Sometime back in the early 1940s, windstorms knocked down the wheat near Geary in Canadian County. Combines could not be used, so farmers in the area came together for a community solution. They cut the wheat and hauled it to an old-fashioned thrashing machine, which normally had been replaced by combines.
Leo Cade, a family friend, owned a farm near Geary. He invited my brothers and me to help haul wheat on this remarkable occasion. Area women set up card tables so men could eat between trips to pick up wheat.
That event reflected two remarkably historic eras in Oklahoma farming community efforts to use thrashing machines and later the use of combines to cut, thrash and bail wheat farm by farm.
"Most Oklahomans, within one or two generations, can trace their family roots to a farm," said Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. "The culture inherited from life on the farm, traits like hard work, optimism and rugged individualism, have helped define Oklahoma history."
Efforts to preserve this history of Oklahoma farming and farm life are well under way in various parts of the state. A spectacular "Farm Life" exhibit will be featured Sept. 1 to Jan. 7, 2013, at the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center in Enid.
Other farm life exhibits include the Sod House Museum, which illustrates how homes and farms were developed on the Oklahoma prairie, cotton farming at the Pioneer Heritage Townsite Center in Frederick, and a historic garden developed at Fort Gibson Historic Site to show how soldiers there raised crops in the 19th century. All are operated at least partly by the Oklahoma Historical Society.