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Soggy harvest survivedPosted Tuesday, November 17, 2009, at 9:47 AM
Why didn't I write my last column earlier this harvest season? I mean no sooner did I write (i.e. whine) about only be able to get the crops out "one quarter teaspoon at a time" when something great happened -- the sun came out! In fact, it only rained one-quarter of an inch in 13 days!
It's sort of like when your car is making a terrible noise for two weeks. You finally decide you have to take it to a mechanic before you end up stranded on a lonely highway. Of course during the "test drive" the loud noise suddenly disappears -- at least until you leave, deeply embarrassed and very confused, from the repair shop.
Or you take your young child to the doctor and explain about his life-threatening high fever and how lethargic he has been for two days, only to look around and see the little darling climbing on the doctor's chair trying to swing from the light fixture. Oh, and after you pry his giggling body down from the ceiling his temperature is
But nevertheless, the break farmers in Saline County and Missouri needed finally happened and the result was a wild ride of gathering our crops as fast as humanly possible. In farming there is no crystal ball, so we didn't know when the window of opportunity would close.
For several days in our neighborhood as we harvested it reminded me of ants going all directions. Or squirrels gathering nuts (or is that nuts gathering squirrels?).
At times our trucks and equipment had to be coordinated with our neighbors to make sure we weren't in each other's way, as we all struggled with ways to get our crops out without getting our equipment stuck.
But now as I write this I'm happy to say, we did get all our crops in thanks to a whole cast full of family members and friends -- and along with a little luck.
Now that's it over, I started thinking of 2009 harvest by the numbers and here they are:
Unwashed dishes in the sink -- 333.
Pounds of dirt we seemed to have transferred from the fields into our house -- 227.
Bushels of corn and soybeans, which somehow made it onto my kitchen floor -- 9.
Number of fast foods and quick meals consumed -- let's just say more than is healthy.
Pounds of dirty laundry piled up in our basement -- 89.
Pounds of trash piled in our breezeway -- 65.
Pounds of lunchmeat consumed for "on the go" field lunches -- 25.
Number of baskets with clean, yet unfolded laundry -- 6.
Trash our lonely dog pulled into the yard to entertain herself -- 3 buckets, one plastic food dish, six plastic bottles robbed from a trashcan she managed to knock over, four gloves (all unmatching) and three rags she found on the shop floor.
Actual "days' we were in harvest -- 48 (the actual days worked is "something" like 16 long, long days, 10 half days and 99 days where it rained not long after we started.)
Here are a few other numbers:
Number of bushels harvested -- hopefully enough to pay another year's bills.
Cranky people -- four -- all in the same family. Amazing, though, how attitudes change when you hear those words -- "We're done."
Days I woke up swearing I couldn't get out of bed and do it again -- 10.
In all seriousness, there are some very important numbers from this year's harvest, which still is not over in some parts of the county and is only 2/3 completed across the state.
Forecasted corn production in Missouri for 2009: 438 million bushels, 15 percent above last year's crop.
Forecasted soybean production: 233 million bushels statewide, 22 percent above 2008. (These estimates would make it the third largest corn crop and largest soybean crop on state record, according to the Missouri Ruralist magazine.)
Saline County's rank in producing corn and soybeans: first in 2007 and consistently in the top five!
Amount of land it takes to produce a bushel of corn -- down 37 percent since 1987;
Soil loss caused by producing a bushel of corn -- down 69 percent per bushel;
Amount of water it takes to produce a bushel of corn -- down 27 percent (only 13 percent of corn grown in the U.S. is irrigated).
Amount of energy to produce a bushel -- down 37 percent.
Emissions per bushel of corn grown -- down 30 percent.
Number of people a farmer fed in 1960 -- 25.
Number of people a farmer feeds -- 144.
Here is one more important fact from Missouri's Director of Agriculture Jon Hagler. It's one I found very interesting:
"Four out of four people in Missouri eat!"
Now that's a number.
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