It's harvest time

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The next few months will be busy for area farmers, as corn and then beans are ready. I'm going to let you in on a not-so-secret secret. I don't like harvest, even though I appreciate its importance.

Of course, I'm the only one in my family that feels this way. For me, it just seems very long, very tiring and very stressful. And to make it worse, every year when it's over, I discover more gray hairs than I had before we started.

But despite the negatives, I have to admit I have learned hundreds of lessons and accumulated 30 years worth of cherished memories. The first time I really helped in harvest, we hadn't been married more than a few years. As I knew nothing about driving a truck (or a stick shift), my job was to keep checking the corn going into the dry bin to make sure it wasn't too wet. I stayed all day with hubby and his helper and marveled at how he could do this for so long. I was a little bored and very exhausted. But a few years later, I learned to drive a truck and a grain cart, making harvest a lot more interesting. When our youngest son was just 6 weeks old, we strapped his car seat in the tractor cab and took off running the grain cart for wheat harvest. In fact, we often say our sons were raised in the seats of our farm equipment.

Some of my best memories came from our sons riding with us through harvest. Our youngest became my frequent grain cart buddy. I've learned about our boys from the seat of a tractor or truck, and they learned many things too. A few of those lessons I'd like to take back. Others still make us laugh.

I've listened to off-key singing and done a lot myself. I've listened to the FFA creed more times than I can count and heard more than a few school stories. I learned other truck drivers are happy to throw around a football with a bored 11 year old when record yields mean long waits at the elevator.

Often, when we were harvesting away from the house, we learned Grandma Gorrell was a savior when she picked up our sons after school, making sure they finished their homework, actually ate a few vegetables and gave them precious memories with her.

I learned filthy laundry and dirty dishes actually multiply when you pretend they aren't there. I've learned it is possible to get tired of fast food, sandwiches and sodas.

I leaned demotions are better than promotions. After I taught my replacements (sons) to drive a grain cart, I ended up with my name on a truck and a new job. Two years ago, when our oldest got out of college, I got demoted back to a grain cart driver.

But with all those hours in a line or in a field, I've learned about life through country songs and radio talk shows. I've spent countless days listening to the Chiefs, the Royals and the Mizzou Tigers. I've rehashed the games and listened to the complaints on sports talk radio. I've listened to books through my Kindle, and managed to actually read a few while waiting at the elevator or field.

I've watched the sunrise and the sunset. I've cussed the mornings and celebrated the ending to a successful (and even not so successful) harvest. I've watched as rain kept us out of fields, or lack of rain kept us from sleep, gathering as fast as we could. I've learned a rainstorm and high winds can change harvest from good to bad in a hurry.

I've sat in line at the elevator listening to the latest gossip. I've embarrassed myself by my lack of semi-truck backing skills and scratched my truck driving through a tight spot. Then I've become a subject of gossip for the day (or week) depending on when the next gossip-worthy event or accident takes place.

I've spilled corn on the ground overloading the truck with the grain cart and helped scooped it back into truck more times than I'd like to remember. I've learned it's a lot easier to pay attention the first time.

I've learned when you make a "quick" stop by Wal-Mart with a hair full of corn fines and a face full of dirt makeup, you will see everyone you know. I've also learned corn fines are tough to get out of my hair, even with shampoo.

I've learned corn makes a great play toy for little boys. I've discovered packing the right amount of snacks helps keep kids happy (especially if they aren't healthy.) I've learned hubby and the boys actually gain energy during harvest, while I seem to lose mine.

But most of all, I've learned no matter when it starts, or how hard it seems while we're in the midst of harvest, it always ends. And it always becomes another memory and another lesson learned.

As I grow older (and let's hope wiser) I can't help but realize my mother-in-law was right when she said your attitude can decide whether an experience is positive or not. It's always our choice.

So here is to a happy, safe, bountiful harvest full of good memories and a few lessons learned.

Contact Marcia Gorrell at marciagorrell@gmail.com