Autumn on the farm is truly the time of gathering, the time for Thanksgiving for all our bounty. We see it first hand, we do it first hand. There is no history for us in the fall – explanations of how it is done. It is what we do. Intense work and long hours for all, young and old alike. It is good to discover new energy in the cooler air. It is needed.
From sun-up to sundown, with my oldest brother’s help, my dad and he are in the fields. Crops must be taken before it freezes. I hear words like ‘bumper crops’, ‘barley with the quality needed for beer’ (always said with joy) or quotas (the amount you are allowed to take into the elevators).
I don’t care. I want to be a cowboy, not a dirt farmer. But we all must shovel the grain into granaries or the two-ton truck and take it to town. Everyone helps. Coal and wood is stacked for necessary heat.
Again we are given choices – my sister stays inside, helping mom with canning – that fruit our uncles have brought and our vegetables. We all help to gather the potatoes, carrots and beets for cold storage. I choose to stay outside and help. One of my favorite activities is to haul the huge amounts of bales needed for our cattle. Again I can pretend to be a cowboy preparing for the winter. My oldest brother and one younger brother and I again work all day, for many days, hauling bales. We cut the grasses from the now dry sloughs and it is baled too as well as the ‘stubble’ from the harvested fields. We have competitions with our neighbors – both grown men. Imagine the joy and satisfaction when we haul more bales in a day than they do.
Sometimes to beat the freeze some stay home from school to help. No one comes to complain or charge us with truancy We just must work harder to ‘catch up’. We know this and don’t complain. Fall is the busiest time of the year – but there is a satisfaction and peace that can’t be described – until you’ve fought the elements and you win.
Now, we are ready to sit inside, reading, playing cards, laughing and fighting for another winter. You will not starve. You will not freeze. Simple satisfaction for a job well done.