On the Farm: Field Work

This is a very old blurry picture, but I know who everyone is. I’m on the top right, and that’s my sister on the left. My dad is on the wagon and those little kids in front are my brother Jim and Donna. They came along later.

During harvest season there was always work to be done in the fields. Baling hay was especially fun. I would usually be on the wagon receiving the hay bales as they came off the baler. It was hard work, but fun. I would grab the bales by the twine and then turn around and stack them on the wagon. Then when the wagon was full, we would unload it and pile the bales onto a huge haystack (pictured above). If stacked properly, it would keep through the winter; but much of it we would transfer by conveyor into the barn hayloft to feed the cows. Oh, the cows loved the hay!

We also grew oats. The harvesting of the oats was entirely done by a combine, but the oat stems (straw) would be bailed up just like the hay, which was used as bedding for the cows, the pigs and the sheep. And we also used it in the garden. As a kid I much preferred straw over hay because it was less itchy and softer.

The harvesting of corn is usually all done by machine, but, for a couple seasons, we ended up doing it by hand. We dreaded it, but once we got into it, it was kind of fun. I say we because the whole family got into it. Mother would drive the tractor pulling the wagon; and the rest of us, dad and us three kids, would walk along on either side of the wagon, break off the corn, pull the shuck off, and toss the corn in the wagon. Once we got the hang of it, we could pick one ear of corn in just a few seconds. We would work at it for hours at a time, up and down the rows. At the end of the day we were bushed!

Another thing I remember doing in the corn fields is walking up and down the rows and pulling these big weeds called cockleburs. We didn’t want them in the fields because they would tend to choke out the corn. I also remember picking rocks. That was done in the early spring before planting. I suppose the main reason for getting rid of the rocks was so they wouldn’t interfere with, and break any of the machines, like the disc and the planters and the combines. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why the corn picker broke!

I don’t know if this classifies as field work, but fixing the fences was a regular task. That was kind of fun because I got to work with my dad. My dad was always happier when he was working—doing something. In the evenings when he was just sitting around the house, he tended to get upset and angry, especially when my mom would pester him about certain things. Oh, they could get into it. I hated it. I hated hearing the angry arguments. But I loved seeing dad happy and in a good mood.

In the next post I’ll talk about what I did for fun—my free time.

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