I have shared many a time about the beauty of a rich rust-colored milo field under the light of the harvest moon as deer watch the combines harvest the grain sorghum. And how it is one of my favorite moments of the year to cut milo with my husband and daughter. It is a slower pace than wheat, less hullabaloo.
Well, this year is not like any of the past years I have witnessed. We began the first week of October. With only 500 acres, we should have finished in 10 days. I had cleared my schedule, so we were ready to go. Our first field was 35 bushels an acre. Three days later, our first field was done. A little disappointing, but it was great to cut something.
We moved to the second field. Our first truckload was 85-bushels-an-acre grain! How do you like them apples? Pretty neat. With a skip in our step, we were rolling. Combines cut, trucks rolled through the elevator, and you could feel the enthusiasm.
And then we stopped. It was dewy. It was just going to delay us a day or two. Then the grain was wet. Then some of it wasnít ripe. Two weeks later, we pieced here and there. In the middle of November, snow was on the ground and we were just finishing. We waited and waited and waited. Piecing through the fields became the norm.
Back and forth across the county with a combine, a grain cart, a service truck and a grain truck just to find the pieces that were ready.
You would think we had thousands of acres to cut. On our final day, I asked my husband if we were going to cut today. He replied, ďWell, itís 16 degrees out. Iím going to go see if the combine starts. Then Iíll let you know.Ē
This city girl has never paid so much attention to weather. Temperature, wind speed, humidity, forecasts and wind chill all play a role in our working life.
Our magical fall harvest never really went picture-perfect. I never cut or drove a truck. My daughter got to ride through the elevator a few times and had lunch in the field with her grandparents while I went to a meeting in town. I never saw a deer or the harvest moon. One of the crew got to see my favorite image, a buck, doe and fawn under the harvest moon at last light. As I read this to my husband, he says I am making a Terry Redlin canvas come to life.
Well, maybe next year for me.
Writer/photographer Michele Boy is a transplanted New Yorker living with her husband and young daughter on their Hamilton County farm. For more from Boy, visit www.kansasagland.com.