An inside look at harvest – 24 hours on an Illinois crop farm

During harvest, things get pretty busy on an Illinois crop farm – especially when said crop farmers have three kids! My husband, Todd, and I both have jobs off the farm as well. We save our vacation days to use during harvest season so we can help on the family farm as much as possible. (Yes, we use “vacation” days to work!)

Illinois farm family harvest

Day-to-day things may look a little different depending on weather and schedules, but here is what a day in our lives typically looks like during the peak of harvest:

5 A.M. – Todd is out the door for his off-the-farm job

6 A.M. – Megan makes school lunches, checks on the farm animals and gets the kids ready for the day

7 A.M. – Megan drops the kids off at school, give rides to anyone who needs to get back to equipment or move something around

8 A.M. – Megan does morning livestock chores, check grain storage bins and dryers to make sure everything is working properly

10 A.M. – Megan washes windows, checks oil and levels to make sure equipment is ready to go

11 A.M. – Megan helps in the field: combining, moving grain, delivering grain to a bin or grain storage facility

Illinois corn harvest

Noon – Megan checks monitors and crop/weather conditions, decides which field to go to next, organizes fall soil testing and fertilizer applications

1 P.M. – Megan delivers lunches that can be eaten on the go – fast food or lunch meat sandwiches

2 P.M. – Todd gets off from work and heads straight to the field, delivering fuel or hopping into a semi truck, auger cart or combine. Megan starts prepping a hot field meal for dinner.

4 P.M. – Megan gets the kids from school and day care and delivers 1-2 children to the field to ride with Dad for a while

5 P.M. – Megan and the kids are home, Megan feeds and waters cattle

6 P.M. – Megan delivers a meal to the field with the kids so they can say “hi” to Dad and Dad can get something to eat

7 P.M. – Megan heads home and gets the kids to bed

8 P.M. – Megan takes care of animal chores. If needed, she fills trucks for the last time for the night, fuels everything up for the morning and does whatever else she can to keep the guys going in the fields for a few more hours.

Midnight – Todd gets home from the field and checks on the kids and Megan before getting some sleep

2 A.M. – Dream about harvest

4 A.M. – Wake up and start all over again!

Some days include a three-hour round trip parts run or unhooking and moving to a new field because conditions have changed and that field is no longer suitable for harvesting. If a kid gets sick at school, our days get even crazier.

Harvest on an Illinois crop farm is hard work, but this is what we work toward each year. Harvest is the season where we literally get to “reap what we sow.” And when you love your work, it doesn’t feel much like work at all.

Megan Dwyer

About Megan

I live on the farm where my dad grew up with my husband and our three children.

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