I’ve missed wheat harvest in Nebraska the past few years. Riding along with Herbie Husker on the side of the Case IH red combine. Sinking in to soggy salami sandwiches with a little chaff and dust in each bite. Racing a far-off storm cloud at a mighty 4.3 mph. Crackling CB radio. Golden piles flowing in the foreground of the never-ending plains.
Harvest time is different now. This season, I rode in the buddy seat for interviews or waited at the end of the strip for photos. While I'd stand waiting for my photo opportunity to paddle its way through the golden sea, I'd daydream a little about being in a driver’s seat or radioing to dad that dinner is waiting at the end of this pass.
But it’s also comforting, beautiful even, to watch families across Montana play their own part in a story so similar to mine. Each family farm is different. Unique. Particular. But connected.
I’ve watched these golden piles flow into grain bins miles and hours apart this summer, and I can just imagine it all swirling together, binding each of these families to one another. I like it then, when I pick up a loaf of bread at the grocery store and can wonder... is this Bandel bread? Johnson? Diehl? Maybe Nelson. I don’t know.
But I do know that even when there’s not a name or face directly marketed on our food, there’s still a name and family behind it. And I like that.
2018 Montana wheat harvest photos and interviews from assignments for the Montana Farm Bureau Federation Centennial Celebration book, due to publish Nov. 2019.