2017-06-07 / Editorials

Don Lively

SLIDE ON OVER

It happens a lot around here.

It happened to me three times in one day.

It was a day when I was driving all over

Southern creation handing out posters to an upcoming event that I'm promoting. It's one of the best parts of my job. It gets me out of the office and allows me to drive the long stretches of country roads that link the small communities that dot our huge county. Along the way, I'm always reminded of what a magnificent part of the Blessed South we live in.

But, it also means traveling most of the route on two lane roads.

Occasionally, that means coming nose to nose with some humongous agricultural engineering marvel.

A machine designed to do the work that once took ten men to accomplish.

An implement that's bigger than some apartments I've lived in.

One that takes up both lanes of the highway, mine and its.

I'll tell you how I handle such intrusions onto my personal vehicle space shortly, and I'll also tell you my rationale.

First though, let's talk about farmers, farms and farming.

I grew up on a farm, doing farm work and, for all intents and purposes, looking like a farmer.

I wore Brogan work boots and straw hats.

I often had a sunburned neck and a sore back.

My hands still had calluses ten years after I left the farm.

But, truthfully, I was never really a farmer.

My main contribution to Daddy's operation was toting stumps when we were clearing new ground, and pulling weeds out of cotton or peanut patches.

I suspect Daddy realized early on that I was way too easily distracted to be trusted with much more than manual labor.

Farmers are born instinctively knowing the difference between dirt and soil.

They're patient and long suffering beyond what most mortals can bear.

They possess a faith that many preachers can only dream of.

I didn't get any of that.

I'm not a farmer.

But now, all these years later, living in a spot on Earth where pretty much any crop that the farmers attempt will flourish, I love being surrounded by it all.

There have always been dairies in our area, mostly smaller family operations, but these days, there's a huge dairy that covers several far-flung sections all over my side of the county. The appearance, over the past few years, of hundreds of milk cows, ready to produce, requires many things but one of those things is the most vital.

Hay.

I don't know, statistically, if it's true, but it seems that there's more hay production locally than ever. Even one of the little fields that my family still owns and rents to farmers was recently mown and the result is dozens of the huge, round bales sitting all over the field waiting to be transported to hungry cattle.

It illustrates my earlier point. When I was a kid, baling hay required several workers and the result was hundreds of bales not much bigger than steamer trunks. Nowadays, it appears as though the little field near me was done by one fellow on one machine.

We've come a long way, baby.

Daddy used to compare farming to gambling. His reasoning was, a gambler bets on unknown cards that have not yet been dealt or revealed. A farmer harrows, plows and plants, and then bets, that his fields will receive the right combination of rainfall and sunshine to produce a bountiful harvest.

Daddy was right.

Ask any of what he called the "gone-broke-farmers" from thirty years ago how tenuous and perilous and fickle farm life can be.

Still, most farmers, the real ones, born with diesel fuel running through their veins, wouldn't choose any other profession if they had a choice.

God bless the rugged and rough, good ol' boys who year after year rip their livings from the ground.

This week when I had multiple occasions to come upon the gigantic tractors with two-lane-wide implements attached, headed toward me taking up both sides of the road, I didn't wait for them to pull over. It's a lot easier for a regular sized car or truck to slide over on the shoulder of the road than it is for those big boys.

So, I make room and let them pass.

I hope you do too.

Farmers are out there every day with the dual purpose of keeping is all fed and clothed.

Giving them the right of way is the least we can do.

Thank you, farmers.

Come on by.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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