An extraordinary autumn gears up


Hasn’t autumn been extraordinary this year? November blew in, and each day so far has been as mild as a day in May.
The leaves have put on a spectacular show, with many trees in this area still holding on to greens and light goldens.
The big maple. Each year, it seems the very last tree to turn is the big maple tree that I planted shortly after we were married.
That tree has grown large and leafy, and once again this year, it is putting on a late-season show. The tree is still covered with russet red and vibrant golden leaves.
Going back. This time of year always takes me back.
November was a month filled with plenty of hard work, as Dad was driven to harvest the corn just as soon as the moisture content began to fall into the reasonable range
November meant hopper wagons filled to the brim with shelled corn, still damp enough to require our help in pushing it down to the slightly opened hatch door.
That early-harvest corn was usually still moist enough that we could lie down and make angels in the top of the hopper wagon, then watch them disappear as the corn worked its way down the chute.
November meant pumpkins ready to be picked for pumpkin pie and pumpkin cookies, enjoyed with a steaming hot cup of honey-sweetened tea.
November’s chill meant pulling flannel shirts and thicker socks and warmer coveralls out of the storage box before heading out to do the milking.
November also meant spotting deer gathering in ever-increasing numbers in newly-harvested corn fields, enjoying the leftovers that remained for their fine dining.
In the midst of all the extra chores of harvest, the cows still needed milked twice a day.
Calves still arrived and needed to be trained to drink from a bucket, like it or not. First-calf heifers still needed to be tamed to stand in the stanchions, to behave well enough to be milked.
The work kept right on coming, and the extra work of harvest made for some mighty long days.
No time. Just the other day an older friend asked if I belonged to Girl Scouts. This was always a bone of contention when I was a kid. I wanted to be a Brownie in the worst way, working my way up to that green uniform that only a Girl Scout could earn.
This was the time of year all of my friends talked about which troupe they were in, walking to the church for their meetings after school.
I wasn’t allowed to join, because the chores needed to be done every day after school. I felt certain this slight would keep me from succeeding in life.
Think of all the things my friends were learning that I would never get the chance to study!
It was a social slight if ever there was one. But, I survived. And though I never wore the green uniform or pinned a special badge on my blouse, I know that every autumn was a learning experience in more ways than could ever be counted.


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.