Phew. Thank goodness it's Wednesday. 'Cause a few days ago, we had a Monday. And boy, what a Monday it was.
It's corn harvesting time, and it's been a tough season. We had an incredibly cool and wet spring, followed by a wet summer, a month-long dry spell in August, and then a return to rain, rain, rain ever since. The corn harvest started over a week ago and should take us about 4 to 5 days to complete, yet we're barely half-way there, thanks to this wet weather that won't go away.
I knew Monday was going to be hectic. I had a full schedule that started at 5:30 a.m., which included getting the kids off to school, harvesting corn all day, and work at Atwood from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. But Marcel had opened the lid on the bin for me, bless his heart, before he left for work and I was thinking I was sitting pretty.
It was cold, mind you. The temperature had dropped to the high 20's overnight, and that means the tractors must be plugged in to keep the diesel fuel warm. I was pretty confident farner Mark would start combining at about 9:30 or so, so I was planning on plugging the tractors in at 8:00, and even thought I could run to the store for some milk and bread before we got started. Just as I was brushing my teeth, at about 7:45 or so, I heard a knock at the door. Yep, it was farmer Mark, ready to get started.
"Well, yes, of course I'm ready to go," I lied, "I was just getting ready to go out and connect the tractor to the auger."
"Well, okay then, I'll get started." replied Mark. "I'll need a few more wagons out there in a minute or so."
Assuring him that yes, I'd get everything moving, I called my mom in a panic and told her I needed her to get Armando fast. Then I ran and plugged the tractors in. Maybe they'll heat up in the 10 minutes or so that it'll take me to run the wagons out to the field, I thought.
I thought wrong.
When I tried to start our John Deere, a huge, troubling puff of white smoke billowed out of the exhaust pipe as the motor slowly chugged, chugged, chugged....and nothing. Chug, chug again.....and nothing. Then I jumped over to farmer Bill's tractor that he had lent us. His tractor chugged a little more enthusiastically, but wouldn't start either.
The tractor motors wouldn't start, but unfortunately my motor was going strong, and the muttering and grumbling started tumbling out....
"I can't believe I didn't plug the @^*&#% tractors in earlier."
"I wish Mark would've called me and told me what time he was starting this morning."
"Where is my mom to get Armando?"
Well, Mom did show up pretty quickly and got Armando, and I quickly called Marcel to ask him what I could do to speed things up. At this point, farmer Mark had two of my four wagons filled and I was getting really behind.
Marcel told me to wait 10 more minutes and try again. So I did. But this time the starter motor was really sluggish, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I wore the battery out. I called Marcel back in 10 minutes, grumbled at him pretty good, and had him listen to the motor. "Yep, you're gonna have to charge the motor," he told me. Which incited some more whining, swearing, and general gnashing of teeth on my end. He walked me through the process, and after another 15 minutes and another full wagon of corn in the field, the tractor started.
Hallelujah, we're in business.
I quickly pulled the tractor out of the barn, got it in position to hook up the PTO to the auger, and quickly found out that the auger's arm that connects to the PTO was frozen. It should usually slide back and forth pretty easily to help you slip it over the PTO on the tractor, but this time wasn't moving an inch.
So now I'm really cussing like a farmer, folks. I call farmer Mark on the cell phone and, with much embarrassment, told him I couldn't get the auger hooked up. My thoughts at this point were going downhill fast, and consisted of some really mature things like, "I'm such a girl," and "God, I'm an embarrassment to myself and this whole family," and other nice things. Can you tell I was a little more than frustrated?
Mark came over, tugged and pulled, and finally pounded the ice out of the auger arm. We got the tractor hooked up, and I have to admit I was relieved to see him struggle with it and felt a little vindicated in my wimpiness. He went back out to combine some more, and I made an SOS call to farmer Bill....."if you're home, could you please come and help me for a little while?"
Just as I pulled up to the auger with my first load of corn, Bill showed up. Mark was pretty much waiting on me at this point, so Bill's help was going to be a godsend. I tugged and pulled and hung like a monkey from the wagon door that is soo hard to open, and finally started unloading the corn into the bin. And as the corn flowed out of the wagon, the relief flowed out of my body. Bill helped me get a handle on my Monday, and am I ever grateful.
I just hope we finish the corn harvest before another Monday comes around.
Oh, and Bill? Could you clear your calendar, just in case?