Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

More regular hours farming than you might think

link Audra Brown

Local columnist

Burn the midnight oil, but don’t set anything on fire. It is a well-established fact that farm work does not adhere to a particular set of hours.

From day to day, the start time, end time, and total time between can vary from a short eight hours, to a good 16 or more. Ten or twelve is pretty common. But you know what? Farmers operate on a fixed set of hours more often than you might think.

Wheat harvest is, or at least the combine-driving part, is a 10-1 job. That gets you out before the sun has had a chance to completely bake everything and make the morning maintenance greasing too unpleasant, and yet hot enough that the wheat stalks are just about dried out from the last night’s dew.

Barring encounters with some distant engineer’s annoying design features that require you to hang off the side and blindly seat chains on sprockets (or some such breakdown and repair) everything is operational right on time and continues uninterrupted until just after midnight.

Shortly after the day hand on your watch rolls over, the nightly dew starts setting in and as painful as it is to quit, when the wheat starts getting sticky enough to wrap around the header instead of sliding on inside to get threshed, it’s time to call it a morning and go catch a few winks.

Find a spot that’s either green or bare — terrain uninclined to catch fire — and put the combine in park. Throttle back and disengage the threshing machine.

As you enjoy the silence of nothing but the engine running, sit back and listen to one more song on the radio while the motor cools down. Ice-chest and lunchbox in hand, turn the lights out and the fuel off, climb down the steps, and go home for a cup of coffee and a few hours of sleep.

Same place, same time, next morning.

Audra Brown has used a lot of grease. Contact her at:

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