The first load and the last load

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, September 17, 2013

By Rex Alphin

August 21, 11:23 a.m.

Man, this feels good! The first load of corn being dumped in the pit. Listen to it. Smell it. At long last, we are harvesting the crop. This is going to be fun. It’s what we’ve been waiting for. I can’t wait to see those first yellow kernels rolling out the back. Exciting!

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And then—

Stalk after stalk after stalk. Row after row after row. Busted bearings. Broken chains. This truck is running hot. The Boone field. “Can’t be home for supper tonight.” What happened to that tractor? A thunderstorm! The Milton Field. Take the head off. Load it up. Move everything over to Andrews Place. What? More rain! And wind! “Let’s skip lunch today.” A flat tire? Are you kidding?

Stringfield’s. Lottie Turner’s. Grace Howell’s.

Need fuel. Need fuel filters. Two inches of rain? Are you kidding? Stuck! With the grain cart! Stuck! With the combine! Pull it out with big tractor. No luck. Try it with the bulldozer. No luck. Call Hardy’s Towing. Finally!

Copeland place. Ten-acre field. Broken down truck. In the road. Replace the fuel pump.

Stalk after stalk after stalk. Row after row after tow. Tired. Skip lunch. Skip supper. Need fuel. Clean out the radiator. Check the moisture of corn. Too dry. Wait. Now too wet.

Can’t go to that meeting. Let’s work this Sunday. Bearing gone.

Grace Howell’s. Mike Holland’s. Kurt Lytle’s. Eley Farm. Home place. Only 100 more acres!

On no, stuck again! Back up, try again. Field after field, acre after acre. Seeing corn in our sleep. Corn in our shoes, on our clothes, in our hair. Fifty acres left. Thirty, 20 and then 10. The last eight rows. Done. Done! Hallelujah!

September 13, 5:36 p.m.

The last load of corn from the last row in the last field rolls over the pit and dumps. Finally. It’s over. Done. So tired of seeing that yellow grain. Don’t care if I never see another kernel of corn.

Rex Alphin of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald. His email address is