Corn harvest begins
I took this photograph about a month ago. I had stopped, late in the afternoon, at a roadside vegetable stand that is operated by an old-order Mennonite family. Mama was minding the stand, while the men and boys were bringing in the hay from the fields. I felt it would be rude to photograph the lady and her little produce stand, but I did drive down the road a little way and take this picture through my car window.
I thought about the things that Mennonite family was doing that hot afternoon. The little, box-like, vegetable stand must have felt like an oven as the late afternoon sunshine poured under the awning. And the men in the field must have been sweltering, as they pitchforked the hay into the wagon. The horse was probably very hot, too.
Some very nice-looking cantaloupes and watermelons were sitting in full sun, in a wagon next to the produce stand. I figured they had been baking there all day, so I chose a cantaloupe that didn't look as ripe as most. Later that evening, I cut into it and found that it was not ripe at all. I had to throw it away! With the Mennonites and me both trying to compensate, that melon didn't get enough hot sunshine.
The thing that I notice now about this photograph is that the stubble in the field is quite green. Christian County (KY) was getting a little dry even in mid-July, but after another month of extremely hot temperatures and precious little rain, it is now very dry. Lawns, mowed fields, and grazed pastures have developed a sickly brown complexion. The trees are dropping their leaves prematurely. Today, I noticed that a neighbor's field of soybeans is wilting.
I heard on the radio that the extreme heat and the lack of rain is affecting the produce farmers too. Tomatoes are not developing the bright-red color that customers want, grapes are not as colorful as they should be, and melons are small and sunburned. That news didn't surprise me much, because I know how my garden is struggling, even with fairly regular waterings.
Tomorrow, we have a 60% chance of rain. Some of the farmers were combining corn today, trying to get it harvested before it gets wet. They want its moisture content to be as low as possible. Tonight, people were still working in one of the cornfields as I drove home at 11:00 p.m. A big combine was moving down the rows and a couple of big grain trucks were waiting to be loaded. I hope they didn't have too much more to do.
For me and everyone else who is not harvesting corn, a rainy day tomorrow would be a blessing! My garden would appreciate a real rain. The suffering soybeans and trees and our poor, brown lawns and pastures would love a good, slow soaker too.