Harvest gold. Wagons full of gold. When the leaves began to turn, the tractors pulled wagon after wagon down Neff Road.
Golden ears of corn filled each one. Corn that was planted in early spring, that pushed through the earth and reached to the sky. It grew by the grace of God, a hard working farmer and the rich Darke County soil. The farm family would have a good winter with a hearty bounty from the field, or they would suffer from a summer of poor growing weather. The answer would come with the fall harvest.
Cousin Gene Johnson readied the corn picker for the harvest. Gene pulled the red beast behind the tractor, and Dad drove the full wagons to the barnyard where the corn was dumped onto an elevator that lifted the ears skyward into the top of the corn crib. Brenda and I played in the corn crib in the summer, making it our playhouse. In the fall, I sat high up in the top of the crib, watching our little nest fill with corn. Of course, I knew that mice lurked nearby just waiting for their winter coffers to be filled. They could just move on when summer rolled around again.
All the farmers were working feverishly to get the corn in before the weather deteriorated. The air vibrated with the recognizable, autumn sound and the bridge creaked as each load passed over it. The wagons were heading to the S & L Elevator on Red River-West Grove Road where the corn was shelled. If the grain contained too much moisture, it passed through the grain drier fired by a big fan blower with hot air passing through it in order to maintain a proper temperature for proper handling and storage. Corn might be ground for animal food, stored or sold. The corn destined for animal food was ground and mixed all year round. The family bank account would be a little healthier, and the animals would be a little fatter if the corn crop was good.
I asked my friend Ron Scammahorn to help me out on this subject. His dad was the S in S & L. As often as I saw the tractors go up and down the road, I found that I knew little of the process that took place at the elevator. Yes, I knew where to find the right info. I always thought Ron was lucky to be where all the activity happened….and the gossip. But Ron informed me that what was said at the elevator stayed at the elevator. Hm. Thanks, Ron, for your help.
After the corn was shelled and dried, it was put into bins for later use or was sold to processors. When that happened, it was shipped to the end source by train. Trucks transported the grain in bulk to Bradford where it was then loaded loose onto the train cars. Franklin Township corn heading out into the world.
In my possession is a picture of me as a small toddler, clamoring my way up the elevator. In the next picture, Dad has his escaping child in his grasp, lifting her from said elevator. Each season brought a new adventure and more ways for me to get into trouble. I might be old, but I would give anything to climb that elevator one more time.
Harvest. Corn pickers. Wagons full of harvest gold.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of On Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.