Harvest time ramps up activity in fields, on roads

Susan Manzke

It’s fall and the roads are busy again. This traffic is not heading to a Packer game, but back and forth from farmyard to field. Farmers are in a hurry to bring in their crops before a change in the weather hampers their efforts.

Bob and Sunny waiting for some farm traffic to pass before crossing the road.

Non-farm drivers may not always understand about the rural traffic they meet on our Wisconsin roads. They may be in a hurry and the tractors seem to be traveling slowly. At the same time, farmers will be moving as fast as they can. They are in a race, one that takes place every fall.

I’ve been behind a neighborhood tractor riding on a highway many a day. If safe, I pass the farm vehicle, but if I’m on a yellow line I just follow at a safe distance.

Last week, another vehicle came up behind me as I slowed for the chopper wagon. This person had no patience. He/she swung out into the oncoming lane, passing me and then the long farm machinery train. Only by the skin of that driver’s teeth did it get back into the right lane. The impatient driver dodged an accident as an innocent driver came around the curve from the opposite direction.

Don’t risk your life. Slow down when coming up behind farm machinery or any slow moving vehicles. If you are patient, a safe passing opportunity will come soon. Most likely the tractor will be turning into a field or farmyard before you know it.

Recently, our road was very busy with chopper wagons and tractors as two farms worked at harvesting silage for their cows. This happens every fall, but a couple days were extra busy as the farm to our south chopped a field of corn to the north and a farm to our north chopped a field to our south. We were at ground zero where tractors, trucks, and wagons passed.

We know which wagon belongs to which farm, so Bob started keeping track of the number of filled wagons that crossed his path.

The empty truck pulls ahead of filled tractor and wagon as chopper continues to shoot chopped corn into its bed.

In days gone by, Bob chopped silage for his cows, too. He and his dad milked 35 cows and had some young stock, too. Thirty-five cows don’t sound like much these days, but those black and white beauties paid the bills for two families in the 70s.

 As many farms do these days, silage is chopped, dumped into a pile, packed down, and then covered with plastic. (No, those large white covered piles are not stored manure, as one Illinois relative thought. She happened to smell manure as she drove past a farm and assumed the farmer was trying to cover the smell with plastic covered with tires. Those piles are the silage food that will feed the livestock all winter long.)

 Anyway, Bob couldn’t help but think of his younger days. He and his dad did the milking, feeding, and the harvesting so they had to manage their time.

“I was happy when we got 35 acres of silage chopped in a week or ten days,” said Bob. “Last night the neighbors went into a 40-acre field and finished in well under ten hours, not ten ."

Back on the farm, the loads are dumped, piled high, and packed to store for the months to come.

My husband shakes his head at all the machines and wagons on our road. He’s even timed a chopper as it filled a wagon in three minutes. “Of course, those choppers have a lot more power than we ever had or have,” said Bob. (His were put-put models compared to modern

There is excitement in the air as harvest takes place. So much counts on good weather and the absence of breakdowns. The result comes from a whole season’s

Bob and I wish everyone a safe, productive harvest with good commodity prices for all the work you’ve done.

A tractor works on a growing  feed pile of corn silage while a feed pile covered with plastic (to protect is from oxygen and the elements) stands  in the foreground. Tires help to keep the plastic in place until the feed is used later in the year.

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