Friday morning began just like any other day except we were up against heavy clouds and cool temps. I had left Frank parked near the grain bins for the night so Jim dropped me off and then he headed to where the Beast had spent the night. While I waited for the air to build and the truck to “warm up”, I took a quick walk over to a dugout I had seen. I cautiously walked through the tall grass hoping I wouldn’t be surprised by any sort of critter. As I walked towards the mound, I wondered if it had been someone’s homestead – someone’s home. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like to live in something like that. Had it been warm while the north winds of winter were blocking the door with snow? Did that same door keep critters out? What would it have been like during the hot months of summer?
I loved the “Little House on the Prairie” books. I don’t know what kind of pioneer I would have been but there’s just something about that time era that interests me. To see pieces of history still so evident on the Montana prairie stirs a passion and a desire to know more. It was more than just a story…it was real.
This is what it looks like on the other side of the dugout. The mound to the right side of the picture is the taller part of the “home”. I took this picture to show you what the countryside may have looked like while someone called it home.
Once I made my way back to Frank, I crawled into the cab and headed to the field. I parked the truck and asked Jim if he felt like he needed me at the combine to help him get going. He said he could do what he had to do and I could just stay put.
Rather than just staying put, I decided to climb that hill I mentioned in my last post. Maybe it was cool enough there wouldn’t be any snakes waiting to scare the heck out of me. I watched with every step I took!
Somebody certainly put A LOT of time in planting trees and shrubs along the edges of these strips! Jim’s guess is it may have been a government program to promote habitat for animals and birds. I wonder if it has something to do with a living snow fence used to catch the snow and keep it from blowing away. Maybe we’re both right?
Once I got to the top of the hill, I found these round sand rocks everywhere. I remember when Jamie and Jenna were little tikes and we’d take a meal to the field to our small crew. While we were there, the girls were always looking for and picking up treasures. These round rocks were some of the treasures that made it back to Manley with us. I think one of the largest ones they found was about the size of a baseball. I thought of the girls and all the fun we used to have looking for Montana souvenirs and “show and tell” items.
Four hours…the amount of time we had left in the location we have been cutting. The sprinkles moved in late Friday afternoon making it tough to continue cutting. So we parked the Beast and Frank, gathered our lunch boxes and water jugs and left the field. Jim took the Pete back to the grain bins where Frank had been the night before. In case it rained, he didn’t want it sitting in the field.
I had noticed the old Massey’s sitting there each time I took a load to the bin. “You want to jump in the cab?”, asks Jim. “I thought about it each time I drove through here”, I replied. I just wanted to sit in the seat and let the memories of the days with Grandpa and Grandma come back. As I climbed the ladder, that same feeling of opening the door to the cab was there as it was when I was 12.
Such simplicity! “Hit the switch and see what happens”, encouraged Jim. “I can’t do that. What if it starts?”, was my reply. “Just do it.” So, I turned the key and pushed in the black button. Nothing. Nothing but the feeling I had as a young girl inside the cab of this machine. “I would stand right here next to Grandpa and watch the corn dance in the head” I tell Jim as I turn around to look at the ledge behind the seat “and when I was tired, I’d crawl up here and take a nap.” Another day I’d like to go back in time to.
For a little while, I was that 12-year-old girl sitting in the seat of a monster with my Grandpa giving me words of encouragement. I could feel him next to me telling me, “You can do this”. And I did! That was forty years ago this summer.
It started raining Friday night and it never quit until late Sunday afternoon. According to the reports we’ve heard, Jordan received 5+ inches of rain. We also heard the area the combine is sitting could have received as much as 7 inches. It will be a few days before we can get those four hours of cutting complete but the ground that was so desperately needing a drink received it!