This is what my view has been for the past 16 years during the harvest season here on the farm.
My name is Jill Hildebrand and I drive a combine.
We usually don't start combining until the dew is off the grass in the morning (by the way......for you followers/readers that don't know; that's a combine driving towards me and I am driving the exact same thing and taking a photo at the same time). Seriously people........some people have told me at certain scrapbook conventions that they have never seen a combine, let alone been IN one.
So.........here we are combining wheat. In this particular field, the wheat has been swathed so that it's in long rows in the field. We pick up the swaths with a pick up header and the grain is held in the combine's hopper until we can unload the grain into the semi. These machines are incredibly big & noisy. They are worth A LOT of money (no pressure, eh), but are essential for life on a grain farm. I spend an average of 10 hours/day in my combine. There's a radio.....but I tend to sit in silence (sigh). I love it this way.
In this photo (below), we are actually straight-cutting wheat. It hasn't been swathed so it's still standing in the field. We put a different header on the combine (called, ironically, a "straight-cut header) and we cut the wheat down at the same time that we pick it up. Waaaaaaaaay more productive, if you ask me.
The semi in the photo belongs to us as well (we actually have 2 of them). The combine is about to unload the wheat into the semi that is in it's hopper...........however, we usually just unload "on the go". This means that the semi drives along-side the combine while the wheat is unloaded. A long auger carries the grain from the combine's hopper into the semi. A little bit more scarey concept (because they are driving so close together), but again, way more productive.
It actually gets better...........my combine has something called "auto-steer" which means that it works with a GPS system and satellites. I can push a button and the combine will steer on its own. I still have to watch countless other things (the reel, the height of the header, the height of the knives, my speed, the flow of grain going into the header, etc.), but if I don't have to steer to keep a perfectly straight line...........wow, that's great!!!! I actually joke that I could scrap a page in the combine because I only need one hand most of the time.
And.............like last year (when it was miserably wet & crappy), a combine can sink into a serious gumbo spot and get stuck. It's actually a little scarey when this huge machine that you are driving suddenly starts tipping into the unknown. I will never forget last harvest season. This happened in (almost) every field we had. How do we get the combine out? We hook a huge tractor onto the back hitch and pull it straight out; backwards. Then we drive around the hole and keep on combining.....and hope we don't drive into another (unseen) gumbo spot again. Yeah, really!!!
And to top it all off, we get to enjoy beautiful harvest sunsets like this almost every evening. Spectacular.
Although we are extremely busy right now, I love this time of year. I love working closely with our family; my brother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my father-in-law and my husband. I love being involved and knowing what is going on. I love the sights and the smells.
Something I don't necessarily enjoy -- not being able to see my kids off the bus after school. And not always getting to tuck them in at night. Some nights we say prayers over the CB radio and say our "good-nights". When I get in after midnight, I check on them and give them their bedtime kisses. I love the responsibility & independence that our kids have learned with living on the farm. It's different than living in the city. I only did that for the 5 years when I attended University............but I know now, the farm-life is DEFINITELY for me.