Tag Archives: combines

Life in My Neighborhood

12 Nov


Of the five states and two countries I’ve lived in throughout my life, only one location has been deprived of noticeable seasonal changes, and I’m thankful I only lived there long enough to learn to sit up and eat solid foods. I’m sure that people living in Miami, as I did when I was born, get used to recognizing the seasons by what decorations are up in the stores, but I would miss the more obvious signs terribly if forced to give them up.

I would miss digging sweaters out of the depths of my closet, searching for matching snow boots, and wearing scarves as more than just accessories.

After the harvest.

After the harvest.

Here in southwest Minnesota the seasons can come in with a bang. I guess, if I had my druthers, I’d rather have the calmer, less brutal seasonal changes of Oregon or Washington than the IN YOUR FACE seasonal changes around here, but there is no denying that I get a lot of pleasure from watching the seasons through the palate of the farmer’s fields.

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In spring I love the daily changes in the fields, the minute corn and soybean plants beginning to poke their leaves above the soil, turning the brown earth into mint-green fields of promise. I adore spring, and all the more so since living through the Minnesota winters.

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But I also love watching the progress of harvest every autumn. I love seeing the combines sweeping back and forth across the fields. I especially love watching them at night when their headlights rise like the sun above the gentle folds and ridges of the countryside. Living as I do out in the country, it makes for an interesting time in the neighborhood – as opposed to the usual excitement of pheasants and feral cats.


I thought I’d leave you today with a few photos of harvest in SW Minnesota. Some of these shots are from this year, and some from previous autumns. This is life in my neighborhood.

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A few years ago Boo was given in a ride in a combine as they harvested corn.  She was thrilled!

A few years ago Boo was given in a ride in a combine as they harvested corn. She was thrilled!

The view from inside the cab as we dumped corn from the combine into the gravity wagon.

The view from inside the cab as we dumped corn from the combine into the gravity wagon.


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Literally the view from my window...

Literally the view from my window…





Big, Loud, Machinery…and Me

4 Oct

I love this shot. She was playing "baseball" with her bubble-wand.

I have told you before that I am neither a farmer nor the daughter of a farmer. My husband doesn’t farm, I have no relatives who farm, none, that I know of, who ever did. Well, probably small-time farmers, scratching their living in the Scottish highlands or the Wisconsin cheese-scented air, but they were not owners of the big, loud machinery that I’m talking about.

Nope, I’m not a farm-girl at heart, nor am I a fan of loud, jarring, noises. I don’t like motorcycles or jack-breaks, or smoothie-machines. I am, however incongruously, a big fan of the enormous combines that are taking over my little corner of the world at this time of year.

The inside scoop on corn oil.

I don’t know why I love them. If I was a logical, predictable person, I wouldn’t like them at all, loud, dirty, rumbling things that they are. But out here, where I have no neighbors within shouting distance and the corn fields aren’t much for conversation, I get a huge kick out of the gi-normous green combines.

"Dumping on the go."

True, they’re not all green John Deere varieties, some are red International Harvesters, or yellow New Hollands or gray Gleaners. (Yes, I’ve lived here long enough to learn a few things! Though, in the interests of complete honesty, it was my husband who remembered the Gleaner!) But the majority of them are green and yellow and sport a black buck sticker somewhere about their hoods. Around here, yellow and green doesn’t just mean the Green Bay Packers, or, even better, the University of Oregon, it mostly means what kind of farm machinery you believe in!)

Lucy got a ride last year. She LOVED it!

The thing, actually, that is the weirdest reason for me liking them is that they remind me of the army tanks I used to see in Berlin. I came up, one day, out of the U-Bahn station, expecting to cross the street uneventfully to the base, but instead came face to face (and ear to ear) with a convoy of tanks rumbling past me and blocking my route. I had no choice, really, but to stand there, hands over my ears, as tank after tank roared past. I. Hated. It.

It wasn’t just the noise, nor was it the inconvenience as I waited for a LONG time for them to go by; it was the meaning of it all. It was the images that flashed through my mind of just, exactly, what these things were for. It was living there, in Berlin, the war-destroyed city, where the tallest hill is made of rubble from the war. Imagine! A hill made of destroyed buildings and bombed churches and lost homes. That is what tanks like these (or at least their predecessors) rumbling past me had done.

And yet, as I stood there, tears pricking at my eyes and my ears blasted by roaring engines and creaking tracks, I knew that without those tanks, a terrible man would have been free to murder and destroy and tear his country apart. I was terrified of what those tanks represented; and terrified of what would have happened without them.

Told you it gets dusty.

But here I’ve done it again. I meant to write about combines! About the dust that rises behind them and fills your nostrils with brown-tinged snot. About the two times of year – planting and harvest – when I have neighbors to spy on. About the thrill of seeing them come up over the gentle hills at night, their headlights rising like the sun over the waving corn. About the way the kids love to glean any stray soy beans, popping their dry pods to reveal the small, tan beans – so gourmet, so hip.

Soy beans...au naturale.

Tofu, anyone?

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