Summer in Kansas always has been hot and always has been wheat harvest time. But it sure has changed since I was a teenager helping my dad.
Iíve been trying to remember what wheat harvest was like back in 1940 and 1950. Golly, thatís 70 years ago. It was hot, and Dad didnít have shade on the tractor that pulled the combine ó no shade for the person operating the combine either. When he got a newer combine that had its own motor, still no shade.
My job was to sit in the truck, a 1950 GMC with manual transmission that served as a wheat truck and hauled our cattle and feed bales, too.
I was to watch for Dadís signal to bring the truck over so he could empty the wheat from the combine grain bin into the truck. When the truck was full, it was my job to take the wheat to the elevator in town.
Usually that meant waiting in line to unload and worrying the truck might vapor-lock due to the heat. Dad always trusted me to get back to the field as soon as I could.
One thing about a wheat field: There arenít shade trees. So I just found shade under the truck bed and hoped for a breeze.
I remember Dadís water jug. He wrapped it with gunny sacks tied with twine and soaked in water. Dad pumped the well until the water was really cold and it stayed cool in the jug. I always thought his jug looked like a bootleggerís whiskey jug with the finger hole handle near the neck.
Then in the 1970s and 1980s, Jim and I took over at harvest time. We had somewhat newer machinery ó still no cab on the combine. When our kids were old enough, they got the truck job. I was the one bringing meals to the field, doing the chores and being the gofer (go for this and go for that).
Nowadays, it is so different. All the new combines, semis and technology I canít begin to understand. My dad would be amazed.
He was proud of his hard work to provide for his family. Iím proud to say I was able to help him.
When I started this story I was going to compare the small farm to the large farm, or compare the small machinery used to the huge equipment now.
But I found there are many things that are the same. The farmer is a proud man. Families work together. Wheat is once-a-year income (planted in fall, harvested the next summer). Weather is always a worry. The sunshines and days are hot.
Sunday morning at church I prayed, ďGive us this day our daily bread,Ē and I sang, ďGather a harvest from the seeds that were sown,Ē reminding me just who we need to thank for this great Kansas lifestyle ó our Heavenly Father.
Time continues to pass, and in no time itíll be time to plant wheat for the 2017 harvest. I wonder what harvests will be like when our great-grandchildren are grown.
I no longer spend time in a hot wheat field, but the memory always will be there.
Opal Flinn is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.