Renae Vander Schaaf

Don’t ask me why, but when my farmer wants to go have a look at the crops — especially when it’s getting close to harvest — I often ask to ride along. Such was the case after supper Monday night. He wanted to go immediately, so only half the kitchen had been tidied up. But so what? It’s more important to see how many days until harvest begins.

That first harvest date can vary by almost a month as shown in the last two years. September 11 was the beginning in 2018. Last year was a late start, October 7. What a year that one was! How often do we say that?

These many field trips began early last spring, checking when the soil would be ready for sowing. In due time the seed was placed with all the accuracy we are capable of, with a multitude of beneficial products needed for producing a bountiful harvest.

Throughout the growing season my farmer paid much more attention to the crops than I did. He walked his fields looking for problems. One never knows when a leaf discoloration might show a nutrient deficiency, or insects have been feasting on the leaves.

At the same time, I worried if he was getting all the nutrients he needed and warding off any diseases lurking about.

My farmer records the amount of rain after each rainfall. This was much easier this year as there were long periods of no rain this growing season. In fact, the fields received less than eight inches of rain from start to now. This fact alone has had us wondering what type of harvest there would be.

On our latest tour, as we drove past the fields, we could visibly see the soybeans had progressed immensely since they were checked just two days prior. Because of this it was necessary to walk those fields one more time — harvesting a bean pod here and there to check the readiness of this crop.

Adrenaline began to flow when we realized the 2020 fall harvest would begin tomorrow, Sept. 15. My farmer was more than ready to go as he has spent the last few weeks preparing machinery for this day — greasing the last zerk for that very morning.

The boys were called and thankfully, they both would be home in time to help the next day. (And we do say thankful, because no one wants me operating a combine.)

With all the mounting excitement leading to The Big Day, I’m thinking that next year, when that first combine is about ready to rev up, I’m going to put my farmer in a tuxedo. As he climbs the combine ladder, a drum roll will play. In his deepest voice I would have him distinctly say, “Gentlemen, start your engines.”

And I, probably one of the very few spectators, will cheer when the engine begins to rumble — sending that plume of smoke into the cloudless sky.

It will be time to say this general prayer: “Lord, thank you for the harvest. Please bless our labor with safety through these long hours, grant us energy for the work, and may we all be happily surprised with better-than-expected yields and sell these crops at the best price of the year.”


Renae B. Vander Schaaf is an independent writer, author and speaker. Contact her at (605) 530-0017 or

Trending Video