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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."



     Although I’m not a huge fan of the fall season there is something magical about this time of year.  The cooler nights, which relieve us of the restless sleep of the hot summer, are upon us.  Couple that with the nearly uniform brownish tan color that the fields greet us with, bring our senses into the harvest season.

     Growing up on the farm, harvest was an exciting time.  When we were very young, the harvest meant finding the acorn squash that had hidden the last few months in the growing vines only to be undressed by the first killing frost.  Next to a bowl of chili on a cold winter day, the taste of fall squash with butter and brown sugar is one of those things that always remind me of a certain time of year.

     We learned as little guys how to determine the moisture content of the corn and soybeans by taking them from the ears and pods and chewing on them.  Imitating our elders we never swallowed that cheek-full of soybeans, but spit them out piece by piece as we cocked our head to the side.  If the beans were just right they would crack open with a soft snap, if they weren’t ready yet, not only would they not come out of the pod very easily, but they would mush up in your mouth and taste really foul.  Looking back at that time, I’m pretty sure we really didn’t have a clue what the moisture of the grain was, or really what we are doing, but we were farm kids, and we followed along with what we had seen generations of our family doing.

      Before the first self-propelled combine came to the farm, soybeans were harvested with a little orange Allis-Chalmers picker pulled behind a tractor.  I remember this scary looking machine well with its giant Ferris wheel type gathering reel and the even scarier pullies and spin bars on the rear of the machine.  Although they had been used for years, by the time I was old enough to remember harvest well, they were rarely used, although I used to remember Merlin Stodden using one to pick soybeans on his plots near Dexter. 

      For corn picking there was a New Holland picker that was also pulled behind a tractor, and it came with two different rear ends.  One would shell the corn and dump it directly into a wagon, but the one I most remember being used was the one that would leave the ears whole and convey them up and into the wagon that we kids would ride in from time to time.  It was great fun to ride in the wagon and dodge the heavy ears of corn as they would come raining down onto the floor of the wagon and we would become the “full gauge” when our heads would poke up over the edge of the side and Dad knew we were standing on a wagon load of corn.  Mom, as I remember, was never really keen on us riding in the wagons, but to be honest we boys probably did a ton of things as farm kids that Mom wasn’t too keen on. 

     The other thing I remember about grain harvest was how cold the grain would be.  If you’ve ever stuck your hand into a wagonload of grain you’ll understand what I mean.  I also could take great sympathy with the Princess who had to try to sleep on that mattress with a pea under it, although I was sure she never had to try to walk to the house from the barn with half a bushel of soybeans in her five buckle overshoes.

     Harvest time always brings good memories even if there weren’t always good times mixed in with that time of the year.  It’s the end of the season, the results of a year’s crop in front of your eyes.  It always reminds me as well that eventually everything will wither and die away, and yet even with that stark yearly reminder I know that it will only be a short while, and the earth will renew itself and be born again.  Take some time this week and take a look at your own harvest.  Is it the kind of harvest you expected, or do you wish that it had done a little better?  And if the answer is indeed the latter, then it’s a good time to start making plans for the seeds you’ll plant for the next harvest. 

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