Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hot Summer Days

While we were dating, Jeff worked and lived at ‘the farm,’ the subject of many of my Franch stories. We whiled away many an afternoon riding around on four wheelers, checking irrigation ditches, shooting prairie dogs, chasing coyotes, and other miscellaneous shenanigans. On lazy, hot summer days we would sit around in the shop (a barn-type building, sans animals) and shoot the breeze with whoever was around. There was an old pop machine in there, always stocked with Mountain Dew and City Market-brand lemon-lime and pink lemonade pop. Yep. I said pop, folks. That’s what I call it. We’d open the door of the pop machine and grab ourselves a cool drink. Next to the pop there was a big jar of Fireballs. Remember those? We’d sit there sipping a cold, carbonated beverage filled with Yellow Lake 638 and eat Fireballs while chatting about the price of beans in China. Or why on earth some people, who will remain nameless, chose to wear white Levis on a farm. Or who was going to stop over and pick up a few bails of grass hay. Just general stuff like that. I guess with all of my Franch tales, you are probably beginning to think that we, or primarily Jeff, never did any work. Au contraire, there was, and is, always much work to be done around the farm. In the spring, the fields are burned to prepare them for planting. Irrigations systems have to be cleaned out. Occasionally a rabbit or something will make a nest in the pipes and that has to be cleared out. The fields must be tilled and creased in preparation for planting. At the farm, they irrigated some fields via gated pipe. This meant that we, and I say we because this was my job when I was helping Jeff, had to set each gate to the proper opening. There is one gate per/foot of pipe or so, so you get the idea. That’s a lot of little gates. Each one has to be set so that water is distributed evenly throughout the length of the field. After all this is done, there is the planting. I never actually participated in this, so I can’t really fill you in. It involves putting the seeds in the dirt. How’s that for eloquent? That’s what I’m here for. Spring seems to be one of the busier times in farming. So much to do, and you only have a few weeks to do it. Then comes irrigating. That has to be done quite frequently. Being in a desert, water is a commodity and so you have to plan accordingly. In addition to all this, you have to worry about various weather conditions and insect problems. Should your crop happen to survive the summer, harvesting starts a whole new whirlwind of activity. This too, must be carefully planned. The crops must be harvested at just the right time. A freak rainstorm could knock out your entire wheat crop. The hay must be cut and left in the fields to dry. Rain, again, could ruin everything. Then, the hay must be bailed early, while the dew is still on it. Then the bails must be gathered from the field and stored until, hopefully, someone buys they for a good price. There is a lot more that goes into farming, but you get the idea. In between all these Franch shenanigans I tell you about, a lot of real work went on. And maybe just a little bit of sitting around in the shop eating Fireballs and drinking Mountain Dew.

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