Harvest 2012 was a thing of beauty. Never in 35 years of farming do I remember such a long stretch of absolutely perfect harvest weather. And That’s quite something for a farmer to admit!
We began combining at 5 pm on Sunday, September 16, and worked almost without interruption until 1:30 on September 25. Each day the temperatures were in the low to mid-20s. There wasn’t a shower, frost, or even a dewy morning to slow our start each day. If anything, the reason we didn’t get started until the afternoon during the first few days was our lack of manpower. When Greg came out on Friday night to help all weekend, things got easier. He is licensed to drive the semis and has more strength and skill than I do for certain jobs. The presence of his little sidekick Grady also meant that childcare became my job (joy!). But I got a break from even that when Grady rode in the combine with Greg. It blows my mind that a three-year-old could be happy riding up and down the field at two miles per hour for two or three hours at a time.
When he was ready for a break from that, though, I was ready. The balmy weather meant that he could play in the sandbox with a Tonka grader, loader, and dump truck as well as broken old farm toys. We played with the remote control monster truck he got for his birthday.
We went to watch the scrapers and loaders at the gravel pit as they prepared the site for more crushing. We visited the large dugout on the home quarter section and wondered why our presence didn’t scare away the Canada geese that were swimming in it.
We visited our spring-fed dugout and looked, really looked into the shallow water from the west bank. I spotted snail shells; then noticed them moving ever so slowly. They had tenants! Just like the snail drawing in a coloring book, there was the slimy flat surface with two horn-like shapes at one end. I was awestruck at this miracle of life.
We looked into the water and saw a microcosm of life. And yet again I wondered how in the miracle of the world, this man-made body of water came to be inhabited. This water body is the result of a gravel hole, not the action of the ice age. Before this it was a pasture. How did snails get there? I can see plants establishing themselves through airborne seed depositing or insects simply flying in. But snails? How is this possible?
I need, not want, to find the answers for myself and my grandson. When I was raising my own kids I didn’t have the time, patience, or interest in these things. I was caught up in the minutiae of life. This small boy is a huge gift to all who are willing to notice?and I see a second chance to learn, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.