Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Like A Good Neighbor

"Like a good neighbor, Gary is there."

I can't speak from personal experience for the insurance company that originally used the jingle, but there is truth in advertising for my variation.

Gary Hornbaker and his crew (C.W. Feril, Tom Turner and Nick Mansel) helped us harvest wheat the last couple of days. Gary is the definition of a good neighbor.

When the ice storm took power lines down in 2007, we were without electricity for 12 days. Miraculously, Gary still had power, though he lives less than 3 miles away. He even gave up his bedroom so that we could stay at his house. We eventually got a generator and didn't take advantage of his hospitality for the whole nearly two-week stint.
The 2007 storm may have resulted in one of my all-time favorite photos, but it definitely wasn't a favorite time!
 So, did it surprise me when Gary was willing to cut a good portion of our remaining wheat? Nope, it didn't. You can hear the story of the Good Samaritan told from the pulpit or study it in a Sunday School class. But I know someone who lives it. Yes, he was done with his own harvest. But he sure wasn't done with a dozen other things that need to be done during summer on the farm.

He could have crossed to the other side of the road. But he didn't. We might not have been "bleeding" ourselves, but the combine had its own "ambulance" ride to the Straub's dealership in Hutchinson.

I don't really understand all the ins and outs of what's wrong with our combine.  There is a bearing out on the feeder house drive. To repair it, you have to remove one of the massive tires to get the shaft out. Some other mystery part ended up on the elevator grate when Jake dumped one of our loads at the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op. The guys still don't know where it came from, and Randy hasn't heard that verdict from Straub's yet. So, no matter that Randy had made two trips to Hutchinson, one trip to Great Bend and I made one parts run to Pratt, we were finally to the place that we couldn't limp along any longer. We faced facts: The combine wasn't going to be fixed on the farm.

There's a sinking in your stomach when you realize that part of a wheat crop is going to sit in the field while you wait on a combine repair. Wheat is our primary crop. It's what pays the bills around here. Ripe wheat sitting in a field doesn't improve with age, unlike fine wine.

Gary cut 291 acres of our wheat. Before all this happened, we had already scheduled a custom cutter to cut wheat at a location we call "up north." It's quite a distance for our little farm trucks to haul the 30-mile round trip  to Zenith, so we've had it custom harvested the last few years. Crockett Harvesting will cut it on Friday, so we're still not done with Harvest 2013. But we are oh-so-much closer than we would have been if we would have had to wait for our combine to be fixed.

Monday evening, Gary was cutting across the road from our house. This summer, I've taken several trips across the road to photograph the sunset. I'd been watching the sun slide down the power poles like a quarter in one of those cylindrical banks.
I'd been thinking about the photos I'd take when we cut the wheat there. The combine with cab lights gleaming would be silhouetted against that beautiful Kansas sky.

Well, I didn't think I could call a Good Samaritan to tell him to turn on his cab lights (like I would have my husband). But, it was still a mighty pretty picture - for a whole lot more reasons than a sunset sky. (And, for the record, I'm sure Gary would have turned on his lights if I'd asked.)

And, I knew it was only a matter of time that the lights would have to come on as Gary cut long into the night (or, more accurately, the early morning).

As the sun dipped below the horizon, the sky changed again, and so did the harvest scene as he rounded the power pole yet again, this time with lights cutting the dusk. I think there's a metaphor there somewhere.
Of course, we are paying Gary for his unscheduled custom harvesting job. However, no check and no amount of homemade bierocks and pasta salad (or grilled hamburgers and baked beans) toted to the harvest field a couple of evenings could begin to say a heartfelt thanks. His willingness to help his neighbors is, quite simply, priceless.

Remember that advertising jingle? Well, I've also been mixing in a chorus of Joe Diffie's song, John Deere Green. I grew up with green machinery. It's been 32 years of seeing red (so to speak) on the County Line. I'm sure my Dad and brother will have a comment or two about that.

I'm linked today to Jennifer Dukes Lee's Tell His Story. Click on the link to check out what bloggers of faith are talking about today!


  1. So thankful for your good neighbor and for the wheat crop getting in and for the beautiful pictures. Love that sun sliding down the pole. (so glad I jumped over to the farm from #TellHisStory :)

    1. Thank you, Dea! So glad to have you drop by to visit.

  2. I LOVE how you see, how you capture beauty in pictures and words. Gorgeous.

  3. Thanks, Jennifer! I keep trying to leave comments on your blog and, for some reason, it's not taking them. Thanks for the opportunity to link up and for all you write that makes me think.