Today the group got plastic on 2B3 and partially on 2C3, cleaned up at Oak, Lee plowed, and irrigation was worked on.
So went Monday’s activities, as chronicled by Danny W. on our Daily email Tuesday. Having been there for a good portion of the day, I was slightly underwhelmed with the recap. Hmm, doesn’t seem like we accomplished all that much.
The morning had consisted of a large crew coalescing around huge sheets of greenhouse plastic — navigating the wind and the Oren’s instruction as we tried to direct them into place atop the huge hoops and fasten them down appropriately. It was a fun project; playing out like an extended game of Simon Says, where one kid stays Simon the whole time. By lunch, we had one plastic completely installed, and the other mostly in place – brought to a standstill by the intensifying wind. Ex-gubernatorial candidate Arnie Enz joined us for lunch and a post-lunch meeting with Oren, and the afternoon found me behind the handles of the BCS tractor for the first time in way too long.
Having received my annual BCS tutorial from Polly, I slapped on my ear muffs and muscled it to the end of plots 2B1 and 2B2. I eyed up the section stretching out in front of me: my destiny for the afternoon. No big deal. I took a deep breath and got started; ripping my first pass through the middle, appreciating the power, noise and fumes of the impressive machine. For all of the warm-fuzzies I get from no-till agriculture speak, I can’t help but fall in love with the ground-shredding capacity of the fuel-burning machine. The power surged through my forearms and buzzed into my cranium as I navigated the beast as straight in the center of the plot as I could. At the end, I clunkily adjusted the handles, disengaged the PTO, muscled it around and lined myself up for pass 2. Directing my right tire into the furrow from my last pass, I engaged the PTO, gripped the clutch lever and put it into gear once more, ripping satisfactorily through another swath of ecosystem. It was fucking wonderful. It was America.
Four or six passes later, however, I became slightly more aware of the limited footage of each pass. Four or six passes after that, I started to worry whether I’d ever get home to my wife and daughter for the day. Four or six passes after that, I became acutely aware of the vibrating soreness in the muscles of my forearms. Four or six passes after that, my frustration boiled over and I began cursing at the top of my lungs with every massive stone bucking me from my center; trusting the noise of the machine to cover my outbursts, and caring very little either way.
All throughout, I grew increasingly aware of the whereabouts and activity (or lack thereof) of Oren. Sitting for the first post-lunch hour in the shade with Arnie; strolling comfortably back and forth to the granary; sitting cross-legged and inspecting some small piece of hardware; chatting amicably with some guests that arrived after Arnie had left. Sweaty-eyed, gritty-toothed, sore-handed, I eyed him bitterly. Fucking guy.
Which wasn’t necessary. He was working, in his own way, taking care of equally important tasks, to be sure. Plus, he was in it for the long-haul, planning on staying until after dark. The emotional rationale of my sleep-deprived mind runs at an all-time low these days, however, and as the only other one around, he was the target of my frustration.
Slowly but slowly, the expanding plowed center nudged up to the defined edges of the plot, and the jagged crookedness of my passes became embarrassingly apparent. Nearly finished now, the progressively shortening passes of edge cleanup took forever: shifting gears, muscling the beast around, adjusting handles, engaging and disengaging the PTO, crawling back up the side of the furrow. Always, a sliver of unplowed edge remained, somehow, somewhere down the line.
Finally, I finished and looked over my work. It was pretty rough, with uneven swaths and huge divets throughout the plot, but I was done. Oren, bless him, knew better than to say anything as I passed him on my way to the granary. He was starting to piece together irrigation hardware. I said a brief goodbye, and headed out to get some small piece of relaxation with my family before my workweek began in earnest.
All this, mind you, for a total of 2 words in the daily recap, and rightfully so. From there, Danny went on to articulate the plan for Tuesday’s workload, which included greenhouse seeding, tilling, planting of 7 different varieties of veggies, plowing, mulching and bed prep – all activities that would reach me only through the medium of email for the next handful of days.
So it goes. Day after day, I read the Daily and think about the massive effort required through this marathon of activity that is May. We’re 60 hours short of our hourly commitment from last May, and the activities don’t seem to be getting any shorter. It’s a make-or-break juncture of our season, and we will see how we do.