It is my goal to learn at least the basics of operating each piece of equipment on the farm. I'm not real interested in doing anything heroic like driving our temperamental dump truck to the elevator with a load of grain, but would nevertheless like to have the ability to do this if necessary. My true motivation is that I consider myself to fill the role of mother/wife/grammy-in-charge-of-safety-control. I would like to possess the necessary skill to extract Farmer John from whatever part of a machine that might try to ensnare him when he's not looking.
And lest you think safety control is not needed on our farm, consider that I once noticed my three-year-old son's eyebrows and eyelashes were missing in a way that looked very similar my dad's appearance after he attempted to light a temperamental furnace years ago. When I asked Jonathan what happened he said, "Daddy said not to tell you."
Yesterday I had my first lesson in driving the combine. It looks so easy. Push the ground speed lever forward to go, pull it back to stop. Toggle the thumb switch up to raise the header up, down to lower it. Steer. That's pretty much all there is to it. Of course, there are at least 20 other switches, pedals, and monitors that I have no idea what are for. It looks like the control panel of a lunar module to me. (I know what the inside of a lunar module looks like because I watched Apollo 13.)
My problem was with steering. In fact, while I was combining, a highway patrolman turned on his lights and siren and sped by on the highway that goes past the field where we were working. I was relieved to see that the officer was after a speeding driver on the highway and wasn't interested in weaving combines. For a moment I was sure I was about to experience my first sobriety test.
Nevertheless, Farmer John said it was pretty good for my first time out. I didn't tell him it was actually my third or fourth time driving the combine because he's obviously blocked those prior occasions from years past from his mind. One does that with traumatic experiences.
Here are a couple of the photos we took as I learned to run the combine: