Wednesday, June 24, 2009

That time of year

In our county you can't drive a mile on a country road without seeing combines cutting wheat. The hot temperatures have been helpful to the farmers, though the rest of us haven't been that thrilled.
As a kid, I can remember helping Mom haul meals out to the fields. (The weather can change so quickly this time of year that once the wheat is ready to be cut, the farmers can't take the chance of stopping for lunch at the house.) I baked a lot of chocolate pound cake and pans of bar cookies for desserts. We'd make sandwiches and haul gallon jugs of iced tea or lemonade. After loading it all in the car, we'd drive into the field and try to find a shady spot so Dad could get out of the sun for a little bit. Sometimes we'd have to wait until the combine was full. (They would want to combine stopping for lunch with emptying the combine's bin into the truck.) I always took a library book so I'd have something to do while waiting.
Hauling meals to the fields is hot and a lot of work. I'm glad I don't have to do it anymore. But, there are a lot of farm wives doing just that this week. I guess farming has always been a family effort.
The one thing I hated to do was haul wheat to the elevator. The lines were long. The farmers were in such a hurry to get the trucks back to the field for the next load. Everyone was impatient. Our trucks were scary to unload. We drove onto something that would raise the front of the truck into the air and dump the wheat. (We didn't have a dump truck in those days.) I was so afraid, that I didn't like to ride with Mom or Dad when they took a load. I know Mom hated driving the trucks, and it wasn't until I was old enough to drive myself that I understood why. If I was afraid of riding with someone else, I was petrified driving myself. Wheat trucks are heavy and harder to control. Braking becomes a challenge. The wheat can shift a bit, too. And once you got to the elevator, there was the challenge of driving up on that lift so they could dump your load. There was only one elevator where I liked to unload because they had a guy who would drive the truck onto the lift for me. (It pays to be a 16 year old female in a "male world" sometimes!)
My favorite harvest story is when Mom drove a load of wheat to the elevator. She had three kids in the cab, and the truck had a flat tire in the elevator. She said she had never seen men change a tire so fast. Help was coming out of the woodwork. No one else could dump their load until she could drive the truck out. Either that, or they took pity on the frazzled farm wife with three whining kids!


elk said...

mrs e you are a wonderful storyteller...and I enjoyed the airconditioned cabs back then either right?

Mrs. E said...

Oh, Elk- I forgot about that. We didn't even own a truck or tractor with air conditioning! Nothing like wheat dust and sweat mixed together to make you itch!

Gayle said...

Oh, I also love to read your stories. The farmers of this country are amazing hardworking men and women.

Christina said...

What a lovely story. I drive down roads like this often. ; )

ols1 said...

Farmers do have it tough - they are so hard working and brave - I would not like to have a livelihood where everything hinged on the weather. Great shots :)