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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



It won’t be long before the combines are rolling through the countryside and those of us country dwellers will be lulled to sleep listening to the hum of drying fans on grain bins at night.

The kids and I spent some time this weekend outdoors, working and playing and it reminded me of my own youth on the farm. September was always an interesting time around the farm. The corn sheller had come to the farm in August and the corn crib was empty, which gave us boys a new place to explore and set up a fort in, if even for a few weeks.

Dad would begin preparing for the harvest, checking wagon tires and going out to fire up the combine which had sat tucked in behind the gas barrels between the corn crib and the chicken house all summer long. It was very exciting to hear it fired up for the first time each year. It would rumble to life and Dad would pull it up to the gas barrels to fill it. The only self propelled combine I ever remember us owning, a big red International Harvester 715. I remember how scary it was to climb up the ladder clear up to the cab. Once it was full of gas, Dad would move it away from the barrels and warn us to stand back and he would throttle it up and engage the threshing units inside of it.

My brothers and I used to take bets on what would come out the end of that big machine. Usually corn stalks left over from the last harvest, sometimes an errant piece of trash that had been sucked up in the machine, but almost always there was some sort of wild creature. I remember mostly raccoons, maybe a snake a time or two and at least one Opossum that I remember!

The summer days would start to give way to the cooler nights, and Mom would make sure to dig out of storage our hooded zip up sweatshirts. I don’t know if there are farm kids from my generation anywhere that didn’t own at least a couple of these. We would begin to notice a few changes around the farm in those days. The cows spent much more time out in the pastures, eating as much grass as they could manage before the frost took it. It was in those pastures that I first learned to drive, herding cattle back up to the house in the front seat of the orange Chevy pick up. I could barely see over the wheels or touch the gas pedals.

On Saturdays, I would take our quarter horse King and ride up to the north 40 up to the edges of the woods that bordered the north end of the farm, on past the oat field, just beyond the old transcontinental telephone line that ran along the beginnings of Bear Creek. . I would let him eat while I walked along the fence row there peering deep into those trees wondering what was on the other side. Sometimes there would be deer or the occasional covey of quail, but mostly I went up there to see the leaves change, to feel the sun on my face and to pretend I was Gene Autry and sing my guts out riding on top a horse.

The garden that just weeks before had been a lush and bountiful place, were now showing signs of the end of the growing season. The tomato plants were starting to dry up, and the leaves of the pumpkins and squash, at least those that my brothers and I didn’t “Farm up” during the summer months, were now falling away leaving a hidden bounty yet to be picked. The kitchen at the farm always smelled like vinegar at this time as Mom would be making bread and butter pickles non stop it seemed. To this day the smell of bread and butter pickles, or even plain vinegar takes me back there.

I still drive by the old farm quite often, still there, no longer a working farm, but it’s outbuildings and yard reminding me of the memories of my youth, I wonder if I walked up to the north 40 if I would be able to close my eyes and picture it still. A young man pretending he was Gene, and never really understanding just how important those days would be.

See you next week. Remember, we’re all in this together.