Bryan Thomsen, oldest son of Waterville farmers Mark and Kirsten Thomsen, remembers riding along in the combine all day as a child.
“I thought it was the coolest thing,” he said.
Thomsen started helping with farm work when he was about 12 and then a few years later got a farm permit and drove the harvest truck.
He was in the marching band at WSU and always had to leave for school before harvest started. Watching combines from the window at Pullman was difficult. Harvest was still his favorite time of year, and he wanted to be a part of the harvest at his family’s farm.
In high school he had to develop a career plan and decided to say he wanted to be a lawyer. He tried this direction out for a while, majoring in philosophy and taking pre-law classes, but didn’t enjoy it as much as he thought he would.
After graduation he decided to come back home and help on the family farm.
“I thought I’d just keep doing it until I didn’t like it anymore — I haven’t hit that point yet,” he said.
Thomsen said that he particularly likes harvest because there is so much camaraderie among the crew.
“Harvest is the one time of year where everybody is together in the same place working on the same stuff,” he said.
Garrett Thomsen, Bryan’s brother, remembers driving a Jeep through a field at age 9 or 10 while his dad walked behind him and sprayed the weeds. From that point, he learned to drive a harvest truck and tractor.
After graduating from Waterville High School in 2012, he went on to Eastern Washington University and majored in business operations management. After graduation he returned to work on the family farm.
Garrett Thomsen said the farm lifestyle has always been what he wanted. He remembers the time his dad spent mentoring him, the closeness of his family and the time they spent together working and relaxing.
“God let us be the stewards of his land here,” he said. “I’m honored to do that.”
His wife Mia, the agricultural instructor and FFA adviser at Waterville School, also helps with harvest each summer. A graduate of Wenatchee High School, she enjoyed a somewhat agricultural childhood, spending time with horses and a big garden at her grandparents’ property.
Mia Thomsen said she enjoys harvest.
“I like being able to say I’m part of the family farm,” she said.
Cryss. Toycen of Monroe was also part of the harvest crew Friday.
The daughter of Camille Viebrock and the late Denny Viebrock, Toycen started helping with harvest as a student at Waterville High School in the early 1980s. Her uncle, Neil Nelson, took over the family farm from her mom and dad, and when she was 16 he decided it was time for her to get out in the field.
Toycen, who liked equipment and trucks, was glad to be able to take part in farm work.
“It paid a lot better than babysitting,” she said. “I loved it. It was definitely the job I wanted to do.”
Toycen married in 1988 and moved to western Washington. She returned to work on harvest in 2012 and then last year and this year.
She loves it as much as she did when she was a teenager. It might just be in her blood since both her parents’ families were homesteaders.
“Not many people want to get in a hot, dirty field for fun, but I enjoy it,” she said. “My girlfriends don’t understand what it is we do out here.”