Fall Harvest Days in the Ozarks
by Bill Heincker & Friends of Dittmer, MS
The sights, sounds and smells of the October 2002 “Fall Harvest Days” in the Eastern Missouri Ozark Hills are just a distant memory for many of us on this cold, windy January day. It’s one degree above zero, the wind is blowing, the horses’ whiskers are heavy with icicles and the farm equipment they dutifully labored is stuffed away in sheds awaiting the coming Spring and Summer and another “Fall Harvest Days.” Who better to share our memories on this winter day than the readers of the Small Farmer’s Journal!
Every October a small farm in Eastern Missouri comes alive with vintage farm and barnyard activities reminiscent of a bygone era in the Ozark Hills. Eight years ago, what started as a small pumpkin patch and horse drawn hay rides has evolved to a unique demonstration of vintage farm and barnyard equipment common on the 19th and early 20th century small farm. Thanks to a small group of family and friends, the collection of vintage equipment is operated with our farm animals on weekends in October to the delight and amazement of many people. Best of all – it is free-of-charge! Nothing is just on display. The fundamental purpose of the event is to show today’s generations how it was done in the good ole’ days! Comments from the old timers like, “I remember when…” or from the youngsters, “Mister, what is a threshing machine?” give a whole lot of meaning to what we do.
Our extensive collection of unique and rare equipment was amassed from around the country and Canada over the past five years and continues to grow. We like to “rescue” old abandoned or seemingly useless equipment and relics and bring them back to life on our little living history farm. We’re always on the lookout for the seemingly useless, useful and unusual equipment of our past!
Needless to say, we look forward to the cool October days here in the Ozarks. The hot and humid summer days and nights slow us down a bit but fall harvest chores get us going again! The sights, sounds and smells of the thresher-threshing, the horse powered baler-baling, the corn fodder cutter-cutting, the horse power gears whirling, the burr mill-grinding, the sorghum presses-pressing, the sorghum molasses-steaming, the dog power-churning, the 3-abreast-plowing, the hay lift-rumbling and the endless rambunctious hay rides bring smiles and solidify a memorable day for the good folks who come to visit and experience what we love to do!
If you want to visit us, come to Grubville, Missouri in Jefferson County any weekend in October. Follow the signs at the junction of Highway 30 and Highway Y. In the meantime, enjoy our memories and let the sights and sounds of threshing, hay baling, fodder cutting, horse power gears whirling, grain grinding, plowing, sorghum pressing, and the taste of sweet sorghum and freshly churned butter conjure up memories for you of a bygone era alive and well here in the Missouri Ozarks. Oh! Did I mention the one-man buck saw, rope makers or the whiskey still? Boy, I can’t wait ‘til October!