Letter to Dave


(I am posting my column and radio program tonight as by day I am a sugar beet truck driver with little time for writing-GN)

Dear Dave,

Summer must truly be over, I just finished my last Popsicle. Lisa and I started buying these cheap little treats in June and it really reminded me of summers at home. I’ve cooled myself all summer with thrilling flavors such as Pina Colada, Berry or Lime; unfortunately I could only toast the end of summer with the old reliable “red” that still populated the bottom of the freezer. It was a little anticlimactic.

We started pre-pile sugar beet harvest this week. I was really excited to get started as the truck I was promised has an automatic transmission. I know this sounds pretty wimpy, but my shoulder gets sore from shifting as we move through a lot of gears during our short trips from field to the sugar beet dump. An automatic transmission in my truck promised to do for me what the clothes washer did for our grandmothers. Unfortunately, R and R Farms is fighting a pitched battle in two separate theatres of harvest and so my truck was needed to harvest small grains. I will do my part, for now, shifting up and down in a smaller truck, suffering quietly but bravely.

It seems there exists no season on the farms of the Midwest anymore. The seasons of summer once were; planting, baling, spraying, grain harvest, bean harvest, beet harvest, tillage, corn harvest, more tillage, fall fertilizer and then a winter to attend free dinners at cooperative meetings; but no more. This is the second year that we’ve harvested small grains and pre-piled sugar beets concurrently and it seems to stretch area farmers and the local labor pool. Our unusual summer has kept the beans from maturing so that harvest is quite far off, Dave. If you were to graph the point at which beans will be ready to harvest then graph the average date of the first frost, you would find out why farmers seem to enjoy the taste of fingernail so much. I hope everything works out for them. The summer has been perfect for growing beef steers, however, and the cool season grasses that feed them have discarded their sunscreen. I stacked plenty of grass and alfalfa this summer and I should be able to make this winter pretty comfortable for our cattle. We will also have lots of winter lodging for stray cats to snuggle inside our hay sheds.

Our summer projects are winding down. I still have our new pump house sitting inside the garage awaiting final transport to its concrete base. It will feature a door made from an old deep-freeze which is a cheap, well-insulated way to make a door. We used an old freezer door for an outside basement entry a few years ago and it made keeping the basement warm much easier. I have cobbled together a vacuum system to move the corn we use to heat our house. Much of the system is professionally made, however there’s enough of my influence so that its success will be in doubt until the first time I give it a try.

I wish I had more time to write, but I have to go ice my gear-shift shoulder; tomorrow’s another day.

You’re little bro’

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