Fall officially begins this weekend — which also means harvest is now underway across the country.
Harvest is the culmination of an entire year’s worth of work. Everything we did the last eight months now comes to fruition. It can be a stressful time, an exciting time, and pretty much everything in between.
But it can also be a bit predictable. For those not directly involved in harvest, or even those just trying to understand their emotions, I’ve put together this handy guide. It provides a journey through the phases of harvest that are inevitable.
Phase One: The Excitement
This. Is. It.
This is literally what we’ve worked for all year long — harvest! You’ve spent the last several months watching those crops grow, and now you’re ready to bring home the bacon (well, at least the food that helps grow the bacon). You’re pumped. You’re fired up. You’re ready to get ‘er done.
You wake up an hour early the first morning. You sip your coffee as the sun slowly comes over what promises to be the best harvest season you’ve ever had. This is your year. You put on your cap and head out feeling like a hero.
Phase Two: The Break
Inevitably you hit the green button a little too early. The weather looked great. The corn was ready (OK, mostly ready). The equipment was actually operating correctly. The fields were still dry from summer. So, you got the party started.
But then the weather turned. Now you’re sitting in the house pouting as you watch buckets of water flood your fields and soak those ears of corn. We won’t be finished until Easter.
Phase Three: The Disappointment
You were so sure this was the year to top that other year that was super awesome where we ran so late because we were bringing in gigantic yields. Yeah, that year.
But then you finally got in the fields and started averaging yields. You realized they were just that: average. You can see the dream of shattered goals and records cascading down around you.
Just remember: you do this work because you’re passionate about it, not because you want to get rich!
Phase Four: The Grumpy Exhaustion
Your grain cart operator got stuck. As soon as you got the cart unstuck, your truck driver showed up to let you know about a little “problem.” Yeah, someone failed to close up the trailer before transferring another load. Oops.
This is the part of the season where you just want to get done.
You’ve already heard every song on the radio 5 million times. You’ve had more fast food cheeseburgers than you care to admit. You’re not wearing clean socks.
Let. It. End.
Phase Five: The Holidays
Disclaimer: This probably doesn’t happen for our friends a little farther south. But we’re always still going through November, and usually into December.
The radio is now playing Christmas tunes. Snow is threatening in the sky. The evening work sparkles with holiday lights.
But the finish line is sight. The festivities lighten the mood and alleviate the grumpy exhaustion to carry you through the end.
There you have it. The phases of harvest. Hopefully this will shine a light on why some farmers are acting a little strange this time of year.
Amanda Zaluckyj blogs under the name The Farmer’s Daughter USA. Her goal is to promote farmers and tackle the misinformation swirling around the U.S. food industry.