Friday, November 5, 2010

Next Season's Potatoes

The challenge is, from early April until November, things are a whirlwind.  I always say to myself, "Remember this for the winter.  This'll make a great story."   When I relay the events of the day to friends, the response I consistently get is, "Man, I wish a film crew could just follow you around all day." Then, it's winter and I've forgotten it all.  I do remember being hot this summer, which I much preferred over the cold and wet of 2009.  I think I already mentioned that, though.

There was one 100 degree day, probably in July, when I was grateful that I had something to do that involved sitting on a tractor rather than actually moving with my own legs in the field.  I was mowing down some weeds that were taller than me, trying to kill them before they went to seed.  The seeds of lamb's quarter, ragweed and pigweed, which is what I was cutting, can stay dormant in soil over 50 years, just waiting for the right conditions to germinate.  And each plant produces so many seeds that once you let it get out of hand, you have a long term battle.  I was mowing in an area of the farm I had never planted, but is now tilled and cover cropped and awaiting next season, when I will plant potatoes there.  Anyhow, apparently among those weeds wasn't just a hornets nest, but a whole colony of them.  I was looking behind me, carefully watching the mower, when I saw them flying all around.  I didn't think much of it because bees abound around here.  Then I got stung, which still didn't alarm me, until I took a closer look at my tractor and then my body.  I was covered in hornets.  As I was trying to calmly assess the situation, while still mowing, I got stung several more times and decided to test my tractor's safety shut off system by jumping off while it was still mowing.  It may not have looked like the decision of a calm and competent person to the neighbors, who I am convinced see everything.  It may not have sounded like that either, what with the shouting at the top of my lungs, but I assure you, I was completely in control of the situation.  In fact, all tractor safety systems functioned perfectly.  However, while fleeing, I was still getting stung.  At some point, I actually really did turn around to admire how well the tractor responded when I ejected, and at that moment I realized there were hornets perched on the rims of my glasses, so I threw them as far as I could.  I think I also might have screamed like a girl.  Of course, I hurled them in the direction of the tractor, which was still swarming with hornets.  So, now I'm covered in sweat and stung all over, but at least I'm a safe distance from the stinging creatures.  I can't see, though, and I have a lot still to do, so I immediately walked back to the angry bugs to find my spectacles in the mud.  I then did the next logical thing: picked up where I left off and finished mowing.  I think the potatoes will grow great there.