Riding on the Combine
It's grass-seed harvest time in Oregon.
Emily got a job driving combine for a farmer a few miles away. Today I went out and rode with her for a while.
When it comes to farming, we are not in Kansas any more. So to speak.
Bear in mind that I used to work out in the fields on a Farmall M with a molded metal seat with holes in it for ventilation, and with very manual gears and clutches that had to be strong-armed into submission and who would snap back and hit a bare ankle occasionally, just for fun.
Emily sits on a padded seat in an lovely, airy little room at the front of a combine that is just. huge. I am fumbling for comparisons here. You could live comfortably in a house with that many cubic feet. I Googled "How big is a New Holland combine?" hoping for actual dimensions, but all I got were glossy pdf ads for combines featuring 45-foot headers and this:
Yes. Well. So here we have our daughter, who gets frustrated with her physical weakness, operating this behemoth, and it obeys her meekly and submissively.Everything is automated, responding to a gentle touch on a lever. Gentle beeps remind her of anything she's forgetting.
A computer screen shows her speed, pounds per acre, moisture level, and a lot more information that is not useful to her but is to the farmer, I'm sure.
And yet, old-fashioned or modern, farming is farming. Big fields in the hot sun, anxious farmers, windrows waiting, dust blowing, and the seed falling into the hopper.