One More Harvest
30 to 30 version from moke yet again. Seventy four year old Melvin good starting a day out in much the same way he has so many times before. An early breakfast of eggs bacon toast and coffee and of course some talk about the farm and harvest the good ones and bad ones from yesterday. The next morning at an early age Melvin began farming the dry land wheat country near flowery Montana. Eventually building it into a profitable business. When Melvin son Keith married years ago it was decided Melvin would live in Great Falls and commute allowing Keith to raise his new family on the farm. Now at age 74 you'd think he would be enjoying retirement with his wife. But he isn't. He still routinely drive 22 miles to the farm and he never misses a harvest. He can't seem to give it up. He never stops replanning his time his energy his life. Back into the
land. And even though he comes out here and he doesn't play maybe a major part anymore he's still you know likes to be out here like I think you'd rather be out here than at my gramma's lake at a cabin you know so I mean everything. He'd rather find this coming out here I think he feels at home. I guess really I think he's still pretty important for him to have been at this long you just have to love it. I mean you know he just found what he wanted to do in your house to you loves it. Brown Melvin good is among the last of a fading breed of once classic farmers a character akin to Mother Nature most children will only read about farmers like Melvin are disappearing quickly going out the same one way gate that neighborhood grocery stores did. Yeah there was probably a. For the naked had guard every year. They had it fenced. In and mother bought a couple of what she called Pride roosters. They were big beautiful rooster. They got in the
garden and. Called me and I was pretty good at throwing rocks I could a rock in my pocket. Favorite rock and. Call me to come out and get to Richard's Olive Garden and I said you care but kill one kill him and he said no no for cricket when they had mother had cooking. I would have missed most of the time but I hadn't hit that. On a small target researchers did its best to go on buying Ford. The farm is in the thick of what's known as Montana's golden wheat triangle it's good wheat country you wouldn't recognize the farmhouse Melva knew as a young man only the location is the same. It's much bigger and better today. Keith his wife two sons and a daughter now live here. The farm is where Melvin has played host to nearly five dozen harvests close to 60 seasons of working the soil waiting on the weather and hoping for a good crop of wheat and barley. So for Melba nothing can compare to harvest time. That's
the glorious season for bringing in the bounty in a matter of weeks the crop is cut and in storage. If all goes well but the excitement of harvest is always edged with stress and literally clouded with a potential for disaster. You can see it in Melvin's face and almost as though that cautious instinct were passed on. You can also see it in Melbourne son Keith. Now runs the daily farm operations. Lord. Harvest is not only a very telling time for crops but it is a good measure of people as well. In Melvin good the test was marked a long time ago. His tall lanky frame strides about this Montana prairie with ease and comfort. You get a sense that he belongs here almost as much as the wheat does and you know it so when you hear him say he loves fishing but fishing season always came at the
wrong time of the year. So even as a youngster while others were out fishing in Alvin was learning how tractors worked. Oh my brother and I went to a sale right up the road and bought a 10 20 Titan. While no one with a cold at home with Harsin. And Dad said it was no good. We got to run and that he had directed. Would let us run a new gun and had a mixing. Pot rather than a carburetor and he messed around that they had a smoke in Sabbat it couldn't see a way to go on it he jumped out and says See I told you no good. We had only adjusted that mixing bowl and like the plot of the whole doggone fire. What do you think more than anything else has kept you on the farm and. I just think because I didn't know anything else and I like the type of work I like the work the soil. Like the smell of. Work and moist so I like to watch
things grow. And I kind of like the idea of producing food for people. And an occasional wind howling like the one we hear hot. Yeah yeah I don't. Like. I like. What you say reminded you of all Mr Mackerras bar and our neighbor's bar that had a certain whistle. I remember hearing so much. One was certain no one knew that. Newcomers often get turned around amid the patchwork wheat fields out here it's mostly flat just a few ripples for hills and usually only a clump of trees to identify the homestead to Melbourne that's funny because he has never lost out here. Only when he goes to the mountains does he get mixed up meat and go to the farm accompany. The other chap will you.
OK. Thanks. That's what I want. Keith good where's the dust and withstand the winds of farm life. Very well hard work. Some good fortune and his father Melvin all make his days at the helm mostly successful. It's a respected farm consistently producing near the top but it's Keith's children who are still unproven and uncertain about farming. But harvest remember
can be very revealing. It won't take too many more harvest to know who will be staying on. He's been at Whole Foods to move the needle in the tires repairing a broken hose some responsibility some pressure four grandsons who may one day become farmers themselves when a combine breaks down during harvest all valuable time is lost out of necessity and perhaps by design. Kevin and Logan must make the repairs. Get all means. Well I'll have to dig like the dickens to stay in the business if they choose to pick on a price increase aside your unit constantly. Because in this game it's either get bigger or get
out or supplement your income by working out a. Job well done. Hard to come by. Moisture and insects to very big factors farmers must consider all the time for grandson cabin. A quick lesson about grasshoppers. Well flake went with your crop you last place even in what you drank here and. Popped it in. Rest a straw guy. At the gas Hopper looking for moisture. He comes up and takes a bite out of it the way it goes on the ground. And when to get it. No way to get them on the ground. That's where they do their damage. He's cut you off right there.
He's daughter Stephanie has one more year of high school in nearby Fort Benton and like most of her classmates she must then decide about her future in farming. Most of the students from farmers really farm families. How do you all feel like your peers and your classmates about farming in the world. What maybe half of them stay with the farms or are. Yeah. Most of all go back to farming lots of them. Like from last year's graduating class they'll just go to college they'll take the sort of father's farms because the fathers are getting all they have like you know 10 kids in the family yourself and the others are gone to college so like I know about two or three kids lost to understand I'm fine. How about yourself do you think that farming is something you would like to stay with in one form or another. And I might marry a farm rarebit out no I'd rather go to college and time get a different occupation I think more exciting than farming is exciting but I
can't see myself the kind that I don't. Want. While he works there radio music no doubt keeps Logan in tune like others his age but he must still face the quieting decision to be there stepping in when his dad bows out or finding another way of life. I always wondered myself. You know whether I should take over the farm because like Grantland dad or both the form it all their life you know they didn't want to give it up. And I didn't when I graduated from high school I just didn't feel that you know I didn't wasn't ready just as you hop into farming. Your mom told us the other day Logan you came in tired after a long day in the field and said Boy I don't know if I want to be doing this for a lot of years.
Yeah I you know sometimes you're like that when you get up 6:00 in the morning and work 14 hours you know and I've thought that quite a few times but you know I just don't know if I could do it you know like Dad hopped right out at 18 or 19 and just started farming. I don't know if I could you know he's been at it for what 30 odd years now and I don't know if I could just do it you know for my whole life so I don't mind. I feel about having your grandsons like Kevin and Logan out here doing this great. They doing the job are they. Now what. That's got to be pretty nice to have them kind of steppin and they got maybe 50 hires ahead of them or so I could be.
Just depends on whether they're syndrome you know. What. Wheat samples are constantly tested for moisture content and while some moisture is desirable even necessary. Too much could cause spoilage. Seriously jeopardizing a crop. Oh yes I was. Telling a neighbor he's not doing much this harvest probably doesn't come easy for Melvin But that moment fades quickly as this season farmer tends to some neighborly business which reveals the good family is once again
first in the area to start cutting. Knowing that Melbourne regains any farm style pride he might have lost by not being in the fields. 0 3 0 0 3. But I doubt that. You would know it. Twelve point three percent moisture content this batch of wheat passes the test. It's dry enough to cut and to store. Field crews must now be notified that they. Could be right here all the boys in March are 10 was 12 3. Yeah. Well it doesn't matter just tell them that. Things that. You know. You drive to them. Yeah you bet. Your. Family and hired hands have gradually assumed more of the farm duties once exclusively held by Melvin. But even if there are mostly just errands for him now there remain uncounted bushels of what he has contributed and still does plant back into the farm with his very presence
presiding over the grand collection of crops. Melvin Lenz himself totally to the portrait of farms that America once boastfully sang about when the crops are ready to be cut. The farmer goes all out to bring them in. Often that means long hours in the field even work well into the night. Boys it. Will be. 11 8. 0. 0. 0 flight test. Questions All right. Your field. My. Journey. There's a couple of big ones in there. Well that test. Good night. Yeah. That's like. You know living. Well. A single decision to wait until morning to cut could mean disaster or a lost crop if strong winds or hail should hit the fields. Everyone knows that doesn't mind getting a little tired to see things through.
One night time shift alone may save countless fields from total loss always then a chess game with the weather. On days when the weather does prevail crews reluctantly surrender the fields and as the word goes out that strong winds and rain have shut this harvest down. Tension mounts. And the weather watch begins. Melvin knows the importance of weather to farming and the irony of watching it from one of the main elements of nature I guess you'd say that. Determine what kind of a crappy one. Rather very important. Cloud over. Like it's gone. Come with. Gentle rain. I can't predict what's going do except for one thing it starts before 7:00 in the morning it'll quit before 11:00 that same morning. I've seen that happen lots and lots of things very seldom do detail so that's an indication for you.
Not that it does any good. You think it's going to come good rain it rains 10:53 quit doesn't do either good to know that I quit and that's all you know. From. Observing the weather. In rain days. If there is any consolation from a weather shutdown it's a chance to attend some of the family affairs that would otherwise be missed. OK. You. Let your. You know as far as farming goes he personally has a lot of interest. But his first interest is farming. Him. And Willow keeps track of everything about you bro if somebody asked you about your brother. You know when you want to you know what What's he like. What would you tell him how would you describe
him. First I'd say I love the heck out of me. Kind. Of. Millman I've been through a lot. But he did beautiful when. His life was the farm. All our lives I'm in the farm we worked hard. There were five older children older than these kids and they didn't go through that I'm not. That old. He knows what he's about to tell you that. YOU years old have a couple of friends and you know what I'm doing or. To only to you know just a
little OK. There have never been. OK. Jews are on these right. Yeah. But I think it's inevitable though you'll be there til the day I was doing the same thing is doing news. It would surprise me a bit when the time comes he's on a truck to go to a truck or just drives off till it quits. That's that's my impression of what Melbourne has found on the farm probably goes unnoticed by most people. There are the colorful sounding grain varieties like Turkey red he knew as a young boy to the likes of citation and center today making the farm a fascination in grain technology and development and there's been a revolution in equipment during Melvin's tenure from the horses he hated but had to use at one time to the air conditioned and fully outfitted combines his grandsons now operate. But perhaps the finest
feature for Melvin good is something that never seems to go away. The beauty of it all from the soil to the sky is blue. Oh I just knew. She was. It's. All over the news. Oh I. Don't want to eat.
Another bird and another kind of beauty. Montana's Flathead Lake where Melbourne's wife Belle must spend summers visiting their daughter and grandchildren. It's sort of her Golden Pond. Being married to Melbourne for 50 years has meant a long stand with him as farm wife and all the ups and downs that go with that. At that I don't remember ever thinking that I wanted to give up farming. You were just part of the production you know. The farmer's wife was this is important is really the farmer because you had your your choice to do butter to me. And then it was a long time we had our children and that was my full responsibility when mail was gone all day and we didn't have a car that that frightened me in that if anything happened to the kids I couldn't get them to the doctor and you know and we had no phone. He continues to kind of attach himself to that form every harvest. He still maintained some involvement. And you
see that and you kind of got away from that. What do you think of him still doing that. Well I think it's great if that's what he likes to do. I think he should do the things that he gets the most enjoyment out of. And I realize he's not active in the sense of making decisions but still his heart's in that production you know making things work and keeping the machinery up. Rachel Melvin and Velma as only daughter says the imposed farm isolation taught her strength and even today she calls on that self-reliance to get things done. But she also remembers there were hard times on the farms and I remember on one occasion it was raining and mother wanted to go for a walk and I just assumed she wanted me to go along. And so I asked to take along as she would let me go. And it stuck in my head now I know as a grown woman that she feel then felt the need to get out to go on this. She walked
two three miles. And. I don't know there were strains probably on her expectations. She it was hard work it was isolated. And your mother enjoys where we're at now a flat head like as you and your family enjoy. But your dad doesn't come up here. He was very happy and still is very happy on that prairie because it is. They were his productive years and in a sense. That's the place he proved himself and that's where he's most comfortable. Because he can look around him and see that's what he accomplished in it and it makes him feel very secure. And he is not secure when he gets away which we feel is kind of too bad because he has earned these years and I wish that he could travel and really enjoy every place he goes but he just is a dry lander. And. We've given up trying to change him.
Well I don't think he would. Really. Want to. But to here is he just does what he wants to do and. He's entitled to that. But when his. Fellow that feels good he'll be here and has a lot of help. You can't replace 50 years of experience. And real valuable in a foreign game because you never. Every form is different and this is the for me bit on for. His whole life. He started it. So. He's well entitled to be here when he wants to be. Do you want to be remembered as by other people. Well been just an honest man. I think. In my book that's the most important almost
- One More Harvest
- Contributing Organization
- PBS Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)
- AAPB ID
- This program profiles Utah farmer Melvin Good and his family. During the program, Melvin reminisces about his life and growing up on the farm; his grandchildren discuss the decision to becoming farmers or pursue another vocation; family members describe Melvin's and their passion for farming; and Melvin describes the process of harvesting a crop.
- Asset type
- Media type
- Moving Image
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 1166 (KUED)
Format: DVCPRO: 25
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
- Chicago: “One More Harvest,” 1984-00-00, PBS Utah, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 11, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-83-407wmf7g.
- MLA: “One More Harvest.” 1984-00-00. PBS Utah, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 11, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-83-407wmf7g>.
- APA: One More Harvest. Boston, MA: PBS Utah, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-83-407wmf7g