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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bragging Rights in the Valley…

He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.”

Ecclesiastes 11:4

Change is in the wind

I came across a paraphrase of the Ecclesiastes quote in Elizabeth Allston Pringle’s book A Woman Rice Planter, a remarkable woman’s account of the rice growing industry in the Carolina Low Country before, during and after the Civil War. Ms. Pringle who inherited Chicora Wood, one of her father’s six ante-bellum plantations, plunged herself after his death into the patriarchal role of the Southern male rice planter. A woman of indomitable spirit and native commonsense, Elizabeth not only ran the plantation at a profit and was able to pay off debt against the property, but also found time during the trials of the day (and they were legion) to journal a wonderfully written account of post Civil War South Carolina rice production. Pringle’s interest in agricultural pursuits on her plantation—and relying on the foundations of the rice industry established by her talented father—led her to diversify her crops; Elizabeth was at the forefront of alfalfa production in the late 1800’s. Not one to sit idly by waiting for favorable weather and planting conditions, Elizabeth flaunted Mother Nature and saw to it the planting took place on time. After all, she had a payroll and mortgage to meet.

As Gladys and I roll down the Valley this morning, I think about the Biblical quote Pringle shared. The clouds are thickening, skitter at will across the sun. They are the kind of clouds that will herd together soon and are sure to gang up on the Valley later. I ride by the Werkhoven cornfields. Looks like they have done an initial turning of the stubble but that is it. It is almost mid-May and brackish water yet lies between the furrows, puddles in the dual wheel marks left by the farm equipment. I imagine Andy, Jim, Steve and crew are beside themselves with this weather. I imagine rain on the roof keeps them awake and anxious at night. I imagine the ponds in the cornfields have them wringing their hands as if they could wring the moisture from the soil and begin sowing their corn.

So perhaps it is a bit mean-spirited of me to gloat about my first time ever farmin’ accomplishment: getting a jump on the Werkhovens’ and their annual corn crop. I ignored the winds of late; I ignored the inundation from the clouds the past several weeks and took advantage of two days of dry weather. Yesterday I tilled; I furrowed; I planted; and I replanted a half row after I returned from a half hour lunch break only to find a pesky jay had stripped half the uncovered seed from a furrow.Corn 2011The heavenly downspouts have loosed again this morning. But my corn is in (not hundreds of acres, of course), all three rows of it. I know a lot can happen between now and fall’s corn fritters, but the seed is in the ground.This year at last the bragging rights are mine.

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