Thursday, June 24, 2021

Family Affair: Wheat Harvest 2021


The family photo may not tell the whole story.

Still, I'm thankful that Randy orchestrated an impromptu snapshot with our special visitors last weekend. (Thanks to our truck driver, Charlie, who snapped the photos before taking off to Zenith to deliver another load of wheat.)

Brent and I had just come back from a circuitous parts run to Hutchinson and then Pratt ... with no success - but we didn't know that at the time. The little girls and Jill climbed out of the combine cab with Randy, looking like a Kansas farm version of the classic clowns-in-a-tiny-car skit. And Eric and Susan were back at the house, carrying in and cleaning up the supper remnants. I had the basic components ready to go before I took off on the parts run, but all the girls helped put together the southwest chicken wraps, gather the pop and pack fruit, homemade cookies and chips into brown paper bags that Kinley illustrated.

Grandpa & Kinley with his wheat stalk decorated bag.

As it seemed all weekend, I had to rely on everyone else to supply the photographic evidence. (Kinley decorated bags for everyone, but Randy's was the only one that got a photo that night. She supplied some additional decorated bags, which she left behind after their whirlwind weekend here. Usually, the guys just get plain ol' coolers from me. These were custom-designed with individuals' interests in mind.

 It was Susan's first foray into the world of wheat harvesting. 

And, in true farm fashion, we had more than our share of breakdowns. (It's more "real" than reality TV this harvest. In fact, this selfie was taken just after Brent & Susan arrived ... just as the first breakdown occurred. It's inevitable, it seems.)

It may have been the first photos of Susan in a wheat field, but the rest of us are well-versed in such snapshots.

This was Jill's first harvest photo, circa 1986. It has been a few years between then and now:

 And here's Brent first foray into the wheat field. He was all of about 5 weeks old.

Suppertime in the field has been part of my kids' experience for a lifetime.

But they are certainly not the first ones in the family to hop up onto the cab for a photo-op. Randy and I have both been involved in wheat harvest our entire lives - me growing up on a farm in northern Pratt County and Randy just down the road from where we were cutting that day.  

My Dad had me helping at about age 12, when I began moving the grain truck in the field. It was my prelude to being ready to drive the truck to the Iuka Co-op once I was legal.

Jill was one of our truck drivers when she was in high school.
I was always looking for the shade, but not Jill!

I couldn't find a photo of Randy in a wheat field when he was really little, but I did find one when he was a junior in high school.

This wheat field was part of his FFA project, and the cutline says: "I am pictured here in my wheat field. The wheat has been freeze-burned by recent cold weather."

I always display this photo with his dad at harvest time. It was one of Melvin's final harvests.

But even the girls aren't strangers to wheat field photo shoots. 

2017 - I wrote and illustrated a book for the girls after that harvest.
2017 - a trip to Zenith in the semi, Brooke looks so little!

I can't believe how much they've changed. Now they motor up the combine steps like old pros.

While we mark their height on a decorative measuring sticks in our dining room as an "official" measure, we also reenact wheat field shots each year:


Compared to


And a photo from Uncle Brent for good measure.

Randy was smiling in this shot Jill took on their first ride of the weekend.


(He's not smiling quite as much as the breakdowns keep piling up. And, yes, we had the combine in the shop this past winter, trying to find the problems before they started ... and had the bill to go with it!)

Wheat isn't the only attraction during a trip to Grandma's and Grandpa's farm. So are the cats, though we couldn't supply any baby kittens this time. Big Cat had to suffice.

The girls again fed grape jelly to the orioles.

And the weekend warriors also checked out the new swimming pool in Stafford.

I only took a few of the photos myself (including the one of the girls in the field after our family snapshot.) Every time someone went out the door, I'd say, "Take pictures." Thankfully, they listened.

I know I'll be thankful to be able to look back on those photos in future years as the girls grow and change - just like I am to see the snapshots of our long-ago days growing up on Kansas farms. 

My blog also gives me a way to look in the rearview mirror and do a little comparison. I started blogging in 2010, so I have a handy way to research the beginning date for our harvest for the past 11 years:

2010:  June 18
2011:  June 10
2012:  May 26 (an anomaly and the earliest harvest, by far, we've ever had)
2013:  June 21
2014:  June 17
2015:  June 20
2016:  June 15
2017:  June 12
2018: June 12
2019: June 26
2020: June 16
2021: June 17
At the rate we're going, I hate to venture a guess as to when harvest will conclude. The extra helpers have left, but I'm still around 'til the bitter end.

At least, the view's pretty.


  1. I don't know how you found time to put this together, Kim but another inspiring read. The history and family love. A 'good news' read, except for the heat and break downs! I hope things improve rapidly.

    1. We got rain on June 25. We hope that it will dry enough to cut today, but it's humid and there's not much wind, both of which slow drying.