Harvest Time Memories

Harvest time in the wheat fields brings back good memories.

| Summer 2014

  • A freshly cut field of wheat stubble brings back memories of harvests past.
    Photo by Jeff Richmond
  • Working simultaneously, the combine cuts the wheat and collects the grain while the planter sows next year’s crop.
    Photo by Jeff Richmond
  • A conveyor belt attached to the truck lightens the load when stacking straw bales.
    Photo by Jeff Richmond
  • An International 786 tractor pulling a baler.
    Photo by Jeff Richmond
  • The baler collects loose straw and compacts it into square bales.
    Photo by Jeff Richmond
  • Bales are left behind to be picked up.
    Photo by Jeff Richmond
  • A full hay wagon is proof of a hard day’s work.
    Photo by Jeff Richmond
  • A wheat field after harvest is ready for planting.
    Photo by Jeff Richmond

Threshing Bee: Early Mechanized Harvest on the Family Farm

Here in the agricultural hub of Pelham, Tennessee, work begins early. I get the early shift, opening Harry and Ollie’s, my wife’s market and café, before 7 a.m. Folks often stop on their way to work to pick up a breakfast sandwich. One of these customers is a young man named Evan, and on one particular day, Evan and I chatted while I wrapped his order.

He mentioned that he, his father and his grandfather would be harvesting wheat, baling straw and planting soybeans — all in one operation. This sounded like the perfect setting to take photos for the next year’s calendar, which would feature farming activities in the Pelham Valley area. He assured me they’d be happy to have me stop by. He then gave me directions to several nearby locations where they would be working over the next few days.

That afternoon, I went to the first location. The field being harvested was a beautiful setting — the long field was bordered on both sides by green trees, with the classic golden brown wheat disappearing over a gentle rise in the field. Set against a blue sky, puffy white clouds, and the green mountainside, this idyllic scene had a soothing affect that swept over me. I could hear a muted rumble in the distance. The bright yellow combine appeared on the horizon, gradually working its way toward me, and I immediately began composing photos.

Bob, Evan’s grandfather, stopped to unload more than 200 bushels of wheat into a waiting truck. He invited me to ride in the jump seat of the combine. What a view, sitting high above the rolling waves of golden grain. And what a way to work, riding along in air-conditioned comfort.

As the hungry machine chewed its way across the field of soft red winter wheat, Bob gave me a brief tutorial on wheat and wheat farming.

The combination harvester-thresher is an amazing machine. A huge cutter bar cuts a 30-foot swath through the field on each pass. The combine then threshes and separates the wheat grains from the chaff. Following that, the grain is carried up into the storage hopper that holds up to 225 bushels of wheat, while the chaff and straw are expelled behind.



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