May 16 2024 03:06 PM

    While we are working hard to get crops harvested on time, we need fellow drivers to respect farm equipment on the road.

    “Rye, rye, rye, does it all have to happen now,” is the remix I was singing in my head almost every day the last couple of months. The silly little tune came from a country song sung by Billy Currington called “Why, why, why.” As we started small grain harvest, I came up with the new version as it truly explained my situation this year to a T.

    Some years, spring comes in gradually, but this year was a wrecking ball. All the heifers calved at once, all the triticale was ready at once, and all the manure needed to be hauled and spread. Oh, and don’t forget corn. Everyone around us is planting, but we plant later as we tend to harvest later as well.

    As the wrecking ball smashed through the wall, we ran like we were on fire. Every piece of equipment was dragged out of storage and oiled, greased, and completely serviced before we threw everything together to harvest the crops. Our harvester, bagger, and wagons hadn’t been touched since we switched to custom harvesting three years ago, so they required a little tender loving care before we ran them. In two days, the equipment was ready, and we began the unruly process of chopping rye.

    I will never, ever complain about custom harvesters. What takes them three days takes us six weeks. We didn’t make every acre of small grain bagged ryelage, but we made enough and it felt like an eternity. Our equipment held its own as we ran it hard, however, I am constantly reminded of the dangers of running equipment on the road and of harvest itself.

    As the title suggests, we have a few “little red wagons.” They are great tools and get the job done, but you have to remember that you can’t see behind them when turning into the driveway. Trucks and cars on the road don’t necessarily care about us; they just care about getting somewhere fast. Tire blowouts as well as straight fatigue from the long days are common issues we already deal with during this time of year. Harvest season reminds us how quickly someone can be injured and how quickly things can turn bad. Stay sharp, stay alert, and stay safe out there y’all. Spring and summer have just begun!

    Courtney Henderson

    The author is a sixth-generation farmer and fifth-generation dairy producer in southwest Virginia, where she and her family own and operate a 145-head Holstein dairy. Courtney is involved in agriculture organizations throughout her community and is a graduate of Virginia Tech.