Oats and corn were the only two crops we planted on the Scheckel farm in the 1940s and1950s. A grass seed attachment on the oats grain drill sowed alfalfa, timothy, and clover seeds along with the oats. The growing oats acted as a cover crop for the new grass seedlings. In the following year, that field would yield hay from the previous year’s seedlings. We planted wheat, of course, but that was considered a “subdivision” of oats. No soybeans. No farmer planted soybeans on Oak Grove Ridge in the heart of Crawford County in the 1940s and 1950s.
Mother Nature determined how many days were required for sowing, but it usually took a week to ten days. Same with corn planting. No sooner were the oats seeds in the ground, then corn planting would follow. The first green oats seeds poked above the ground as the first few rows of corn were placed in the fertile soil of Crawford County. Once again, as our family had done for generations, we had started the cycle anew that would induce the earth to provide its bounty.
Later when Dad purchased a Massey Harris ’44, he also ordered a set of cultivators. Phillip drove the tractor, and Bob and I road on the swinging drawbar on the back. The cultivators had shields, one on either side of the corn row, that prevented the soil from covering up the corn plant. But occasionally the dirt would fling up over the shield and cover up the plant. Bob and I had to jump off the tractor, uncover the corn plant, then catch up to the tractor and cultivator. Although the job was not strenuous, if it was hot and muggy, the running back and forth was exhausting. The corn fields had to be cultivated two or three times every year, until the corn grew too high to cultivate.
Morning glories grew in certain areas of the corn fields. They were a beautiful but deadly plant. Their white and purple flowers closed up at night and reopened when the sun came up. A morning glory wrapped itself around the corn plant and killed it. My brothers and I had to pull the weeds. It was easy work, but we had to swat away flies and mosquitoes. The heat was oppressive and the sharp corn leaves cut the skin. It was not easy work.