With Labor Day now in the past, summer is really done. Those unfinished summer projects have become fall projects.
There is a slight sense of urgency now as we realize that winter comes after fall and there are things that need to be done while we have the weather to do it.
It does not make any difference whether plant or animal, the beginning of winter is the deadline of fall.
The signs are unmistakable, and they are everywhere. Growing things that have been green are becoming a lighter shade of green with touches of tan or other fall colors.
There is a population of Canada geese that take up residency at the ethanol plant every year. We watch them arrive in the spring and leave in the fall.
In between arriving and leaving, they have their fuzzy goslings by early June that change quickly into adult geese. They take over the place on the weekends when there is no traffic and can be seen strolling the driveway looking for kernels of corn.
However, now there is an increase in their energy level and they seem more excitable. They will circle the plant information on frequent flights to nowhere.
Wings are flapped more often without leaving the ground as they do their goose calisthenics in preparation for the fall migration. The young and old cannot be told apart, and they all seem to know what is ahead in their future.
All the birds are flocking, and the electric wires become roosts as they assemble, sometimes appearing to be a hundred or more at a time. It is an amazing event at this time of year.
I marvel at all this because in a month or possibly less, my attention will change to whatever is in front of me at that moment because harvest will be under way.
Instead of watching the sky, I will be focused on the ground, probably on the next 50 to 100 feet away as I watch first the soybeans and then the corn disappear into the combine.
Like the birds, I have my own fall ritual that needs to be completed before the snow falls. My sense of urgency is as great as theirs.
My amazement of the fall will continue as fields that have a crop one day will be harvested and stand empty only days later. When did that happen?
It is a big job, but I cannot say it is hard work, not like flapping your wings hour after hour, day after day to reach a destination hundreds of miles away.
All of us living creatures have our task assigned to us for this fall. Trees will shed leaves and set buds for spring. Birds will leave the country to rest and return next spring.
For the farmers, elevators, fertilizer companies, implement dealers and everyone preparing for the harvest, while we can not flap our wings like the geese in training, we try to anticipate any problem that might happen.
To prepare, we will be replacing a worn belt or bearing and making sure we have enough storage for our crop, wishing there is more out there than we expect.
Nature has its work to do for the fall and we have ours. It started when the snow melted last spring and will end with the snow’s arrival in a few months.
More than 100 years ago, my great-great-grandfather prepared for harvest on this farm and now so do I. I am happy to report that in a time of computers and satellite guidance with machines that are ever closer to running themselves, there are some things that have not changed.
The birds told me that.
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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