Combining The Wheat

Another Note for the fourth Notes book in rough form. A tale of playing in the wheat on hot summer days…

Two things related to the Roach place that were at the core of a lot of family activities growing up was going to the picnic ground and combining the wheat. TR had wheat at all of his places except Duck Creek but the wheat field next to the picnic grounds made those two places forever intertwined in my memories.

Combining the wheat was a family project many times. The grown men would drive the combine and drive the flat bed truck used to haul it to the grain elevator by the railroad tracks in Valley View. Sometimes we kids would take turns riding on someone’s lap on the combine. The machine would go back and forth with the cutter snipping the wheat stalks and it would go into its maw. The grain would be separated from the chaff and stored in the hopper behind the driver’s seat. The chaff spewed out the back and would later be plowed under to enrich the soil. The dust & chaff would circle around us and the hot sun shined down on us all.

When the hopper was full the combine would be driven to the grain truck and the grain dumped into it. And that is when the fun for us kids really began. We then played in the wheat.

With no beach anywhere near Valley View the grain in the truck became a beach of sorts for us. We would scoop it up, roll around in it, and make hills with it just like you would do at a beach. Sand gets everywhere it shouldn’t at the ocean and the wheat did the same. But the wheat was easier to rid one’s self of however. It was innocent fun at the farm: of course now OSHA would probably say doing that was unsafe.

When the grain truck was full, someone would drive it into town and dump it off at the elevator and return to the farm. And this cycle went on until sunset each day until the wheat field behind the berm was cut. The same was true for the other fields too. And while the work in the fields stopped at dark the fun part really got going then at the picnic grounds many days.

After the work was done we gathered for a weenie roast at the picnic grounds tucked under the big trees by Spring Creek. I can recall as the sun went down seeing the lights of a relative’s pickup truck coming down the hill past the barn towards the waiting fire, food, and drinks. When everyone was assembled we would spear the dogs with some sticks and roast them until black and crisp. Then onto a bun they would go with mustard and consumed quickly enough too. All of it was washed down with some soft drinks or a beer if you were grown. At times we would spend the night down there too sleeping on army surplus cots or on TR’s bed springs under one big tree with blankets or quilts on top while watching the stars and satellites until we fell asleep until dawn under the canopy of the bright, summer Milky Way.

We did things there during the day too. After TR retired he had a big BBQ there for his friends and former customers. He was not a big joker but sometimes he had a mischievous thought or two. He said something like he wanted to pour some Everclear into the big metal water jug filled with lemonade to “get the do-gooders drunk”. He was referring to some of the Baptist and Church Of Christ members who would attend.

Under the trees we had some swings, one was a regular two chain variety and the other was a single chain “round swing”. The round swing was once my nemesis since I fell off of it face first into a big, fresh cow paddy – yes the cattle grazed there too. I picked myself up and ran screaming for my mom down to the creek to wash it all off.

Finally there was sometimes a big garden down there filled with vegetables that we all devoured. But I never liked working in the yard or the garden even though I enjoyed the abundance of fun and food.

As you can see we did a lot of things around the wheat and the picnic grounds, wonderful things that I still fondly recall. Well most of them were wonderful since falling into that cow paddy was NOT wonderful at all!

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