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Farming the Easy Way

Posted Wednesday, September 5, 2007, at 12:03 PM

So what's the big deal?
I never got all this stuff about farming being a hard way to make a living. In my experience it has always been a breeze. At least until recently.

Spreading out from behind my home are acres and acres of farmland. As the year rolls around, it sometimes sways with deep green wheat, sometimes rustles with the leaves of soybean plants. It's very pretty and obviously very productive, and it has been very easy to forget that it doesn't belong to me and that I have nothing to do with what grows or doesn't grow on it. I started to feel kind of proprietary about it. I think of it as my farm.

With experience, I have learned when the crops go in and when they come out. I know the stages of the development of the plants and watch their growth with probably nearly as much satisfaction as the guy who planted them, and without anywhere near the effort.

I can just sit there on my back porch with a frosty glass in my hand, gazing at the amber waves of grain, and say, "'Bout time we brought in that wheat." (Sometimes I spit right after I say it.) Sure enough, within a few days I come home and the wheat is miraculously gone. All the stalks are neatly cut off and the field is as prickly and smooth as a Marine's buzz cut. It's as if some large machine has come through, designed specifically for the task.

Last Spring I started hearing a lot of talk about ethanol and corn prices and I thought to myself, "Maybe we ought to put that ten acres in corn this year." A few weeks later--hey, presto! Corn starts sprouting from my field. What can be easier?

But then it started getting hotter and hotter. And I started thinking, "Gee, it hasn't rained in a while." I look at "my" corn and start to worry about it. What is this? As the summer went on and the rain kept on not falling, I grew more and more concerned. The corn started turning brown around the edges. That can't be good, can it? I begin spending a lot of afternoons wandering the edge of the cornfield, sifting dusty soil through my fingers and glancing apprehensively at the cloudless sky.

Suddenly farming sucks.

But the corn disappeared the other day, so that's behind me now and I can get on with my life. There's just stubble in the field, and I found a bunch of completely stripped cobs tossed here and there around my yard. How the heck does that get done? Elves?

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I knew this was a dry summer, but upon checking NOAA's precip maps for the last 90 days, it appears that some parts of Dyer county only recieved 1 inch of total rainfall, but other parts got has much as 6 inches during that same period. Check out: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/rfcshare/precip_... for the map. It has been a very sporadic summer distribution this year. I hope next year it improves, or your elves may be harvesting cacti and agave instead of corn. Let's see now, what might we make with those two crops......mmmm?

-- Posted by kennethjones on Thu, Sep 6, 2007, at 10:56 AM

We must make the best of what Nature sends us, after all. I, for one, am perfectly willing to start measuring my crop yield in margaritas per acre.

-- Posted by kenteutsch on Thu, Sep 6, 2007, at 11:33 AM

If you had had to walk over clods behind a team of mules for fourteen hours a day in order to feed your kids, like both of my granddaddys did, and my daddy starting when he was ten years old, you wouldn' have such a cavalier attitude toward farming. A significant percentage of the world's population in the twenty-first century still farms that way. We need to appreciate what our engineers, inventors, scientists, and hard working forebears have done to make our life so much easier. Go jog five laps around the Okeena Park trail and get your cholesterol down.

-- Posted by Johnny Yuma on Fri, Oct 5, 2007, at 11:07 AM

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