So. That was easy.
Harvest went fast. Too fast. My entire identity is wrapped up in combining in miserable weather with balky machines. Pulling wagons out of the mud with late November wind howling through six layers of clothing. Wet gloves freezing as I hook log chains together. What's a guy supposed to do for self-esteem around here?
The last patch of corn went out on October 2. OCTOBER 2ND FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! That's when we start in a normal year. Brother Dale and I agreed harvest went so well that even we could have farmed a couple thousand acres. If farming's going to be this easy, then let's just get this out there: $1,000 an acre rent next year. Have your people get in touch with my people.
As we hurtled through our September harvest, I could see the down side to all this good fortune. Pam was going to hand me a to-do list of biblical proportions when we finished. For a couple weeks after we were done, I started up the combine every morning and drove to a far corner of the farm, hoping she wouldn't notice the empty fields.
The jig is up. She knows. Any day, she'll hand me a list of demands comparable to the Treaty of Versailles. You husbands know how this goes. Filled with sweetness, she'll say, "Randy, could you do these few things for me?" But you know what she really means. "Get these done. Or it's gonna be an awfully frosty winter, Buster."
I did have one small irritatant in the otherwise perfect harvest. One morning I had to take a tractor and wagon onto Highway 14. I waited for several cars to pass, and pulled out when the next car was a half mile away. I'm going 20 miles an hour and apparently that guy was doing about 80. He was on my rear in about two seconds, but could not pass till we went around the curve. I cost him 3 to 4 seconds of his precious life. To express his displeasure, he reached out his sunroof and flipped me off as he roared past.
OK, I'm trying to make a living here. I've got a family to feed. It's not my fault that they put a highway past our farm 75 years ago. I don't like my farm equipment out there any more than you do. Then this Guy in the Car tries to ruin my day.
He was challenging my Christian principles. My first reaction was to run him off the road, but he was well past by then. I looked around the cab for small munitions to shoot out his tires. Not finding any, I was left to hope that an errant shot from the golf course up ahead might find his windshield.
You know, Guy in the Car has probably never put together that the food he shoves in his pie hole comes from somewhere. And that farmers might have some vague connection with all that. Grrr.
Anyway, it turned out to be decent crop given the spits and dribbles of rain we got all summer. After harvest, the challenge shifts to marketing the crop. The drought caused prices to rise; soybeans hit $17, an all-time high. You townies look at that and think we farmers must be making money. But we're businessmen. We have to consider all angles. You know how much the government's going to want if I sell at those prices? So, as a tax planning strategy, I'm holding my beans for $8. Then if I can purchase some obscenely high priced inputs for next year, I should be just fine.
I can also report that my Father's Day gift was the best I've ever gotten. Usually for Father's Days, I get a shirt. This year when Pam and the kids asked what I wanted, I said a Case IH 2606 chopping corn head. It worked flawlessly across our corn acres. How many shirts does a guy need?
I get to see the aforementioned brother a lot in the fall. We share machinery and labor besides chunks of DNA. Ours has never been an overly sentimental relationship. An emotional conversation between us might go: "What the hell happened to the Twins last night?" "Yeah, the bullpen's awful." But we did share a poignant moment this fall.
I was home, moving an auger from one bin to another. This involves about fifty trips up and down the bin ladder. Brother drove into the yard, and I went over to his truck to see what he wanted. He started asking if anyone was home and if I was going to be climbing those bins alone.
Then it hit me. He was concerned about my wellbeing! He said as he drove off, "Be careful. I don't want no damn funeral before we get the corn out." I was touched, in a brother-sort-of-way.
All in all, it was a wonderful harvest. Except for Guy in the Car. I really don't like to wish ill on anyone. But it would be nice if his transmission went out. And his girlfriend dumped him. And his dog bit him. And it had rabies.