North Central Kansas
I Started Helping With Harvest When I Was 11 Years Old
My name is Marianne Metcalf. I inherited my land from my father, Robert Metcalf (1890-1972) and he inherited from his father, Henry Metcalf (1855-1930). . . .
I started helping with harvest when I was 11 years old. We lived just a mile from the elevator. My father used the family Buick and a grain box on running gears from an old car to haul his grain. At eleven, I was allowed to drive the car and haul the grain to the bin in the barn, with much supervision I'm sure. After getting my driver's license, I hauled to the Coop elevator. They weighed the trailer, then when I had driven into the elevator they unhooked it from the car so it could be raised to dump. . . .
My father and a number of various neighbors always shared work--mostly to put up silage. I don't remember before our combine but the neighbors worked together much more when a larger crew was needed to run headers, barges and separator.
It used to take us two weeks or so to finish harvest. Now [my] renter calls to tell me they are ready to cut my grain and if I don't get out to watch in a few hours, I will miss my harvest completely. . . .
I think our family farms should be encouraged whatever way possible. I wonder if we would be ahead if we went back to not so many acres. Then the huge machines wouldn't be needed with the huge outlay of cash, and huge debts incurred. We have seen a number of farmers who have had to sell out and move.
It is nice to have more freedom from government but so many are out to plant all they can and it isn't good for our land or the prices. I would hope we are planning better and will never see a Dust Bowl again. Since we are raising a larger variety of crops, we have more ground cover at any given time to hold the soil. I have seen and lost crops to blowing dust, hail storms, tornadoes strewing rubble across the fields, late frosts, and drought.
A farmer is the biggest gambler there is. A natural event is always possible. I am proud to have a piece of the earth and what I get financially supplements my income nicely.
Marianne Metcalf also submitted Harvest Meals.