Posts Tagged ‘farming’

Keeping cool

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How do you manage your stress?

Do you nibble your nails? Bite the heads off unsuspecting passersby? Seek solitary solace?

Some people, of course, manage to go through life without any obvious evidence of ever being touched by the blight of nervous tension.

My father is one of those saints. I have not ever once seen him lose his cool about anything.

A couple of soggy Manitoba summers ago, Dad was determined to get his meagre crop of wheat off the field and out for sale. Maybe he would have gotten a couple hundred bucks. Maybe. But since when has making money had anything to do with farming?

I digress.

So Dad swathed the field with the tractor a couple of times, creating thin rolls of the wheat stalks, enabling it to dry in the summer heat.

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Except it was the summer of the everlasting rain cloud. The rain fell, the wheat sat. The structure of the swaths kept the wheat from rotting on the ground but dryness was hard come by that year.

Dad waited and waited, the wheat was finally dry enough and he swapped out the swather for the combine. Up and down the fields with this noisy machine which separates the wheat kernels from the stalks (which later become bales of straw).

At the end of one, perhaps two, days (a small plot, only 25 acres) all the wheat was off the field and in the hopper of the combine, and was then augered out (like a giant Archimedean screw) and in to the back of Dad’s old pick-up truck.

Have I lost you on the process? Wheat in field, wheat in combine, wheat in truck.

From the truck he shovelled all the wheat — a couple hundred pounds —  into a granary, a little drying shed. There it sat for a couple of days, another step in the drying process.

And then Dad shovelled it — a couple hundred pounds — back into the truck, ready to take the wheat to the grain elevator. Elevators are those big tall structures you see dotted across the prairie landscapes, like giant milk cartons, connected across the land by endless miles of train tracks. Farmers sell their wheat at the elevator and the grain starts a journey that may take it to the other side of the planet.

Except on this day the elevator folks didn’t want Dad’s wheat.  Too moist — we’re not in the sprout business, mister. So Dad drove back home (fortunately he lives only a couple of kilometres from the elevator) and then shovelled — a couple hundred pounds — once again out of the truck and into the granary.

All that work. All that waiting, then the field work, then the shovelling… I expected Dad to at least kick the tires of his tired F-150, but he shrugged. What can you do? he said.

A couple of days later he shovelled it — you get it now? — all back into the truck again and rumbled off to the elevator.
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He returned after a while, the truck box empty, a couple hundred bucks in his pocket, and a grin.

Was the wheat finally dry enough? Was a different person inspecting the grain? Had the ‘nice guy’ approach worked for the eight-thousandth time? I never really found out.

But get worked up because they wouldn’t take your grain the first (or the second or the third) time?


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He knows how to manage his stress.

He’s the king of cool, my dad.

Cool as a cucumber.


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