Under the Wire
September 9, 2020
Comedian Dean Martin once said, “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they get up in the morning that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day!” With the exception of a couple of indiscretions in my youth and three daughter’s weddings, I really don’t know much about that. I, on the other hand, feel sorry for those who lives aren’t affected by the seasons.
I suppose if you live in the city the seasons don’t mean a lot to you. They put on a sweater to play golf in the fall and the morning commute gets messy when it snows. Otherwise life at the old cubicle stays the same.
Out here on Starship Rural America, our lives are ruled by the seasons. Some we like, some we don’t. Almost everyone likes spring. The ballot is divided on issues relating to summer and winter, but fall ... nearly everyone likes fall. Fall is harvest time.
Not everyone calls it “harvest time,” though. That’s kind of a romantic term city folks made up to describe the time of the year when we finally can pay our bills. “Harvest Time,” I suppose, does sound better than, “No longer delinquent time.”
In the fall, we have what is for many, the once per year pay check. For everyone, it’s a busy time. These are exciting times. For a few weeks during “harvest time” (I’ll keep using that phrase because it’s easier to say than “no longer delinquent season”), there's lots to do and even an abundance of jobs available. In some rural areas that is a big deal, if only for a few weeks each year.
As a teenager growing up on a ranch in Northern Colorado, fall was pretty nice but, fact is, not that big a deal for us. We weaned our calves and sold them and well ... that’s about it. Our “harvest time” lasted about two days. The job market, now that was a big deal. I usually went to work for a local farmer “filling silo.” That was code for cutting silage. It involved lots of trucks, tractors, people and wonderful, noisy organized confusion. Most important to a 16-year-old young man, I would get to drive something. Since we didn’t farm ourselves, I got very little “steering wheel time.” When we cut our hay, my machinery was usually a set of hay hooks or a pitchfork. At silo filling time, I’d “get me some wheels.” My first fall of employment at a neighbor’s farm, those wheels were an old tractor none of the more educated wanted to drive. It smoked, leaked oil and wouldn’t start if you shut it off.
In short, it was beautiful! Our joint assignment was to drive back and forth the length of the pit packing the silage as the trucks dumped it. It was fantastic the first two hours, sort of fun the next six and by the end of the two-week season, I hated that infernal machine.
The next season I lobbied for a truck driving assignment. I think last years old tractor had finally made it to tractor heaven, thanks in part to my less than sympathetic treatment the final week of last year’s harvest. For whatever reason, superior driving skills notwithstanding, I was assigned a truck to drive. The one window that would actually go up and down was on the driver’s side so each time I pulled under the cutter blowing chopped corn into the trucks, I got a blast of sticky gooey chopped corn into the cab through the open passenger side window. The first two hours it was wonderful. The next six hours, tolerable. After two weeks spent with a lap full of slimy fresh cut silage, I wasn't too crazy about that machine either.
I spent my third silo filling at a different neighbor after the first had experienced about all of my driving skills he could afford! That was OK by me. This neighbor filled an old-fashioned brick upright silo. All I would have to do was climb inside the silo, grab a rope attached to the spout blowing in the chopped corn and see to it the silo filled evenly. “Oh, yeah, walk around in there while you’re at it,” my new boss told me,” it will help the silo settle.” It was exciting for less than one hour, by six hours I was barely able to move and by the end of the day ... I quit!
Harvest time definitely is the fall event we all look forward to. About the only event anticipated more is when it’s over!