Laugh Tracks in the Dust 9-7-09
Last week I got to go back in time 50 years to briefly relive an agricultural activity from my childhood – shucking bundles of corn.
It wuz an absolutely beautiful pre-fall day when my friend, ol’ Lon G. Horner, called and said Paul and his son David, Lon’s neighbors, had fired up his family’s heirloom Case, one-row binder and were bundling corn and shucking it. He wondered if I wanted to help.
I jumped at the chance to go back in history. The last time I shucked corn wuz sometime around 1958 or 1959. I remembered that one-day job as hot, dirty, scratchy work that, at the time, I’d sworn to never do again – and never miss it.
But, time mellows the remembrances of callow youth, so I found myself once again building a shock of corn in a 4-acre bottomland field. Lon and I only built one big shock of corn – and it wuzn’t the prettiest shock in the field – but it still was “ours” and we were glad we had the opportunity to participate.
That old Case binder was estimated to have been built in the 1920s. At one time, it wuz the property of the Benninghoven family on land that became the famous Z-Bar Ranch – which is now the National Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, operated by the National Park Service just north of Strong City, Kan.
The binder wuz built as a horse-drawn implement, but wuz now being pulled by a Model 70 John Deere tractor. But, everything else on the binder wuz original. As old-timers will recall, everything that moves on the binder is ground driven by a heavy old bull wheel. As it turns, it runs the feeder chain, which feeds the single stalks into the cutter where an eccentric moves a single mowing-machine sickle section back and forth, which cuts the stalk, which then is accumulated and bundled, and tied with a simple knotter. The knotter automatically pulls twine from a ball contained at the rear of the machine. Paul and David used a ball of twine from an old Allis-Chalmers small round baler.
The bundles then are turned and fall onto a platform where several accumulate before the driver pulls a rope and the platform spits the bundles onto the ground, where they await the shocker.
Paul and David plan to haul the shocks and chop them in an old silage cutter the family owns, then feed the chop to their stock cows. Their farm has been in the family since the 1880s.
After ol’ Nevah and I returned from our Tennessee vacation, one saga at Damphewmore Acres ended and another one continued. You’ll recall that an overly-ambitious snake has been killing rather large chickens. That “killer” snake had kept itself from my sight for weeks.
However, when I returned and checked on the small covey of quail I’m raising, the covey had fewer birds than when I’d left. While replenishing the covey’s feed and water, I upturned a piece of plywood the waterer wuz sitting on and, aha I discovered a big old black snake coiled beneath it.
I grabbed the snake, hauled it to my tool shed, grabbed a heavy hoe and quickly beheaded that snake. That’s when I noticed three “bumps” along its length and suspected I knew where three of my half-grown quail were. My suspicion turned out right. That snake had ingested three baby quail head first.
Well, he won’t eat any more quail. Actually, I hated to kill the snake and I’m usually pretty tolerant of them because I know they eat a lot of rats and mice. But, when he switched to a diet of quail, that had to end.
You’ll also recall that I’m on a mission to exterminate as many as I can of the horde of meadow rats that have been heartily helping themselves to my expensive quail and chicken feed. My extermination method involves shooting them with bird shot through an old 22-caliber rifle that I own.
I’m now way past 50 dead rats and still counting. This has been a good year for the rats and the rabbits. So, I guess it also will be a good year for the coyotes and other predators. Should make for an interesting winter protecting my chicken flock from predators.
My buddy Rollin Birdz tells this story about a rural minister. The preacher wuz ready to leave the parsonage to deliver his Sunday sermon when he discovered his family dog had eaten at least half of his prepared sermon materials. There wuz no time to redo the sermon, so he had to “wing it.”
In church he explained to the congregation what had happened and apologized for the much-shortened sermon.
When church got out a half-hour earlier then usual because of the abnormally short sermon, the reverend wuz greeting members of the congregation and guests as they left the church.
One little old lady introduced herself as a guest for the Sunday services, but as she shook hands with the preacher she said, “Reverend, if that dog of yours ever has puppies, I want one to give as a gift to the minister at my regular church.”
Well, I’ll give you a gift of saved time, by shutting off this week’s column right here. Until next week, remember these words of wisdom from famous World War II Army General George S. Patton: “You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals.”
Have a good ‘un.
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