DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- I've phoned Ryan Jenkins every Monday morning for 19 weeks. He's one of the two farmers participating in DTN's View From the Cab project -- a seasonal look at crop progress and many aspects of farm life.
Our Monday call almost always begins like this:
Me: "How are things going?"
Ryan: "Hanging on like hair in a biscuit!"
I confess it almost always takes me several moments to collect myself after hearing this comment. It's the equivalent of getting verbally tickled. I try for all my might not to laugh, but it is just impossible not to do so. And, this is a very good thing.
Lately laughter seems to come at a premium. Every word we utter or write seems tedious and potentially contentious. That makes us wary and then, too often, fearful to say anything -- let alone something colorful.
Thank goodness I've had Jenkins, who farms near Jay, Florida, and Reid Thompson, from Colfax, Illinois, to talk me through this pandemic. They've been a bright spot each week as field days and other plans dried up fast enough to be listed on the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Jenkins and Thompson are volunteers in this View From the Cab effort. Both have told me they looked at it as a way to get more experience in telling their story and we've covered the gamut of topics from drought and crop disease to farm safety to mental health issues.
When it was hot as heck out this summer, it was Jenkins who described the "close" conditions as: "Hotter than three rats in a wool sock." That statement kept me chuckling for days.
Colorful commentary aside, it is refreshing to find farmers willing to step outside their comfort zones to talk about their profession and invite others into their shops, fields and homes.
For my part, the series is a reminder that there is always something more to learn in agriculture. I've grown a few peanuts in my garden, but I am embarrassed to say I didn't have a clue that those yellow sweet pea looking flowers fade and the stems on the fertilized ovaries lengthen and peg into the soil to become a peanut -- in the case of those that Jenkins grows, potentially one wrapped in a chocolate and a candied shell.
When Jenkins talked about sandblasting peanuts to assess maturity last week, I had to ask him to "hold his horses." Fortunately, he had posted a detailed YouTube video on the process and I able to gobble it up. You can find his farm videos and subscribe to his free channel here: https://www.youtube.com/…
Thompson's young farmer views on how to whittle down labor and input costs have been just as satisfying. So far, we've covered a wide range of topics from farmland rental rates to cover crops to juggling toddlers when both spouses are working. Read more about Thompson Farms here: https://thompsonfamilyfarm.org/…
Harvest will be here before we can blink and I'll be continuing to stick to these two farmers like ... well ... let's just say "like bees to honey." I hope you'll keep following along, too.
Find the latest View From the Cab segment here:
Pamela Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN
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