July 12, 2019

Small Hands, Big Help

Summer. It’s the time where kids are out of school and lying by the pool. But for this family, it means getting to help out on the family farm.

Elijah (13) getting a refresher course at the start of harvest.

Sean Harkness is a father of six (soon to be seven come January) and has been farming for almost 20 years.

“My dad sent me an email detailing that my oldest brother was leaving the farm to go pursue other options and there was an opening for me if I wanted it. I told him college was out in a week and I could be home to start in two weeks. I quit college in my junior year to come home to farm,” Sean said.

Sean has five boys and one girl, with their ages ranging from 1 1/2-13 years old, so it’s safe to say once school lets out, all hands are on deck.

“The three older ones ( Elijah 13, Ky 12, Savannah 9) are able to help out with outside chores and some field work,” Sean said. “This year, Elijah is running one of our combines during wheat harvest. Ky can too, but so far we’ve had extra help, so he’s just been a floater between our crew and my in-laws’ crew. Elijah and Ky have both operated a tractor hooked to a sweep plow as well. Gabe (4) is a ride-along at this point, and Gideon (3) and Caleb (1 1/2) mostly stay home with their mom or their grandma depending on the time of year.”

Gabe waiting on seed to show up.

Since Elijah and Ky are the two oldest, they have taken more of an interest in the farming world compared to the other siblings, but they’ve also began showing interest in other areas.

“So far, Elijah is pretty curious and really wants to know how the equipment functions,” Sean said. “He’s interested in the whole process of preparing the ground, planting and harvest, but the mechanical side has his attention the most. Ky likes to operate equipment — he likes his solitude in the cab.”

Ky running the tractor solo.

Even though they all share different interests out in the field, they can all agree on the things they enjoy most about helping out during the summers.

“Spending time with their parents, grandparents, uncles and aunt,” Sean said. “I think Savannah enjoys her lunchbox more than anything, but every kid around that age does… and some of us adults too. :)”

The Harkness family members aren’t the only ones spending their summers in the fields. Check out these other summer farmhands below!

“My 15-month-old had to bring his dog along in the grain cart to get our Winterhawk out.” -Daniel Crossley

“Catching moles in hay fields!” -Matt Kadell

“Grandpa's sidekick and mini farmhand.” -Carmen Knutson