Listen: 10367600

When harvest time arrives in the northern plains farmers go into the fields to harvest the crop. This story is primarily a montage of sounds of the harvest including combines, farm machinery, and a farmer’s reflections.

It also includes a poem written and read by Moorhead Minnesota poet Mark Bin.

Recorded on the Ed Gauge farm near Pillsbury, North Dakota.


text | pdf |

JOHN YDESTIE: Harvest time on the northern plains, a time of bright blue skies and warm, brilliant sun, a time when farmers go into the fields to harvest the seeds they've sown. In the following segment, we'll hear sounds of harvesting combines as they devour the grain and separate the kernel from the chaff.

We'll talk with a farmer as he rides his combine about his views of this year's harvest. And we'll hear the sound of grain being elevated into the farmer's bins where it's kept until it's ready to be sold. The sounds were recorded on the Ed Gage Farm near Pillsbury, North Dakota.

SPEAKER 1: How is it? How is the grain?

SPEAKER 2: It's pretty good. It's running over 40 bushel. Between 40 and 50.

SPEAKER 1: That's fantastic.

SPEAKER 2: Yeah, that's probably some of the better wheat I ever raised. I've had just as good, maybe a little bit better once before while the rain was just when it needed it, pretty much this year. And then it got dry. And that's what you need. You can't raise a good crop and have a wet all the way on through. Towards the end, you got to have dry weather. So the crop grew so fast right at first. This is the first year I ever had-- the first I seed to come up in about five days.

SPEAKER 1: Five days?

SPEAKER 2: Yeah. And last I've had to come up in about five days otherwise, but never the first I seed it. And so I give it a touch of start and the crop grew fantastic there for-- in June there. I never see it grow any better.

SPEAKER 3: harvesting at night is completely different from the day because the day you can see everything and you know where you're at. But at night, you almost have to have to go intuitively like for driving a truck to unload a combine because we have both moving the same time. Or like when I have to back up to the grain elevator that elevates the grain into the granary.

But at night, you have all the crickets and grasshoppers, everything, their noise amplifies. And usually, everything becomes quiet. And then like, a lot of these dust clouds just are almost stagnate in layers. And then you have the lights on the combines just glaring. It's just like out of science fiction or whatever. And you're like in a suspension of a dark void with all-- it's a different world.

SPEAKER 2: The last two years before this year was awful dry. It was real wet in the spring and then we didn't have no rain at all during the growing season. But we still had a lot of grain even. The old timers used to say that a dry year will scare you to death and a wet year will starve you to death. And there's quite a lot of truth in that. Of course, you can't stay dry all the time. You remember the North stars?

SPEAKER 1: You can tell by two points.

SPEAKER 2: Yeah, two points on the Dipper points.

SPEAKER 1: That's right to the North star. [INAUDIBLE].

SPEAKER 2: Any difference what direction the Dipper is in, if it's overhead or where it always points to.

SPEAKER 1: It's a beautiful night.

SPEAKER 2: Yeah, it's going to be a beautiful day tomorrow too.

MARK VINZ: "Only the wind is moving now, the grass turning in upon itself.

The farmer's boots stand empty on the porch. Even the windows sleep.

Suddenly, the eyes of the clouds are open.

The Lightning stalks, the wind rose five miles down, closer and closer.

Out in the fields, all the abandoned machines begin to awaken.

Corn pickers, combines, balers circling in a heavy dance, rooting the ground with their snouts.

An ancient John Deere tractor is leading them westward toward the conspiracy of clouds, the iron voices of the lightning.

And now they are waiting, steaming and shuddering in the first assault of rain."

JOHN YDESTIE: Sounds of the harvest on the northern plains, recorded on the Ed Gage Farm near Pillsbury, North Dakota. The poetry was written and read by Moorhead, Minnesota poet Mark Vinz. I'm John Ydstie.


Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

This Story Appears in the Following Collections

Views and opinions expressed in the content do not represent the opinions of APMG. APMG is not responsible for objectionable content and language represented on the site. Please use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report a piece of content. Thank you.

Transcriptions provided are machine generated, and while APMG makes the best effort for accuracy, mistakes will happen. Please excuse these errors and use the "Contact Us" button if you'd like to report an error. Thank you.

< path d="M23.5-64c0 0.1 0 0.1 0 0.2 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1 -0.1 0.1-0.1 0.3-0.1 0.4 -0.2 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.3 0 0 0 0.1 0 0.2 0 0.1 0 0.3 0.1 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.2 0.1 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 0 0.4-0.1 0.5-0.1 0.2 0 0.4 0 0.6-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.1-0.3 0.3-0.5 0.1-0.1 0.3 0 0.4-0.1 0.2-0.1 0.3-0.3 0.4-0.5 0-0.1 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.1 0.1-0.2 0.1-0.3 0-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.1-0.2 0-0.1 0-0.2 0-0.3 0-0.2 0-0.4-0.1-0.5 -0.4-0.7-1.2-0.9-2-0.8 -0.2 0-0.3 0.1-0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.1-0.1 0.2-0.3 0.2 -0.1 0-0.2 0.1-0.2 0.2C23.5-64 23.5-64.1 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64 23.5-64"/>