This post is about what I have spent my time doing since my last post. Corn, corn, corn...waiting to be harvested or the term we use most is "combined". Combined or Combining are a funny words when you think about it and it can be confusing to the non-farmers out there. The machine we use to harvest with is called a Combine so that is where the word comes from so if I refer to combining you know what I am talking about. We aren't mixing things together like the common definition would give the word - just harvesting with the combine!
I don't drive the combine - way too many controls to watch. My job is driving the tractor and grain cart. I drive along the combine to collect the grain and then take it back to where the trucks are parked and unload it. I go back and forth, back and forth all day - kind of boring to be truthful. Saves time for the combine operator and he can keep harvesting so makes the job go faster that way. Most all farmers have grain carts now, unlike when we first got out of college and came back to the farm. Then we only had a combine and the trucks. More labor is needed now because of the extra machine to run so guess that is my job most of the time. We do have an extra guy that comes out after his regular job around 5 each night so I don't have to drive after dark. I am pooped by then anyway, besides I just don't like doing it after dark, especially if I have to back up. I never know for sure which way to turn the wheels of the tractor to make the grain cart go the way I want it and need lots of space with nothing parked close and daylight is a big plus. If I drove a tractor all the time I would probably finally remember how to do it but I only drive it for a few weeks at harvest time so forget between times.
Notice on the photo below the combine is unloading corn into the grain cart on the move.
In the next photo I stopped the tractor for a bit to get a photo of the combine full of grain waiting for me to come so he can unload. You can see a reflection of some of the stuff in the tractor in the sky as I took the photo through the tractor window. I try to get back after unloading in the truck as fast as possible but the corn yields have been so good that most of the time the combine has to pause a bit so the corn doesn't come rolling over the top.
Made it around the end of the field and am approaching the back of the combine.
I have to count three empty rows between my front wheel and the combine and that is where I drive. After I get along side the combine he starts going again and I have to keep up with him as he harvests and unloads onto me at the same time. Most of the time it isn't too bad as I can pretty much set my speed and the combine adjusts if he needs to fill the front or back of the grain cart. The photo below has some blurry spots in it because I took it through the dirty tractor window as we were moving along. Just held the camera back and clicked. Didn't know what I got in the photo until I previewed it. Hired may driving the combine in the photo.
The next photo shows my view most of the day. I can look out the side windows but need to keep the tractor going straight. I do have air conditioning and a radio for company though. We have a 2-way radio system in the combine, tractor and trucks to communicate with the rest of the crew but use it only when needed.
You can see I am just speeding along at 3.9 miles per hour. This is pretty much the speed of the combine/grain cart combination as we lumber through the fields. I do go faster after I am full on my way back to the trucks and faster still on my way to pick up another load. I don't like to go fast though as the tractor bounces and it makes it harder to steer it between the corn rows. If the tractor skips over to another row it can really bounce and you can loose control if it keeps going cross rows at a high speed. How ever fast I go feels too fast though. At the end of the day my ribs and back are really sore and after sitting for hours on end I get really stiff.
This is a view of the tractor and grain cart and the combine as they come to the end of the rows that they are working on. Obviously I am not driving in this photo.
My husband took this photo of me unloading into the truck. Normally I have my eyes glued to the auger and truck to make sure the grain I am unloading is going where it should be and not running over the sides.
When the trucks leave the field they are either taken to the elevator in town or to our farm to be unloaded in our grain bins. We don't have enough bin space to hold all the grain we harvest so have to take some of ours to the elevator. All landlords share goes to town too.
The photo below shows John unloading a truck into the auger system to take it up to the drying bin. The corn moisture has been running 18-19% lately and it needs to be dried down some to allow it to stay in good condition and not mold while in storage. This grain will be stored until next winter or next spring probably before it is sold and hauled to the elevator.
This last photo shows a long range view of the unloading system. The small bin that the grain is going into first is the drying bin. There are large fans that blow heat into the grain until it is dry enough to unload into the larger bins.
Today I have the morning off as John is hauling the cows and calves back from one of our pastures. He has a crew of friends helping so I get to stay home. The guys help each other out and today it is our turn to call on them.