Current weather conditions

Click for Dexter, Iowa Forecast

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."



     Late summer always brings reminders of growing up on the farm. When the grasses were tall in the waterways and the corn started its slow dry down it was always a time of change as everyone was busy preparing for the harvest to come. In the house the wooden shelves in the basement were full of jars of green beans and tomato juice which Mom had spent countless hours canning in order to feed the family over the winter. If we had been lucky enough for Mom to find a good deal at one of the local stores, there would also be jars of canned peaches although they never seemed to taste as good as the ones that were sliced up and put over a dish of vanilla ice cream.

      Joining those jars were row upon row of pickles. The garden which seemed all summer to expel cucumbers in alarming numbers kept her busy with dills and bread and butter pickles. But my favorites were her sweet pickles which I knew would be kept carefully and would be the secret to her potato salad all summer long.

     At the south house, where I currently live, there stood an ancient pear tree, and with the start of school it would signal the time to pick pears, which many times also found their way into jars in the basement. That tree stood for many years after the ground had been traded off to the state, and unfortunately because of some strange fence row clearing that tree was deemed unneeded and chopped down although it still was producing pears and just a little bit of shade.

     In the garden the tomatoes were just starting to finish up and we watched the squash carefully as it started to put on weight as the vines started to die off. The grasshoppers had a heyday as they finished cleaning off most any surviving plant, and the green peppers were finishing up and potatoes needed to be dug.

     Out in the farm yard other changes were taking place. The corn crib, which had been filled all summer except for a small area that had been used to supplement the grass the cattle had been eating, had been emptied with the arrival of the corn sheller. It wouldn’t stay that way for long as it would soon be time for the corn picker to start the work of clearing the fields once again. The grass in the lawn had been cut for one of the last times and the summer flowers were starting to lose their blooms and welcomed the blooms of the mums.

     In the barn the sweet smell of hay drifted through the rafters of the loft, its square bales stacked high in the north end ready to be thrown down for winter feeding. Pens had been cleaned and manure spread on the pasture ground in the bull lot and on north of the barn in the cow pasture, and a new soft layer of oat straw had been laid out for the sheep and the cows.

     The leaves on the corn started to dry from the ground up and we watched every day waiting for the ears to drop and show the signs of corn starting to on the cob. The bean fields also started their transformation from lush green to a golden hue before turning a stark brown as the leaves died and fell off. This would bring one of the most exciting days of the year as Dad would go out and fire up the old International Harvester combine that sat in the barn yard all summer long. My brothers and I would look forward to this and make bets on which kind of animal would have taken up summer residence inside it. Our enthusiasm to see what shot out the back end, a raccoon, or perhaps an opossum or maybe even a sunk or rat was only matched and exceeded by that of Statler our Australian Shepard who got the job of exterminated said animal.

     Many of those old ways still exist today and although the small rituals of farming over the seasons hasn’t changed the way farming occurs certainly has. It amazes me to see the size of the equipment that is used today. Not only can we harvest crops with more efficiency and quicker, but with today’s technology the farmer can have instant access to data as the crops roll through the machine. From yields to moisture content, it means that the days of picking part of a set of rows and taking the coffee can to town, has almost been replaced with just reading the monitor and blending on the go between wet and dry corn in the same field.

     The way grain is transported to town certainly has changed as well. When I was a young man there were often lines and lines of tractors and wagons of all shapes and sizes sitting waiting for the elevator to open in the morning. Today those lines still greet me when I go into work, but the tractors and their colorful array of wagons have been replaced with the gentle hum of idling diesel engines of semi-trucks.

     In a few weeks harvest will be starting and will continue the long tradition of bringing in the harvest. Be aware of the slower equipment on the road, give them a little extra time and room. And take a moment and remember the days of old when things seemed simpler and there wasn’t anything better than fresh peaches on a dish of vanilla ice cream.

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