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Sunday, October 14

Autumn on the Farm



I grew up on a farm in southern Ontario. Though the farm was always a busy place, the busiest time of all was autumn harvest. In late September or early October the Harvest Moon would appear, riding low in the night sky. This was a sign that frost could hit at any time and the autumn harvest had arrived.

September in Ontario meant back to school. It was a time of renewing new friendships. As soon as we arrived home from our day of learning, we were expected to change into our work clothes and head out to the fields. In those days we had no fancy farm equipment. The men would dig hills of potatoes with a flat-tined fork and leave them lying on top of the ground. The women and children would follow behind with burlap sacks. We'd pick up the potatoes, clean the dirt off and put them into the sack. When the bag was full, we'd tie it and put it on the wagon. When the wagon was full, the team of horses would pull it to the barn and the sacks of potatoes would be stored in the root cellar.



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.

24 comments:

  1. You wrote a beautiful post!!
    I lived on a farm in Iowa when I was a little girl and I remember some of the things you wrote about!! I will be 70 next summer and times have really changed a lot!! Some things not for the better!
    My Mother always had a large garden and put everything up. Thanks for sharing about when you were small! I love reading it!!

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  2. Thanks for such a lovely post dear.

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  3. What a great post about autumn on the farm. You all worked hard, but had a lot of self satisfaction in stocking up for the winter.

    Really enjoyed reading about autumn on the farm, Mary and the photo is beautiful.

    Renie

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  4. Grams,

    Thank you for your kind comments on my post. So we are both farm girls and though I am younger than you, my grandparents had no electricity or modern farm equipment. I'm glad of that because I learned about a life that was simpler that what we live today.

    Blessings for the coming week.
    Mary

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  5. Denise,

    So nice to have you visit again and thanks for your kind comments.

    May you enjoy the week ahead.

    Mary

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  6. Renie,

    Yes, we did work hard. I don't regret that a bit because it made me a stronger person.

    Thanks for dropping by. You brighten my life with your friendship.

    Blessings,
    Mary

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  7. Mary, thank you so much for your comforting words on my blog about the loss of my father in law. They are much appreciated.

    I enjoyed my visit here. I'll be back, and I hope you drop back by my blog as well.

    Hugs,

    Diane

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  8. Diane,

    I enjoyed your blog and will be back to visit soon. I'm glad you dropped in. You're welcome anytime.

    Blessings,
    Mary

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  9. This was a wonderful post ~ Autumn on the farm. I, too, am a farm girl, so this really tugs at my heart. Beautiful!
    Thank you so much for visiting my site and the reminder of the full words to the "Quiet Down Cobwebs" poem. As soon as I read your words, I couldn't believe that I actually had forgotten it!

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  10. Paula,

    How nice of you to drop in for a visit. I'm glad you enjoyed the full version of the poem. There's nothing like babies to bless our lives.

    Thanks for your kind comments on my post. Once a farm girl, always a farm girl at heart.

    Have a great week.
    Mary

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  12. What a lovely post. I grew up on a sort of mini farm. We had pigs, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, geese and little sister got a horse.
    Mom always had a huge garden and canned a lot.
    My grandma told of stripping the goose feathers for the feather tick's. We didn't do that but I remember one mean old gander that used to chase me every time I went outside. When dad butchered that mean thing I thoroughly enjoyed chewing on his tough old hide.

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  13. Fabulous post, Mary! I enjoyed absorbing every word, and the photo at the end was the icing on the cake!!

    Excellent writing, just excellent.

    I remember my own Grandmother telling me stories like these. What memories...

    Smiles,
    Michele

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  14. mountain mama,

    Yes, ganders could be mean. I remember running and screaming from one old gander. Grandma came running out of the house. I think she thought I was being killed. I just got too close to the goslings. He was MEAN. lol Pleasant memories indeed.

    Thanks for dropping by.
    Mary

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  15. Michele,

    I'm glad your grandma was able to tell you stories like these. I tell my grandsons too and they enjoy them.

    Thanks for the kind words on my writing. You've made my day and I'm glad you enjoyed your visit.

    Have a great week.
    Mary

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  16. Mary,

    This is a good story. It seems that you grew up truly a 'farm girl' in the old way. Harvesting and preparing food for the winter, stocking ,canning, freezing. We still stock up on food today, but unless we grow vegetables in our gardens, most of it is done by way of Campbells or the Jolly Green Giant (cans)...:)

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  17. I spent a lot of time on my uncle's farm while growing up.

    No hunting but cows, one horse, lots of truck farmig, and a multitude of chickens (Rhode Island Reds).

    Thanks for comment. This could be your environmental post all by itself.

    You don't know what an RSS number is either huh?

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  18. Finally added you to my blogroll. I kept forgetting.

    I do have one - There's a link on the sidebar.

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  19. Deborah,

    My grandparents had no electricity of modern equipment. We did everything the old way and I am grateful that I was able to experience it.

    Thanks for dropping by. Enjoy the coming week.

    Mary

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  20. Granny,

    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I appreciate it.

    Mary

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  21. I came over from Grams blog.

    What a beautiful post. I love fall so much and this is a really interesting post about what it is like on a farm.

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  22. Melanie,

    Thanks for visiting. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I just visited your blog and enjoyed it very much. The photos are soooo cute.

    Blessings,
    Mary

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  23. Mary,

    It must have felt good to be self-sufficient and to have everyone working together for the good of the family. I can see how this must have contributed to your independent spirit!

    I love the photo your mother took of the pumpkins! Those must have been big pumpkins.

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories!

    Hugs,
    Tina

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  24. Tina,

    That photo is sooo old. I treasure it. You don't see wheat sheaves anymore. I remember shocking those sheaves on a hot summer day. It wasn't much fun, but they still looked great.

    I still love the farm and enjoy taking the boys for their animal therapy. It just started to rain here, so am not sure if we will get to go today.

    Thanks for posting. I always enjoy your visits.

    Hugs,
    Mary

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