I can remember working many nights in the fields, our only light being the Harvest Moon. Every family member donned a warm coat, a pair of boots and gloves and worked in the damp, chilly air to assure every potato, squash, carrot, turnip, beet and parsnip was gathered. Pumpkins were harvested last. A touch of frost only enhanced their delicious taste. Once all the crops were safely in the root cellar, they were covered with fresh straw for insulation against the cold. Then, and only then, could we relax and concentrate on other things.
The harvest was essential to having food for the table during the long winter months. After the vegetables were harvested, it was time to provide meat for the table. Hogs and cattle were slaughtered and the meat hung in the smokehouse to cure. Chickens, ducks and geese were killed and plucked. Chicken feathers were of no use, but goose and duck down were used to make new feather ticks for the beds. Any excess was sold at market along with the chickens, ducks, geese, butter and eggs that were in excess of what we needed. These brought in money for essentials that couldn't be grown, such as coffee, tea, flour and salt. Grandma always set a little cash aside in order to buy Christmas gifts.
I remember too hunting for pheasants and Mallard ducks with my Dad and grandfather. At that time a hunting licence wasn't needed to hunt on your own property. Dad taught us to provide food for the table by hunting. When each of us kids turned 14, we were taught how to use a rifle and shotgun properly. Many a night Dad, my brother and I would hunt rabbits to supplement the winter meat supply. It was always nice when there was a full moon reflecting off the snow because we were able to see where we were going. However, there was a drawback to this as well. The rabbits could also see us. However, we always managed to get a rabbit or two and Mom would make a delicious rabbit stew.
Today, each autumn when I see the Harvest Moon riding low in the sky on a chilly fall night, I think back to those days of long ago. Those were different times - good times - times of autumn on the farm.
Below is a picture that Mom took of the pumpkins amongst the wheat sheaves. This is something that is not seen anymore and I value this photo greatly.