Each Fall, this old soul sometimes-glamour girl trades the vintage dresses and cat eyes for a ponytail and work boots to work on my dad’s farm for harvest.
Even when I lived in the metro, I still tried each year to come back for a few days during harvest. You know the old saying, “you can take the girl out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.”
Harvest is one of my favorite times of year. It’s hard not to love the fall weather (and wearing several layers each morning in anticipation of the weather that day), working alongside my family (complete with laughter, banter and sometimes tears) and turning off the loud machines that filled the daylight when the stars come out.
At the start of harvest, I rushed out the door the first morning without my work boots. (Two months later, I still have no idea where they went. I’ve been rumored to misplace things.) I decided to dig out my trusty, decade-old Mizuno’s. By the first week, they were showing signs of wear. The soles started to separate from the shoe (see below) but I had to wear them til the bitter end.
By the end of harvest, I lost the soles. When I popped my head into my parents farmhouse to say goodbye to my mom that night, she looked at my shoes disapprovingly. I joked “they say if you wait long enough, your shoes will become trendy again, and barefoot shoes are very trendy right now.” While I tried to hold (or hoard) onto them, she promptly threw them away. And she said she made sure my dad didn’t get a look in the bag, because she was afraid he’d dig them back out. We’re both notorious
Might as well go barefoot.
Quality work shoes aren’t the only important fashion staple on the farm. I forgot a jacket one unusually warm weather day, and it was the day I was assigned with a dirty, dusty job working by a bean auger (my dad was not so impressed when he realized I was wearing his jacket). I broke the #1 farmer rule no-no by wearing my ring at work. “Where’s your gloves,” my dad hollared over the roar of the auger. Hey, some days I sit in a combine cab all day long and could get away with wearing a gown and heels. Lesson learned: always be prepared.
This is what happens when you don’t have gloves. Every time I point out the grease or blood on my dad’s hands during harvest, he tells me not to be a farmer. “You want your hands to look like this?” he says while staring me down. Rather than not farming, I just won’t point out his hands anymore. I learn something new every day on the farm, usually through error.
On my less dirty days (and when the weather is good and nothing is breaking down, so I have a smile on my face), I look something like this.
And our farm manager (AKA Captain Don) (AKA dad) looks about like this on a typical smooth-going day.
My mom runs meals out to everyone on the farm throughout the day, and the family farm dog gets involved too. She likes to run alongside the machines. “Don’t combine my dog” were my dad’s parting words one day as I climbed up into the combine. She has a natural camouflage come harvest time each year.
Harvest weather is unpredictable, just like farming. Some days are good. Some days are better. My favorite part of harvest is reflecting upon it.
Fall reflections to me are watching the sun set from the floor to ceiling window view of the combine. It’s turning off the loud, buzzing noise of the combine at night and walking in complete darkness (and the first complete silence of the day) to the work truck. It’s sitting on the back of the tail gate with everyone at the end of the night, and sipping a beer.
Those are the times I really appreciate and love life. I love the little moments, learning from my mistakes, working with my family and realizing I don’t ever want it to end.