In olden times, harvesting crops was a community chore, in which everyone had a specific task they specialized in, and the process was laid out by tradition. The corn harvest, as it existed before machinery is described in detail, as well as the customs that made it easier (hint-cider). And the superstitions.
The last sheaf of corn was always saved. This was believed to contain the corn spirit, which was gradually condensed as harvest progressed until it reached the final sheaf to be cut. Often the sheaf was scattered on the fields in spring, returning the spirit to the fields. In some areas it was hung up for the hungry birds to peck on New Year’s Day; in others it was made into a corn dolly. This tradition exists across Europe and it is believed by many in the pagan tradition that this is a relic of the millennia-old belief in the Dying-and-Rising God or God of the Green, who dies in Autumn to be reborn the following Spring.