I don’t know what others do in October, I haul sugar beets. It is one of the consistent events in my life by which I can mark time. I wish to mark time now with the 2011 harvest.
I don’t believe we lost any of our people from last year. We sometimes lose people to divorce or death but none of those sad things occurred this year. We did see one change as Joe Pierce liked the truck driving skills of Casey Francis so well that he decided to marry her. I see time march and change us all. Eddie Rosendahl and John Rehder drive the farm less while Mike Rosendahl and Joe Pierce take the helm more often. I have seen so many successful businesses and farms turned over to an ungrateful third generation which proceeds to cause its failure. John and Ed have “taken the boys to school” many times and they are so much further ahead of their counterparts for it. Joe and Mike are calm during breakdowns and patient when their truck drivers talk too much on the radio. I trust them in the field and trust them as men.
The “Tireboss” is new to me. The tireboss is a system which can set the pressure in a truck’s tires to match the conditions upon which it travels. If we are on the highway, it sets the pressure at 100 pounds square inch (psi.) When we are in muddy or soft conditions in the field, the tireboss brings tire pressure down to 35 psi which allows the tires to have better flotation and traction. It looks like something made to break down, however I’ve come to see it as quite durable. It reminds me of the systems they used on the old World War II amphibious Duck truck. Another piece of equipment are two six wheel drive trucks used by McGregor farms. They look like standard issue for any post-apocalyptic road warrior but I bet they’re a good ally in the mud. I like watching these huge trucks majestically trundle down the gravel road in a shroud of dust.
The Warren piler station added another generation this season. Tom Yutrzenka has run the station for many years and this year brought his grand-daughter, Amanda. The scale house is the “kitchen” of the piler station and can be pretty busy as it is the only place to get coffee and it is heated. Amanda handled her tasks very well and was really pleasant. The people who work at the stations spend twelve hours on concrete, in the cold and should be recognized for their hard work.
Mike Rosendahl runs harvester during my shift and uses hand signals to direct the trucks as they become full of sugar beets. He was enjoying a special version of “Mountain Dew,” made from pure beet sugar and asked me if I’d ever tried it. I saw my chance to cause mild trouble and so answered that I “only enjoyed pure, natural corn syrup-based soda.” Saying this to a Valley farmer is like swearing in church and I wasn’t surprised when Mike added a new hand signal to his repertoire-just for me.
This was an especially condensed, intense harvest. I was really tired this year and sometimes wished it was over. I had to remind myself that the times people most often remember are the tough times so you should make the best of them as those will be your memories. I know one day we all will be old, maybe in a retirement home, living alone or just bored; then remember Harvest, 2011 and our ten days in October.