Holmes County, Ohio is Ohio Amish Country. It is beautiful any time of the year, but it is especially beautiful at harvest time. Harvest is hard work for any farm family, but it is especially intense for Amish farmers who do not use modern farm equipment. David Kline is an Amish farmer with a large family, but even with a large family there is enough work at harvest time to exhaust everyone and the dairy cows still have to be milked before daylight even during harvest time.
Amish men don’t have televisions, radios, computers or cell phones so they have time to tell stories. David Kline has an unusual story-telling gift. David Kline writes his stories down and he publishes them, and people read them–lots of people. His stories are well-written, published, and poplar. David Kline has stories to tell. In his first book, Great Possessions, he tells this story about harvest time.
On Amish farms in Ohio the main meal is dinner, at noon. The Amish eat well at every meal but supper is modest. At supper David told his family; “We are all going to have to pull together this evening and get the rye harvest in (shock the rye) before we go to bed no matter how long it takes. Even if we have to work into the night we can’t afford to risk losing the rye if it rains tonight. We have to work as long as it takes to get it off.”
The whole family went to work right after dinner working their way methodically up through the field toward the crest of the hill. The hill was halfway to the neighboring farm. They worked slowly but steadily. They knew they would be half-done when they reached the top of the hill.
The sun sank lower and lower toward the dark line in the west as they worked. Approaching the crest of the hill they heard voices on the other side. When they crested the hill they were delighted to see that the neighbors had taken initiative to help them with their harvest. All down the hill toward the neighbor’s farm the rye stood in shocks row on row. The work was done the before the sun sank from sight. Thinking they were half-way done suddenly the job was over.
They stood at the crest of hill for a while and looked with satisfaction on the results of their mutual labor, then agreed to join their families together for one more task before nightfall, the task of making homemade ice cream. As a day of harvesting came to an end the families had plenty of time to laugh at the antics of the children, tell stories, and enjoy the sweetness of homemade ice cream and the fellowship of good neighbors–the kind that don’t have to be told when their help is needed.
When Jesus said, “The fields are ripe unto harvest,” he was talking about people. If you look around there are people everywhere you look who need to be brought in before it’s too late and that is more likely to happen if we can discover ways to work together. Build teams. Appreciate the skills and gifts of others. When you see someone needs help, pitch in. Try to cooperate when you can. Put pettiness aside. And then someday at sunset we will all sit down and enjoy the sweetness of our labor.