“We are going in corn if you want to come down”
“My field. East of fife place”
In addition to my own organic experiment, Brent knows that my reasons for coming here include learning about industrial agriculture so he’s very thoughtful about pulling me in to a harvest scenario, when possible. Unless I am really slammed with work (which is rare, I’m not that important), I drop everything, hop in the pick-up, and run over immediately.
This text was sent near the end of September and I was, once again, anxious to see the harvest from a combine viewpoint. I parked next to the field, maneuvered across the spikey hazard of cut corn and scrambled up into the John Deere cab to watch a farmer work and pepper him (Brent, Mark or Wayne) with questions while photographing every element.
|Brent loads corn into the grain truck.|
|Rolling the tarp across the load...|
|...to keep corn off the highway!|
I’m always amazed by the efficiency of the heavy, wildly expensive farming machinery and the precision of computerized combines. Even more than that, I marvel at the synchronized team work of these farmers who have worked alongside one another for a lifetime. Though they communicate cab-to-cab via CB, everybody always seems to know what they are supposed to be doing and what is going to happen next without too much discussion. Unless there is a mad race to beat bad weather, harvest is mostly a low drama, highly-synchronized affair.
Then, Brent takes the corn load, swings out his auger, and dumps that load of corn into a waiting grain truck. That truck will then be driven to one of the farmer-owned grain bins (we have several here on the farm, already full) where the corn will be stored until it's time for it to be taken to the grain elevator, where it is sold to market.
|Brent, pulling alongside Mark, with the loader.|
Surely, there is a viral element at work here; even with my limited experience, I have caught a whiff of this truth. I don't know if it's all that rigorous outdoor doin’s, working with the seasons or genuinely creating something big from something little but it feels like a real job.
When Mark (one of Brent’s farming partners and my cousin) admitted, “Sometimes things get a little boring in the combine here with the auto-steer", I couldn’t help but recall the many client reports and useless 'perception rating' Excel spreadsheets I had put hours of my life into - hours I wasn't getting back. I responded:
“I can honestly confirm to you that this view beats a cubicle view any day of the week.”
He laughed, and over the roar of the harvest, replied, "Yep. I bet you're right."