Fellowship of Christian Farmers, International
March 17, 2019
It has not been an easy winter around these parts. December and January weren’t too out of the ordinary. In fact, as Wisconsin winters go, it was actually pretty nice. We had a little snow for Christmas which made all the sentimental hearts flutter with contentment. January was mostly dry with just a small snowfall here and there and moderate temperatures. But then came February. Storm after storm passed through dropping several feet of snow in the process. In the middle of the snowstorms and 40 below temps, it managed to rain. The rain froze when it hit the ground thus covering everything in slippery ice. The highways were salted and the ice eventually gave way to slush and then dry roads. But the sidewalks and driveways remained ice rinks.
Everyone tiptoed around from place to place. The elderly stayed in their houses for fear of falling down and breaking something. Those who ventured out did so at their own risk. A few ended up with broken body parts, torn ligaments, or pulled muscles.
As I write this column, all the rivers and creeks in our area are over their banks. And by saying all, I mean all. There is more water on the roads and in the fields than most people of this generation have ever seen. Shop vacs and sump pumps are being stretched to their reasonable limits in our basements. If yours happens to quit, you are plumb out of luck as the stores are all sold out. It seems if it’s not one thing it’s another.
It’s funny how adults worry and fret about these things, while children find excitement and adventure in the same situations. It’s fun for a kid to put his boots on and slosh through six inches of water in the basement while his dad is trying to get the sump pump working before the rising water puts the furnace and water heater out of business. We had a water line break in the heifer shed a few years ago and that, combined with the cattle, turned everything into a soupy mess. We had friends visiting at the time, and while I got splashed and splattered with every skid loader scoop of the stuff, they got permission from their dad to take their shoes off and wade in the poop. They were grossed out and had fun all at the same time. Their mother had a little different take on it, but no one got hurt or ended up in the hospital.
All this fun for the kids and extra work for the adults reminds me of when I was a kid in similar situations. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s we did a lot of our work the old school way. My dad and grandpa were just happy to have their horsepower measured in tractors and not actual horses. Some of the old school farmers of their day used horses all the way into the 50’s. The old tractors were a huge step up from that.
Dad had a silo blower that was powered by our Farmall M tractor that had a belt pulley on the left side. We’d slip the belt over the pulley on the back of the blower, twist it once to get everything moving in the right direction, then slip it over the pulley on the tractor. Dad would then back the tractor up until the tension was just right on the belt. Occasionally as a wagon was being unloaded, that big flat belt would spin off of the pulley on the tractor and by the time dad got the wagon turned off everything would be plugged up tight. This happened fairly often during silo filling season. My dad didn’t cuss out loud, but he could get pretty frustrated when this situation repeated itself a few times throughout the day.
Being a little kid, I mostly had to stay clear of the machinery when it was in operation, but when everything was shut down, then I could help. I liked sticking my hands in the wet corn silage and digging out the blower fan. But the most fun was when we were pretty sure the blower was free to spin, we’d all step back and dad would put the pulley in gear on the tractor and let the clutch out. The silage that was still in the blower would shoot up in the air 25 or 30 feet then flutter back down to earth much to the pleasure of us kids.
Some things never change. Kids continue to find joy in the things that bring us grownups stress, but eventually, everyone ends up laughing about it. Someday we’ll chuckle as we recall the flooded roads and basements, but not today – unless you’re a kid with waders on.
“The sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place, it rises again…what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing newunderthesun,” (Ecclesiastes 1:5,9).