So we actually have two harvesters: a big and a small. Both are two-row harvesters, which means they can extract potatoes from two rows at one time. Potato harvesters work as a sort of vacuum cleaner by "sucking" spuds out of the ground and up into a series of webs that sieve out loose soil. On manned machines like the ones we have, the potatoes then move onto a separation unit, then finally to a picking table where lucky ducks like us get to sort out stones, clumps of soil and other debris by hand. Finally, the potatoes tumble onto a side elevator that dumps them into a wagon. The person who is driving the tractor that hauls the wagon must carefully match the speed of the harvester and then either slow down or speed up to evenly distribute the load into the wagon. It's a tremendous thing to witness.
This year, we planted and harvested white, red, russet and yukon gold potatoes. As we fill wagons, we must unload them into storage. Our various storage units on the farm are temperature controlled to prevent the potatoes from sprouting and rotting. That way, we can bag and deliver them to various places throughout the autumn and winter seasons without quality concerns. So while other crop farmers are getting a jump start on harvesting corn and beans, we are extracting our potatoes first. Everything else must wait.
The fields that grew potatoes this year will soon be sown with winter wheat and grass seed. We will harvest the remaining field corn and soybeans and make another silage stack. The plan was to welcome new steers this weekend while I am in New York City, but the insane amount of rain we got last night "put an amen" to that plan, as my farmer would say. So while the boys pack and deliver over 4 tons of potatoes today, I will be traveling to support my incredible father who is a professor, scholar, actor, writer, director and artist. Tomorrow he debuts a new solo performance piece at Dixon Place in Manhattan. If you find yourself in the Big Apple this Saturday, October 22nd, admission is free and you should come! More information here.
Also don't miss the video clips below. The sounds of the harvester have a certain "Halloween-ish" quality to them, don't you think? Happy Weekend, y'all.