One From the Road: I’ve been thinking about wheat harvests of the past
I spent my early teen years living on a farm in north-central Missouri. When June arrived, it was all about the hay season. In the middle of hay season, it was also time to walk the soybean fields to eliminate the weeds.
In 1975, I moved to Sublette, Kansas. This was my first experience with a Kansas wheat harvest. This was a different type of farming that I had known. What great memories.
In one day, the custom cutters swarmed the town, setting up home. Equipment trailers and their living quarters were parked in any available space.
When you drove down the road, dust could be seen as the combines harvested the wheat. The more dust, the more combines in the field. I have witnessed six combines in one field.
In 1984, I got my only experience of working a wheat harvest. I was driving a truck pulling a grain trailer. Back in those days, the state had vans that carried scales. During harvest, they managed to be working somewhere else.
I was working for two brothers and their dad, who also had a truck. While I was delivering wheat with one truck, the other was being loaded. I mean loaded heavy.
One day as I was switching trucks, the dad told me that when I returned, he was relieved. When I left with the other truck, he started worrying. I told him how to fix it, don't fill the trailers full.
The highways were narrow, and we thought the combines were big. In the early 90s, I worked with a driver from Germany. One day he came into the driver's room shaking.
We asked what was wrong? He answered, "I was molested by a combine getting here." Thankfully we have much wider roads in our area today.
The combines are much bigger in 2021. Four in one field probably cover more ground than the six of the 70s. The bigger combines mean less equipment and the wider roads mean less stress traveling.