Oh! Harvest time. I don’t know about you, but in my previous life the word “harvest” always made me think of cool Fall weather. It made me think of pumpkins, scarecrows, and big family meals outside (Hobby Lobby may or may not have influenced my ideas on harvest). Well on our farm – and in our little corner of the world – harvest time is not in the Fall. It is not cool outside. And pumpkins do not grace us with their presence. Harvest time on our farm is in the dead heat of Summer. And Summers in the Rio Grande Valley average oh…a pretty steady 100 degrees. It’s brutal man. I seriously don’t know how these guys do it – or anyone else working in the outdoor elements (I get frazzled by the heat walking through the Target parking lot). Now for the most part, these guys ARE either in a truck or a machine. So they’re not necessarily burning up in the direct sun all day long. And keep in mind that these machines have come a loooong way and they are pretty darn fancy today.
Combines like this are long gone. This is a John Deere Vintage Combine.
This is the combine we use on our farm today (2016).
We farm grain sorghum, cotton and sesame. So when harvest rolls around we use the combine to CUT grain and sesame. And a cotton picker to PICK cotton. We actually hire a custom harvester to pick our cotton. We don’t own a cotton picker on our farm and our custom harvesting friend comes in and gets the job done in a jiffy with his fleet of cotton pickers.
Our custom harvester and his fleet of cotton pickers (2012)
Grain sorghum is usually the dominant crop on our farm (in terms of acres planted). So grain harvest, which we do on our own, always takes the longest – at least a couple weeks. But grain harvest is the heart and soul of harvesting season on our farm. We kick off the harvest season by cutting grain, and kicking off harvest season is like kicking off football season around here. It’s exciting. Everyone is talking about it. We’re ready to get out there. It’s pay day. And we really pull together as a family to get it all done. For me and the kiddo, it’s our favorite time of year to go out to the field and ride in the combine (afterall, the combine only comes out for a spin once a year around here).
Our harvest parade heading out to the field for grain harvest.
Grain harvest near our house and farm headquarters.
The technology is really amazing. Every time I ride in the combine I just can’t get over the precise science that this giant computer of a machine is able to do.
Once the combine is full, it unloads all the grain into the grain cart. Once the grain cart is full, it unloads into a semi truck trailer. That truck then goes to the grain elevator to get weighed and it unloads our grain for good. From there, the grain elevator sells the grain to grain buyers all over – most of our grain ends up in Mexico.
Cotton may not be the dominant crop on our farm, but it is the prettiest crop. There’s nothing like a freshly defoliated field of cotton. We call it South Texas Snow. And like most farming families – we always take advantage of the natural beauty sitting in our field and use it for a photo op. This year we got fancy and got local photographer and friend, Claudia Farr, to come out and capture one of the prettiest cotton crops we’ve ever had (we usually get one of the farm hands to snap a quick shot).
After planting the cotton seed, meticulously growing and defoliating our cotton crop, we sit back and let the custom harvester do his job. We do however, get to tag our own modules for the Cotton Gin to pick up. Tagging modules is one of the many fun things we get to do as a family at harvest time. It’s like legal graffiti man.
Tagging modules on our farm (perks of giving your kid a four letter name)
We wrapped up our 2016 harvest in the first week of August. And any farmer will tell you that it’s a huge relief to see your crops out of the ground and sitting somewhere else safe and sound as they make their way into the supply and demand cycle of the world. Now that harvest is over – we get to sit back and breathe a little bit (work normal hours again) and believe it or not – we start preparing for the following year. Working the ground, praying for rain, working and maintaining equipment. It’s also a great time to make any sort of improvements or changes to the farm.
Stay tuned for updates and improvements on our farm!
XO – Laura