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Out On The Mudline

Modern Peas Ripen All At The Same Time

By W. P. Sissell

The Pea Patch

My Dad and Jerry Clower never met, as far as I know, but they certainly had some things in common for they both believed in having a pea patch.  

I met Jerry when he worked for Mississippi Chemical Company. He traveled with a seed and fertilizer salesman from Rose Seed Company, Mr. Simpson, for several years to meet the people who were associated with Mississippi Chemical. One of his better stories was about being in open country when a tornado was approaching. The only thing he could see close enough for cover was a pea patch. He knew that would be a safe place because peas and cornbread had saved his life many times as he grew up so he dived into the pea patch and held on to the plants.

My Dad always had a large patch of peas for hay planted with a grain drill. This patch was on land close to the barn and to the houses of the families on the farm. When the peas became edible all the families were welcome to gather peas for their table. As they dried they picked the dried peas, using cotton sacks, and stored them in the little red brooder house.

On a pretty day, after all the crops were gathered, the threshing machine was towed out of the machine shed to a place close to the brooder house. Power for the thresher was supplied by a belt and tractor. After threshing the peas were stored in a number of flour barrels and treated with “hilife” (protection against weevils).  

Later we got an Allis-Chalmers  (AC 40) combine that we used instead of the threshing machine. Incidentally, that 40 stood for forty inches and included the gathering heads—it was a one row machine. It took us about three weeks to harvest our forty acre field of oats. When I see Robert Ferrel pull into our forty-four acre field of beans across the road I always remember that little AC 40.  Robert will finish the field in four or five hours.

Progress also has been made in the peas. Today there are varieties of peas that ripen on the vine in the field at the same time rather than a few at the time. These can be gathered with a combine.

Pea Vine Hay

The peas we grew were actually grown for several purposes.  The land in those fields on that particular farm were of a type suitable primarily for pasture. Because peas are a legume crop they store some nitrogen in the soil.

After most of the fruit was harvested the remaining residue was valuable as excellent hay. I know that soybean hay, cut in the early bloom stage, is about the only thing that we can grow here that will equal alfalfa. This pea vine hay, because it is cut after the fruit stage, will be of a little less value than soybean.

There is one more drawback to pea vine hay—there’s that word vine—meaning long and tenuous and tangled up. We loaded hay into our barn with a hay carrier. When we loaded the field shocks onto the wagon (we made those shocks small with the rake) two men, one on each side, put a shock at a time on the wagon.

When the carrier with its claw raised a part of the wagon load it usually was a big part. Now the problem was transferred to the hayloft. When I/we tried to separate the hay for throwing down to the mangers the trouble was built in again. Now don’t you worry for someone has already solved this. Dad looked in the Sears Roebuck Catalog and found the answer—a hay saw (hand driven).  We could cut out square blocks of that pea vine hay almost like little bales of hay. That saw now resides on the wall of the change room on our deck, amongst many treasures of other days.

Yes, I did get help on the name Velma.  I’ll tell about it in another article—I must thank Mrs. Mary Sue Stevens.

Our wish for you is a great week.  You can reach me most of the time at 23541 Highway 6, Batesville, MS 38606 or 662-563-9879.

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