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Wrapping up gardening

Laugh Tracks in the Dust
Milo Yield
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.

Whew! The past week’s “yo-yo” weather is something else. We’ve gone from frost to 70s, then back to 40s, tomorrow is forecast into the 80s for one day, before plunging down well below freezing over the weekend and into next week — maybe even some snow.

Over the past weekend, ol’ Nevah and I bucked 40 mph headwinds both ways to and from Oklahoma City, where we braved the CV pandemic just for the opportunity to see our newest great-grandson and our great-granddaughter. While it wuz just a weekend trip, I guarantee you it wuz worth the time, trouble and expense just to hold that 6-pounds of new life that is carrying a portion of our genes into future generations. Grandkids and great-grandkids are for sure the best harvest from a long lifetime.

When we arrived at OKC on Saturday, it wuz bermuda shorts weather, providing the south wind didn’t blow your clothes off. On the trip down, the dust in the air reminded me of the near-Dust-Bowl weather of the mid-1950s when I wuz a kid. As a road-trip note, all the crops were out, except for many cotton fields around the Kansas-Oklahoma state line. It’s dry everywhere.

By Sunday, for our return trip the wind wuz 30-40 mph from the northeast and the temp hovered between 40-50. At least, the dust wuzn’t blowing.

Monday wuz cool and dreary, so I winterized the chicken house and did some mop-up work in the gardens by pulling all the final pepper plants and carrots, and picking a nice batch of new green beans. I’m waiting until next week after the freeze to pick the last of the dried beans and dig the sweet potatoes. I’ll most likely pull and compost the frosted green beans. I don’t think the fall-planted radishes and turnips are going to amount to anything.

Today is a just plain miserable weather day — temp in the 40s, a biting wind, and drizzle all day — yet, my fancy, handy-dandy, expensive remote electronic rain gauge has yet to register even a one-hundredth of an inch of rain. The only work I got done this morning wuz, sadly, pulling all the remaining tomato plants. I’ll miss my fresh tomatoes for another nine months. I may have to bypass getting my fall wildlife food plots planted, since it refuses to rain.

Tomorrow when temps get up to 80s, I’ll store all my tomato cages, use the tractor to turn and aerate next spring’s compost pile, till up the tomato garden, and prepare for the sweet tater harvest.

•••

The covid pandemic finally derailed our Old Boar’s Breakfast Club. Luckily, no member has tested positive, but one member’s daughter tested CV positive, and he has to quarantine for two weeks.

Out of an abundance of caution, we canceled this morning’s breakfast and next week’s, too. Then we’ll re-evaluate the CV mess and decide on the next step.

•••

Now, I’ll return to my recent theme of “play” during my “youth,” back in the 1950s and 1960s.

I’ll move from outdoors play to indoors play this week. Back before my parents had any inkling that I’d be a born “mechanical klutz,” they splurged on their Christmas budget and gifted me with a very nice, and expensive, erector set.

The set wuz all-metal with beams, struts, gears, bolts and screws and with instructions on how to construct buildings, bridges, towers and windmills. The set even included a small electric motor about the size of a pencil sharpener.

In the early goings, I enthusiastically dived into all kinds of construction. Often, dad, ol’ Czar E. Yield, would help me. However, dad wuzn’t blessed with a lot of mechanical skills and I soon found out that I wuz all “clumsy thumbs” when it came to putting together the intricate designs in the erector set instructions.

However, the little electric motor wuz another thing altogether. I wuz fascinated by it — I’m sure partly because our home had only recently been electrified by the REA — the federal Rural Electric Administration. I can still remember being stupefied at how much “light” a single bulb hanging by a wire from the ceiling could emit. Of course, I wuz comparing it to kerosene lamps.

But, back to the erector set motor. It had a shaft sticking out it’s backside to which a cogged gear about 3/4-inch in diameter could attach — and spin fast as the dickens. Well, one winter evening when my parents were hosting a chili supper for the adults, a local bud and I went upstairs to play.

Somehow, someway I had acquired a box of colored chalk sticks. Perhaps, I stole it from my one-room rural school. I can’t remember. But I do remember how much fun my bud and I had grinding sticks of colored chalk into a fine dust by holding the chalk against the spinning gear cogs.

At least it wuz fun until my Mom came upstairs and discovered that my room and everything in it wuz covered in colored chalk dust.

That’s when our “play” became “work” — as in a clean-up crew. As I remember, my bud had to leave to go home and I got most of the clean-up job to myself.

I never made chalk dust again and the entire erector set became an unused paperweight in a nice red metal case.

•••

Nevah and I have already cast our absentee ballots for the upcoming election. We did our civic duty and that’s all we could do. Now there’s nothing left to do but wait and see the direction our nation takes.

My words of wisdom for the week: “VOTE! Retain your complaining rights.” ❖


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