For the last few weeks, as David and I rode around on our road trips, we've been watching the farmers gathering in their crops. We talked about how farming has greatly changed in our lifetime, and we are always feeling thankful for those hardworking farmers.
We talk about when we were young, when the corn picking was only for the family and fields were small. The shucking and shelling was all done by hand. I remember more than 70 years ago as a little girl riding in the wooden wagon pulled by our two old mules. I held my baby brother, Gary, while Daddy and Mom picked corn and threw it in the wagon.
Later on, as I grew older, I walked along and picked up the corn that had missed the wagon. David said he had the same job as a boy. He worked for a farmer and got paid a small amount every day. Later on the farmers would let his dad pick up the corn that was left for his chickens.
Shucking the corn from the stalks, as well as shelling off the grains, would make your hands get blistered and sore pretty quick. Daddy had a shucking peg, a sort of leather glove with a metal peg on it that made it easier to strip the ears.
After the wagon was full, we would take it to our corn crib behind our house to unload it. I remember that corn crib as a real neat place to be. It was a tall building made of boards spaced just right so you could fit your feet into it, climb up, go in the high window and slide down toward the door on the ears of corn.
I remember shelling corn, how I would use my thumb to make a row all the way down, then with the palm of my hand push the kernels off sideways. Soon your thumb and hand would be sore.
It didn't seem to work as well with gloves on, so we would devise different methods of getting the corn off the cob, like hitting or rubbing the cobs together.
Then one day daddy brought us home a corn-sheller. It was a tall wooden box on a stand. You would put an ear of corn in, turn the handle, and the grains of corn would come out in your bucket and the cob shot out another opening.
Eric has our old corn sheller. Grandson Ethan wants to keep it. He has memories of his Grandpa David and him shelling corn and he remembers how he would keep wanting more ears to shell.
After David and I were married, our sons, Daniel, Randy and Eric, would shuck the corn and throw in the back of our pickup until full. We only raised enough for our chickens, turkeys, cows, hogs and horses.
We have been watching the farmers in the fields of many acres, and we are in awe of the machinery they have now. We stop sometimes and watch them circle the huge fields combining the corn and soybeans, then filling the big trucks full to take to the grain bins. A couple weeks ago, we stopped to take pictures of a nice man in the picture who waved at us. Later, we discovered it was Dennis Zerr driving the combine.
Dennis and his brother, Wes, have a partnership, Zerr Bros, and have farmed together since 1988 along with Dennis and Shelly Zerr's son, Derek. Although Derek has helped on the farm since grade school, he went on to college for an agriculture degree and is now back on the farm working full time. What a blessing to his family! The Zerr's farm has a total of around 2,500 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans. They also have a cow/calf operation of a couple hundred cows.
It's strange how times have changed. Back when I was a child, people had a lot of respect for the "smart" people, who had office jobs and weren't "just a farmer." I feel comfortable saying now our farmers are some of the smartest people you will meet. Have you ever seen inside the big tractors and other big pieces of equipment? We look at them when we are at the Missouri State Fair and are amazed at the GPS and complicated computers they have. They need these so they will be able to work the big fields efficiently and produce enough food for all of us.
With the large fields to harvest and rain in the forecast, some of the farmers work day and night in a race to get it all in before the rain. All the time and money they have invested making a living for their families, and so we can buy food, needs to be appreciated.
Even though David and I don't have any fields of crops, still we watch, worry and pray, concerning the weather, and for the farmers. They face drought, flooding, crop disease, bug infestation, machine breakdown, etc. So much stress! When you set down at a full table and give thanks, I hope you also remember to ask a blessing on the hardworking farmers.
Those steaks, and all those wonderful foods you are enjoying, didn't magically appear at your grocery store. A lot of people understand — yet many don't — how much it takes to bring produce from seed to table. I wish I could make a list, but I'm out of space, and I want you to think about it. I think it would be appropriate to just say "thank you" when you talk to a farmer.