Friday, June 16, 2017

Harvesting Wheat (and Faith) by Linda Hubalek

Combines are running full blast to get the wheat harvested before the next storm blows into the state. Rain is good for the row crops (milo, corn, and soybeans are grown in our area), but not when you need to get the wheat harvested.
Not only must the combines maneuver through the field without being stuck in mud, big trucks must drive next to the combine in the field while the wheat seed is augured out of the combine bin into the truck’s bed.
Then what happens to this grain? The loaded truck drives to a nearby grain elevator to unload the wheat, and then back to the field for the next load. Eventually semi-trucks will move the wheat from the storage elevators to rail cars or ships to travel where it will be used. This Kansas wheat might be in your next loaf of bread or bowl of pasta, whether you live in the United States or overseas.
It takes a lot of hard and fast work—and faith—that you’ll get the wheat cut while it’s at the right ripe stage. Hail can break the straw stems so that it can’t be cut, or continuing rain can cause the wheat seed to sprout while the plants are still standing, and ruin it.
Farming is always a gamble but it seems to be intensified during wheat harvest. No forty-hour weeks now. The combine is running continually until the straw is too tough to cut—which could be anywhere from 6 pm to 1 am. During the downtime (early mornings) machinery needs to be repaired and maintained, besides whatever else needs to be done on the farm.
Uprooting their families and moving to Kansas was a gamble for the Swedish immigrants too, just like wheat harvest. The Planting Dreams series (with Harvesting Faith being the third book) is dedicated to the people that homesteaded on the Kansas prairie to make their living by farming.
After 148 years from my immigrant ancestor’s arrival, my family is still farming and harvesting wheat today.

Want to see a video of a neighbor's last year's wheat harvest? Watch their Peterson Farm Bros video (it starts after the commercial.)


Thanks for stopping by the Sweethearts of the West Blog. 
Linda Hubalek



6 comments:

  1. I never saw wheat harvesting as fascinating...but you made it so. I believe, even in the 4s and 50s some Texas families joined the wheat harvest in Kansas. At least, one of my older friends says so. Her daddy loaded up the family and with their one car and a tiny travel trailer, off they go for the wheat harvesting season. She remembers it with fondness..probably because at her age she chooses to do so.
    Thank for the details. Wheat harvesting is something foreign to me. My west Texas ancestors either were cattle ranchers or cotton farmers.

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    1. Big combines cut in an hour what it used to take my dad all day to cut with the old type combine in the 50s, but the push to get the harvest done hasn't changed. Except now the combines have air-conditioned cabs versus sitting on a seat on top of the platform... open to the heat, dust and wheat chaff. Great memories of supper in the fields so Dad could stop and take a break in the shade of the combine.

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  2. I remember my cousins drove at an early age to get the wheat to the elevator or cotton to the gin. Farm families have to work together.

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    1. I was driving trucks to the elevator by the time I was fourteen. No air-conditioning in the trucks, windows wide open and it was fun. :)

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  3. I don't think city folks have any idea the size of the equipment or the cost. Sometimes it's amazing that farm families survive.

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  4. This information about harvesting wheat is all new to me. The work of a farmer certainly must be backbreaking. Ironic that the time to harvest the wheat is at the very time in which the weather is the most uncooperative. This was an amazing and informative article, Linda, especially for a southern city gal like me.
    All the best to you.

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