Hold your header up high

Audra Brown

Audra Brown

By Audra Brown

Local columnist

Just about the time it starts getting good and hot, it’s time to get to work. Now, farmers are plenty busy all year round, but they are especially overworked when it’s planting time or harvest time. This part of the world, June is one of those times.

We know it’s coming, when all that green wheat starts heading out and then getting dry. It’s amazing how quick our hot, desert days can turn green leaves into dry straw and red grain. It always sneaks up on me. It starts to turn and I head out to shake the rodents and dust out of the combine, change the oil, and make sure the air conditioner does more than blow hot air on my face. Before I can get the header hooked on and the axles greased, I turn around and the wheat is ready to cut. I don’t know that I’ve ever started a wheat harvest fully prepared, no matter how on the ball I think I am.

One way or the other, the fun starts. It’s a fact that I consider combining to be one of my favorite jobs. Sittin’ up high in a big glass cab, a panorama of swaying grain spread out below, tunes on the radio, and if I’m lucky, a big, cold cup of iced tea within arms’ reach.
It’s not particularly fast. You hope it’s dadgummed slow. Good wheat won’t cut faster than a mile or so an hour—sometimes more like 0.5. Those years, it’ll take a whole hour just to make one round back and forth across the field and that’s not counting the stop for a bin-full. Those times are sweet.

The rest of the time…
You go just as fast as you can without jamming the header into the dirt. The wheat’s so short that you lower the header so that it only scrapes the ground on the high spots, you hoof it along at 3 to 5 mph, and you hope to get a bin-full more than once a day.
This was another one of those years. So here’s hoping that the combine will get to run slow with the header high next time.

Audra Brown probably shouldn’t write while on the combine, but she does… Contact her at: