The View from Rural Route #8
2011 is straight ahead. Yes, except for all the hidden valleys, the blind curves, the no-shoulder passages, the regulators’ speed traps. The journey through a year is a lot like a cross-country trip on old-fashioned two-lane highways. It’s easy to miss turns and it’s easy to have wrecks. So much was uncertain on those old roads, so much unknown.
Heading into 2011 then, from more or less an agricultural and rural point of view (those are not necessarily synonymous), here are a few observations from what is now a well-worn or sometimes ‘plumb wore out’ traveler.
The world is running short of high protein wheat, and western Kansas’ hard red winter crop is going to have to pull off a miracle for its growers to reap the benefits of a cash price if they sold it right now of nearly $8 a bushel.
Pretty much it has happened as foretold last summer late that we were entering a La Nina weather pattern and that would mean for our area lower than normal temperatures and dryness, really dry dryness.
Life is pretty much like the old Pappy said to me it would be. He, ever the flying military officer braving all the uncertainties wartime flight could bring to those young men, was not what you might call “Pollyanna” when it came to offering up chances of making it through a battle, or storm, or missile crisis or even home plate from third with no outs.
In a lazy Sunday afternoon game in 1962, future superstar Pete Rose tripled with no outs for the Macon (GA) Peaches, a Cincinnati Reds farm club. Pete, the old man announced to me and my best friend, would “die on third.” He wasn’t trying to be funny, and my friend and I knew Papa really meant his prediction. No idle talker, my Pap. He knew my friend and I lived or died with each Macon Peaches’ win or loss. And he knew we loved Pete Rose and others on that club, which by the way included several future Reds. He also knew Pete probably could have stolen home running backwards with his eyes closed if he had the green light, which he didn’t have. Pete died on third. Macon lost. You can see why I am given to pessimism. Daddy and Pete Rose and some remarkable pitching did it to me. Years later, Pete’s career, reputation and life all died on third.
Did I digress? Yes. Sorry. My friend never forgave my Dad for putting the hex on Pete, even though Dad has been dead 20 years and Pete was officially drummed out of baseball for gambling, despite being the all time hits leader with 4,257 and constant hustler. Pete Rose could hit and run like no one else. He belongs up there with the greatest of greats, way above many lesser players who are in the Hall of Fame, which banned him.
So I won’t put the hex on farmers, either. They’re going to score again this year. Crop insurance (revenue insurance) will make it into the farm program; wheat will sell and even grow at $8 a bushel; corn will not only bring $6 a bushel, but it will be cheap enough to feed to cattle, hogs and alcohol distilleries at that price; and consumers will not lose a dime at the grocery store because of it. Timely rains will fall later in the year as La Nina loosens its tight fist on the clouds. But Pete will be forever stuck at third.
Jim Suber is an award-winning farm, ranch, and rural life columnist residing on Rural Route No. 8, Topeka.
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