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What’s your plan? (03/04/2020)

Home Opinions What's your plan? (03/04/2020)
There was a season in my life when growing rice paid all the bills. Maybe that time will come again. There are so many things to like about rice farming. Rice dishes for one! I also enjoyed the time alone racing around at 3 miles per hour. The agricultural engineer in me is aching to convert to acres/day and analyze any number of efficiencies. I like the neighbor’s summation of rice farming, “a darn good living for only working two months out of the year.” Regulations and mountains of paperwork take all the fun out of it.

The best part of the season was harvest time as the sun was setting. Our farming operation could just squeeze in the acreage with two International Harvester 1480 Axial Flow combines that my uncle kept in pristine condition. FYI, this model represented a major change away from the conventional drum and cylinder and introduced a rotor.

Yes, I lean toward Red and from the skills, I learned working under one of the best, I can tear a 1480 down and return it to pre-harvest condition while profusely cursing its designer. I know there is no possible way on earth that he had ever worked on one beyond penciling it out on paper. I use he because a she would never be so lame. I have a deep respect for Hardy! No need to talk green.

We would thrash rice straw as soon as the dew lifted for as long as we possibly could separate rice before it got too damp again. Days were good when the straw and dust would blow off the crop and away from the machine. Things became troublesome when the debris would find its way onto the standing rice and cake the radiator causing the coolant temperature to climb upward toward overheating. We would decrease those efficiencies as we helped increase the radiator’s ability to cool by blowing the crud out with the air compressor. A wonderful piece of equipment. It ranks right up there with a farmer’s best friends; hammer, baling wire, and duct tape.

There is just something in experiencing the light giving way to darkness. There was the dead calm; no wind dared propel. Our dust would find its way to a state of suspended animation. I spent many of my operating hours chasing the other combine and therefore in the thick of it. An infinite number of microscopic spectators glazing in awe as the behemoth cavorted through the swath.

The magic of the hour was in the color. Shadows lengthen as the sun descends from on high. Yellows, oranges, pinks, and reds blanketed the sky as if invisible painters were casting brush strokes upon the distant canvas. The foothills would go from daytime browns to blue, purple, and finally black. With the turn of a knob, a flood of light would pierce the blackness and again illuminate the way as the dust settled down with the dew. We would shortly call it quits for the day, before we threw all the rice out the back.

Those particular sunsets are high on my list of wow! They inspire the grandeur of life and will always be a source of excitement, peace, and comfort. I started out with a thought to go in one direction and just got caught up in the moment and off in another. If I could declare any words of wisdom from this week, it might be not to get caught up in details. Drift a bit and nurture your creative side.

■ Scott Arens is a resident of Arbuckle. Contact Scott at scott@arenscp.com

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