Thursday, July 28, 2016

August on the Farm

Out on the farm in the days when crops were planted, cultivated, and harvested by horse drawn implements and that long-handled tool called a hoe, August was welcomed as time when the crops were ‘laid by’. A horse and plow would only damage the full-grown plants, and the heat was wilting the few weeds that had escaped the hoe.

Life slowed down—but never to the point that was nothing to do. The corn ears were dry and hanging haphazardly on the stalks. It was time to sweep out the old log crib and soak the wagon wheels so the metal rims wouldn’t fall off as the corn was hauled in.

My Dad hooked his team to his wagon and let the team pull the wagon slowly down the rows of corn, while he pulled the ears of corn off the stalks and tossed them into the wagon. Leather gloves were not a luxury—they were a necessity for wrenching off all those ears in their dry shucks. Trip after trip was made back to the barn, where the corn was unloaded into the crib to be saved for winter feed for both livestock and meal for cornbread..

Another job finished, but another waited. Those leafy cornstalks couldn’t be left in the field to waste. They, too, were saved for winter feed. But they didn’t just nicely arrange themselves into nice teepees like those in harvest-time pictures. That took days of hot, stingy work by human hands.

Dad had a large curved knife he used to cut the stalks. Then they were bundled into a manageable size and tied with a length of binder twine. Then the bundles needed to be carried or dragged a short distance to where they were shocked. Not electrically, but in teepee shapes called corn shocks. The dragging was my job. I hated corn-shocking time. I was't real happy with child labor, either.

It’s not surprising that I looked forward to school starting. But wait—there were Saturdays, and the peanut crop to be harvested. I’ll rest a few days, then tell you all about it.