Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Harvest Widow Times


One of the common sayings of the fall is ‘football widow.” For those of us on the farm whose husbands love football we can be double widows at this time of the year. Harvest widows and football widows. You know how men can be so very focused on the game they don’t even hear you shout their name. Harvest time can be like that.

In my family the men have always worked in the fields and the women not. There are many farming families where the women work equally along side of their husbands. I commend them since they also have home and children to manage just as other women who work outside the home. I write from the perspective of a stay at home mom.

During September and October, hopefully not November and into December, the men will work from dawn until dusk, or later. If the weather is poor during those months the hours stretch from extremely early to after midnight at times.

One such year OSHA had required that there be a signal whenever a combine was started. This consisted of a loud horn alerting everyone in at least, I’m positive, half a mile could hear it. The idea, I’m sure was for safety. Combines have heads with spouts which catch the corn stock and large spiked chains which pull it into the machine. Yes, they can be dangerous. Farming uses many large machines which are dangerous.

However, a loud horn sounding at 4:30 AM outside your house when only the driver of the combine, who is protected by being in the cab and starting the engine, is around and you have a toddler who you want to sleep can be a danger in itself.

My brother-in-law was pretty good at hitting the button to stop the obnoxious government required horn. But… sometimes… Let’s just say I wanted to find the bureaucrat who made that requirement and wake him up at 4:30 AM with an air horn. That requirement lasted one year. I imagine OSHA was flooded with complaints and I agree with everyone of them.

Okay, what does this have to do with being a football and harvest widow? Nothing really. I have the attention span of a gnat. So back to my original thought.

With the men so busy and focused on getting the crop in finding time to discuss important matters of the family and such could be difficult. It’s almost, I think, like being a single mother. After several years of being an unwelcome interruption I learned… Make an appointment.

by chawalitpix

Most issues aren’t emergencies. They can wait until later in the day or until the next day. I would tell my husband I needed to talk with him and we’d arrange a time. He could arrange his day so he’d block out the time for me. This was before the advent of the cell phone. Today he’s just a phone call or text away. Much less the harvest widow for the younger generation.

He’s still gone and busy the months of harvest, but with the children grown and gone that sense of aloneness is gone too. He records the football game now so he can skip the commercials and can pause it if I have something to say.

I enjoy being alone so the long days and into the nights don’t bother me. The football widow can actually interrupt the game and the harvest widow can talk with her husband without making an appointment.


  1. Totally understand. We finished our corn last Thursday. Thank you Jesus. And the other part people don't understand is the danger behind this profession. We've learned to lean and trust God especially during the planting and harvest seasons when everyone is tired and worn out. It was harder as a wife years ago when there were no cell phones to call and check on the Farmer and boys. I remember more than once getting up around midnight and driving out to a field to watch and make sure the combine or chopper was still moving back and forth in the field.I am so blessed to be a keeper of the crops and to help feed the world. I can totally relate to you Sophie. Great peek into your world.

    1. Been there done that. My husband nursed the drier a lot having to go check it every couple of hours to make sure it was working and hadn't spilled corn all over the place all night long. It needed to empty the holding bin each night or the combine would have to stop. Don't miss those days either.

  2. Just think how many generations of farm folk can relate to this. But, oh! I can imagine how annoying the horn must have been. Near heart failure every time it went off, I bet. We had a good friend get his leg tangled up in a chop box once, but kept on farming. Here at our place, we only ran a few beef, and our harvest season was limited to making hay. Those were long days, with everyone out there tossing bales. Sometimes I miss it, now that we aren't raising beef anymore. But I don't miss it /that/ much. :)

    1. I agree with not missing the hogs or cattle. One winter I watched my husband walk across the drifts in the blowing snow to get to the cattle 1/2 mile away to make sure they had water. No roads were open either direction.


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