Hay Feeder Rings

Photo Credit - Tarter Farm and Ranch Equipment

Hay Feeder Ring Photo Credit – Tarter Farm and Ranch Equipment

Something is wrong when the garden produces tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers in Iowa the fourth week in October.

I’ll dice tomatoes for breakfast tacos later this week, Bangkok peppers are in the dehydrator, and cucumbers and jalapeno peppers in the icebox waiting to be used. There is chard and kale, oregano and chives. Those leafy green vegetables usually survive until November, but tomatoes and cucumbers?

Call it what you want but something is happening and we know exactly what it is.

I spent most of Friday working with hay feeder rings.

After re-resurfacing the outside lot where farm equipment is displayed at the home, farm and auto supply store, I assembled and re-merchandised the stock of feeder rings.

I don’t know if it was a day’s work, but spent a day doing it, working slowly and as safely as possible. I was tired after the shift with a hankering to leave everything and head west to work on a ranch — day dreams of a low-wage worker.

The garage was cluttered after a summer of intermittent work.

I checked off each item on the to-do list on my handheld device before heading to the orchard for a shift. I disassembled the grass catcher and stored it; re-mixed bird seed and filled the feeder; checked the air pressure on our auto tires; brought in salt and paper products from the car; stored 40 pounds of coarse salt in tubs for winter ice melting; cleared a work space on the bench; and swept the entire floor. It took about two hours. I wanted more, but time ran out.

Yesterday’s political events had me thinking of Gettysburg, Penn. My parents, brother and sister went there before Dad died. I remember reading President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on a placard near where he read it himself. With deep roots in rural Virginia, and ancestors fighting on both sides of the Civil War, it was a seminal experience for me. It began the process of turning me from being a descendant of southerners enamored of romantic notions about plantation life to being an American eschewing the peculiar institution and those who stood for it. To my mother’s probable dismay, I brought home a Confederate flag and hung it in my bedroom. Visiting Gettysburg helped me understand the reality of the Civil War and those who fought and lived through it. I was coming of age.

My parents pointed out the house and farm where Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower lived after his presidency. Eisenhower hosted world leaders there, including Nikita Khrushchev, Charles de Gaulle and Winston Churchill. He also raised Angus cattle. We thought favorably of Eisenhower even if he was a Republican. As Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II he was a well known part of our culture. Seeing his farm enabled us to touch reality in his celebrity.

My life is here in Big Grove. I’m not heading west to work on a ranch. I don’t display the Confederate battle flag or think about it much any more. I will re-read the Gettysburg Address as I did this morning and wonder how my ancestors got along with each other after fighting in the Civil War. Perhaps there are lessons for the United States in 2016. I’m certain there are.

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