The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Greetings to ever one in western Illinois and all readers of "The Quill."
I'm a hope'n with the weather be'n so much nicer than last weekend farmers are enjoying the possibility of gett'n in the fields full time.
A number of farmers are await'n the proper calendar date for federal crop insurance to become effective before plant'n. Others simply got the jitters and started plant'n.
In some places a few acres have been planted. Many years ago when we farmed with horses we put blinders on their bridles to cover their eyes so as they wouldn't get spooked by their surroundn's.
Some one maybe should patent a set of blinders for farmers who have a propensity to get spooked by their neighbors activities. One feller goes to the field to check his planter out and a pasal of neighbors hitch on to their planter so as to not look slow and behind times.
Many years ago I had a good neighbor, Elton Holland, who competed with me in April to see who would stay out in the field the longest at night and get to the field earliest in the morn'n.
Those was the days when tractor lights weren't very bright and not to visible at a distance. So I monitored his field activity by his machine shed doors. He had a quonset building, large for its time, and ya could see when they was open. It was a sure sign he was in the field when his machine shed doors was wide open.
I noticed his doors stayed open longer and longer as I stubbornly tried to outlast him in the field at night, sometimes well after midnight.
If'n I was low on gas I would leave the tractor in the field with lights on and fetch some fuel to allow longer field activity.
Wouldn't want to risk allow'n Elton see'n me go to the house for fear he would think I was a quit'n too early for the night. A sure sign of laziness for which no one wanted to be accused of that.
Besides, come Sunday I knew I would catch ribb'n from him fer have'n worked longer than me that day. He was about 40 years older than me and he felt it would be fit fer him to outwork this young whipper snapper any day of the year.
This was especially important because he farmed with Allis Chalmers tractors and I at that time was a John Deere man. There was a lot of competition in those days as to whose brand of tractor was the best and could get the most work done. Ya knew a farmer by the brand of tractors he was faithfully loyal to just as a few years earlier he was partial to a particular breed of horse.
We knew John Deere two lungers was the best and Elton would say, "I wouldn't own one of them jump'n jerk'n blankety blanks if'n ya was to give me one."
We neighbored together in a hay'n group and he never allowed us to bring our John Deere to pull rope fer lift'n bales in the barn or haul'n racks in from the field. Likewise he knew his Allis Chalmers was unwelcome at our place fer we needed to get some real work done with a real tractor!
In the morn'ns, I noticed by Elton's machine shed doors, he was a beat'n me to the field earlier each day. As I would get up at 5:00 a.m. I spotted his doors was open. 4:00 a.m. and his doors was again open. 3:00 a.m. and he was still a beat'n me. Blast it all I thought, how can this be from that ole sidewinder.
Work'n past midnight to beat Elton fer longest in the field, and thus the best tractor, and be'n back at it at 3:00 a.m. began to wear me thin. Especially in those days of rough riden tractors, no cabs, and eat'n dust all day long.
Yer lungs filled up with dust and ya coughed up mud all night long. If'n ya changed the direction of travel for field work, so's the wind would be in yer favors, the dog gone cold wind would change by mid-day. Back to eat'n dust and a freeze'n. Some fellers used heat houser cabs but that only trapped the dust. Ya froze one direction and roasted the other.
Well I gave it me best shot that spring but finally the wear and tear, not enough sleep, and lungs filled with dirt, got the best of me. I felt like a "run over coon"!
I reluctantly had to give in and admit that "old timer" with his Allis Chalmers equipment had bested me. It was a hard pill to swaller, but the contest was about to kill me off. I threw in the towel and congratulated him next Sunday after church service.
He seemed no worse fer the wear far outlast'n me. In fact it almost seemed he had hardly put forth any effort. I was so impressed with the old feller and held him in high regard. I promised myself never to get in any endurance contest with him ever again.
Many years later Elton died. It was cancer that got him. I was a pallbearer fer him.
His widow asked me after the funeral if'n I ever learned the truth about our endurance contest in the field years earlier. "Why no" I sez, "what was it?"
"Well" she sez, Elton knew ya was a "young buck" with a lot of energy. He also knew it would be difficult to beat ya at such a game. Therefore he would go to the house early with his lights off on the tractor so ya couldn't notice him a quit'n early.
Then after read'n the mail and take'n a good long nap he would wait until after midnight before shut'n that machine shed doors. Then back to bed he'd go.
Before 3 in the morn'n he'd go out in his bed clothes and open the machine shed doors and back to bed again he'd go. That extra time out of the field allowed him to display better fuel economy in the field with his AC equipment over your John Deere equipment"!
Veta Holland, Elton's widow said, "it was the best April fool joke he ever played on anyone, bar none. It gave him cheer even to the end of his death bed. He simply asked Veta to let me know, after he was gone, so's I could get a chuckle as well.
I declare, he got me a good one on that one. I really miss Elton, we really had fun try'n to get the best of one another!
Crank up that planter come Monday morn'n if'n it has not rained or the fields aren't wet from earlier rains.
Enjoy the spring, enjoy farm'n, and enjoy our neighbors. They'll grow old and be gone all too soon.
Don't be a Fuddy Dud!
Hope'n ta see ya in church this week.
Remember, wherever ya is, whatever ya be a do'n, "BE A GOOD ONE!"
Keep on Smile'n,
Catch ya later,