Harvest is work for some, play for others


This season brings lots of work, though the work is tempered with the accomplishment of a year of planning and labor. As a kid, we saw the fun rather than the work at harvest time.

While other kids were happily busy with raking leaves just to jump in to them, my sisters and I had the thrill of working and playing in thousands of bushels of shelled corn. Dad would pull the hopper wagons up to the grain bins, and we knew what we were to do.

Our job

While Dad opened the trap door of the bright orange wagon to let the shelled corn flow down to the auger which would take the shelled corn in to the dryer bin, we hurried up the wagon’s ladder and jumped in to that sea of shimmering shelled corn.

My sister Debi told me to pretend that we were swimming in an endless supply of gold coins, and we were sending it to our bank account. Our job was to keep that moist corn flowing downward, and we made sure that not a single kernel — or coin — got left behind.

I remember grabbing the side of the wagon and just sort of running in place, my feet doing the work. It never once felt like work, actually, but Dad would always thank us for our help.

“Couldn’t have done it without you!” he would often say at the supper table.

We could hear the dryer bins running in the distance, and Dad would make a trip out to check on things several times before he turned in for the night. There were times the dryer bins couldn’t keep up with the day’s harvest, so Dad would back a couple of filled hopper wagons in to the barn for the night.

Too tempting

Once, the sight of those full wagons parked so close to the hay mow was just too tempting for my adventurous soul. I started climbing the ladder to the hay mow, and my big sister knew right away that something was up.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked with a tone of trepidation in her voice.

“Just watch!” I answered with glee.

I can still feel the tingle in my toes as I contemplated my next move. While my sister pleaded with me to remember all the farm safety lectures our dad had dished out over the years, I tried hard to tune her out.

Dad will skin you

“If you get hurt, Dad is going to skin you!” I remember her saying. I reached the top of the mow and looked down on to a glorious bed of shelled corn. It was way better than a little pile of leaves.

I tried hard to figure the distance and I felt sure I had jumped much farther from the diving board into the farm pond, easy.

Piece of cake

My fingers and toes tingled as I prepared to take flight. Using that hay bale as a springboard, I pushed up and out. There was electricity in the air of that old barn. The rush of adrenalin carried me through the air. Landing was a sparkle of thrills and chills to last a lifetime!

My sister was speechless. But when I climbed out of that wagon, the first thing she said was, “Oh, no….you lost your shoes! Now we’re gonna have to tell Dad.”

I let her stew for a little bit. I started climbing the ladder to the hay mow, Debi pleading with me to please come down. “Don’t do it! Once was bad enough!”


I waited until I got to the mow and this time pretended I was going to do a swan dive, just to add to thrill of the day. Then I turned around and picked up my work shoes from where I had left them, put them on, climbed back down the ladder.

My sister was so relieved I think she wanted to faint. Being my big sister was hard work. It’s a wonder she didn’t skin me.


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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.



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