Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Testing a Farmer's Patience

Is there anything better than a cool fall morning? Well, OK, maybe the first real warm morning in the spring. I have to say that I really enjoy fall, it is one of my four favorite seasons of the year. Did I hear a groan? Yes, I admit it, I like all four seasons equally, and I guess that is why I live in Kansas where we have four definite seasons (and sometimes all in the same day).
While I like all four seasons equally, I also must come clean that I especially enjoy the transition from summer to fall. Some of us were just not made for hot weather and the cool temperatures of the fall are a welcome relief. You can always put more clothes on but there are only so many layers of clothing you can take off. I am living proof of that.
In any case, it must be fall. Jennifer, the kids and I have spent our weekend at the Kansas State Fair, football and volleyball season are in full swing and the harvest anticipation has started to build. There is nothing like the build up to fall harvest to test the patience of a farmer. I truly think waiting on Christmas morning as a kid was training for waiting on the crops to dry down.
This year is no different; harvest can’t get here fast enough. Last month it looked like corn harvest was going to be early, we were going to be picking corn in early September for sure. It was hot, dry and the corn was maturing at a rapid pace. Then it started raining. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the rain and I am not complaining, maybe whining a little, but not complaining. The moisture certainly slowed the drying down of our corn.
This past week I did notice some fields being picked and while I still saw some green in our corn, I couldn’t help myself and I picked some ears and hand shelled a sample.  I knew it was an exercise in futility but I persevered anyway. The ears were still standing upright and it took a good yank to separate them from the stalk. Dad quickly told me that the corn was way too wet as we hand shelled it off of the cob. However, I continued on because an inquiring mind has to know.
Off to town I drove with a coffee can sized sample of corn next to me on the front seat. The anticipation of harvest steadily building as I got nearer to the elevator, it was Christmas morning all over again. I walked through the door with my sample and presented it proudly to Joanne, the branch manager. She quickly looked at my sample and pronounced it too wet. By now I was relatively sure that 1) my corn was not ready and 2) I was not the first one to bring in a sample.
Sure enough the sample tested 19.3%; harvest was just going to have to wait. I was having flashbacks to being a kid and waking up at midnight Christmas Eve. I was going to have to wait but it wasn’t going to be easy. Joanne handed my sample back to me and told me to come back in a couple more weeks. We both chuckled when she said it; knowing full well that I would probably be back in with another sample in a few more days.
While those of us involved in farming are among some of the most patient people, waiting for harvest is not easy. I also know when the grain is finally dry enough and harvest hits full bore, we will wonder why we were so anxious for it to start. That is of little consolation right now and each time I drive by one of our fields I look a little harder to see some hint that harvest is getting closer. More ears hanging down, more brown leaves, anything that heralds the onset of harvest.
Well, I guess that means corn harvest will have to wait. Maybe I should take a look at the soybeans. Even better maybe I should take a sample of the soybeans in. I better get started because it sure is hard to shell out those green pods. After all, harvest season has started and I am hauling the crop to town one coffee can at a time.

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