Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — CAMBRIA — Kicking up a cloud of dust as it slowly rolled through a nearly 50-acre wheat field in Cambria, the John Deere combine made its way toward a tractor-trailer to drop off its load.
The crop — winter wheat — was efficiently transferred from the combine to the truck and the driver turned around to make another pass at Morning-Dale Farms.
Just another day in the fields for 84-year-old Wilbert Milleville, who still drives the combines for Sanborn-based Milleville Farms, now operated by his sons.
“I’d rather be doing this than working,” cracked Milleville. “This is all I’ve ever known.”
Still, Ron Wendt, 82, is amazed that Milleville still climbs up the combines and harvests the fields. Wendt said the days of operating a combine have passed him by.
Modern combines are far different from what Milleville first operated some 65 years ago. Today’s machines feature enclosed cabs with air conditioning and a radio. Digital instruments tell the driver how fast it’s moving, the yield per acre, moisture in the yield and almost any other information imaginable.
Combine harvesters get their name from the tasks they do: reaping, harvesting and winnowing grain crops in a single process. After the grain is stripped from the stems, the waste straw is left behind, to be baled and used for feed or bedding for livestock.
According to Milleville, he’s been operating combines since he was 18 years old. He said he liked it then and he still does.
“It used to be such a dirty job,” Milleville added. “The dust would kick up and come right at you. At the end of the day you’d be covered in dust; all you’d see was the whites of your eyes.”
Farming is definitely in Milleville’s blood. His father and grandfather were both farmers and even his grandchildren are farmers.