101 / 365 – April


This time of year, you can’t tell about anything. Weather’s warm, doesn’t mean something won’t blow in tomorrow. The radio’s saying a system’s blowing in, we could get nothing. Although we usually get the wind. I’m out walking in the fields. Snow hasn’t melted off yet, and now we’re getting more. Wet stuff. Even if this is all we get for awhile, it’ll be weeks before you could plant anything in that soil. Seeds’ll just sit and rot. Wet years, sometimes you end up planting around parts of your field where the soil’s still too wet, or where you’ve got flooded spots. One year I planted around a lot. It was a real waste of the acreage, especially when the prices come in bad at the end of the year. I try not to do that again. I saw something on TV once, about when they settled Oklahoma. People lined up at the border, until the day came they could charge in, stake themselves a claim. Sometimes I feel like that when I’m in the field, just itching to get started, but waiting.

All of us around here, we’re all trying to figure out the right day to start. Our land is different, different drainage, some along the creeks like mine, some up higher and more in the wind, some sheltered and some not. So it’s really ready at different times. But everybody ends up going at the same time. For one thing, the planters now, they cover so much, you can’t do a small patch here, a small patch there, whenever each little section is ready. You’re doing at least a quarter section at a time, half a mile square. I’m a little more conservative, I think. But later this month, a day will come, maybe I’ll check the fields and decide to wait another couple of days, but I’ll drive into town and see somebody out with his planter. I’ll probably go out the next day. I’ll think, maybe he knows something I don’t know. Or maybe I’m being too conservative. You don’t want to wait too long. Our season is so short the way it is. Grain hardly has enough time to germinate as it is.

I’ve been conservative for a long time. One year, early on, I had a brand-new planter. Had just signed a big note on the thing. Big modern unit, twice the size of what my dad used to use. I had it out on my back quarter, the part the slopes down toward Pie Creek. It had been an average winter, but the spring was wet and not so warm. The puddles were all dried out in the low spots, but the soil was still dark and wet. I figured I could get through it. I thought, This thing’s so big, I’ll just push right through there. I forgot, machine against Earth, Earth always wins. I got that thing down in the bottoms and it sunk almost to the axles, even on those big tires. So I hike back to the farm, it’s a couple of miles from that section, and I get the tractor and a long tow-chain. I tried pulling on it from up the hill, broke my chain. So I got another chain and moved the tractor down closer where I could get better leverage and tried again. The tractor was really digging in, pulling on that thing, and then it got stuck. Went to the neighbor’s, to see if he’d pull me out. Got his tractor stuck, too.

So that’s why I’m a little conservative about starting. Doing a lot of walking, watching the next few weeks. But I also don’t want to wait too long, so I’ll probably jump in as soon as somebody else does. I’ll think I don’t know what I’m doing. Because each year is different, especially in April.


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