Well, this morning started out soggy, but I had “high apple pie in the sky-y-y hopes” for harvesting… and then I got to the “far north side of the field by the cow field” and walked the muddy way to the tractor. A couple hours after I got there, we had to pack up and leave because the rain seemed so persistent.
So, I traded my cheese sandwich for grilled and my bottle of water for steaming coffee and my walkie talkie for a laptop and the firsthand farmer lingo for a secondhand re-telling. After my “10 things I learned in Iowa harvest” post spread around the family like fire, I realized if I target the Midwest audience, then my readership could explode! Not that I care about how many readers I have… it’s just funny to me that I can write a blog pretty regularly and the biggest response I get is from my comical/embarrassing experience with Iowa farmers.
I thought I better at least take one more shot at sharing my perspective on farming (since the rain is keeping me from the fields). I’ve learned a few more things since that post…
- First, the farmer (Eeyore as we call him) is not so sure his identity is as concealed as I promised. Within hours of my post, he came over the radio, “What’s this Eeyore business?” and I responded, “I don’t know, you tell me. I didn’t put any names in there…” pause “Well, e’rbody’s figured it out then…” Sometimes, I just giggle because I don’t know what to say. So, just to make things clear – I have not given any names and the names that are given are changed to protect the innocent. That goes for “partner” too. If my descriptions match someone you know, it is only by coincidence.
- Second, I drove with my cousin (the third grader who is qualified for my job) and I’ll be honest – I was nervous. I thought he’d get in there and push all the right buttons and drive circles around my anxious jerking. Well, turns out I can sleep a little better at night knowing that he’s not quite ready to take over.
- Today, I am proud to announce I moved up in rank (of course I’ve made up ‘ranks’ so it feels like I’m getting promoted and if you’re about to question it, don’t – it was my birthday last week). That’s right. Today, I got to drive another tractor and it was different in every way. The transmission was a gear shifter, the buttons were all in different places. There was A – F and then 1-2-3-4 in each letter. The clutch is essential is this machine and oh! I forgot to mention that there is a very large obstruction in the form of loader arms right where I count the 5-6 rows out for on the go loading. I got a 5 minute tutorial from my partner and then off I went, picking up a load on the go. I haven’t told Eeyore, but I’ll expect a badge tomorrow.
- So, partner and I cover a pretty wide variety of subjects between the tractor tutoring and the unloading. I’ve been storing advice on WAY more than tractors (he’s probably trying to forget the things I say). He’s also super encouraging, like when I learned the new tractor today he said, “Well, hey! You’re a natural,” even though I was obviously struggling. He said that people just assume girls can’t do things like drive a tractor, but he says he can teach anyone. I also know now that it’s harder to load corn on the truck on the road because it’s level and that dry corn unloads like water. I know that you can go 40 mph in a truck chasing deer in a field and I know the human body is capable of a 24 non-stop road trip (and much other anecdotal advice). I know that he doesn’t like my weird music and that a certain pair of jeans with holes will always be my “sunday jeans” (because they are hole-y). I have to share one conversation that (he would say) reveals a bit of the blonde farmer in me:
“I hate it when people call me Carolyn. I mean my name is obviously Carol-ine so people should pronounce it that way.”
“How is your name spelled?”
“with an i-n-e”
(joking) “Yeah, C-a-a-r-r-o-o-l-l-i-n-n-e-e”
“No, of course it’s C-a-r-o-l-i-n-e”
“Well, that’s not how I would spell Carroll”
“Oh, well that’s how I spell my name – C-a-r-o-l-i-n-e. How would you spell Carol?”
“Well, my aunt’s name is Carroll and she spells her name C-a-r-r-o-l-l”
“Well, that’s not how I spell my name!”
“That’s not how my aunt Donna spells her name either”
(long pause and puzzled look and then serious)
“Well, that’s not even the same letters!”
“Hey!!! No blonde jokes!”
and so go our conversations….
- I wish I could record how the grumblings go over the walkie talkie. I’m working up to a real good impersonation and it’s kind of scaring me. I can’t decide if I’m copying what I hear or if it’s actually starting to be how I talk. I can carry on a good five minute conversation about yields and head rows and moisture and fields and weather. I surprise myself (and then I realize I don’t really know what I’m saying and so I’m not a complete farmer yet). Here are some funny things I’ve heard over the radio:
- “Well, it’s pretty rough in here… better unload there at th’ end.”
Translation: You’re good, but you’re not that good. I’m not taking chances on your driving, but I want you to think the field is responsible.
- Me: “Sorry about that, I was SO close but SO far.”
Eeyore: “Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.”
Me: “I’m not good at those either.”
- Eeyore is waiting with auger out, ready to unload.
Me: “We had to cut a tree…”
Eeyore: “Cut it or pull it out at the roots?”
Me: (Oh, crap) “Uh.. well, we cut it but pretty low down”
Eeyore: “You gonna come back next year ‘n cut it again?”
Me: “Well, that sounds like pretty good job security I guess.”
Eeyore: “Sounds like a government job.”
Me: “That’s why we’re broke.”