This week, we are:
- Focusing on all things silage. Silage time is kind of like Christmas on the farm, but you have to replace the presents, snow, special breakfasts and trees with a silage chopper, corn, trucks, tractors, two-way radios, a sturdy work ethic and long hours.
The guys worked all week to tear the choppers apart and repair them, then to put them back together without any leftover pieces, which would be unthinkable if this were left up to me.
"Um, guys, does anyone know where this extra tire goes?" - me
"Do you really NEED these brakes or can you just kind of roll to a stop?" - me
As you can tell, critical thinking and logical deduction are not my forte. I just make the coffee, which leads to the next thing that's defining this week.
- Living on caffeine. When everything is running the way it's supposed to, the chopper go-go-goes and the trucks run ride along side it. It means getting up at 5:00 a.m., and running until 12:30 a.m. the next morning and not falling asleep until 1:00 a.m. So if there's a watchword for the week, it's: gimme-all-the-caffeinated-things. Correction: watchwordS.
- Thankful for a forecast filled with sunshine. Silage is all about timing. The corn's moisture has to be just right, and the corn itself has to be a certain maturity. All the machinery has to be ready to go. The weather has to cooperate, and it can't be rainy. And when all those factors collide, silage can run like a well-oiled machine. A chopper, as it were.
- Taking credit that isn't ours. It had been a long week. Silage hadn't started yet. There was one lingering issue to fix on the chopper, and the guys had spent hours working to figure it out. I'm not saying that when my mother-in-law and I showed up, the problem was fixed within minutes but . . . well, yes, that actually is what I'm saying. We'll just go ahead and take credit for it, even though we had absolutely nothing to do with it. Because we're fun like that.
- Slightly amazed. Did you know that silage choppers have kernel processors that basically crack corn kernels so that cows can digest the corn more easily? Those four stomaches need all the help they can get! And come to think of it, that's almost as impressive as the pre-digested goat milk my mom fed me when I was a colicky baby. (Do I want to know who digested it first? I don't think I do.)
- Good senses of humor. Silage season requires a lot of patience. Combine that with hard work and reeeeeeally long work days, and it would be easy to get testy or out of sorts. And yet every time I pop in at the dairy, someone is joking, teasing someone else, pulling a prank, spouting a good one-liner or smiling. It must be something in the silage dust, but whatever it is, we're grateful for it . . . and for good humor in general.
- Digging two-way radios. Can you imagine what life was like before those puppies? How would you know when your truck was full of silage? Or when you're driving too close to the chopper and need to give it some room? Or that there are fresh-baked cookies in the shop to nab the next time you drop off a load of silage at the bunker? You wouldn't, that's what!
- Grateful to be living in the country. Silage season requires a lot of time spent in trucks and choppers and tractors, but it also provides a lot of time to watch sunsets and see the stars to come out, to enjoy the autumn weather and get in healthy doses of sunshine. Add to that the animals that dash out of the ends of corn fields, and you've got yourself a full-fledge nature lallapalooza. Heck, if I didn't think everyone would assume I was crazy, I set up a lawn chair at the dairy, pop a chocolate milk and watch the magic happen . . . for hours.
- Trying to keep Blackjack off his gimpy paw. Blackjack hurt his foot, but this hasn't kept him from hobbling around on three paws, regardless of how much we try to keep him calm. Then again, this affords him lots of benefits: like getting to eat the frosting off of people's cupcakes, sitting at the feet of kind people who order him his own hamburgers from McDonalds, and lots of time laying around in the air conditioned office. Wait a minute. Why walk regularly? He's got it pretty good!
It may not be silage season where you are but . . . what's this week look like for you?