by Jane Green
Special to the Farm Forum
Oh, am I ever so glad to live in the great state of South Dakota! After watching all the media coverage of the recent hurricanes that have decimated large portions of our southern United States, our prairie state looks like a pretty good place to live — especially during the fall season.
And it’s during the fall season of the year that I enjoy our state the most. ‘Tis the season of the year that finds all of the farm folk busy harvesting crops, rounding up livestock, baling hay, straw, and corn stalks, repairing corrals, hauling manure, and working the fields. ‘Tis the season of the year that finds all of the farm folk busy harvesting vegetables, winterizing houses, cleaning garages, spraying lawns, painting buildings, and taking care of the lawnmowers, campers, and lawn furniture.
Good grief, Janie girl, have you lost your marbles or what? How can you possibly love the fall season so much? It sounds like all you do in the fall of the year is work, work, and more work?
Well, that’s exactly why I love the fall season so much. It is the time of year when our farm families must come together to not only help with the harvest, but also to celebrate in the harvest. ‘Tis the season when all hands must be on deck. And the story goes like this…
Recognizing the time
How many times during the fall season hasn’t the boss of your outfit come into the house and announced he needed help right now? Sound familiar?
I can still hear my dad’s voice demanding my sisters and me to change our school clothes and to come out and help him finish picking the potatoes because there were frost warnings out. All of his hired potato pickers had left him for the day, and so we girls had to pick up the slack.
Those were the days when everything was done by hand. We picked the spuds by hand and put the tubers into wooden slatted baskets. Then we poured two full baskets of potatoes into large picker sacks and lined the sacks up into straight rows along the field. The sacks were then picked up and lifted onto a flatbed trailer which was pulled by the ever steady Old Allis tractor.
The trailer full of spuds was then hauled to the farmyard. From there, the potatoes were poured into a grader and sorted into 100# burlap sacks and sewn shut with a needle and a heavy yarn type of thread. Finally, the end product was ready to be sold.
Actually, the potato harvest wasn’t an all bad experience except for the part of picking up spuds by the light of the moon. It wasn’t a bad experience because dad worked right with us picking potatoes and telling his stories and making it fun. We sisters often reminisce about those past harvest times and usually end up in stitches laughing about the good times we had with him.
Another thing that we girls still recall is the fact of how important it was to harvest those spuds on time. Dad raised and sold lots of potatoes commercially—thus, they had to be fresh with no frozen or frosted tubers. Those spuds provided a much needed income for our family and we girls realized this and tried to do our part for the family.
All hands on deck
So it is still today. Farm families realize the importance of a good harvest product. Whether it is baling hay, rounding up cattle, or hauling grain from the field, each of these activities must be done on a timely basis. Time is important especially if there is a rain storm coming or a blizzard is imminent. The idea of all hands on deck is needed to get machines out of the field or the cattle home from pasture or hay baled while it is still dry.
Some things have changed
Some things have changed for our families. No longer is there as much hand labor required. But now, farm kids are required to be much more knowledgeable and skilled when it comes to operating large equipment. We have grandsons who have been operating equipment like balers and combines since they were quite young. Their family has needed them and so they have been doing their part for their family.
At the old Rancho Grande Green place, the four kids have all grown up and left except for our son Brian. One kid can’t cover what four kids used to do. So, we have had to resort to hiring other people to help with our operation. Our hired help has to work closely with us just like our family members used to in order to get the harvest completed. The family unit is a little different now but life is still good.
Oh, one other large change at our place is the manner in which the boss comes into the house and asks for help. No longer is there an announcement. No longer is the announcement loud. Instead, his voice is a little softer and he phrases his request with much kinder words due to the fact that the only one present to help him is me. If he wants help from me, he must ask nicely.
‘Tis the season for family
As I stated at the beginning of this article, I love the fall season. I love it for many reasons not the least of which is the memory of working with my sisters and parents during the fall season. And then again I love it recalling the good times of Jim and I working with our own young family during the harvest season. And I continue to love the fall season even though our present day farm family members have changed, they are still helping us bring in the harvest and making new memories.
So, it is no wonder that in my book, the fall season holds a very special place.
Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.