Keeping an eye on harvest action from the kitchen

Susan Manzke
Bob watching harvest from the warmth of the Manzke kitchen.

I’ve been waiting to see the world around our farm again. During the summer, we watched the corn growing on both sides of our farm lane. It didn’t take long before it felt like we were driving through a tunnel between tall corn stalks. We couldn’t see very far, except for the corn, so that limited our wildlife viewing, as did the muddy muck on the lane so we couldn’t drive down to our usual viewing station by our woods.

Finally, our world is opening again. Corn harvest has finally started on our farm. More than just our little farm is opening, so is the rest of the area. If you haven’t noticed, rotten weather had pushed harvest back weeks. It isn’t fun watching winter inching closer and knowing a good chunk of your crops still have to be harvested.

This is the first year of Bob’s retirement from farming. Even though my husband isn’t up on a tractor seat, that doesn’t mean he isn’t paying attention to harvest. The machinery in the area might be our renters or the neighbors', nevertheless Bob continues to keep an eye on the action.

The best view from our house of our west fields is by the kitchen table, otherwise, trees get in the way of Bob’s view. My husband might be across the room, but when he hears heavy machinery moving, he looks up and moves closer to a window.

Sometimes I ask, “Who was that?” Curious which neighbor was working.

Bob usually has an answer, but sometimes he’s not fast enough to get a good view. “I didn’t see who that was,” he tells me with disappointment in his voice.

I catch myself, looking up, too. Funny how a person gets used to wondering what farm traffic is on the road. Any kind of movement seemed especially exciting this year. With the excess of precipitation, too much fieldwork was delayed so when it happened we were thrilled to see it—even if we aren’t farming, we continue to cheer for those who are.

The night our renters pulled into our field across the street, Bob hadn’t noticed. He had been watching the news on television and had fallen asleep.

I didn’t wake him at first, but as more equipment rolled into the field, I went and told Bob. He woke immediately and came to his seat by the kitchen table. We switched off the lights so he could get a better view.

Oh, he couldn’t see much except lights moving about. The trucks weren’t going into the field but remained at the end of the lane where they wouldn’t sink into the mud.

Bob watched until the family crew parked their equipment, turned off their lights, and went home for the night.

The zoomed view from the Manzke kitchen window of dump cart unloading into a waiting truck.

The following day, sunlight made watching fieldwork so much better for Bob.

I know my husband would rather be out in the mad harvest race than sitting in the house, but those days are past. Bob can’t take cold weather and he knows his limits, but that doesn’t mean some days he thinks he can do it all again—things that remind him of his age are heavy bags of softener salt. He groans every time he lifts one and swears they are making them larger. In his dreams, Bob tosses bales and seed bags like he did when he was young.

Action in our field was slow as dump carts had to be used. Driving back and forth from the chopper to the truck takes time. We have witnessed other years where one of our fields would have been harvested in one day or less. That won’t happen this year. Of course, that gives Bob more time to watch fieldwork close to the house.

Let’s just hope all harvest work can be completed before nasty winter weather arrives. We will pray this will happen soon. Here’s wishing good luck to all farmers.

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