A Harvest in Five Acts

I have explained the basics of the sugar beet harvest many times of the last few years. I’m sure you get it: dig out the beet, place it in truck, transport to piler and repeat. I thought this year, I would just hit the highlights and organize them into five acts.

Act I; A Harvest of Irony

We are so fortunate this year to be using trucks with automatic transmissions. I was cooing about this fact on the radio when fellow employee Gary Jenkins grumbled about there being no need for this little convenience. Today, I heard Mike Rosendahl tell Gary that he would enter Global Positional Satellite coordinates into the tractor Gary uses to chisel plow. What this means is that Gary will not have to pick a course for his tractor, that his tractor would now steer itself and Gary need only concern himself with a favorite magazine while this modern convenience performs much of the work. Now, we mainly harvest sugar beets during this time of the year, but apparently, there is always time to harvest a little irony.

Act II; Is that a Girl?

Sugar beet harvest is pretty much a men’s club, without the more sordid features of such a club. This year, R and R Farms counts among it’s employ one female employee. Now let’s get this straight, Casey Francis drives truck. She’s not running around in shorts delivering parts or getting lunch (Ed Rosendahl does that,) rather she is driving a huge quad-axle truck and doing great. It’s no surprise, I’ve seen several women do very well in the field and they seem to break less equipment. Perhaps it’s because they more closely listen to the equipment they use and work within its limits. Anyway, Casey’s a nice lady and I’ve heard she makes good brownies, however the only one who can attest to this fact is Sam, Joe Pierces’ dog. Sam regularly patrols the shop which is where baked goods are stored and he is a little more aggressive at the trough than his human counterparts.

Act III; Sewing Circle

This year has been muddy. Red River Valley mud presents itself in a semi-cement form that adheres well to harvest equipment. Removing the mud is hard work but I like to pretend to help because we talk and it’s a little like sewing circle. We all work around a central point and converse while we chip the mud from the harvester. We curse at the mud during our sewing circle, and spit, sometimes. You know, it really isn’t like sewing circle; however we do talk.

Act IV; Look, an Illusion!

Waiting in line with the other trucks to dump your beets is boring. Like dehydrated men see water in the desert, men bored may see action in a desert of inactivity. Last week, someone saw a bear sitting out in a field about one-half mile away from the piler station near Warren, Minnesota. Actually, it was a large garbage bag posing as a bear but no one knew that at the time. Truckers stood outside their vehicles and snapped pictures with the cellular phone cameras and sent them out to friends. I keep expecting to receive one such picture in my email complete with exciting tale while I surf the internet. The afternoon of the bear, as it will surely be known, was finally brought to a climax when piler-boss, Tom Yutrzenka, formed a safari to either give death or courageously receive it. It was during this excursion that it was discovered that the bear was only an imposter and that bored truck drivers will believe almost anything.

Act V; Final

I broke my truck today. I felt like an idiot and that I’d let down the friends for whom I work. Ed Rosendahl should have been upset but instead saw how upset I was and-hugged me. Yeah, he hugged me. I later tried to apologize to Joe Pierce who told me “no bodily harm, no foul.” I work for good people. Finally, I want you to know that we are being careful on the roads and in the fields as no amount of sugar is worth a life. Please give the trucks a little extra room and stay away from the piler station unless you have business to do. It’s crowded and busy there and onlookers only serve to make it more so. I have to work at three this morning, so this will be the final act.

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