Bean men


If you’ve arrived here from the Corndancer dot com Photo of the Week, this continues the saga. If you’ve arrived here independently of the original story, and your curiosity is piqued, you can check it out here.

Eight row combine harvesting soybeans north of Gillette, Arkansas. John Cover's college senior nephew is at the wheel.

John Cover had every right to be more than curious about the unknown pickup parked near his field and the stranger with a camera who was photographing his nephew operating a combine, harvesting soy beans in the field. I explained that I was gathering information for a weekly picture-story internet column, and that I had high hopes of finding someone cutting beans. Once he was satisfied, his gentlemanly demeanor  and well-honed conversational skills quickly became evident.

John Cover hitches a ride on the way to pull his mired 18 wheeler to dry ground. He is riding on the back of Scott Place's fully functional, restored '49 International Harvester KB5 Super dooly bob truck.

John showed up at the field driving an 18 wheeler consisting of a tandem axle Mack truck and an empty grain trailer. While trying to negotiate the tight turn from a hard surface highway to a turn-row next to the field, the right drive wheels of the tractor became mired in a mud hole. This sort of thing is to be expected and happens in the best of families. During our conversation, John whipped out his cell phone, called Scott Place, a relative, and asked Scott to come to his rescue.

’49 “binder” to the rescue

Scott arrived shortly in a well restored, fully operational 1949 International Harvester KB 5 Super dooly bob truck, a vehicle you just don’t see every day. The truck was well equipped as a quintessential farm operation support vehicle. Its trappings included a visible cutting torch setup, fuel tank, oil tank and welder. No doubt the tool boxes contain a plethora of tools, chains, cables and every other imaginable device one might require to keep the wheels of agricultural progress turning.

The "binder" makes short work of pulling the Mack free of the mud hole. The term "binder" was a nickname, even a term of endearment for International Harvester trucks. The term has recently fallen to disuse, due to the restructuring of the International Harvester company.

The "binder" makes short work of pulling the Mack out of the mud hole. "Binder" is a nickname, perhaps even a term of endearment, for International Harvester trucks. The term has fallen into disuse since the International Harvester company was restructured.

This was not John and Scott’s first rodeo when it came to pulling a stuck truck from a mud hole. Without a lot of conversation, knowing exactly what needed to be done, they hooked the tow chain in just the right places on both trucks. Seconds later, the deed was done and the Mack was on dry land. The big Mack proceeded down the turn row to receive recently harvested beans from engorged combines.

The agony of moisture

The Producers Rice Mill Dixie Dryer north of John Cover's fields is huge/

The Producers Rice Mill Dixie Dryer. It's huge.

At the turn row, the trucks are filled with beans. From here, they will probably to go storage and subsequently to a dryer similar to the Producers Rice Mill Dixie Dryer you see to the left. To give you an idea of the size of this giant facility, take a look a look at the small black dot at the bottom of the orange structure in the center of the picture. That dot is the door to the weigh house. Compare the height of the door to the tallest point of the building. It’s not a stretch to say it’s more than 12 stories tall. Agriculture in this neck of the woods is big. Products are shipped to the world from here.

Moisture content is a big deal with beans. Growers are generally penalized if their beans have too much moisture. After all, water weighs in at 8.34 pounds per gallon. Bean buyers are much more interested in buying beans than water. So you add moisture content to the “when to cut equation.” Cut too soon and the moisture content is too high. Wait too long and a big rain comes which keeps you out of the fields.

Soy beans, up close and personal

On the vine ready to harvest and fresh from the combine.

Soy beans. Left, on the vine ready to harvest; right, fresh from the combine, ready for the next steps in a long trip.

Presuming that not all readers have easy access to soy beans, it is my bounden duty to elucidate those not so privileged. To the left you see a handy soy bean composite. On the left side of the picture, you see some soy beans ready to harvest. To the right, you see what comes out of the combine. Hundreds of products contain soy beans or compounds extracted from soy beans. All of our homes benefit from this tiny legume, thanks to the likes of John Cover, his family and thousands just like them. Thanks folks.

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