It’s summertime in the Midwest. The corn is anywhere between waist high and shoulder high so it exceeds the “knee high by the 4th of July expectations.” 60% of the corn crop is normal. Normal. In an Iowa where 80+ of the counties are still in a drought. After more than 10 inches of rain in 48 hours, still in a drought. Hard to imagine.
Beans are 50% normal. At the closing bell Monday, new crop beans were 34 to 42 3/4 cents in the black at $12.62 a bushel. July 21 soybeans closed at $13.57, up 27 1/4 cents.
After last year’s derecho, no Iowa farmer is holding their breath.
Farming roots run deep.
I watch the weather daily.
I study the crops from the roads.
Sometimes I stop and check.
Soybean fields that had cockleburs like this or volunteer corn would earn me $40
back in the day,
The Good Old Days!
Cleaning the beans . . . one way link
Walking the Beans . . . a resurgence for organic farmers link
The Goal: A field that looks like this.
Walking the Beans
For a couple weeks of work.
Sun up to sun down.
Delayed only by lightning.
Walking the beans
Usually 40 acres.
The field that had corn the year before.
Walking the beans
Buttonweeds – easy to pull
Cockleburs – prickly with deep roots
Corn – volunteer corn that was usually connected to part of a corn cob
Common weeds that would reduce the value of the bean crop.
Walking the beans
Sometimes with siblings; sometimes not.
There was one particular summer that still stands out.
I was seven or eight. Not old enough to walk the beans, but Mom and Dad and my youngest brother were gone somewhere so I followed my two elder siblings out to the bean field. It was too boring to stay in the house where I had been relegated by my youth. It was a hot summer day, with a light breeze that caused the beans to wave back and forth in a stately synchronized waltz. A pleasant summer day.
I had two rows in between my sister’s four and my brother’s four. Ten rows down. Ten rows back. Twenty rows clean in one round trip. A quick water break and then back to it. I had gloves, ill-fitting, but gloves nevertheless. I was too little to have a hoe so I pulled weeds by hand.
And then there was a hill of corn. I tugged. Some broke off. It felt like an entire bushel. I pulled some more. A few more leaves split as I yanked with all my might.
I yelled for help from one of my siblings.
My brother arrived. Raised the hoe. Brought it down
I was on the ground screaming as bright red blood mixed with the black dirt and the green split leaves of corn.
I screamed again.
The sight of all that blood leaking from just below my knee was worse than the pain at that very moment.
And my knee buckled as I fell to the ground.
Literally felled by a hoe.
It was a long trip back to the house. With an even longer wait for our parents to come home. (Cell phones were NOT in existence decades and decades ago.)
I was the one in trouble.
I was not supposed to be in the bean field.
I look at that scar and shake my head now. Superglue might be the treatment du jour.
For me, it was the first time I got stitches.
And then the second time,
And then just left to heal on its own
As they ripped out when I knelt at church,
Or when I walked around.
I wasn’t supposed to be there after all.
Have you ever been in trouble when trying to do the right thing? How did the problem resolve itself? And how long does it sometimes take to get to the “really good part of the story”?
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And thank you #TCRWP Writing Institute for the time to begin this narrative draft.