Wheat Harvest

Harland (hubby) started to harvest the wheat Thursday afternoon. I drove out to the field where he was working after I got home from work.

This is one of 3 fields Harland will be harvesting this year.

For a while, I rode in the combine with Harland.

The combine is a air conditioned marvel of cutter and thresher all in one.

Prior to the industrial age, wheat was cut by hand,

and then the wheat kernel was separated from the head (threshing) by beating the wheat- either by hand or beast of burden. Later, the wheat was cut using a horse drawn cutter,

and threshed with a threshing machine powered by a steam engine.

A crew of a couple dozen men was needed for this operation, not to mention the women back in the hot kitchen cooking meals for everyone over a wood fire.

Today, Harland drives alone around the field, and gets the job done in a fraction of the time. The wheat is drawn into the front of the combine and up into the inside, where the kernels are separated from the stalks. The wheat kernels are then stored in a bin directly behind the cab, and the stalks are shredded and shot out the back of the combine onto the field.

When the bin on the combine is full, Harland empties it into his grain truck waiting at the edge of the field.

Here’s a close up of the wheat on the truck.

Harvesting is much faster and easier than in the old days, but I think something has been lost. Wheat harvest was a social occasion then; a community effort with men, women, and even kids, all working toward a common goal. I wouldn’t want to go back to that time for all the hard work it was. I can’t see myself standing over a wood stove cooking meals on a 100 degree day. But I would like to experience the sense of community that existed then.  Maybe the closeness of neighbors made up for all the discomforts they had. I suspect it did.

I’ll have more posts about the wheat harvest soon.

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8 comments to Wheat Harvest

  • The wheat looks good! It should all be in the bin in no time. Are you getting good bushels to the acre? What’s the weight and moisture? I remember riding with my dad in the “air conditioned” cab. The earliest attempts weren’t great and my dad would constantly open the door to look out at how something was going. He remembers having horses pull the equipment when he was a kid. Today, he rents out the farm ground. He has great renters who let him ride along during some of the harvest. Our whole family would gather to drive the combines and trucks. Being the youngest, I was mostly in charge of feeding the animals at the farm, readying things at the house and when old enough the “go for” girl running stuff from one place to another. I love the smell of wheat harvest. Thanks for the photos as I no longer ride around in a combine.

    • Suzanne

      Hi Gardener,
      Harland mentioned that the yeild is good so far. Not sure about the weight, but the moisture I know is about 12.
      Thank you for your wheat memories. Harland mentioned last week that he wishes that equipment was as quiet when he started farming as it is now. Air-conditioned cabs are a blessing.
      Thanks,
      Suzanne

  • Jen

    I was driving around on gravel roads in my neck of the woods after supper tonight. Some of the wheat has been harvested and some hasn’t. Harvesting is amazing to watch.

    • Suzanne

      Hi Jen,
      It’s a busy time right now for farmers- both wheat and hay at the same time. Harland has been alternating between the two. I’ll have to get some pics of the haymaking for a post soon.
      Thanks for visiting,
      Suzanne

  • Catherine Guy

    Hi, I’m new to your website (found it via a comment you left on Pioneer Woman). I really enjoyed the post and the photos. I am from Austin, TX but would love to someday have acreage – for the grandkids to come visit. Right now, I’ve still got one of my own in diapers!

    • Suzanne

      Hi Catherine,
      Welcome! Glad you enjoyed the wheat pics. Do hold on to that dream of owning land- You’ll have it some day.
      Thanks for visiting.
      Suzanne

  • It’s been a long time since I rode in the combine. It is a lot of fun. Were the old threshing pictures from your family?

    • Suzanne

      Hello Teresa,
      The older pics are not from our family, but I’m sure the family did their harvest like the pics show back then. Wish I could see it.
      Thank you,
      Suzanne

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