Mars and Venus collide at harvest

This husband and wife team find that they take different approaches when it comes time to clamber into the combine

When it comes to combining, my husband is from Mars and I am from Venus.

We share a love of the activity because it represents the culmination of all we have attempted to do with our crop throughout the growing season. From planting to harvest, we have looked at the crop enough times to decide when the grain is finally ready to be combined.

I say my husband is from Mars because he looks at things in a different way than I do through my Venus eyes.

To begin with, we have different cab experiences. Mars likes to have all the manuals, gloves, rags, a few tools, window cleaner, and cans of potions in the cab. I like to have the whisk broom so I can sweep out the cab on a regular basis. Of course, I am always happy to have those other items at the ready when they are needed.

Mars likes to have a big lunch that he can access throughout the day whenever he is hungry. If Venus takes a big lunch, I eat it all within the first hour. Mars likes to have a big jug of water on hand. I drink one thermos of water all day: fewer bathroom breaks.

Mars likes to fuel up every morning and wipe down the windows. Venus prefers to do those things on an as-needed basis — when I can no longer see the grain in the hopper, it is time to get out the window cleaner.

Mars likes to listen to the radio at high volume and change the channel when he gets tired of the same broadcast. He has a sixth sense about the other noises the machine makes. Venus turns the radio off and listens to the machine. I want to react quickly if an unusual sound signals a breakdown.

The actual combining plays out differently too. Mars likes tradition, Venus likes to change things up every once in a while. I may open up the field right in the middle, but, like the sun, Mars starts in the east and works his way west. If we are working around sloughs, I like to cut the field in half or thirds, while he likes to manoeuvre around sloughs. Mars may leave a few stalks of grain here and there on the hilltops or at the end of the pass; Venus always turns around to catch them.

When it comes to unloading, Mars can unload anywhere, any time, and at any angle. Venus likes to unload at the end of the pass, parallel to the grain truck, and in a flat spot. Venus likes enough room to spin around behind the truck with the combine and head back into the field lined up with the GPS.

Mars can look at a field and calculate the number of acres remaining, how many rounds are left, and the approximate time we will finish, barring any breakdowns. Venus relies on autosteer for the data.

Mars and Venus are still working on hand signals. Whereas he likes to use big sweeping gestures that could mean a number of things, and are difficult to decipher sometimes, I tend to be more expressive, perhaps too imaginative, and draw a picture. After a few misreads, we have to stop and speak face to face.

When all is said and done, Mars and Venus seem to have created a symbiotic relationship at harvest time that works well. Venus does most of the combining and Mars does all of the trucking and managing the bins, augers, and fans. We may act like we come from different planets, but we seem to be able to make this time of year work to our advantage.

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