We finished picking corn this afternoon. My Brother from Omaha ran the combine thru much of the harvest and was at the helm when the final stalk succumbed. If my Dad were still here he would say, "well it's too late to be picking corn".
My Brother Ed usually runs the combine and pushes harvest along. The day to day care of the combine was his responsibility. When the doors to the machine shed opened, I knew the machine had been fueled, greased, the filters were clean and it had been checked over from top to bottom. He missed much of harvest because of some complications from a medical test which lead to an operation and a week in the hospital. They found a bit of cancer but it was caught early and the prognosis is excellent.
In his absence I had to do both his job, of prepping the combine, and that of getting the other machinery ready. It slowed things down but we prevailed.
This morning as I walked into the shop, on what I hoped would be the final day of the 2004 harvest, A pair of bib overalls caught my eye. They had been left hanging there by Ed. He always wore them while fueling and greasing the combine. I stared at them a moment and thought about the day he had hung them there and said "I won't be here tomorrow, I have a medical procedure they want to do to me". Little did we know that he wouldn't return this season. An then I thought how sad it would have been if he had not had such good news and never came back for the 'bibbies'.
The finish of harvest on the Morrow farm is rich with tradition. For as long as I can remember, we have had oyster stew soon after we got done. We also have slices of ring balogna, sharp Cheddar cheese, and soup crackers. The brand name of all of these have to be correct or it's just not right. It's tradition.
Back in the 60's and 70's, on the final day, the entire harvest crew would gather around the combine and ceremoniously throw our farm caps into the running machine. The combine would spit them out the back in shreds. We would hang them in the shop.
Once Ed finished a few acres of beans on Christmas Eve. Marilyn and I had been in Omaha shopping and brought home fresh shrimp which we boiled, cooled and had ready to dip in the sauce when Ed came in. Ed wanted to make that a tradition but it didn't stick.
Well tonight as my brother from Omaha brought the combine to the shed, I gave him the signal to stop just outside the door. I then gave him the sign to start the machine running at full throttle. I took the cap off of my head, and my mind was fairly swimming with memories of harvests and family members of days gone by. I held up my index finger and mouthed the words "just a minute". I went into the shed and came back out. Put the cap on my head and threw Ed's bib overalls into the combine.
...It's been a long harvest without him.