Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: The pause before fall
It is a dreary, cool, and rainy day in western South Dakota. The perfect rain to get everything nicely soaked up going into fall; a beautiful day.
It feels like the earth’s orbit slows just a bit for a week or two right now, during that in-between time at summer’s end and fall’s beginning. Mother nature takes a breath, and the ag community follows suit.
We all know that before long the early mornings and dark nights of fall work will be upon us. Crews pulling gooseneck trailers will be headed down darkened highways and backroads long before dawn’s light, followed by cattle pots a few hours later. Vets will be spotted traversing the country like squirrels chasing nuts; empty coffee cups rolling on the floorboard, used OB gloves flapping in the pickup box, and a squeeze chute rattling along behind.
Wheat will be cleaned if it hasn’t been already, and planted as always in anticipation of next year. Corn faces the combine, then a possible truck ride or two. Big machinery will slow highway traffic on a regular basis before long. Being a good hay year means there are also likely bales left to be rowed and hauled before winter comes.
On the wife front, it’s a welcome if brief time of not having to reheat supper at 9 p.m. for her husband. For just a few days, everyone is home together for all three meals, with only a few grumbles from the man of house about not getting much done. Baked goods are popping up in an attempt to put off starting the furnace for a couple more weeks. The bills may even be sent off a few days before they’re due.
The calf market is checked regularly, wheat and corn futures, too. Everyone knows the going rate to have hay hauled. Winter propane contracts are making the rounds, and folks are considering if, in order to pay for it, they ought to get that old bull sent to town.
Machinery is being maintained as it heads into or out of the shed. A couple guys are looking into a new bale bed. Kids are wearing considerably more clothes as the mornings are dewy and the nights are borderline cold.
Coffee pots are brewing an extra pot. Long underwear are out, and likely being worn. Feed rows and bunks are prepped for the calves soon to arrive. Water and fencing projects are nearly wrapped up. That constant list of little fix-its jobs is seeing several checked off. The wife wants to paint, so there’s also a lot getting done out in the shop.
Perhaps things aren’t going that slow, after all. But, it still feels like the world takes a pause. It’s a welcome reprieve and a chance to get just a little bit caught up. In between summer’s heat and fall’s rush.