Pre Harvest Jitters

There is something very surreal about this time of year, a nervous energy that I am sure every farmer feels.  The fear of the unknown and the excitement of a season’s efforts tending to the land to culminate into what we hope is a successful harvest. 

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The only reference point I have for the feeling is from my experience racing bikes.  The start line jitters, standing in the gate knowing that all the prep work is done and very soon the gun will go off and it is full out with everything you have.  The only difference is that harvest lasts for at least two months.  Harvest is the ultimate endurance event and although many farmers would not claim to be overly athletic I can assure you that every single farmer is a fiercely competitive endurance athlete.  As someone who has been competing in endurance sports for over 20 years I know that there is nothing I have done that compares to a single harvest. 

As any endurance athlete knows that the jitters are the fear of the unknown, the fear of a flat tire, a torn off derailer, a hard crash, that puts you out of contention.  In farming those fears are magnified by the fact that is not an event this is your life.  This is the livelihood of your family for the next 365 days.  It is the repayment of the almost mind numbing amount of debt you carry to produce food. The machinery you are operating costs more than your house. The conditions we are battling is 100% out of our control and it is almost certain mother nature will throw all she has at you in an effort to see if you will crack. 

 

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(September snow of 2014)

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(Sometimes at the end of the day you just have to smile when you want to cry)

However on the other side of all this pressure and challenges is a rush like nothing else and I suspect some people will go a lifetime never experiencing this feeling.  Once all the nerves settle and you get into a groove it sort of becomes a new normal.  The days turn to weeks, you hardly notice the fatigue, the weather cooperates and you get into the zone.  Just like those times of peak performance racing when everything falls into place and it seems almost easy.  To a farmer you pray those moments last weeks, you need them to last weeks, in Canadian harvest you are racing against a different clock, you are racing against the potential of an early winter and snow. The rush of harvest is what fuels farmers through these long days, weeks and months.  I doubt that farmers realize how similar they really are to an endurance athlete but every part of harvest directly corresponds to the emotions of an endurance event but is magnified by tenfold. 

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 (When family pulls in with a couple extra machines to give that hand you needed)