The very word harvest conjures up many childhood memories. As far back as my memory recollects, wheat harvest was a time like no other. Sure, there was stress, arguments, breakdowns and a rush to get the grain to the elevator, but there was also pride, hope and dreams fulfilled.

My dad quit farming shortly after I graduated from college in 2002. I really can’t remember my “last” harvest on the acres he worked, but I do have memories spanning most of my childhood. From my flip-flop that got lost in the bed of the truck and was later retrieved at the elevator, to the grape pop in glass bottles and the fights that ensued over the window seat in the truck, harvest time was special. Dad worked his butt off from the beginning of the work day until there wasn’t a speck of sunlight in the sky. He was dirty, tired and frazzled, but once the crop was in the bin he was happy.

Mom always said, “after harvest” we could get new shoes or get something special that we’d been wanting. They also got to pay bills, allowing them to farm another year. Most times, harvest was during the middle of June or sometimes later and since the Fourth of July was always so close, Dad would splurge (totally break the bank) on fireworks. He would come home with gigantic boxes – one for each of us 3 girls – and we would light stuff on fire well into the night. He’d also buy rodeo tickets to the local prorodeo. Most times for every night, getting the same row and seats if he could. Or we got a new belt, pair of boots or some jeans.

Since my husband has taken over his family’s 100-year-old farm in Clark County, the wheat crop has been less than stellar. His first crop was a failure because of drought conditions, as were the following crops. This year however, he managed to get the wheat in the ground when he needed to and received some necessary rains at the right times. It was nice to see the bin on the combine get full fast and not take quite a few acres to fill. I could see the pride in his eyes when he was crunching numbers in the truck and telling me what it made. It sure made my heart happy to see him relieved and proud all at once.

It was also the first time both boys had gotten the opportunity to ride in the combine while wheat was being cut. Shaun’s no stranger to the tractor and anytime he gets a chance to ride in the big machinery he will have to be peeled out of it, kicking and screaming. Chance was just taking it all in. Seeing them enjoy it made me pretty darn proud.

As always, I had the camera with me and found the right shot to take. Enjoy! Happy harvest!

A broken down combine gets checked out while another dumps, June 24 in Clark County, Kansas.

A broken down combine gets checked out while another dumps, June 24 in Clark County, Kansas.

Unfit for polite company

Last week I drove to southwest Oklahoma to do an interview about a rodeo Bible camp. I love to get to go to Oklahoma, and I love rodeo, so it was a win-win situation. Driving home from the meeting I had plenty of time to think. One thing the guy I interviewed said really stuck with me. “We try not to scare them with Hell.” I couldn’t agree more. I’d probably be more into organized religion hadn’t it been for someone like Mr. Taylor.

Growing up I attended a Lutheran church with my family. For as long as I can remember, I didn’t like going to church. It wasn’t what they were teaching, but how they were teaching it. As a kid we were taught right from wrong by our parents, but also had to obey the religion we were being taught. I really didn’t like that. By the time I was in high school and later college, church became very unappealing. Our pastor was black and white. there was no middle ground with him. You were either good or bad an if you were the latter, you were going straight to hell. Don’t pass go, don’t collect $200. Once he said there were no animals in heaven. I had a tough time believing all of God’s creatures weren’t included in the ever after.

I’ve had the opportunity to attend other churches and find my self comparing those to my childhood church. One thing remains clear, you don’t have to go to church to believe in God. I believe in God, and often pray. I pray for my family, friends and guidance through difficult situations. And I believe God has helped me in those times of need.

I ran across this quote some time ago, “Cowboy Logic: “Going to church makes you a Christian about as much as watching a rodeo makes you a cowboy.” I believe it’s totally appropriate to my feelings about organized religion. I’ve heard religion and politics referred to as things you don’t talk about in polite company. I agree with that. No two people will agree on either subject and it will not be a pleasant experience if they do disagree. However people can agree to disagree.

My favorite little country church, Zion Lutheran near Offerle, Kansas.

My favorite little country church, Zion Lutheran near Offerle, Kansas.