Harvest, for us, means digging up the trees and shrubs, shaking the dirt off their roots, and putting them into the cold storage building for winter. You want to wait as long as you can to begin digging trees without waiting so long that the ground freezes without you getting everything out. As a rule, we start October 20th.

So, this morning, four of us performed the undercutting ritual. The undercutter is a large steel U blade attached to two wooden beams, and pulled by two tractors, while two people sit on the beams to help sink the blade into the ground. The undercutter loosens the trees so they are easy to lift out with the loader.

I provided dead weight, along with brother. The tractors travel about 1 mile per hour. The process takes about 4 hours, and then the U blade is put back in the weeds until it is pulled out a year from now for another four hours of duty.

Our farm is full of such gadgets. Conveyors we use for one task, which takes about a day. A scraper we use once every three years, at most. It warms my heart every time one of those old machines is pulled out from the grass, greased up, and put back to work.