It’s harvest time on the Prairies
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/09/2022 (260 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
At the end of August, I snatched up the opportunity to hitch a ride with my brother to our hometown in Saskatchewan as he returned to help with combining. I brought my youngest son along, as well.
It was a glorious time to see family and return to my roots. But it was also a reminder of the ups and downs of farming and the determination and grit required.
The plan was to do about three days’ worth of combining, get a few odd jobs done, and return to Winnipeg. (My brother’s fields had been destroyed by hail and/or diminished by grasshoppers and lack of rain to the point of being a write-off, so he only had to help my mostly-retired Dad with his field of durum wheat).
There was some time to get the machinery ready, and then came the rain. And more rain. Those dry Saskatchewan plains got their first real rain since June — a whole inch! Although farmers prefer rain after crops are in the bin, this rain was something to be thankful for.
Farmers are always thinking long-term. And they are accustomed to things being out of their control.
Wet wheat meant more time for serious problem-solving to get a new (used) header working. A header, by the way, is the part of the combine that brings the grain stalks into the threshing part of the combine, where the grain and chaff (extra bits like the stalk and hulls) can be separated. It was frustrating work, but they finally got it functional, in a creative way.
Farmers can’t give up when something isn’t working. They must figure out a solution in the shortest amount of time possible, which often means doing it themselves and letting go of doing things “just right” in order to actually get things done.
My brother eventually got on the field and then came another discovery — leaking oil! Then a metal arm broke and the whole harvesting mechanism had to be taken out of the combine, brought into town, welded, and re-fitted back into the combine. All this fixing took place in the hottest temperatures of the summer. My over-80 dad refused to rest until the crucial next step was complete (he has decided that next year he is officially done).
Finally, everything was running smoothly. My brother got up early and stayed up late in order to finish.
Farmers work hard and long hours when it’s harvest time. They know their livelihood is on the line.
It’s not only their livelihoods but also our food at stake. So, next time you reach for a bag of pasta or a jug of canola oil, remember the farmers – and do all you can to support them.
Springfield North community correspondent
Sonya Braun is a community correspondent for Springfield North.