After work yesterday, *A* and I took Tucker for a walk. Our regular trail was closed –it’s an Army Corps of Engineers site and although they weren’t shut down for the entirety of the government shut-down, they’ve been closed for the past week. Instead, we went to the Greenway by the river, which we don’t really enjoy because it’s paved and not altogether scenic, like our favorite trail. There are a few smallish corn fields (no massive acreage) from which I though all of the corn had already been picked. Yesterday, we climbed out of the car to this machine-grinding racket and looked over to the corn field a couple of hundred yards away and saw not this lovely picturesque scene:
But something very close to this:
*A,* being encouraged to proceed with all possible dispatch by the squirelly Tucker, who’d been on his big green bed for the last couple of hours and was eager to G-O, paid no attention. Having never seen actual corn harvesting before, I, like some kid from the city stopped and stared. I grew up with cotton fields inches from the back of the house, but I don’t remember corn in abundance in North Alabama – I could be wrong, or just more observant now than I was then. And it hit me, yes, I think what they are doing is harvesting corn, but I really have no idea how they’re doing it – had the corn been picked first? What happens to the stalks? And what on earth is that thing with the scary pointy blades on the front? And what’s going up the chute to the dumptruck? So many questions!
In essence, I became, for a few minutes, a 5-year-old. And then it hit me – I should KNOW these things! My dad always had an answer (even if it was a cleverly disguised made-up one) for how things work and what things do. My kids are going to look at me with that scrutinizing one-eyebrow-raised squint (that they will have learned from me), wondering how on earth I got to be a grown-up without knowing what that noisy thing is doing in that corn field.
Well, now I know. And I feel that must pass my education along to you, in case young inquiring minds pose such questions to you in future. What we saw was a combine harvester, so sayeth my friends over at Wikipedia, and according to a learned co-worker of mine, a dad twice over already, the corn had probably not been picked, as it was most likely not meant for human consumption, but for animal feed. I hope there are no corn farmers reading my blog, in case I get this wrong, but in a nutshell, the combine goes through the field, mowing down stalks sending them through the machine, which operates like a factory-on-wheels. It pulls not only ears off the stalks, but kernels of corn off the ears. The dried corn kernels go flying through the chute to the waiting dump truck and the cobs and stalks are separated, chewed up, and shot out the back of the combine.
Much like when I wrote about little kids’ fascination with trains and construction equipment, the same applies for farm equipment – anything big and noisy – there are always questions. I know how many of these things work, or at least what they do in a sort of general sense, if I don’t know their names, and I can bluff my way through some of it, but that’s just not enough. I can’t go through my kids’ childhoods with such huge gaps in information, for goodness’ sakes. If they decided to one day become parents, where on earth would that leave them? I’ve got my grandkids to think of!
I’ve simply got to get a copy of that Dad Manual out there that evidently works kind of like an encyclopedia to fill in these glaring omissions in my liberal arts education. There must also be some sort of attendant title called “Things to Say When You Have No Idea What Something Is or What It Is Meant To Do And Telling Your Kid You Have No Idea Is Just Not Enough To Stop The Flow of Whys and How Comes”
You know, this makes me wonder (with a scrutinizing, one-eyebrow-raised squint): is there some sort of dad-initiation I don’t know about? Some sort of dad-oriented secret society with organized meetings about all the information that kids ask about? I mean, yeah, there are tons of dads out there that personify the dolts that dads are generally cast as in the media…obviously they were not invited to be part of the organization. I’m talking about the dads who know things.
Perhaps the prerequisite is obtaining the actual child first. That must be it…
Well, should any dad-oriented secret society be looking for me sometime soon, if you’ve got some membership information you want to pass along, I’ve got my pen ready to sign up. Just you let me know.
Image credits: dry corn field – http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/pb-110801-corn-field-eg-02.photoblog900.jpg, John Deere machinery: http://www.hollandandsons.com/john-deere-headers/show/92, Combine Harverster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combine_harvester Dried corn: http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/dry-corn-18341869.jpg Skeptical baby: http://www.dailyvowelmovements.com/2012_02_01_archive.html