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Harvest time

October 23, 2011

We’re thick in the middle of harvest, which means the hub is gone until seven or eight at night. Fortunately, as with last year, we’ve had extremely cooperative weather, so they’re on track to finish harvest in early November. Which is good because we also have a baby due right around that same time. I know, great planning on our part, right?

Last year the kids and I got to do a ride-along in the combine with the hub. This year, with the kiddo being in kindergarten and not getting out of school until 3:30, we haven’t had much time to go out to the fields and watch the hub work.

Farm work knows no weekends, though, and yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day. So we went out to see how things were progressing at the farm.

The hub wasn’t driving a combine this time, my cousin was in town for some weekend farming, so he and my uncle were sharing combining duties. Instead, the hub was driving the straight truck of corn back and forth from the farm to the field.

Depending on the setup of the farm and the preference of the farmer, there are a few different things you can do with the grain once it’s been harvested. You can take it directly to the local co-op elevator where they dry and store it for a fee until the farmer needs or sells it. Or, if you have the space and set up, the farmer can dry and store it himself at a bin site. That’s what my dad and his brothers do, with a good portion of the grain being stored on the farm where I grew up.

So the hub was taking a straight truck (think Mack dump truck) of grain to the dump pit on the farm.

It looks like this:

There’s a big cement ramp with a pit and grate where the harvested corn is dumped. That plywood “shield” is there to keep the grain funneled down to the pit. There’s still some cleanup and sweeping that has to be done once a load is dumped (see the piles on either side of the shield), but that keeps it to a minimum.

The corn is dumped through the grate and down to the pit where an auger takes it up to the dryer.

The moisture of the corn has to be at a certain percentage before it can be stored. If it hasn’t reached that number out in the field, then it’s dried at the elevator or bin site. Luckily, as with last year, we’ve had a relatively dry fall, which means most of the corn can be harvested and stored right away. Two years ago we had an extremely wet and late harvest (they were still working the fields during Thanksgiving) and the grain had to be dried quite a bit before it could be moved to the bins.

Once the grain is ready, another auger moves it from the dryer to a storage bin.

There are approximately six bins on the farm that are used for storage. I couldn’t tell you how many bushels they hold (my dad or the hub could) but it’s a good amount.

The grain is stored in the bins until the farmer needs/has contracted to sell it, hopefully for a good price. They generally try to sell it throughout the year (that’s their income after all), and it’s best to spread it out.

Dumping is a messy, noisy job (the kids didn’t want to get too close) but it’s just one more thing that has to be done during harvest. I remember hearing the constant noise of the trucks dumping and drying when I was growing up. Plus, during the off-season, the cement ramp of the pit makes for excellent bike riding.

While we were waiting for the truck to unload, the kids each had a turn sitting on a nearby tractor.

The kiddo thought the tractor was “too dirty.” We told him that’s what happens when the tractor is used on the farm. It’s not like the show tractors we see at the county and state fairs.

And good old Smokey was there to greet us.

Poor Smokey doesn’t have much to do these days now that there aren’t any cattle on the farm anymore. She’s taken to chasing after small animals in the grove behind the house and across the highway from the farm.

We hope the weather continues to cooperate and harvest can finish on schedule. Or I may have a dirty and dusty husband taking me to the hospital when the baby decides to arrive.

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