Last week Michael Powers published an autumn story I authored, called “Harvest Moon.” It was published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series a few years ago. When Ray Reiman read it he began to reminisce and sent me a delightful note. As you can tell Ray does some writing, too and has something to say from his rich life.
LETTER FROM RAY RIEMEN:
Great “Heart Touchers” story about your granddad harvesting corn! He was much like my dad–a hard working, very honest farmer who died some years ago at age 89. Dad also was a fantastic corn “picker” by hand – not necessarily before one-row pickers were used but before he had money to buy such a fancy machine.
Even though Dad was much older than we high school sons on our Northwest Iowa farm, he could outpick any two of us! And he did! As my oldest brother and I were picking corn at one wagon behind him, we had a heck of a time keeping up with him!
Of course, our wagons were each “powered” by a team of horses that we harnessed in the dark (after first feeding the hogs, milking the cows and eating breakfast!) and drove to the field before daylight. I remember having to first “find” the ears of corn in the darkness to pitch into the wagon.
After each filling our wagons by throwing the ears against the “bang boards” by noon, we’d head home to unload the corn at the elevator at the corn crib, feed the horses, eat a quick lunch (“dinner” in those days), and head back to the field to start the whole business once again.
By the time it got too dark to pick any more, we’d drive back home to unload the corn into the corn crib, unharness and feed the horses, cattle and hogs, eat supper, drag our tired bodies into bed for a night’s sleep to start all over again before daylight the next day!!!
Oh, by the way, when we were younger, this all started with a two-week “vacation” (yeah, right!) from GRADE school that was declared every fall so that we kids could help pick corn!!!
Then, as we got into high school and beyond, Dad would let us use his horses and wagons to pick corn for larger-farm neighbors so we could go out and make big bucks! Hey, as much as 3c-5c a bushel at first and then later as awesome as 10c a bushel! And if we were good, we could make as much as $10 a day!
Wow! And kids think they have it tough these days! I don’t think we ever complained. We certainly never even thought of not going out to pick corn every day!…
– It’s been fun reminiscing, Ken! Thanks for listening! –Ray
You can write Ray at: [email protected]