Thursday, September 23, 2010

Harvest Moon and Autumnal Equinox

The Harvest Moon was shining prettily on our little lake when I got up this morning. My 'night' shots don't always work well, but I think this one isn't too bad. I did see the moon and Jupiter last night, but not Uranus.
Somehow it seems appropriate that the full moon and the autumnal equinox coincided. According to, this hasn't happened since September 23, 1991 and won't happen again until 2029. Traditionally the Harvest Moon is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox, so the Harvest Moon can come in either September or October. If it comes in October, the September full moon is the Full Corn Moon. Either way, the Harvest Moon is so named because it allowed farmers to work late into the night under its light.
Harvest Moon also makes me think of Harvest Ball - a time of celebration when the crops were all in. Could a Harvest Ball fall under a Harvest Moon?

Harvesting was a much different job when my Dad began farming. Picking corn was done by hand. It took weeks. Sometimes the snow would be deep in the field before the corn picking was done. The horses were trained to walk slowly down the row while the corn was pulled off and thrown into the wagon. Special "bang boards" were added to increase the amount of corn the wagon could hold. The bang board on the side away from the picker was higher so the ears would hit it and bounce back into the wagon instead of going over and falling onto the ground.
I don't remember Dad having help picking every year, but I remember one fall when he did. I remember it because the man who came to help stayed with us. That was very unusual. Bill Stueckradt was in his sixties. He was a widower who lived in town and apparently didn't drive. I remember being fascinated by his pocket watch, his slow way of talking and his plug of tobacco. He was something of a character, but a very nice man.

Dad was too young to help pick corn when this picture was taken of him and his mother. Though from the way he is dressed, I would guess it was around harvest time.
I love this picture of Grandma Bessie in her long skirt and the full apron protecting her clothes.
This would have been in the early 20's. It may have been when Grandpa worked for his Uncle Jim north of Highland Church.

I do remember when Dad and Wayne Moore went together and bought a used two-row John Deere corn picker - no more corn picking by hand.
That meant the trusty team - Rex and Dolly - were put out to pasture. That's our pony, Queenie, in the picture with them. This picture was taken in the spring of 1956 just before Dad sold the team.
I don't know if these are the same horses as pictured harnessed to the wagon above. i.e. I'm not sure he had more than one team from 1938 until 1956. (Something for me to ask my older brother.)

I also remember Dad paying us to pick up corn missed by the corn picker before he turned the cattle in to the fields. We would come home from school, change our clothes, take a gunny sack and trudge off to the corn field. I know it was not something we looked forward to doing, but we did like the 25 cents per full sack that we were paid. Twenty-five cents would be about $2.28 now. I don't think kids today would even do it for $5.00 a sack.
I have always liked this painting, "The Gleaners", by Jean-Francois Millet. Perhaps because it reminds me of the gleaning my sister, Betty, and I did together all those years ago.

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