Sorry folks. I know the title isn’t super eloquent. But there’s just no way around it– sometimes, farming sucks.
It’s not always about serene sunsets & pretty pictures…every job has its off days, and farming is no exception. This just happened to be one of those days.
I had just started cutting that morning when I heard a loud, clunky, clattery kind of noise coming from behind me in the combine somewhere. (Farmer Farver really appreciates my diagnostic prowess)
My worst fear — ok, other than fire — is that something will break, I’ll miss it, & cause some serious damage to the machine. Not a way to win friends & influence farmers.
I hit the little yellow ‘stop everything in its tracks’ button, & got out to look around. Of course, I had no clue what I was looking for….or at really, so I had to make the dreaded S.O.S. call.
It didn’t take my farmer any time at all to find the problem. A missing straw walker. It’s the part of the combine that takes the straw after the wheat seed has been gleaned from it and scoots it to the back of the machine to be spit out & spread behind the combine as it rolls through the field. There are 5 of them on our machines. This picture is looking up from under the combine and you can see the big black hole where one is missing.
And, here’s what the ‘not so healthy’ one we found thrown farther back & wedged in the machine looked like.
I’m by no means a mechanic– but it didn’t take me long to figure out that this was
a) not good, and
b) not going to be a quick fix.
I was feeling pretty rotten, but the Farmer was quick to reassure me that it wasn’t anything I did, & really couldn’t be helped. Sometimes parts just get old, wear out, & break. Whew! Gotta love that guy!
So on to the business of getting it fixed. Since we already determined that I’m not a mechanic, and I’d get half of the names of parts wrong (apparently a doo-hickey isn’t a technical term), let’s just leave it at this.
It’s a dirty, itchy, sweaty job climbing up into the bowels of the combine. It takes a certain amount of athletic ability– specifically, being able to army crawl… on your back. And it tries the patience of a saint. I learned some cool new words that day 🙂
To add insult to injury, part way through this project, our other combine plugged. ‘Being plugged’ means that for any one of a hundred different reasons, too much crop is brought in the front & the machine isn’t able to process it.
The header (the piece on the front that ‘grabs’ the crop) and the cylinder (the part inside that spins & moved the crop back into the machine) both stop spinning & you have to actually pull the plugged material back out the front of the machine to fix it.
In this case– it was a major plug, & meant tearing apart the whole front of the combine.
The plug was so major in fact, that Farmer Farver had to use the little saw you can see in the picture up there ↑ and climb up inside the front of the machine to cut the plugged material out of the cylinder. ↓
(Let me just mention at this point, that Uncle Gerry was driving the 2nd combine, and yes, he also pushed the little yellow ‘stops everything in its tracks’ button. Safety first!)
And let’s add HOT to that as well, since my farmer was laying on the equivalent of a big metal baking sheet in the heat of a 90 degree day.
I can vouch for that, because for part of the time, I was laying right up there with him. (A neighbor who stopped while we were up there offered to bring beer if we wanted to just call it ‘date night’. Farm humor folks!)
So here’s the scene. Both combines out of commission. Farmer Farver running back & forth between the two– giving instructions to me & Uncle Gerry–which tools he needs, which bolts to loosen, which parts to take off. The service pickup parked between the two combines, a path of more parts & tools leading off in either direction. Rain in the forecast, and storm clouds on the horizon.
Except that in a way…. it was. In the strangest way, it was what both of us– the Farmer & I–had signed up for.
The good and the bad. For better or for worse. We spent half of the day working together, side-by-side. Me as the student, him as the teacher.
I think he was proud of me that day. And I gained a whole new respect for my Farmer.
The man can fix anything. In the worst conditions. And he can do it with a sense of humor, being patient with his wife, and with what I can only call an odd reverence for the machines, the crop, the land, & his way of life.
He was born a farmer–with all the joys & trials that brings.
Most people will never know the satisfaction of being exactly where you’re supposed to be, doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. But my Farmer knows,…& I’m grateful every day that he’s sharing that with me and with our kids.
And we had that night and part of the next day to regroup. Honestly, I don’t think anyone minded the reprieve. It was good to have the break, to rest our bodies, & be ready to go hard when the weather cleared.
It wasn’t the best day. But it was the best of days.
Because the truth, is that some days, farming sucks.
But the beauty, is that some days,..by the grace of God,..farming sucks.
How about you? Have you ever found some of your worst times have a way of becoming some of your best? We’d love to have you leave us a note in the comments & share them with us.
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