Talking It Over -- Farming in all conditions
I am so relieved to see that the weather is finally cooperating and some of the fall field work is being completed. I know it has been a big worry for many area farmers and those that rely on them for their livelihood.
This season has been very unique in many ways. It was abnormally cool all summer and now in the fall it has been extremely wet. It is not only a struggle to harvest the crop but also to get it dry enough to store. Drying is not cheap so this adds to the expense of raising the crop.
As I watch the harvesting in our area, I can't help but remember some very cold, wet and even snowing days when my dad and brother were out in the fields from dawn until well after dark. The equipment was much smaller then so the time needed to harvest was longer. There were many years when they were still putting up the corn at the end of November with snow flying all around.
Working the ground after the harvest was not quite as important as getting the crop out. This was often a job given to my mom or one of the teenagers in the household.
Plowing was something that could be done by anyone as long as you could reach the levers and see over the tractor steering wheel. No driver's license was required. What made the harvest and tilling worse was the fact that you had no protection from the elements. There were no cabs on the tractors and the seats were made of very cold, hard steel. No back rests, no wheel covers and no heaters. You were not only fighting off the cold, wind, snow or rain but also being pelted with flying debris from the equipment.
I don't mean to make it sound like farmers have it good today but when it comes to working in the elements, today's equipment does make it much easier. The jobs get done quicker with less impact on the person operating the equipment. It is easy to see why many farmers from the past struggled with back problems, injuries to limbs, loss of hearing and skin diseases.
Soon, the harvest will be complete and the 2009 season will be one more for our memories. It will be brought up occasionally as the year when the temperatures just wouldn't get over 80 degrees or as the year when we struggled to harvest the crops. No matter what it is remembered for, it is sure to be one we hope to never repeat as we look forward to a better season next year.