VIEW FROM THE HILL

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN PAUL PENNER
As I write this on Sunday evening, storm clouds are poised to enter our region once again, threatening to drop more rain on an already-saturated landscape.

Over the past week, 6 to 12 inches of rain has fallen in Marion County. The ground is soft, making harvest of the golden grain a bit more difficult.

Oh, what a difference a few billion drops of rainfall makes. A little more than a week ago, cracks were visible in the clay soil, often as wide as 2 inches; the vertical edges disappeared into the depths of the earth.

The cracks are still visible in places, but water from all the rain has saturated the soil to the point where it cannot hold any more.

Instead of worrying about losing tools or keys to the cracks, we now worry about getting the wheat crop into storage before the quality suffers.

I am thankful for the rain. I know the value it brings to my business. I have row crops that benefit from the moisture. I hope to benefit as well.

However, my labor pool shrinks when harvest does not go as planned. One son has gone home; his working vacation in Kansas is over. Another has a flexible, understanding employer who is willing to wait a few more days, perhaps up to a week, if necessary.

Knowing when to plan for harvest with distant family members is a challenge. Do they come at the usually expected times, or should they arrive a week or 10 days earlier?

This year, we set the start date as June 12. The weather changed to warm and dry, the date was again changed to June 8, even though plane tickets were already purchased in anticipation of the later date.

Mother Nature teased us-again-with cool, light showers, and speculation about the start of harvest pushed the date back a few days.

When weather conditions finally did cooperate, we were able to cut for a day and a half, beginning on the 11th. The following week, we were in the fields less than two full days before the rains halted our progress.

All wheat fields are ripe, the ground is wet and Mother Nature is once again playing with us, threatening to delay the harvest even beyond the normal schedule.

There is plenty of work to do while waiting. Unscheduled maintenance continues, books need updating. Ideas for new columns must be written down, altered, deleted, re-entered and deleted again-you know the drill. Even short family outings at this time of year are possible.

Like all wheat producers, I am focused on one thing: to harvest wheat. I want to get in the fields and get it done. I want to push the machine to its capacity and experience the excitement of the harvest once again. I get a natural high watching the combination of people and machines, all working around a common goal to bring in the wheat.

What should I do with Mother Nature, who refuses to play by my rules? Who can force her to do anything?

Like everyone else, I should exercise the gift of patience a little while longer, and be thankful I can appreciate life and the beauty of my world.

* * *

Speaking of exercising patience while waiting for the wheat fields to dry, a good joke or two will help pass the time with sympathetic friends.

I was visiting with Mike, Dave, Wayne and Peter at Mike’s Equipment the other day. After shaking hands with them, one of the fellows-who happened to see yours truly on television after the church fire in March-wanted to meet a real, live celebrity.

After briefly looking around for one, I obliged him by impersonating one. We had fun taking that scenario to the extreme, of course.

Peter told this joke about two robins. It seems these birds were watching a farmer plow his field when one said to the other, “Let’s fly down there and eat all the grubs and worms the guy is bringing up.”

The other robin agreed.

After eating their fill, the robins discovered they were too heavy to fly, so they decided to lie in the furrow and bask in the sun. A cat came upon the two birds, caught and devoured them on the spot.

After the hearty meal, the cat said, “I just love baskin’ robins.”

OK, you had to be there to get all the humor in that one. Perhaps it was the ambiance of the office in the salvage yard. Any joke can be funny when waiting for wheat fields to dry out and standing in line to purchase parts.

May your patience be rewarded with a dry, bountiful harvest-and a serving of basking robins.

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