Purchase photos

Farmer cuts a colorful canvas





CATHARINE — With his shirt open and his cap off, Phil Schmeidler didn’t seem to mind the struggling air conditioning system on his New Holland combine.

He just as easily shrugged off being outside the green and red circle of John Deere and Case combines.

“We dare to be different,” he said.

But it was a perfect brush for the artist’s canvas in the field of TAM 111 and TAM 112 created through the use of two planters north of Catharine.

The light and dark wheat created an interesting pattern of broad brush strokes and sharp curves in the field of wheat, an already often photographed subject.

“So far, we’re all over the board,” Schmeidler said of how his wheat was performing. “This here is probably the best so far.”

Continuously cropped fields of wheat are the poorest, he said.

Schmeidler and his son, Scott, both were running combines in the field, dumping wheat into two trucks, hauling the bounty to the Toulon elevator.

“We bought our first new machine in 1980,” he said of using the tan machines. “We had Massey-Harris before that. We’ve been with them ever since.”

For Schmeidler, the New Holland machines are perhaps the easiest to work on.

New machines, however, are just as difficult to work on as any other brand, he said.

“This is a pretty good size machine — capacity-wise,” Schmeidler said.

It’s a never-ending debate about what machine to use to harvest wheat, but he said a farmer has to cut a lot of wheat to make it worthwhile to have a new machine.

And with weather conditions so poor, it’s a struggle.

“The last three years,” he said, “it’s been so dry.”

Schmeidler paused and adjusted his radio so he could hear it.

“Got to get my polka music,” he said. “I used to get two hours of it.”

But he had to split the time between two radio stations.

“I’m a fan of polka music,” he said.

While he and his wife used to belong to a polka club, its members are declining severely.

“We need some young people,” he said. “We had four boys and none of them polka dance.”

Schmeidler still dances to polka music approximately once a month in Russell and in Hays.

“Whenever they are close by,” he said of the chance to dance to polka music.