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Harvest Tales

Southwest Kansas

Clark County

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

Kendra Weddle Irons

Harvest Preparations

When I remember our wheat harvests, my heart begins to race and my anxiety level increases, and it is almost as if I am transported back to the annual event itself. Each year, as harvest neared, I remember watching the marvelous sky fill with its ominous thunderheads, being torn between the love of the storm, and the fear of a ripe field obliterated by large hail and massive winds. More often than not, however, Mother Nature spared at least most of the crop, and we prepared for what was the busiest weeks of the year.

Preparations began in earnest when Dad pulled the combine out of the machine shed for maintenance and to attach the header. Meanwhile, trucks were inspected for possible engine problems and then cleaned. My sisters and I often washed the windows of all of the trucks and the combine. Additionally, the "little" tractor had to be attached to the auger that would haul the grain up from the tarp-wrapped tire that served as the holding bin during the unloading procedure.

While these were very important tasks to be carefully attended as the pre-harvest jitters increased daily, there were equally necessary preparations made inside our ranch house situated on the top of a hill in the middle of the pasture. Mother worked incessantly preparing menus and buying food and assembling meals that could be prepared and frozen ahead of time. I remember her going to the grocery store in nearby Dodge City and filling to the brim at least two, or maybe three, grocery carts with items for harvest meals. I must admit, the weeks that we spent in harvest were when we ate the best all year long!

Harvest began when Dad, Granddad, and Alan (our family friend and helper) headed to the field with the combine and a gallon coffee can. While they started around the field, my Mother, sisters, and myself would keep within range of the "C.B." so that we could hear the results the Co-op delivered when they checked the small amount of wheat in the coffee can that had been raced to them by my Grandfather. If the wheat tested ripe, we were off and running and would maintain a schedule of at least twelve-, more often, fourteen-hour days for a two- to three-week span.

Kendra Irons also submitted Harvest and Meals in the Field.

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