How the Fall Harvest Teaches Life Lessons

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combine

Photo courtesy of Joanie Stiers

“The combine is king.”

The kids hear my metaphoric phrase every fall, a time of year that puts productivity and work ethic in concentrated action on the farm. And I never miss this prime teaching opportunity for our farm’s youngest generation.

King Combine receives plenty of attention from its court. The field crew knows that when this massive, high-tech harvesting machine stops or slows, so does the harvest. In response, the tractor operator pulls a cart and attentively tags alongside to accept grain or oilseeds from the combine, ideally while still on the move gathering crop. The semi drivers haul away and unload the corn or soybeans at storage bins in time to return for another load. Even our family’s meal preparers strategically hand off suppers at the least interruptive time for the equipment operators.

The harvest process radiates with energy in its efficiency, productivity and unified effort toward the common goal: to finish harvest as efficiently and safely as possible. The cycle continues for most of September and October with breaks for sleeping, wet weather, a family gathering or an equipment breakdown. And that’s about it. Harvest, otherwise, takes priority on the farm’s social calendar.

As my kids grow older, we talk more often about prioritizing time. Determine the most important need for that moment, whether during that hour before school or those days before the 4-H fair. Then, make better choices. Work hard toward that goal. Find satisfaction in the accomplishment. We hope our kids develop into productive, contributing people – citizens, employees, spouses and parents with solid values, goals and priorities. People who use their time wisely and uphold a work ethic that delivers success and fulfills them.

Those heavy harvest-time lessons arrive blanketed with the romanticized aspects of the season. My kids admire and appreciate stunning harvest sunsets. They welcome the crisp harvest air that demands a jacket and playing tag with cousins and corncobs. The kids enjoy delivering field treats with safety messages for the crew. And they love to “dine out” in the field on homemade harvest meals that warm the heart as much as they satisfy the stomach.

With kids along, we often count four generations of family in the field at once. The learning opportunities deepen when the kids ride along with the elder generation, witness their work ethic and harvest their wisdom, too.

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