thoughts on the last bowl of chili

The last week of October, I dished up my last bowl of chili and ate it at my desk.

I took each spoonful from the styrofoam bowl (only thing I can find at the office) nice and slowly to savor the flavors that reminded me of harvest. Well, it’s not really the end of the leftover chili – a giant tupperware found its way to the freezer after my harvest party on October 13 (It seems my math skills = extra, so it’s a good thing there was freezer space).

There is no better celebration than one that invites others to join in.

This is exactly the kind that happened right around my birthday about a month ago. The blessings got to be too much, so writing about it seemed like giving one bar of notes to what deserved a full symphonic movement.

I finally decided that something was better than nothing and so I’ll share some pictures to give you a taste of the blessing that overflowed.

There is no better celebration than one that invites others to join in… and I hope to be doing a lot more inviting.

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in feast or fallow

It is not winter, not yet.

Now is the time for harvest. Now is the time for bounty and breaking bread and gatherings that overflow into more gatherings.
But sometimes in the middle of harvest one can feel the winter.

While seated at the abundant table, the soul can sometimes taste the bitter cold. It’s not that life is depressed and dreary – not necessarily a sudden dark night of the soul. But sometimes in the middle of harvest, our hearts stretch pained because we daily do battle with brokenness.

It’s a beautiful thing, really, to feel the brisk breeze of winter while seated at the table of abundance. Oh, how sweet it is to remember who provides and protects and presides over our broken assemblage! It is not the work of our hands, but the Lord’s alone that allows us to taste and see that He is good. In the harvest, we remember that “whatever comes, we shall endure” because He is good. And so, we give thanks. We delight in provision and give thanks for the warmth before winter, but we know that in winter our certain hope is found in the same place.

Our winters will surely come, but in Christ our hope is found.

For these times, we need a simple tune that invites us into praise for every season. We need a song that prays, “Come, Emmanuel.”
Sing with me today?

When the fields are dry, and the winter is long
Blessed are the meek, the hungry, the poor
When my soul is downcast, and my voice has no song
For mercy, for comfort, I wait on the Lord

In the harvest feast or the fallow ground,
My certain hope is in Jesus found
My lot, my cup, my portion sure
Whatever comes, we shall endure.
Whatever comes, we shall endure

On a cross of wood, His blood was outpoured
He Rose from the ground, like a bird to the sky
Bringing peace to our violence, and crushing death’s door
Our Maker incarnate, our God who provides.

come, oh come, Emman- u- el
come, oh come, Emman- u- el

When the earth beneath me crumbles and quakes
Not a sparrow falls, nor a hair from my head
Without His hand to guide me, my shield and my strength
In joy or in sorrow, in life or in death

harvest things

I got a little ahead of myself last time when I thought my harvesting days were over. But, now I think it is officially official. I thought it appropriate to share some funny things I’ve learned and a few snapshots I was able to take when I wasn’t busy operating heavy machinery.

1. Desperate times may call for desperate measures …. and corn shucks can come in very handy.

2. Interpreting sign language wasn’t part of the job description, but it was very important to understand the hand signals coming from the combine when I was without a radio.
– Hands shoulder width apart, palms facing down (some might interpret this slow down) meant stay where you are (also sometimes accompanied by both hands spread outward in a “he’s safe!” kind of motion)
– Index finger point in the direction of the truck (semi) meant take the load back and switch tractors.
– One hand, palm facing inward motioning quickly meant follow me.
– Index finger pointed upwards in a circling motion meant turn around and follow me.
– The universal ‘one hand across the neck’ meant STOP whatever you are doing.

3. That little knob on the steering wheel is BRILLIANT! At first, I thought it was more like a tumor on a normal steering wheel, but I quickly realized how useful it was for sharp turns. Sometimes, when Eeyore was working on a long row, I would practice (slowly and carefully) backing up so I could be prepared if the need ever arose (and it did!).

4. Some little kids (boys) don’t believe it’s possible for a girl to drive a tractor and will say, “You’re a girl, you can’t drive a tractor,” while he is riding in my tractor. Some girl tractor drivers might get defensive.
5. I never really shook off the nerves of driving such important, big, and expensive equipment. Eeyore said that was alright.

6. One time, I was driving with Partner and it was one of the loooooong days. I guess there isn’t a pre-requisite for my loopy stages, but this was one of those times. I told Eeyore a joke on the radio… and he didn’t hear. I said it again… and he didn’t hear. I said it a third time and THEN realized I was talking into the wrong side of the radio. There are only two sides.

7. I didn’t really ever step foot in the combine (which I’m glad for because there were LOTS of buttons and computers and chances for me to screw something up!). But, Eeyore did enlist my help to oil the chains. Every once in a while we would stop and I’d climb up and sit in his seat (where my feet wouldn’t touch the ground) and I’d push the only three buttons I knew – so he could oil the combine chains.

8. I’ve got to be honest, I think it takes a special kind of person to farm. It’s you, your machine, and the field … ALL day long. As Eeyore would say, I “have the gift of gab” so the time spent harvesting these rolling hills has been a bit of a stretch. Farmers can only take so much “gab” and it’s important to be sensitive to the limit. I had my journal and studies with me, but I had a limit too. One time, at AWANA, I was running around chasing kids and some parents were kind of looking at me like, “where in the world did you get that energy?” and I just explained, “I’ve been trapped in a tractor all day long!”

9. I learned a bit about farming and tiling and terraces and yields. Mostly, I can throw around terms that make a lot of sense to some people, but I tried to store away useful information (just in case my contribution to a commune someday is as a farmer). For example, these days you will see only one ear on a stalk and they are engineered that way because it allows the plant to focus on producing one very healthy ear of corn instead of splitting it between two. This also means the stalks are closer together.

10. There is nothing like an Iowa sunset.

10 things learned working Iowa harvest

I could title this, “everything I need to know in life I learned in harvest,” but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

I’m still kind of a newbie in the fields (I’m hoping I can keep saying that until I gain more tractor confidence), but here are some things I’ve learned so far:

  1. knobs & levers – There are SO many knobs and levers inside a tractor these days! My mom always says that the minute I get into a new vehicle I have to pull everything at least once. Well, that was NOT an option. There were yellow knobs, warning knobs, green levers, buttons, and all sorts of graphics … it’s like a live version of a video game (and I’m not very good at those). Here’s my trick – find the knobs I can touch (radio, throttle, speed, lights, seat adjustment, steering wheel, walkie talkie) and then push and pull like I know exactly what I’m doing.
  2. lingo – Yep. There is most definitely farmer lingo and even farmer-specific wit/humor. This makes me nervous. I’m such a communicator that I start sweating if someone gives directions I don’t understand. “Swing round the south side ‘n come up ’round the bend ‘n I’ll unload.” The south side of where? which bend? are we unloading while moving or stopped?
  3. walkie-talkie – This is where the lingo happens.
    “Are you comin’ up over the hill?”
    “What’re ya tryin’a say? I’m old?”
    “Well, now that you mention it…”
    and then there was
    “Hey, did you finish up back there?”
    “Well, yeah there wasn’t much there…”
    “I just wanted to make sure you didn’t get lost”
    “I’m not that old, now… careful.”
  4. direction – There’s no way around it. When we’re talking north road, south fence, and aiming east, I can’t fake it. I used to call roads longways and sideways when I was little and that just doesn’t cut it in the fields.
  5. on the go – If I get to do this I am both excited and nervous. It means I drive alongside the combine as it unloads the corn into my grain cart. It means I’ve got to stay the right distance (about 5 to 6 corn rows) away from the combine and the right speed (about 3.8). That’s a LOT of pressure, but I always feel accomplished if I don’t mess it up. It sure helps when you have a gracious boss.
  6. there’s no bathroom – Well, you get the picture.
  7. yard lights – When it gets dark (like it did last night), my partner taught me to look around the horizon at the yard lights from the different homesteads to get oriented to where I was in the field. That was some handy advice right about 7:00 pm.
  8. food – Bring it because you might be out there for 8, 9, or 10 hours. That’s right. Getting into that tractor is a COMMITMENT and you better bring your stores like you are hibernating or you’ll have to call in reinforcement to bring you survival rations and water (Yes, I did have to do that).
  9. a fifth grader could do it – Yep. Every time I get excited about conquering another challenge out there in the field I remind myself that a fifth grader can do what I’m doing… and probably offer better jokes! 🙂
  10. Eeyore syndrome – I can never tell if it’s a good field or a bad field, good/bad yield, and good/bad weather, because the voice on the other end of the walkie talkie always sounds on the sad side.
    “So, are we getting a good yield in this field?”
    “Well, it’s alright. Sure is dry today… this stuff is just so dry.”
    “Oh, we’ve only got that patch there left.”
    “No, there’s a whole other stretch ’round the back.”
    And, of course, this is with (almost exactly) the tone you would expect if Eeyore himself was giving you the information. I’ve learned the farmer is just cryptic by nature… and that I should try to take note of important things (like beans should hit right at %13 moisture and that a combine head for corn is much different than for beans) and then just give my best Tigger to bounce the spirits up a bit.
I’m going to go ahead and make an 11. the view – it’s amazing almost all the time. The blue sky… the clouds… the fields of crazy colors… the sun setting… all from the view of about 20 feet up.
So far, so good.
I guess even in the fields you can

let LOVE fly like cRaZy