November 4th…“TELL ABOUT THE BUSY HARVEST TIMES ON YOUR FARM IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA?”
Ubiquitous to every farmer who’s ever planted a seed is the hope and grand finale of desiring a good harvest. All of the invested sweat, hours, sore muscles, etc. would, we prayed, culminate in a bounteous yield at the end of each growing year from those black, enriched soils of southern Minnesota. Our Norwegian farmer’s magnum opus (great work) would, in all hopes, bring in food for our Noorlun farm animals and even have enough crop left over to sell at the local grain market. That accomplishment would provide a monetary income to help Dad take care of our mother, Clarice, and his beloved family over the coming Winter.
The morning milking of our Holstein dairy herd was completed at about sunrise on that fine Fall day. Mom had a big breakfast waiting for Dad when he came up to the house from the barn. Breakfast was Dad’s favorite meal of the whole day, he could easily gulp down a couple bowls of cereal, black toast, lots of coffee and at least three eggs with bacon and maybe a chaser of half a grapefruit. The creaking screen door of our back porch signaled Dad’s exit into what was to be another busy harvest day. Due to the brisk weather, the flap of my cap came down over my ears and thick gloves came on as I strapped on my bib overalls and came out that same door. I could see our farmer father vigorously pumping away with his grease gun as he lubricated and then oiled our “Gleaner/Baldwin” brand grain combine. “Sha-glick, sha-glick, sha-glick” was the sound that that grease gun made with each muscular compression of those sinewy arms; for with every repetition of that handle, Dad was making sure each “Zerk” fitting was being filled to capacity with lubricating grease so that our farming harvest machines could run for that day in the smoothest way.
Just like a cowboy of old would’ve dropped onto his horse’s saddle, so also did our father climb up and drop into the spring-loaded seat of our handsome International Farmall Super M tractor. His farmer’s work-boot reached down and depressed the engine starter lever as that faithful, 264 cubic inch, four cylinder engine happily popped to life. With a pull back of the throttle lever for a bit more speed, the vertical engine muffler spewed a carbon cough cloud to the sky. Russell slowly let out the clutch as he and his red-metaled steed rolled forward towards the woods of our windbreak where we kept our combine machine. Throttling down the engine speed, our hardworking dad put the tractor into the gear called reverse as he slowly backed up to and hooked up the “tongue” of the combine to our tractor. Russ climbed down from the Farmall M, grabbed and then pulled up and inserted a heavy tube from the combine towards the back of the tractor that had a cylindrical sleeve gear that faced the tractor. The long device, now hooked up to the Super M, was a means for receiving power from the tractor that would operate that grain combine. The point of connection to the tractor was known as the PTO. That acronym stood for a “Power Take Off”. Once in the field of soybeans, Russ would activate that PTO and the spinning tractor gear would spin the tube to the combine and that magnificent machine would harvest our soybeans.
With the harvesting of our soybeans completed, our father then climbed aboard the very old International Harvester F20 tractor that was intercoursed within our two row cornpicker machine that literally wrapped around that old tractor. That F20 engine came to life with a growl, seeing that it hardly had any muffler left on the engine. Previous greasing and lubrication took a while to smooth out the clanking, squeaking and kahchunking sounds that the old beast made as it lurched towards the golden cornfields that awaited its voracious appetite for harvesting corn.
As wagon, upon wagon of golden field corn came rolling into our yard, it was off-loaded into a device called an elevator that slowly pulled the chain-linked sections of corn up, up and then into the top of a wire mesh corn crib. As the fields yielded their acres of corn, that wire mesh corn crib became like a giant yellow, vertical tube there on our farm. Full to the very tip top with uncountable ears of corn the harvest would now be dried by the howling winds of Fall and Winter. For, unlike our Minnesota summers (which were extremely humid), the Fall and Winter months, in that part of the United States are super dry, though also super cold.
Thanks to our family friend, Harry Bauman, my big brother, Lowell Noorlun, and of course the long hours worked by both our father and mother; another year’s harvest was safely in storage just in time for Old Man Winter to move in and cool things down for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.