Shoveling corn into a sweep auger, while standing inside a bin of cold corn, is one of the least glorious jobs of farming, but it has to be done. It requires a good back and not much else. However, it does let the mind wander and that is what was happening to me as I recalled another not so glorious job that had to be done.
It was almost 50 years ago and my dad had both hogs and cattle in his feedlot. I was around age 14 and one evening he told me a hog had crawled under the concrete cattle bunks and could not get out. He wanted me to crawl to where the hog was stuck and tie a rope to its leg to be pulled out.
The concrete bunks, when viewed from the end were in the shape of the letter H. This 100-pound pig crept under almost the length of the bunk, making it about 75 feet away. Because I weighed 130 pounds (remember, this was a long time ago), I was the one who was best equipped to crawl through the 18-inch high space. What added to the job was that it was a wet time of year and I would have to crawl on my stomach through a wet soupy mix of brown stuff about half an inch deep.
When my dad told me what he wanted me to do, I waited for him to smile and tell me he was kidding. He was not kidding. I put on some old clothes that, if they had to be tossed, would not be missed. Since it was evening, I needed a lantern and I started my journey with a rope in one hand and light in the other.
I remember how if felt when I got flat on my stomach in that wet, smelly slop. Yeah, it was unpleasant but crawling one foot or 100 feet does not make much difference once you are wet and stinky.
I started crawling, got to the pig and tied one of the best knots of my life on its hind leg because I did not want to return to do this if the rope slipped off. I could not turn around and crawled out backwards.
We started pulling, got the pig out, it jumped to its feet and ran off. Sometime later, it became packages of pork for the meals of people who never were able to know what we did to get this pig to market.
This brings us to today when the politicians are getting ready to spend around a trillion dollars they do not have, supposedly, for our own good. According to my calculations, a million million is a trillion. Our alleged leaders in Washington, D.C., now treat a million dollars, which is a thousand thousand, as if it were petty cash or pocket change.
We are told this is a serious time and every dollar counts. I certainly agree with that. Now the politicians are spending money they do not have on a solution with questionable results and will be sending us the bill that will be paid for many years to come.
I believe our alleged leaders do not understand that it is not their money they are spending. They are spending their future income, which will be our future taxes.
We make our income one scoop shovel of corn at a time, one hog (including the one pulled from under a cattle bunk) at a time, or one calf, retrieved from a late winter snowstorm at 3 a.m., at a time. Because every dollar counts, we do our jobs, disagreeable or not.
We did not get the auger turned off soon enough while filling the truck and ran about 100 bushels of corn on the ground. Once the truck was empty, we used the loader tractor (an Allis-Chalmers D15 that was bought new in 1964) to load the spilled corn in a wagon. Sure, we have thousands of bushels of corn, but that 100 bushels is also important, too important to be wasted.
Why should politicians treat so frivolously with their inflated spending our money that we have worked carefully, diligently to earn, sometimes in disagreeable conditions? I have doubts in their ability to comprehend numbers. Do the people in charge realize that one trillion pennies is $10 billion?
In case you are wondering, 1 trillion kernels of corn at 80,000 kernels per bushel is 12.5 million bushels. At 160 bushels an acre, you will need 78,125 acres to grow those trillion kernels of corn. If you raised 1,000 acres of corn a year and averaged 160 bushels an acre, it would take 78 years to harvest those trillion kernels.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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