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COLUMNISTS

Take time to enjoy October’s beauty

Jerry Apps
A maple tree shows off its golden coat of fall finery.

October brings back many memories for this old farm boy. It is the month when we dug potatoes on the home farm. We usually grew about 20 acres each year, as did most of our neighbors. Planted by hand, cultivated with a one-horse cultivator, hoed by hand, dug with a six-tine fork, and picked by hand. 

Our one-room country school had two weeks of “potato vacation,” when the kids in the neighborhood were home picking potatoes. Some vacation. Different from some of my fellow students, I was paid for picking potatoes. One penny a bushel. Some days I might pick a hundred bushels and earn a dollar. But that was rare.

October was also the month for cutting corn, the ears headed for the slated corn crib where they would dry. Our trusty team of draft horses pulled a one-row corn binder that cut the corn, and formed it into bundles that spilled out on the ground. We stood the bundles into corn shocks that marched across the cornfield like teepees.

In a couple weeks, similar to oat threshing season, a corn shredder arrived at the farm. The neighbors came to help. The corn shocks were taken down, hauled to the farmstead and shoved into the corn shredder, which separated the ears from the corn stalks, and sliced up the stalks. The corn stalks were used as bedding for our dairy cows during the winter. The ears, stored in the corn crib, were feed for cows.

With all the work going on, we still took time to look at the beauty of the trees in fall.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Take time to enjoy October’s beauty.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to www.jerryapps.com