Harvest finished as expected not quite two weeks ago. My father came down from back home in Nebraska to help me for a few days, getting the last few fields of corn knocked out while Bob was away on commission business.
It was a nostalgic few days for both of us. Working together on my farm’s first corn harvest as the calendar rapidly approached Thanksgiving took us back to Dad’s final corn crop. Our vivid recollection is from Thanksgiving Day 1996. We were nearly done, working on the last circle next to our home place. I was a freshman in high school, running his John Deere 7720 combine. My younger brother was manning the grain cart, while our sister rode along with Dad in the trucks hauling it all back to our bins.
There was a significant snowstorm forecast to begin that night, and we were eager to get the crop in before it hit. We finished that last field as sundown approached. Everything in town was closed except the gas stations, and having been too busy to prepare a formal holiday dinner we opted for cold turkey sandwiches. They were consumed with delight. We knew the most important part of that day wasn’t what we ate. After our joyfully simple Thanksgiving dinner, we retreated to the house and played Monopoly for two days, unaffected by winter’s fury.
We all remember that holiday with fondness. It was a happy time together. Dad may have known then that he would not have another crop for us to harvest together. If he did, he never let it show.
Fast forward 23 years. Dad worked his way out of farming and into a successful second career. I left home and went to school, ended up working in the same industry as he did for nearly 15 years, and then found my way back into farming. I harvested my first crop exactly one year older in age than he was when we harvested his last.
He and I realized this at nearly the same time and talked about it side by side in the combine as the last truckload of 2019 came off the field, watching a brilliant sunset put an end to a day neither of us will ever forget. It was a surreal experience, connecting our family’s farming history with exactly a generation-long pause.
We are grateful harvest wrapped up when it did. We added another member to our family last week – a baby boy that looks just like his brothers and will probably give them a run for their money as they grow up.
Local basis: corn -0.02, soybeans -0.57, hard red wheat -0.10. — Ryan Johnson