Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lessons from Wheat Harvest

This past week we successfully completed wheat harvest. Dad and I have well-defined roles during harvest. He runs the combine and I am the truck driver. I like driving the truck, it is peaceful, with just a little bit of human inter-action and it gives me time to think. So I thought I would share some of my random thoughts of the past week.
OK, go ahead and make that left turn in front of me at the stop light because it takes a long time for my truck to start moving. Just remember one thing. It takes just as long for me to stop as it does to start. My truck is big and heavy, your car is not, and I will win. So, do you feel lucky?
Yes, my truck moves slow. But do you really think it is a good idea to glare at me over that bagel? My truck is full of wheat, wheat makes flour and flour makes bagels. Do you really know where little bagels come from? I do.
You really notice a lot of things driving 45 miles per hour with the windows down that you miss at 70 miles per hour with the air conditioner on and the windows up. We might all be better off if we drove a little slower and noticed a few more things.
Ice road truckers or Most Dangerous Roads, all of them are child’s play compared to driving down main-street on a Saturday morning. Cracks in the ice and blizzards are nothing compared to unpredictable stop lights and jaywalkers.
It’s hard to remember to put the new license plates on when you only drive the truck twice a year and the tags are renewed in February. However, it is not hard to remember that you forgot said license plates when the sheriff’s deputy is following you. Fortunately there must be some mercy rule when it comes to pulling over forgetful farmers.
It’s not good to drain the battery on your smart phone while waiting in the field or in the line at the elevator. Your car charger will do you no good. Who would have thought that trucks built pre- 1990 do not have power outlets? It’s like they never thought about cell phones in 1983.
You have to appreciate break downs that can be fixed with either duct tape or JB Weld. You also have to appreciate the mechanic savvy enough to realize duct tape is the answer. It is also nice that duct tape now comes in colors that match combines other than Gleaners.
There is no place on this earth hotter than the line waiting to unload wheat. It might have something to do with the grain elevators and storage bins blocking the wind. Then again it might just be because it is 90 degrees outside. Personally, think wheat dust and chaff must be great insulators.
The wheat will always be too wet the first time you take a sample into the Coop. This rule also applies to soybean, corn and milo harvests. We all know this rule but we just can’t help ourselves.
Always under-estimate the yield of the wheat and the price you will get for it. If the wheat is better than you think and the price is higher, you will feel much better. On a related note, it is a good idea to not look at the markets for about six months after you sell your wheat.
Wheat harvest in Eastern Kansas and Western Kansas is much like Columbus Day and Christmas. Both are holidays but one is a lot bigger holiday than the other. One is a three day weekend and the other has twelve days. I could go on but you get the point.
While I had many random thoughts during my time hauling wheat, one thought kept coming back to me. That thought was how lucky I am to be involved in an occupation I truly enjoy, one that my family has done for many generations and a job where I know I make a difference in this world. Yes, I think I am a very lucky man.

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