Make a Ceremony Out of It

The damp standing stubble is now giving off the smell of fall. For you that are now ready to store your faithful combine or combines; a feeling that another growing season has been taken care of, undoubtedly has entered your mind. It's like the words of an old song: "Harvest days are over, Jessie dear." Jessie must have been someone's harvest moon sweetheart.

There are two ways of mothballing a combine for that long storage season. One is to leave it to nature for protection, like some farmers do. However, it does require some instructions to follow. For instance, when the last swath has been gobbled up, look for a spot aroound the farmstead with soil deep enough so that the combine won't mire down when spring thaw sets in. Be sure the spot chosen is located so you won't run into the machine on some dark night. Take the ignition key out and put it somewhere you might remember where it is the day or two before the next harvest.

Usually, when the last grain stalk has been beheaded by the combine, those outside storage type farmers generally don't let the separator bounce itself empty. Some gas is saved by so doing. The other benefit is that it does leave enough straw sticking out both ends of the harvester. This helps keep some of the winter snows from drifting in on the chaff-filled sieves and straw walkers.

A good rain will sprout the scattered wheat that rode the combine all during harvest. The growing seedlings will give the machine a greenish look as they try to protect the combine from the sun. If the combine is properly parked far enough away from the house, you will not have to smell the barnyard-like odor when the straw and sprouted wheat starts to decay.

Properly preparing the combine for storage should become some sort of ritual. If done correctly, a feeling of nostalgia will sweep over you. Pick a day when the wind is real quiet, and that sun has that stingy fall feeling when it hits the outside of your skin. Tarry for a bit while looking out over the stubble fields. You will then realize your part of the job is done. Think for another moment, who will eventually eat all that wheat out there in those mountains of plastic covered piles? Will it be the Chinese, or a lot of Russians?

When the thinking time is over, make one last tour around the combine. This time with a pencil and paper in hand, Write down any injuries that need attending to before next harvest. Place the note in an envelope; then put it in the tool box. The prescription letter will come in handy at repair time.

When dad was here on his harvest jaunts from California, Sugar would think we were having burial services for the combine instead of just storing it. Guess it seemed a little odd to make a ceremony out of it, but that's the way dad and I operated.

While I was giving the self-propel the air pressure and water bath treatment, dad would be writing diary-like articles on the side of the bulk tank. He would pencil in his feelings of another harvest that had just ended. Also, his thankful thoughts of being able to spend another summer with his family. Later, his notes were always varnished over to preserve them 'til the combine was put out to pasture or sold.

Finally, the shed doors were opened to the limit. With dad's hands signaling the right directions, it was a cinch to back the combine into just the right place. That usually concluded the service of putting the combine away. 

"Mothballing Combines" Kik-Back Country, page 47, part 1

Combines "...put out to pasture"
Walt and Sugar's home is in background.