The beginning and the end

Published 9:15 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

MARCH—Look at those fields! Seems they are just itching to be planted.

That old tractor has been sitting there all winter, like a horse in the starting gate, waiting her turn. My, it will feel good to get my hands on that steering wheel again.

Can’t wait to see those long row marker streaks in front of me. Feels good after a long day to look over a freshly planted field. We’ve been over that planter with a fine-tooth comb. Shouldn’t be many problems this year! No sir!

Why, I remember now the satisfaction sitting atop a 200-horse diesel churning through the soil. Make you feel like a man, I tell ya’. Climbing into that cab. Sitting in that seat. Watching the sunset over the back field. Hearing the purr of a good running motor.

Looking back and seeing that planter do her job, knowing she’s dropping seed like a checkerboard. Feels warmer today. Makes a man’s blood flow! Won’t be long! No sir, this winter can’t last forever!

That old ground is saying “send me some seed!” Soon as that sun warms her up good, we’ll be sending her some! My goodness, it’s right around the corner! Will we ever get to that first row?

MAY—Will this job never end? My goodness, up and down, up and down, up and down. Ten thousand times, a thousand cotton-pickin’ acres worth.

Seeing rows in my sleep! Blame tractor seat is worn out. Tired of sitting in this 6- by 6-foot cab, 14 hours a day, seven days a week.

Busted bearings, broken bolts, worn out discs, flat tires, loose chains and replacing points every time I turn around.

In the tractor, out of the tractor, in the tractor, out of the tractor. Getting sick of listening to that blame radio, but the silence is worse.

Been following that row marker like a mindless robot. Soon as I get the row about straight, here comes another crook.

My goodness, is that disc wobbling? Another bearing shot! My back hurts. My shoulders hurt. What’s that sound? A squeaking? The fan belt broke! Why do I never have the right tools in the toolbox to fix it?

Now I’ve got to stop the whole operation just to get the part! Is that thunder I heard? Not rain! If we get 2 inches, I’ll never finish this field! You can forget that bottom over there.

Why it’s almost too wet now! Let me call Jack for some help. Doggone, he’s broke down too! My goodness, will we ever finish? Will we ever get to that last row?

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is