“The hills are alive with the sound of music...” How about “The farms are alive with the sounds/aromas/visions of harvest.” Yes, harvest time is upon us. As you look around you can see hay bales in the fields and hay stacks being erected close to cattle enclosure. The air is full of the sweet aroma of fresh cut hay which is similar to the smell of fresh mown lawn, and a very pleasant aroma! With the hay crop, there will be more than one harvest, possibly three and sometimes four cuttings and with each cutting there will be the sweet aroma that is given off when the plants are cut.
You can hear the sounds associated with that harvest, of the tractors, swathers, and balers going from early morning throughout the day. With those sounds is the sight of empty trucks pulling into fields and, loaded with bales of hay, trucks pulling out of those same fields.
Also, grain combines are making their appearance, being pulled out of storage from large sheds and sitting next to those same sheds. Men will be working on getting those combines ready to cut grain. The smell of grain ready to harvest is a little more subtle than fresh mown hay and not everyone picks up on it unless it is someone that lives on the farms. It is another pleasant smell and invokes fond memories or hard work, long days, and harvest crews at the dinner table. Looking out toward the eastern foothills you can see the “golden waves of grain” as it changes color ready for harvest. As a young school-age child, I watched the foothills east of Ammon for the change in color of the grain crop, knowing this meant it was about time for school to start
I remember the smell of the beets when Dad grew and harvested them back many years ago. We don’t have many beet fields in this area since the Lincoln Sugar Factory was shut down, so we don’t get that sweet smell in the air. There is still the smell of potatoes as they are being harvested and it is another smell that brings back memories of picking “spuds” in baskets, then dumping them into sacks for the men to take to the cellars. Again, the sight of empty trucks entering the field and trucks filled with sacks of potatoes leaving the fields. However, now the view is of potato combines not potato pickers in the field and the trucks are filled with bulk potatoes not sacks of potatoes. .
Another sweet smell of falls you get as we walk through an apple orchard. The smell of the apples ripe and ready to harvest is pleasant and invokes images of apple pies, cobblers, apple sauce, and a crisp ripe apple ready to bite into. It makes my mouth water to think of this harvest smell.
Let’s not forget the odors that come from the kitchen at this time of the year as fresh vegetables are being prepared for meals and being canned for winter use. Just one example is the early morning picking of peas and digging of potatoes with the result of creamed peas and potatoes for a meal plus peas in the freezer and potatoes in bottles for meals later in the year.
What a wonderful time of the year for those of us blessed to be able to live “on the farm.” Of course, the space between the time the farmer first gets into the field in the spring to prepare for planting to his fall harvest is filled with hard work, sweat, sleepless nights and worry about drought, plant diseases, hail, equipment failure, fire, and other disasters. But the euphoria is great when the feed yard is full of hay for winter feed for cattle, and the first round on the grain field with the combine and the bin is emptied into the grain truck; or the first round on the potato combine and the first full truck full of spuds leave the field.
Yes, this is a wonderful time, a time to see the results of all the hard work and worry being brought to a close. A time when the gamble is just about over for the farmer and hopefully he can pay his bills and prepare for another year. We may not dance and sing as Julie Andrews did in “The Sound of Music,” but we understand that there is no greater music than the sound of harvest and crops being taken from the field to market or storage.