2015-08-29

...Oats...

There is something about harvest, in this case oats. Oats has a unique smell to it, very sublime and understated. The color of the grain is sort of demure too, sort of a not-yellow/not-brown tan... I am sure there must be a name for it, but if there is, I don't know that name. It is amazing to realize that with only a few of those dull grains on each plant, it can still add up to over one hundred bushel of grain per acre.

The throaty roar of a combine churning through an eighteen foot swath, cycle-bar purring, the separator plates consistently giving off a quiet clash, the blower pushing the chaff and stem through the throat of the machine, the grain sliding up the auger tubes and landing in the hopper. The change in the sound of the engine when one gets near a water-way and encounters a bit of wet, tall grass that we didn't mow off ahead of time because it was too close to the grain. One can simply listen to the machine and know whether it is getting too far into the evening, making the stems tough... know by the sound that it is time to stop.

That un-spun gold spewing out the back is good news too. No waste there! That is bedding for the winter, and will keep animals warm, keep them from slipping and falling on icy concrete, keep the building clean by absorbing animal waste. And in the spring, it will go back out onto a field providing nutrients for microbes which will in turn provide the same in usable form to the soil and then that will be passed on to the plants. A natural cycle tuned to mans survival. So different from the mechanistic form of farming that makes up the majority of agriculture these days. It is good to know that some of it still happens the way that it should happen.

With all natural beauty and process, there are some less attractive characteristics of the harvest too. The dust is incessant, and like to make one sneeze often, cough hard, and spit nasty. And itch! God! ...the stuff can make one scratch skin to a raw wound! It is not much fun in the eyes either. But when it is all said and done, it washes off and out along with the sweat.

At the end of the day, when the last field is done and there are mounds of straw to be raked and baled and hauled off to storage; when just short, gold stems provide a uniform crew cut look to the fields, the smell still lingers inviting fall to prepare the corn and beans for the next rounds of harvest: Then there is this sense of rightness that one can only experience - for there is no description that can convey that feeling of standing alone in a field, wondering at what the year has provided, and what the next year might bring.