Iowa is in harvest mode. The soybean and corn crop is coming in from the fields. My main squeeze, wife Ann, and I traveled to our Scheckel heritage site of Springbrook, Iowa on Thursday, visited some cousins, and motored west on the Highway 30, the Old Lincoln Highway.
The countryside is a sea of golden brown as far as the sky meets landscape. Some fields are harvested, lying fallow, waiting for the winter snows that are sure to come. In other fields, those green monster machines, John Deere combines, can be seen moving across the land. A cloud of dust, shredded stalks falling to the ground, tractor-pulled grain bins and semi haulers waiting for the shelled corn or protein-rich soybeans. It’s a beautiful sight.
We stopped our Dodge Caravan south of Marshalltown, Iowa and pulled over on the side of the road to take a few pictures. Our good luck, a John Deere 9S70 STS (with Bullet Rotor) just happened to stop by our car. The farmer got out of his climate controlled cab, comes with a radio, climbed down the steps and moved around to the front of the cutting head and reel.
He was cleaning some stalks that had wrapped around the rotor head. I ambled over and we started talking. “Pretty big machine,” I opened with. “Well, actually it’s one of the smaller ones, only a 25 foot cutting head,” he replied. I was probing, “I heard that these combines harvesters go for a half million dollars." He replied, “And more.”
I helped him unwind some soybean stalks. A Case IH tractor pulling a grain wagon moved alongside the combine. Time to unload some soybeans. He’s doing 55 acres today. He tells me about the Golden Key program. “When you buy a John Deere combine over in Moline, Illinois, they take you on a behind the scenes tour. You walk right along the assembly line watching your machine being made. At the end of the line, they give you the keys, and you climb up in the cab and start the combine for the first time. Your sign your name on the green machine itself. And they give you a very nice lunch.”
I thanked the farmer, strolled back to our car, watched the soybeans being unloaded, and the beautiful John Deere 9S70 combine go back to work. We moved west and every few miles we spotted a John Deere, or Case IH, (one New Holland), harvester move across the Iowa countryside, bringing in the harvest.