Dancing with joy at soybean harvest

Susan Manzke
Combining, thanks to the Maass family, while unloading into a gravity wagon.

I was driving back from Seymour, after having coffee with friends at Sissy’s, when I saw combines in fields. It had been damp/wet in our area, so this was the first work I had seen in a week. I knew we were on the list to have our soybeans combined toward the end of the week. It was only Tuesday.

I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be to find a combine in our field when I got home.

There wasn’t a combine on our land, no, there were two!

The Maass family crew had pulled onto our farm a short time before I came home — I had been gone just over an hour. It was such a nice sight to see them already working. 

Bob was still in the house, which surprised me. He usually hangs around the crew, even when there’s no work for him to do.

My husband wasn’t outside because he knew I was coming home to dish out lunch for us. Luckily I had leftovers ready to reheat so Bob didn’t have to wait.

As soon as we finished eating, Bob brought out our cart and drove out to the field. He didn’t have to go far. The combines were working right across the road from the house.

I brought out my camera and took a few pictures while taking our dog Sunny for a walk.

Soybean harvest is underway at Sunnybook Farm thanks to the Maass family. Here machines are getting ready for a second day of work.

Bob visited with a neighbor who came to watch the harvest, too. When the first semi truck was filled with beans, Bob rode along to the co-op to watch our beans go into the elevator.

Harvest is always an exciting time. At first, we were excited/worried that the rain wouldn’t let up so the work could be done. Inches of precipitation put off soybean combining for weeks — when a year’s worth of work is still in the field, farmers can’t help but worry. Time for a good harvest was fast passing us by. 

I reminded Bob about one year, many years ago. It was the end of December 1979. I was in the hospital after having our third child. As with the others, Russell was delivered by C-section. I told Bob not to bother coming to visit me in the hospital — he was there for the delivery. I’d be home soon. Anyway, he had important work to do.

While I got to know our new baby, Bob was home combining our crops. Lucky for us, snow hadn’t come for Christmas. The crops were finally ready to be brought in from the fields. It only made sense for Bob to work — we’d have time together after I was home and the crops were in.

Soybeans are a tough crop. They pick up moisture like little sponges, even from a fog. Once winter comes, freezing and thawing can cause the pods to crack open, spilling beans uselessly onto the ground.

Bob was one of the first to plant soybeans in our area. I wasn’t writing a column yet, it was that early in our Wisconsin life. Late autumn that year, just before harvest, a neighbor wanted to hunt in our field. He thought green beans hadn’t been harvested by the canning company. He’d never seen soybeans. That hunter didn’t know that dry beans will pop out of their pods even if brushed by a hunter.

Now everyone can stop asking if our crops have been harvested. They have and we’re dancing with joy — the joy comes from getting the beans off the field, not for the price soybeans are currently bringing in the marketplace. Those figures aren’t the best. Also, Bob had wanted to plant winter wheat. It doesn’t look like that will happen. Wheat planting time has passed. 

So we have the good (harvest), the bad (no winter wheat), and the ugly (price) for 2018. Now we look forward to the 2019 crop year. That’s how we stay positive. There’s always next year.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com.