Sheilah: “Oh, Oh! Look! A ringneck! And there's another! Awww, and a baby one! Move ringnecks! Get out of the way. Combinder coming through!”
Mike: “Honey, your missing rows . . .. What's going on? Why are you stopping?”
Sheilah: “See the ringnecks? I want pictures.”
Ah, just one of the memories from our 2013 harvest season – our first as a married couple. Not every day was as fun or as memorable as that particular day. Some were a blur, and some we'd like to forget.
A common theme ran throughout the entire season: learning. Learning how to deal with stress from breakdowns and uncooperative weather; learning how to make time for each other during this busy time; and learning how to be a nurse.
Mike: Harvest didn't get off to the start that I wanted. Nothing, and I mean nothing, went right for the first three weeks. We put in a newer dryer, and it seemed to take forever to figure out how to get it running.
The combine (combinder, as the Mrs. calls it) wasn’t quite ready. Followed by flat tire, flat tire, flat tire and the call that said “the bean header fell of the cart.” And, oh, we need new batteries.
Sheilah: Mike seemed to think that he was the only one to ever have trouble with equipment and miscellaneous things going wrong. He kept saying over and over, “I’m never going to get any of the crops off.”
It was time to face the facts. I had to break the news: “You’re using real equipment now, not Ertl toys.” I told him to quit being so negative.
Everyone has problems during harvest – big and small, and he should be thankful he was only having the problems he was having. They could have been much worse.
Then I told him something my dad had always said while I was growing up: “It all comes out in the wash.”
Mike: Sheilah got her point across. But I still felt I was so far behind compared to other years. When I told her that, she looked at me and said, “You weren’t married in past years. It’s a whole new field now.”
I was telling a neighbor about this, and his response put it all in perspective: “I bet you didn’t realize how much of a life you didn’t have before you were married. You were always working.” He was right.
Sheilah: As harvest progressed, all the issues got ironed out – all except for one: We weren’t seeing each other.
Mike would get up at 5a.m. to go to the farm. Like most farmers, he wouldn’t come home till after dark.
I took 18 credits this semester, leaving little free time between classes, hospital clinical, housework, studying and my part time job as a cave guide. By the end of the day neither of us had much to say. We just wanted to go to bed. One thing was for sure, we weren’t feeling like newlyweds.
Mike: It didn’t take us long to find a solution to this problem: The buddy seat, which made me the buddy – study buddy, that is.
Sheilah would come out to the field loaded with sandwiches, drinks, notecards, textbooks and research papers. She'd take over running the combine while I ate lunch, asked her questions and proofread her papers. Really, she only gets distracted by ringnecks.
Sheilah: The solution worked. We multitasked and made time for our work and for each other. The first day it snowed, Mike must have been bored-he came to campus to have lunch with me. He said he missed me, but I think he was trying to get out of doing the laundry.
All in all, our first harvest together was pretty dang good. The dust flew. The bees wings blew, and our memories grew.
Now that harvest is behind us, there's a new question at hand: What are we going to get for Christmas out of the Outback "toy" catalog?