Harvest Begins on the Prairies

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was HARVEST

For me this was a very timely prompt. Yesterday on our way to Saskatoon we passed the first field being combined in this area. A combine was chomping its way through a field of lentils. An article in the Western Producer includes a good picture of a field of lentils being harvested. And here’s another from Simpson Seeds.

Low-growing and dusty to harvest, this rusty-gold crop is a common sight in these parts. Farmers tell me lentils do best when somewhat stressed and growing conditions here — the hot, dry summers — are great at giving crops stress. 🙂

Lentils were unheard of here on the prairies when I was a girl, but now Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of lentils, and farmers here in Saskatchewan are producing 95% of the lentils harvested. Lentils.org, one information site, says: “Canada only began growing lentils in the 1970’s – now there are over 5,000 active lentil farmers in Canada.”

Summer, Baled and Stored

Richness of the pasture,
the warmth of sunshine,
rains of heaven: a prairie
summer captured in clover,
cut, ripened, baled and bound.
Rolls scattered through fields
at random or neatly aligned:
summer bundled in bronze.

Winter-disguised as vague lumps
under clean, snowy blankets,
wind-dusted at times.
Frozen, frosted, they still appeal;
hungry deer tug at sweet strands,
certain it’s all for them; – and find
last summer’s mice nestled deep.

–My poem from 2013

Of Mice and Man

It’s a windy, winterish day here with a light dusting of fresh snow.
Time for another seasonal haiku:

diligent deer mice
along the train track
harvest the harvest

Nature note:
Jack Miner, Ontario’s famous naturalist during the early 1900s, writes of a find he once made in a northern forest. He and some fellow hunters made camp near a large, dead pine tree. They felled this tree so it wouldn’t fall on the tent if a high wind came up, and they chopped the top branches into firewood.

Eighty feet up the tree they found a little hole less than an inch in diameter with an inner cavity occupied by a family of deer mice. Jack estimated that there was no human habitation for three or four miles and for sure no grain fields within fifty or a hundred miles, yet they found between one and two quarts of clean wheat stored in the mouse family’s pantry.

He explained that these far-sighted deer mice, no bigger than your thumb, would creep down the tree at night and make trip after trip to the railroad tracks thee hundred feet away. All through the fall they’d fill their little cheeks with kernels of grain that had sifted out of the boxcars en route to the terminal, then dash back home and up the tree to squirrel away their winter food supply. They performed this task in spite of the danger from lurking predators and swooping owls.

Jack admired these ambitious, courageous little creatures. In Wild Goose Jack, his autobiography published in 1969, he writes:
“In walking along the railroad tracks with a lantern during October, before the snow has fallen, one will usually see deer mice by the dozens…gathering food for winter.”

Fruits of the Earth

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For rosy apples, juicy plums,
and yellow pears so sweet,
for hips and haws on bush and hedge,
and flowers at our feet;

for ears of corn all ripe and dry,
and coloured leaves on trees,
we thank You, Heavenly Father God
for such good gifts as these.

— Author unknown to me

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This week I’m going to be bringing posts over from my other blogs that are shut down now. This verse was posted on Swallow in the Wind in the fall of 2012.