‘Last field’ always causes the most problems

The end gate of this truck has what it will take to fix breakdowns in the field during harvest. | Beverley Biggeman photo

Whether it’s rain or mechanical trouble, this field never fails to cause its fair share of headaches at harvest time

Why is it that Murphy’s Law is sure to be invoked when working on the last field of harvest?

Our last field this year, which is also the furthest from home, is the perfect location for breakdowns, down time, and weather events.

This year, other than one or two minor breakdowns, we sailed through the short, dry crop with relative ease. The machine wasn’t taxed as it had been in other years, which had better than average yields, and we weren’t chugging through heavy straw.

Other than late-growing giant kochia plants, the weeds were fewer and some did not thrive in the dry conditions.

As luck would have it, the only major breakdown was the knife head and bearing, which pounded out in the so-called last field. These types of breakdowns always occur in the farthest corner of the field while my husband is in town getting parts and lunch. It’s just the two of us so banquets in the field are not our regular routine.

Modern cellphone technology has allowed us to be connected 24-7, so I texted pictures of the problem immediately.

I managed to catch him in the parts store. Pictures helped because I usually just say, “the thing on the header looks like it needs fixing and it’s making a clickety-clack noise that I haven’t heard before.”

My husband knew exactly what I was talking about.

He can look at most agricultural equipment and diagnose its malady “in jig time.”

Being a service representative for the big green and yellow company for all those years has enabled him to keep his own machinery in good working order.

We were only down for two hours this breakdown. The next day, on the same field, I tuned into another funny noise, this time a “tick, tick, ticking,” which turned out to be a missing rubber on one of the fingers on the feed beater.

As soon as I got rolling again, the reel stopped and we had to replace a reel pin, the first this harvest. All in all, the breakdowns were minor and we were able to keep rolling.

If it is going to rain during harvest, it will rain while we are in this particular field. This year, it started to rain about two weeks after we began harvest.

Luckily, we had finished the peas and lentils and the wheat wasn’t quite ready. And as one of our good friends always reminds us, “there is no such thing as a bad rain.”

As karma would have it, when we moved to the last field, the rain came in fits and starts, and we were down for a day here and a day there.

Sometimes we dread opening up the last field as “the curse of the final field” feels omnipresent. However, breakdowns and weather events have been much worse in the past, but because we farm this field east-west, we start and end each day with the sun on the horizon. Harvest is a beautiful season.

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