I chose Common Ground as the title for my blog because it resonates for me on several levels. First, it reminds me to try to connect with each of you in ways that unite, rather than divide. I mean, for dividing, we have cable TV, which does a table thumping, bang up job on that, right! Secondly, the phrase touches on the idea that each person, rich or poor, weak or strong, relies humbly on the fruit of this good earth for their daily bread, and in that sense we all share the common ground that makes life possible. Thirdly, it describes, in a farmerly sort of way, some of the real estate that I purchased in my rambunctious youth.
My highly organized counterparts are already tilling and planting, in this, the earliest spring that anyone can remember. The rest of us are airing up tires, charging dead batteries, finding broken hoses and missing bolts on equipment that somehow fell apart when not being used. Some of us are performing the annual ritual of removing a football sized mouse nest from the main tool bar on the corn planter. How each successive generation of field mice knows to climb on the trailer where the planter is stored, scurry up the planter, find that Holiday Inn hole in the frame, then, repeat the whole exercise countless times carrying bits of grass , string, paper, and a supply of winter snacks, staggers the imagination. Also, how can something as insubstantial as a ball of fluff interfere with moving steel parts, and not let the planter markers work?
Fortunately, it’s no big deal to clean out, requiring only pliers, wrenches, the operator’s manual, 3 hours and l4 minutes, a garden hose, and a special tool of your own creation , which, you remember making last year and storing away somewhere, and, that it reaches 12 feet and has a hook on the end.
Oh well, we’ll all get to the field sooner, or in my case, later.
Although I can’t see them, I know there’s an army of mostly middle-aged Illinois farmers crawling around on their hands and knees, armed with air hoses and grease guns out there, somewhere, everywhere. One of these perfect spring days all of them will mount their brightly colored steel ponies, and, a hundred thousand strong, they’ll thunder across the prairie to plant the crop of 2012.
If you find a certain romantic flavor in the whole idea, we understand.
If not—well, we get that too.
Former Hancock County Farm Bureau President