I must make a confession. I am the primary combine driver for our farm and there are a few things that I need to confess. I spend lots of hours in our combine and there are some weird things that I deal with. Let’s get started . . .
I am in BEAST MODE
Normally, I am a pretty quiet, docile being. But once I climb into the combine and turn the key, I am in beast mode. Let nothing stand in my way. I am out there for one reason and one reason only–to harvest everything in sight. I drink on the go. I eat on the go. I actually monitor how much I drink so I don’t have to stop and use the “outdoor” facilities. But one thing I have learned is my John Deere combine doesn’t want me to go full beast mode. Can you believe the combine will error out after 20 hours of no one leaving the seat? Who does that?
Well, maybe it’s not quite 20, but you get the point.
Combine Driver and Grain Cart Driver
There is no one that ranks higher than an experienced grain cart driver. No one. You need to work together–in tandem. We are like a well-oiled machine. If not, deer, birds, rodents will be eating very well. At first, you use a few body signals as to what you want them to do. For example, a nod means “take the grain cart and dump the corn into the truck.” But after a bit, the body signals go away and magically, telepathy takes over. You can actually read each other’s minds and know exactly what you are to do. It’s amazing.
Occasionally, I will see a baby rabbit, scared to death, hopping as fast as it can in front of me. Picture in your mind, an elephant and a mouse. This is what it looks like. I don’t have the heart to run it over. I have been known to snail-speed drive .5 miles an hour so I don’t run it over. And it’s always the babies. They just haven’t learned about combine dangers. Now, if the rabbit was a snake, I would run it over in a heartbeat. I couldn’t look, but I know I would be helping out humanity. But baby rabbits?
Can’t do it.
Bathroom breaks or lack thereof
Okay, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. There are no bathrooms out in the field. But you have lots and lots of rows of corn. Those rows are your “bathroom.” Before embarking on mother nature’s act, I make sure I look in every direction to make sure no other tractor/combine is around. All four directions. And, oh, I also look out for hunters. Hunters that wear orange jackets. I almost forgot about them. Need I say more? And make sure you have your stash of toilet paper in the secret compartment located in the combine cab. Men don’t have this issue. They can make it look like they are fixing the combine–a great coverup. Women – not so easy.
The Ultimate Buzzkill
I am not joking when I say I am in beast mode. But, when we run out of room in the corn holding bin and I get the call that says, “This will be your last truck” it is like the air has been sucked out of me. I almost need a counseling session.
I am so fortunate that most of my meals are delivered to me out in the field. One lesson I have learned over the years is to make sure you eat what you may want to have another day. For example, if I don’t eat the chips, I probably won’t get chips the next day. An informal inventory is taken and it is assumed that if you don’t eat something, you probably don’t want it again. So the lesson?
Always eat the candy bar. Even if you don’t eat it, take it for later. Because if you don’t eat it, you won’t get another one.
Again, always eat the candy bar.
Yes, I need my diet coke Rachel Hollis. If you don’t know who Rachel is or “Girl Wash Your Face” book, I understand that you may be living under a rock. But for me, it’s a necessity.
All joking aside, the job of a combine driver is the best job in the world and I am so blessed to do it.
Charles Flanagan says
When I was running a combine as a kid I remember an older guy who was also a combine driver complaining that if his wife was going to send him a boiled egg in his lunch, she either needed to peel it or send him a wet rag to clean his dirty greasy hands!
ANN TERFEHR says
Hey, Wanda. Coming from a farm family..Truesdells…I really enjoyed this. I have a new name for you..Beastie.
I used to have a car that I called Beastie. Keep up the fun writing and I hope the rest of harvest goes
without a hitch. Love ya. Ann
Wanda Patsche says
Thanks Ann! Hoping for a few good days!
I was the grain cart driver for 20 years. Best job in the world! Since I am retired, turned the job over to my Granddaughter, I miss watching the trees turning beautiful colors from the tractor. Everything you wrote is so true. Thank you!
Erin Honken says
You crack me up!!! I love your comment re: eating everything brought out to you. After recycling the same apple two days in a row, I left it out on day 3. Only to hear that night “hey can you get more of those Honey Crisp apples?” I married into this life and it’s such a different world that I didn’t know even existed before dating a farmer. We were making progress on fields until that dumb snow on Sunday morning… were racing against the clock now. Good luck!
Janet Bremer says
I can relate to everything you wrote. I too am in beast mode, love seeing wildlife, (except coyotes), hate to hear the words, “ this is the last load today” and REALLY hate when I have to “relieve” myself in the corn field (the only time I wish I was born a guy). Wishing you a safe, speedy harvest from your fellow Beast.
Wanda Patsche says
Check on several available FUD’s. Female urinary device, they are great and I can pee off the ladder with the best of them.
Vaughn Laycock says
We had a new operator this year,he wasn’t used to running with 8 combines and 2 carts. If a cart is driving up to you we swing the auger out to unload no matter how full you are. The new guy wouldn’t unload until full. This annoyed the cart operators. He ended up sitting still for most of the day. The next morning he show up with 2 big cups of coffee and managed to keep moving all day