Manolos, Manifolds, and Manure
In January we rang in the New Year. With a fizzle and a pop 2019 came roaring in. Candidly, I don’t even remember how our house celebrated or if we did. January gave way to the Polar Vortex and we happily ushered in February.
I’d like to say that spring planting came quickly on February’s heels but that would be a lie. Spring planting such that it was, was delayed. Miserable. Tedious. And muddy. Like many of my generation, I learned a new fun term “prevent plant.” If you don’t know, prevent plant is a provision in crop insurance that can provide coverage when weather extremes prevent farmers from planting a crop.
Spring washed out to summer and 2019 didn’t get any easier. Summer application of crop protectants was delayed or simply didn’t happen. Wheat and straw were delayed. Hay was delayed. And what hay was cut was likely rained on.
Thankfully summer gave way to fall. Somehow, we missed an early frost. But we didn’t miss an early snow. My “Home Depot salesman” and “Annabeth Chase” walked the neighborhood in coveralls and boots in a valiant attempt to trick-or-treat. They didn’t complain, but their parents surely did. All retired early to the comforts of a warm house and good food.
Fall harvest has been much like 2019, rough. Fields are wet. The crop is wet. In some places there simply isn’t a crop to pick.
On the note of wet. A couple of weekends ago we were picking corn. The east side of the field was largely dry. The west side of the field after the waterway was too wet for the grain cart or a slightly full combine to stay afloat. Each pass we’d unload the combine on the east side before it would cross the waterway and pick the west end of the field then we’d repeat on the return pass. It was one of those days when it felt wrong to be picking corn but even more wrong to let a day without rain pass.
That particular field is on the westside of a two-lane road that doubles as a want-to-be expressway between Boone and DeKalb Counties. It’s even worse during the week because it’s on the way to Northern Illinois University. Fortunately for us, it was a Sunday afternoon when we were hauling corn. Unfortunately, it was also wet, and a too short semi turn ended up in a semi-truck stuck and blocking all lanes of traffic.
As the semi-truck was being worked out and then pulled out, drivers tried to edge by on the shoulder. Those same unhappy drivers were stopped from passing on the shoulder once the semi was being pulled out. Unfortunately, it was me directing traffic.
To the driver who nearly ran me down after I refused to let you pass on the shoulder with your fifth wheel travel trailer, while I respect that you were in a hurry, I stopped you for your safety and for ours. What would’ve happened if the chain had broken or the semi-truck had chosen that moment to get unstuck? If the shoulder was too steep for you to safely pass? Or if the one of three people who were working on the semi-truck had chosen that moment to step into the lane?
Everyone is in a hurry this fall, especially farmers. We’ll be courteous and respectful of traffic laws, but our equipment and trucks move slowly and are large. Please help us this fall by keeping your eyes open and understanding that we’re moving as fast as we safely can.