A chill in the air, the unmistakable smell of fallen leaves upon the ground after drying from a rainfall and farmers in the fields running combines well into the dark of night. All these things say that fall, and the harvest is truly upon us.
I don’t know about you, but I like it. I guess my two favorite seasons are spring and fall. It’s rather ironic as each are on differing ends of the spectrum. Spring indicates new life, and fall, the ending of that life – seasonally speaking, and the gathering of the fruits of the summer’s labor.
Some of my fondest memories stem from the days of old growing up on the farm during the harvest.
It was the time of the year when the weather would begin to be cool and be frequently rainy, making the barnyard chores even more messy than before. The daylight hours would grow shorter and shorter, and much of our chores were performed with flashlights.
In those days, there were many small farms that raised their own beef, pork and poultry for private consumption, and then occasionally produced enough to send to market for cash. We did all that, however, Dad still worked a full-time job at a factory in town, and Mom worked full-time making a home for all of us, and what a home it was.
For the most part, our mother taught herself to cook, and what a terrific cook she became. When my sister, brother and I would enter the house after coming home from school, we would hesitate for a moment and drink in the aromas emanating from the kitchen. After a short discussion about our day at school, Mom would instruct us to get ready for “supper” (not dinner as we call it now), as Dad would be home soon and we always, every one of us, would be at the supper table. No eating in the living room, no eating in our bedroom, and no bringing games to the table. We would eat, and we would communicate. What a radical concept (did I just date myself with the term radical?).
After, we would do the barnyard chores, bring enough fire wood into the house to take care of the heating needs for the night at hand and the following day.
We fed the horses, milked cows, slopped the hogs, fed the chickens and gathered the eggs. We cleaned the cattle and horse stalls. We made certain that the dogs had water and plenty of food. The cats ran free and took care of all the rodents that were common around the barns, and we made certain they had plenty of fresh milk each time we would do the milking chores (morning and night, seven days a week, 365 days a year).
The work was hard. Sister Karen, brother John and I thought our lives were hard. But we were wrong. We discovered how difficult times could be once we departed from the love and security that our parents created for us.
The harvest and fall of the year seemed to bring us closer together in ways that many will never know. Some will never understand the joys of life on a farm, life as a close-knit family or that feeling you get knowing that everything someone does for you says I love you.
It is said that we spend the first part of our lives trying to get away, and the rest of it trying to get back. I believe this is true. Even if you don’t, or never have lived on a farm, take the time to enjoy the harvest, and those you cherish.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. He can be heard Tuesday mornings from 8 a.m. to noon on 88.7 WOBO-FM, and can be reached at HEKAMedia@yahoo.com.