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By Staff | May 20, 2011

If there is such a thing as a typical planting season, I would like to see one. I do not believe I have had a spring I would describe as typical.

This year has been the most untypical yet.

There have been the things that everyone has experienced such as the very slow start, waiting for dry conditions.

Once we got off to a good start, we had to wait for a week until it quit raining and today, with better conditions in front of us, I believe we can put the finishing touches to this year’s planting.

This year has been an exception to my observation of recent years that the closer to Minnesota you are, the better your crop is.

That observation is a hit at my family gatherings because probably 80 percent of my relatives live in Minnesota.

Last year, this was especially true as we experienced a perfect year from start to finish. This year, it is not true because I traveled about an hour south of here a few days ago, and I saw rows of emerged corn.

There is no emerged corn around here next to the Iowa-Minnesota state line. I believe the corn is trying and it is close, but I have yet to see any thin lines of green. I have been watching a field that was planted in the very early days of May, nearly three weeks ago, and all I see is lovely black dirt.

I may have to tell my relatives that since everyone knows Minnesota is the nation’s refrigerator, we residents of a neighboring state wish they would find the person who left the refrigerator door open and close it.

That should make me popular at family gatherings.

There are more reasons why this is not a typical spring. This is a big one.

I told how this spring my son has been arranging getting things down with our neighbor Doug who has this nice new shiny 24-row planter. Doug can plant 40 acres an hour and it takes two field cultivators to stay ahead of him. Ours is one of the two field cultivators.

So far in this planting season I have helped by delivering food to the crew working in the field and made a trip for parts. That is it. I have not even driven a tractor to the fuel barrel for refueling.

This is the first spring in my memory since arriving here in 1975 that I have not driven a tractor. I have watched the tractors come and go. I have driven by them when they were in the fields when I wanted to see their progress.

One day I was called to bring a nylon rope and several chains when our four-wheeler got too close to a wet spot and was stuck.

By the time I arrived with what was asked for, the tractor and field cultivator had been pulled out by another tractor that had a chain and I was not needed.

It has not been a totally tractor-free spring. I did get to drive the 10-horsepower Cub Cadet that has the tiller on the back when we planted potatoes a few weeks ago.

This is what I have been reduced to and how desperate I am to say I can take credit for planting something.

I did one more thing to help this spring. I was checking on my son’s progress in one of our fields and I saw a spot that has always had a lot of rocks with this spring’s rock collection.

While he was at the other end of the field, I started picking up rocks and carrying them to the fence line. There were several that weighed in the area of 100 pounds and after a few of those I was out of breath.

By that time, my son was back at my end of the field and had stopped to talk.

I told him I had picked up all the big rocks and those little ones that were too numerous we would leave to be picked up by the combine.

There you have it; there will always be a job for a rock picker. Rock picking does not discriminate by age, sex, race, or anything else. If you can pick up a rock, you will have a job.

I have been reading a book by Nebraskan Roger Welsch. He tells about two men who were visiting, a gent and a farmer.

The gent asks the farmer, “Where did the rocks come from?” The farmer’s answer was, “The glacier brought them.”

Then the gent asked, “Where did the glacier go?” The farmer’s answer was, “Probably to get more rocks.”

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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