Letters to the Editor

Recalling harvests of yesteryear


| March 2006



Listen up while I tell about a Jayhawk that's been long converted to a Cornhusker, since back when I was coming on to 5 years old. I remember considerable harvests in southwest Kansas where you wander about, wondering what happens if the wind quits.

I remember when some oats were shocked by moonlight because it was so hot during the day. Of course, all this machinery was enormous to a 4- or 5-year-old, but these were my friends. They wouldn't hurt me.

What really impressed me, even then, was a tractor man who pulled into a new field with his big tractor pulling the separator. He pulled over to the indicated spot and stopped. Somebody pulled the hitch pin. He drove just so far forward, backed up and turned just right. He pulled ahead almost to the separator again and backed up just so. You could put on the belt and start threshing.

Dad moved the grain wagons with a team of big Percherons. He could back the wagon wherever it was wanted while he stood up on the machine and told 'em what to do. The machines were pulled away and lined up to be hooked together and pulled to town with a big tractor that probably moved all of three or maybe four miles per hour.

Harvest was usually well underway by the Fourth of July and it was hoped to be done by Thanksgiving. My dad got the bundle men to pitch bundles into the machine head first and it sped things up noticeably. That's when they began to use the center board in the feeder.

Then we migrated to southwest Nebraska. We had more diversification but we still had small grain, and I bought my rack on the crew when I was still in high school. It was the only wagon with rubber tires, built low and wide and oh how the spike pitchers liked to help me. The separator man climbed on my rack and told me I didn't have to keep up with that Dutchman on the other side of the feeder. He had a small rack. He used a five-tine barley fork and when he jabbed into a shock, most of the shock came. There I was with a little three-tine fork with the points ground off for safety. He was big and strong and funny, but I carried a lot more grain to the machine than he did. By then we were using trucks to haul most of the grain.