in the air….chaos quickly ensued. “Fire!” over the radio, meanwhile one of our guys saw the flames and was running to his rig to get extinguishers. Equipment driving out of the field as fast as possible, a call to 911…it was all very crazy!
Here are the things that went wrong…our best guess is that the sickle bar hit a rock and caused a spark, which caused the field to start on fire very quickly. The wheat is incredibly dry when we are harvesting so it doesn’t take much for fire to start and spread very rapidly.
But here’s what went right. Firefighter Hoot was on scene and spotted the blaze quickly! We had everyone there! Both truck drivers, my dad, Matt and myself were all miraculously in the field at that moment. 90% of the time it’s just the combine driver and maybe a truck driver, not much for manpower. The wind was blowing away from the standing wheat so it spread the fire as far as the headland and then stopped. We had plenty of fire extinguishers and the guys moved fast to wet the standing wheat and put out small spot fires. It was a great job done by everyone!
We were lucky that day, this whole thing could have been a very different story if the wind had shifted, if it had happened just 30 minutes before…really the what-ifs are endless. I have never harvested looking back in my mirrors so much in my life! It was also a little nerve wracking harvesting next to the burned area on the next round, I am pretty sure I was holding my breath! I can honestly say this year I was glad to put the combine away on the hottest days that were yet to hit a few weeks ago. Here’s to hoping that never happens again, and if it does, we get all the things that “went right” again!
We are finally done harvesting our 7th crop for 2016, spring wheat!! The process of harvesting is slow for us, mainly because we are working with equipment that runs…but is old and a bit slower than newer machines and equipment. But it gets the job done, and when the weather cooperates, it works well for our farm.
The first step is combining the wheat, or separating the grain kernels from the straw. You can see the grain filling up in the grain bin behind my head while I drive. This is where the grain is kept until I have to dump into the truck. Once it gets into the tank we then dump into trucks on the go. The less we stop, the more we get done, and efficiency is key.Once the truck is full it takes the wheat to our grain bins. Using an auger, we move the wheat from a pit on the ground up to the top of the grain bin and it falls down in slowly filling up with grain.
The tube that you see along the ground is an airation tube. When the grain comes in it can be very warm because of the heat of the day. The tube runs to the outside of the bin and has a fan attached. The fan brings cool air into the bin at night, then as it blows through the wheat it cools it down so it can be safely stored.
Hoot & my mom Karen (better known as Mimi) checking things out while the wheat dumps from the truck into the auger.
This wheat will be stored here until later into the winter when we will truck it up to a seed plant to be cleaned and eventually taken out to farms next spring to be planted again. It feels good to be cleaning the combine one last time of the season.
We are hitting the point here when we get to put things to bed for the year. Homestretch is always a nice term, followed by a long sigh of “there’s light at the end of the tunnel!”