Awaiting harvest

Susan Manzke
Bob rides along in the Maass combine.

I believe that as soon as crop seeds go into the soil in the spring farmers are already looking to a finished harvest. Maybe even long before seeds touch the ground, when plans are made and selections made for the year of work, that’s when farmers start dreaming of harvest.

This year planting was delayed here because of a wet spring and then more rain drowned growing soybeans. Replanting took place with the same hope of harvest. More rain arrived and a second replanting took place. After another drowning of growing plants it was too late for Bob to replant. From then on we just watched what remained grow.

Because of the late planting date, our soybeans took a long time to mature. They seemed to stay green long into September and then suddenly the plants started to turn yellow, which is what they should do at the end of the growing season. In no time the whole field changed from green to yellow and finally to brown. The next thing was for the plants to dry so the pods would break apart and hard beans harvested—this is written for people who do not know anything about growing soybeans.

As we progressed through September and into October, Bob and I would take a ride to our fields and test for bean hardness. We didn’t test with machines. Our testing was done with our teeth. After working with soybeans all these years a farmer can tell the doneness by putting a shelled bean between his teeth and crunching down.

Again, the beans remained soft when we wanted them to be dry.

Bob used to combine our beans himself, but these days we hire someone to combine for us. We were on the list to be combined when the time came.

For days, Bob worried that the beans would never be dry enough, but finally they were ready. We got the phone call we had hoped to hear. The combine crew was on its way—we wanted to dance.

Bob prepared for their arrival. He had a tractor and wagon ready to receive some of the beans, even though most would be sold from the field.

My husband couldn’t have been more welcoming for the family crew’s arrival if he waited out in the field with balloons. He started watching the machines roll across the field from the sidelines.

The next time I looked to the work being done I noticed Bob was no longer watching from the distance. He was in the combine cab riding along and he stayed there for quite some time.

Soybeans fill the Manzke wagon.

At supper time, Bob and I continued to observe the work being done across from our house. As night settled the lights of now two combines traveled farther from the house. Still Bob watched.

When it became difficult to see the machines working from the house, Bob got out our cart and sat in the front yard where he could see and hear the working combines.

Sunny, our dog, needed a walk. After that the dog and I joined Bob in the cart. Lucky for all of us it was a lovely evening.

Bob stayed watching until the crew pulled out for the night. In the morning, Bob was right where he wanted to be, watching the last of our soybeans come out of the field.

It was time to do our happy dance.

I don’t know many people who would be so attentive to harvest as Bob was. He just wanted to be part of the finish of our growing year. Instead of watching, I know my husband would rather be working, but when he can’t he admires the Maass Family crew. They did a wonderful job for us again. We send them all a big THANK YOU.

As we tie up the 2017 farm year, we look forward to 2018. Farmers are forever optimists.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;