Though harvest is well under way in the central, drier, lower-elevation parts of Washington, mine is still 3 weeks away. If you are traveling this time of year, watch out for farm trucks hauling our grain to market. Those trucks have to get back to the fields as quickly and as safely as possible. If not, there is someone sitting in a very expensive combine somewhere waiting for a truck to take the grain away. Those expensive combines spend most of their life sitting somewhere waiting for a crop to get ripe. Sitting in a full combine in a ripe field ready to be cut, listening to the weather forecast saying “chance of thundershowers,” is not a fun thing.
Even hired men, paid by the hour don’t like to be kept waiting. There is something infectious about the urgency of harvest. Everyone wants it over as quickly and as trouble free as possible.
In spite of that, if you are on a rural two lane road at harvest, chances are you have followed “some !@#%!$%” farmer poking along about 30 mph in an old single axle truck. Occasionally, you will come upon a more modern, tandem axle taking up the road at the same 30 miles per hour. Even loaded, the trucks could go faster, but if you don’t have a tarp, or cover, over your truckload of grain, 30 mph is the speed at which the grain will start to blow out of the truck. Truck tarps are expensive, a bother to use, and like most everything else, they wear out. Scattering bushels of grain all over the road is not a popular option, either.
Farm trucks have some other purposes besides grain harvest and hauling seed at planting. During spraying season, they may be put to work hauling water. Today, mine hauled rock – gravel, actually – for my driveway. It is not a lot different than hauling building materials for a backyard patio project, just a little different scale, and the tonnage fee on the license is quite a bit more.
I realized today, as I was making multiple rock trips through town, that I haven’t been seen in town for some time. I have either been in the shop preparing for the battle that is harvest, or in the fields on ‘search and destroy’ for perennial weeds.
Coming into town, the first person I waved to was Dale, no doubt on his way to do some more harvest prep work at the grain elevator. Then there was Miss Emily, who I almost didn’t recognize in her bicycle helmet, and my insurance agent, who was in his pickup on the way to his office. Oh, and I made Bud proud.
Bud, was crossing main street from the used car lot back to his dealership. I know he feels some pride every time he sees one of the trucks he sold in 1974 going down the street, still doing work and not driving in an antique parade. Though almost 40 years old, most farm trucks sit still almost as much as a combine, and mine has yet to see 50,000 original miles.
I was barely beyond the city limits when my insurance agent was on the line reminding me that it was time to buy fire insurance “if I wanted to.” As fast as things are ripening, it is a little past time to manage that risk, but we had both forgotten. The chances of fire are still pretty slim around here, but the next few days of 90+ degree weather could change that in a hurry, so fire insurance NOW is a good idea.
Going to town, especially a small town, is a good thing.