“Forget about the machine! Just save the beans!”
That’s probably not something that a firefighter hears very often. But once the firefighters got to the scene of our combine fire, that’s exactly what they heard from ScubaSteve. In a matter of minutes the combine had exploded into a blazing inferno, burning the soybean stubble all around it and slowly moving towards the field that was not yet combined. MyFarmer and ScubaSteve had just got done cutting one field and were getting ready to move through the fence row to the next field. They were just finishing up dumping the beans from the combine into the grain cart when MyFarmer heard a boom and looked in the mirror to see flames shooting up from the back of the combine. Combine fires are somewhat “common” (tons of dust + machinery = sparks and fire), so no one really panicked until they got to the back of the machine and saw that their fire extinguisher wasn’t going to touch the flames. At that point they called 911 and drove away in the tractor and grain cart.
The guys happened to be cutting soybeans in the field that adjoins the mum pad where I was set up selling. There is no feeling in the world like seeing flames shooting out of a combine that you know your husband is driving. I’ve never had a panic attack before, but that’s for sure the closest I’ve ever been. The moment I heard his voice on the other end of the line there was a rush of relief that I can’t even describe.
Just a couple weeks before the combine fire, the guys also had a near miss when the grain auger fell over while they were trying to move it into position. (A grain auger is the thing they use to move grain from the trucks to the grain bins. The bins fill up via a hole in the top of the bin.) For whatever reason one of the cables failed and it toppled over, almost knocking LittleE off the top of the bin and nearly squishing MyFarmer and ScubaSteve on the ground.
There is a reason that farming is considered to be one of the most dangerous professions in the US. (After a quick google search I found that farming is generally considered to be between #3 and #9 of most dangerous jobs. Every survey that I looked at showed agriculture professions to have a higher risk of injury/death than police officers and fire fighters! eek!) Crazy accidents like this happen no matter how meticulously you take care of your equipment and/or how careful you are. These accidents are not-so-gentle reminders to not get too comfortable or complacent with your work.
Crazy stuff like this happening also reminds us how incredibly humbling it is to be a member of the agriculture community. Word spread like wildfire (no pun intended) that “Snider’s combine burned up.” So fast, that before the fire trucks were even out of the field MyFarmer got a call that we would have a loaner combine delivered by Saturday. How amazing is that? I also can’t tell you the number of calls and messages we all got from fellow farmers and friends offering up their spare combines and/or their time to come and help. It is such a privilege to be a part of a community that is so selfless and caring.
On a humorous note, I actually sold mums and pumpkins during the whole combine being on fire debacle. I guess some people don’t readily notice large fires, billowing smoke, fire trucks and on-lookers lining the roads. Thank goodness a neighbor showed up and helped. I was somewhat “mentally unstable”, and I’m not sure I could have kept it together without him stepping in. I guess I was a little distracted by the exploding piece of equipment in the next field. But man, mum sales were on fire that day! (lolz)
At the end of the day we are all just thankful that we only lost “things.” Things can be replaced, people can not. We have a new combine (with a draper head! Our farms first draper head, it’s an exciting time.) and a new grain auger. Life is good, God is great.
I’m going to use this time to stand on my metaphorical soapbox and talk about farm safety for anyone that ever comes across farm equipment on the road. First and foremost, if being stuck behind a tractor for 3 minutes is the worst part of your day, kudos to you, you are winning at life. If you need to go 15mph for a mile or two just take a chill pill and enjoy it. Take a look around, notice the beautiful landscape, sing your favorite song. You are NOT going to have to follow that tractor for the rest of your life. I promise. If you HAVE to pass a piece of farm equipment ONLY do so in an area that is SAFE TO PASS. It is also so much easier for you all to slow down and pull off the side of the road than it is for us. If you see a tractor coming, please slow down and move over. Trust me, we are not out in the road strictly to be in your way and ruin your day. Please don’t flip us the bird or flail your arms violently at us. We are just trying trying to get to work too. I don’t say all of this because it’s an inconvenience to us when we share the road. I say all of this because it SCARES THE CRAP OUT OF US when people are reckless. In a battle between tractor and car tractor will win. Just trust me on this. Thank you for listening.
We are so incredibly thankful for our local fire department! They were at the farm within 5 minutes and were able to keep the fire from moving to the next field and causing any more damage. Special shout out to all first responders! Y’all rock!! Thank you for doing what you do!
I hope everyone has had a great start to 2016! Here’s to a safe and prosperous year!