The Last Dance of Harvest

October 25, 2010 | 22 comments

The maple blushes in the front yard, and maybe it’s because everything is undressing here.

The twelve ash lining our country line have dropped their undergarments. The poplar in the windbreak wear only leafy berets.

And every field-acre of Lee land has been stripped naked, leaving golden stubble and stray grain for wandering wildlife.

The 120th harvest on this family farm in northwest Iowa is over.

And in this stripping away, our hearts are laid bare, too. They beat with joy, gratitude, perennial hope in the dying and in new life to come, and in the starting-over-again.

I hear the end-of-harvest news over the cell phone from my favorite farmer. Gravel crunches underfoot in Scott’s autumn recessional from combine to pickup truck.

“Took the last wagon to town a half hour ago,” he says, and I hear relief in his voice. “We. Are. DONE!”

This is my “God’s-Got-It” man. It’s the same voice I heard last year, when snow frosted early-fall fields lined with crops. It’s the same voice — steely, determined — that promised we’d harvest no matter what. (Because God always brings a harvest at the proper time.)

It’s a voice that reminds me of his father’s, who last harvested these fields two years ago between chemo treatments. I picture my father-in-law now, kicking off dusty work boots and stepping through the creaking back door in the white farmhouse where he was born, grew up and later raised his three children.

His father was all business on the combine. But in moments like these, he would simply cut loose, all spirited under that John Deere cap. He’d ball his fists by his hips and do this jaunty farmer jig that made us laugh full and long. “Heeeeeeey, Jenny,” he’d say playfully. (He’s the only one who ever, ever called me Jenny.)

This is the voice I hear on the other end of the phone — the voice of a father inside of his farmer-son. It’s a voice that resonates with consistency, dependability, trust … and buoyant celebration.

And I think I want to dance, too.

For the harvest is done. Our joy is complete.

For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.
— Deuteronomy 16:15

Did You Know:

* Each Iowa farmer produces enough food to feed about 155 people worldwide, making them among the most efficient producers in history. This compares to 73 people in 1970.

* Fewer than five percent of Iowans farm, and the average person is three generations removed from farming.

* Grain is used to feed livestock and make fuel called ethanol.

* The Iowa Farm Bureau reports: “If you took everything out of your life that was made using agricultural products grown in Iowa, you might find yourself in your birthday suit and may be doing a lot of walking.” Iowa ag commodities are used to make a variety of products including toilet seats, candles, ink, pet shampoo, textiles, paints, fuel and more.

(All data provided by the Iowa Farm Bureau.)

by | October 25, 2010 | 22 comments


  1. Rebecca Ramsey

    Beautiful post! I can just see him doing the jig. 🙂

  2. lynnrush

    Great post. Beautifully written. And you're right, HE brings the harvest at the right time. Thank you for that reminder.

  3. journeyman

    It's like the song says: "He may not come when you call him, but He's right on time."

  4. HisFireFly

    That deep exhale of another harvest completed permeates your words..

    well said.

  5. TheSoapSister

    What a lovely & joyful post -congratulations on a successful & completed harvest! ~Becky

    p.s. Don't know if you all grow soybeans up there, but I'm experimenting with soybean oil in a batch of handmade soap today! 🙂

  6. Graceful

    Yeeeehaw! Glad to hear your good news. And oh, that part about Scott's dad calling you Jenny…that got my heart strings.

  7. mari mayborn

    Oh Jennifer–You did it again. Here I am teary-eyed over the beauty of harvest and the incredible faith that is woven through the fabric of life on your farm.

    Looking forward to dancing with you and yours when we celebrate the Ultimate Harvest…maybe not under John Deere hats, but definitely in the air as God brings His harvest home.

  8. elaine @ peace for the journey

    I love the look of it…

    It feels right.


  9. Shaunie Friday @ Up the Sunbeam

    I love looking through your eyes at country so familiar, it's part of me. No matter how long I've been away from Iowa, born there, being the granddaughter of an Iowa farmer, descended from a long line of Iowa farmers on both sides of my family, there's good black Iowa dirt in my DNA–it's what I'm made of. It does me good to remember the dirt God formed me from and the down-to-earth values that keep me on the right track. Thank you sweet friend!

  10. Charity Singleton

    Celebrating the harvest with you! My step-dad finished his harvest a couple of weeks ago in record time. Thank God that sometimes the harvest comes early.

  11. Beth E.

    What a beautiful post. God bless you and your family, Jennifer!

    Please tell your hubby that I said THANK YOU for all he does to make our lives easier. I truly appreciate all of his hard work.

  12. Sandra Heska King

    I think we're operating on the same wavelength these days. The land has been stripped here, too.

    And my maple is sporting a miniskirt. 😉

  13. n. davis rosback

    blessed again

  14. Lyla Lindquist

    They did it again.


  15. Linda

    It makes my heart to sing to think of it Jennifer.
    Thank you – all of you – for the hard work, grace and faithfulness that bring the crops to harvest. God is good!

  16. S. Etole

    For some reason this brings tears to my eyes …

  17. deb

    I lived in a rural area for a time, and the work of the farmer is like no other.

  18. Cassandra Frear

    Congratulations. I hope you're celebrating in a special way! I love the resonance of things that endure.

  19. H. Gillham

    In October, my husband and I travelled through Pennsylvania [for the first time]to go to my niece's wedding.

    We noted how those farmers celebrated the harvest with pumpkins, single candles in the windows, and a hospitality that we don't get in the city. I looked at my husband and noted, "This is harvest. This is what farmers do. We miss this in the city where suburbs place hay, pumpkins, and fake stuffed figures in front of their houses for atmosphere. This is the real deal."

    So, I hear ya. Preach it. It is a time to dance!!! I am grateful and thankful for the people who harvest for all of us.


  20. Jeff Jordan

    I really like the imagery in the beginning of your post…prose that reads like poetry.

    Congratulations on another harvest. Hope you and your family get some time now to enjoy your labor.

  21. caryjo

    When I was driving from the northern MN area to Omaha last Tuesday, seeing the farmers look like things were closing down for them, rest would be coming, I'm always grateful for their work and amazed at their faithfulness. Jigging sounds good, too.

    Thanks for sharing.

  22. Jennifer

    This afternoon, we put up the last bale of hay for 2010. Our harvest is now complete, too. Praise God for both our harvests.


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