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Harvest Tales

North Central Kansas

Smith County

Harvest stories submitted by Kansans for the online exhibit, Wheat People.
Submit your own at KansasMuseum@kshs.org.

Mildred Parker

A Spark From a Tractor

Mildred Parker submitted this poem about milling, based on her experiences on a farm located five miles north of Lebanon.

A Spark From a Tractor, 1919

I was not yet five
But I can see him yet--
My father with his suitcase
Walking the country road
Past his burning stacks of grain
with only time to glance that way.
He had received a call
To his dying father's bedside
And was to meet someone
To take him to the train.

The neighbor men were there
To make up the threshing crew
Of ten or twelve men;
Neighbors helping neighbors.

Instead of being in shocks
The grain bundles were stacked
In two tall stacks
A short distance apart.

The man driving the big tractor
That pulled and powered
The threshing machine
Decided to drive between
The two stacks to make it easy
To pitch the grain bundles
From each side into the thresher.

A spark from the tractor
Ignited the straw.
No chance to save it
With buckets of water pumped
And carried from a far away well.

Today I found in some old papers
A form from the Western Branch
Mechanics and Traders Insurance Company
Noting they were paying
For the two stacks of grain
Seventy eight dollars and nine cents

"Harvest Tales" is part of the online exhibit, Wheat People:  Celebrating Kansas Harvest.