Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Planter Stops for No Cat

Planting season is going full steam ahead right now and nothing, I mean nothing, gets in the way of progress when it comes to planting. Oh I have known that for most of my life but every once in a while you have a moment that drives a point home.  Last week was one of those moments.
So there I was driving down the highway right away, on an ATV with the recently, tragically departed gray tomcat on the back. At that moment I both worried that passing motorists would see me and wonder why I had a dead cat riding shotgun and just how the aforementioned feline had become deceased. My need to keep the planter in the field probably had clouded my better judgment.
Please, don’t get the wrong idea, I had nothing to do with the tragic end that they gray tomcat came to, I just happened to find the body. Maybe I need to tell the story from the start. The day started sunny and warm, soybean planting was progressing nicely. Dad and I paused briefly to eat lunch and our conversation included the failing health of the gray tomcat (in retrospect that does seem to be very unusual lunch discussion). Based on his symptoms we both came to the conclusion that he just did not “seem right “ (I am sure that is a medical term).
Now we will fast forward to late afternoon. I had brought seed to Dad and while I was loading seed he noticed that one of the depth wheels on the planter was missing. We conducted a quick search but did not find the wheel in the thick covering of corn residue. The planter seemed to be working OK without it, but it needed to be found.  We decided that he would finish the field and I would go back to his house, get his ATV and conduct a search for the missing part.
I rushed back to the house and made my way to the machine shed where the ATV was parked. That was where I found the gray tomcat. He had indeed had not “seemed right” a medical diagnosis that now proved to be fatal. He had died what appeared to be a peaceful, yet unattended death under the ATV. I did not have time to grieve, ponder the untimely death or dispose of the body. After all, Dad, the planter and the progress of the 2013 soybean crop depended on me.
Not knowing what to do I placed the earthly remains of the gray tomcat on the back rack of the ATV and sped off down the road toward the field. When I entered the field, Dad stopped the tractor to help direct the search and rescue mission for the missing part. I saw him cast a puzzled look at my cargo and I broke the news about his cat to him. Like most farmers he kept a stiff upper lip and told me where I might look. That search took me right along the highway.
So there I was along the highway, on an ATV, dead cat in tow. The tragic events of the day had to be pushed aside, the show had to go on. However, all of this made me feel a bit self conscious and that is why I turned around to check on my cargo. It was gone, apparently the rough nature of the field was not conducive to a short funeral procession.
My search and rescue for the part had now become a search and rescue for both a depth wheel and a dead cat. This mission would prove to be both a success and a failure. I did locate the recently deceased cat a short distance from where I entered the field. The body was then properly disposed of before the search for the depth wheel was continued. The search for the depth wheel was a failure. I looked for it and Dad joined in after finishing the field but to no avail. We were sidelined for the rest of the day.
The next morning the depth wheel was replaced and soybean planting was resumed. The gray tomcat was not replaced and that position on the farm is open. A search for a replacement will be conducted at some point, but applicants need not to apply at this time. After all, it will have to be after the soybeans are planted.

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