We’ve mentioned our fascination with farm equipment before. So for us, today was quite a day.
It all started last night, about sunset. We heard machinery going by and pulling into the neighboring field. We could tell by the headlights that the field that borders HQ to the south was being harvested. We were bummed, because we’d wanted to watch (hard to do in the dark). We thought we were missing out. But we found this in the morning:
While they’d done some work on the far side of the field, most of the corn was still standing, including the part right up against our garden (or rather all that bare ground that was our garden before the season ended).
They worked until lunch time, still on the far edge of the field. And after lunch, a tractor pulled up to our house (!!!), hauling a wagon behind it, and out popped Connie. She and Gary (her husband) are our neighbors, and they were the ones farming this field this year. And she was there to offer us a ride in the combine! So off we went!
Connie took us out to the field, and we jumped into the combine.
Al was driving. He’s Gary’s brother, who lives in Denver but comes out to help with the harvest.
So about the combine. Each of those big cones goes in the space between two rows of corn, so it harvests six rows of corn at once. It cuts the cornstalk, separates out the ears of corn, takes the corn kernels from the cob and feeds them up into this giant bin behind the cockpit, grinds up the corn cobs and then spits them out the back as mulch to decompose back on the field.
Here’s what the space between those cones, where the row of corn meets the machine, looks like up closer:
The corn stalk is channeled into that slit between the silver parts where blades cut it off, those small silver triangles on top of the flat silver parts move along to bring the ears of corn up to the auger, and the auger spins to bring the ears into the center of the combine where they disappear to be separated into kernels and cobs.
Pretty quickly, the combine fills up, so all you can see out that back window is corn:
which means it is time to empty it into one of the wagons (which if you remember, Connie has with her behind the tractor).
She pulls up to get the combine’s shoot (which sticks out on one side) right above the open-topped wagon:
And once they’re lined up, Al starts pumping the corn out into the wagon:Each of these wagons can take about two combine-loads of corn. They have two wagons ready to be filled in the field, so they can do a lot of harvesting before having to drive the corn away for storage. In bigger operations on flatter fields, you’ll see a semi-truck with an open-topped container driving alongside the combine so the corn goes straight into the semi. It’s pretty impressive when they’re that well coordinated.
A very good day.