Written by Jerremie Clyde. First in a series of posts.
Reflecting on Reaping, Stooking, and Fellowship: Traditional Grain Harvest
On September 5th we hosted a group of volunteers on our farm near Sundre, Alberta to help with hand harvesting our rye crop.
The team consisted of a couple hired hands and a mix of volunteers, including Bishop Greg Kerr-Wilson of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary. I invited the Bishop out to see farm weeks earlier, not even realizing his eventual visit would match with our harvest, I expect it was providence.
The volunteers either cut the grain with scythes equipped with grain cradles or bundled up the rye. The cradle helps ensure the rye fell in bunches with the heads all in the same direction. Those not on scythes then followed bundling up the rye, tying it into stooks and staking the stooks together.
Working to the sound of rhythmic swish-snick of the scythes is an almost meditative experience.
When work stopped for a lunch of venison pies (made by my wife Rita from venison we harvested from the same land last Fall) and mushroom chard turnovers, conversation turned to how the process connected ourselves to creation, and what we should do to help protect and preserve it.
With no loud large machines coming between the workers and the land they could have a much more intimate appreciation for the soil and the plants. You could hear the bumble bees move in to take advantage of the newly exposed clover after the reapers have taken the thickly growing rye stalks out of the way.
When noticing all that, it is hard not appreciate it, to feel connected with scripture in a new way. All the Bible verses dealing with the harvests, leaving gleanings in the field, and dealing with God’s care for all parts of creation come to mind, and were topics of conversation.
While I appreciate that without a lot more farmers it would be hard to produce enough food for our population in this way; I wonder, if more people appreciated creation more, appreciated this particular harvest process, we might actually have all the farmers we need.