CD Puttenham
Plant Hunter

30 November, 1999

The day had been clear and warm, one of autumn's gracious gifts to the Heartland. And as that great cyclic timepiece had cast its last countenance upon the ripening fields of grain, the air began to cool. The south wind subsided almost imperceptibly, as the calm of eve fell over the earth. Subtle waves of crisp dry air descended from the surrounding hills and blanketed the fields of grain. The hills too were filled with nature's bounty, and the residents of that realm enjoyed their existence, and were satisfied to play their parts in the cycles of their lives. At the summit of the highest drumlin stood a mighty burr oak, itself a remnant of a past time, nearly forgotten. But this ancient creation possessed memory deep within its heart and a record of those cycles to be read by any one who could appreciate documentation, of the great circle of life. The recollections of grass fires, which had given room to grow; the storms and lightning strikes adding fertility to the earth; and winters ice testing strength of character were all stored deep within. And as this mighty giant surveyed its habitat, a full, fat acorn dropped to the ground.

Down in the valley, a small grove sheltered the house and farm buildings. As the cool air surrounded, the enormous orange sphere of the season began its slow assent over the eastern horizon. The gemstones of imagined treasures sparkled whitely in the night sky. A warm glow emanated from the windows of the home; a great owl announced his nocturnal visitation. Smoke from the cook stove curled slowly upward to join the forming droplets of dew. Gentle sounds could just barely be heard coming out from within the farmhouse.

Inside, a family of three is gathered in the kitchen. A man and a younger man are seated at the antique oak table; a woman works at rolling out pie dough. The older man is tanned and weathered from years of outdoor work and the thin hard muscles of his neck protrude at his shirt collar. A line of demarcation at his brow suggests evidence of a feed & seed company "gimme" cap. He is carefully examining a sheaf of color prints, still warm from the machine. His son sits at the keyboard, typing commands while he peers intently at the screen. He is wearing a maroon cap emblazoned with gold letters, arranged backward, and a small gold hoop rests at the lobe of the ear. The woman also, is tanned and healthy, "rather well preserved", her husband might say. She cuts and cores the apples from the homestead orchard, places them in the mixing bowl, and adds the honey and spices. This is not really work; the days work has been done, this is the time for the family to be together. This is the time to enjoy each other. Later they will perhaps read or watch a little television before retiring for the evening. Then blessed sleep and the dreams that only health and a clear conscience can provide.

"What do you think of those pictures, Pop? They're the latest lines from AES"

"Well, they all look good, real good. What varieties are they?"

"That one there is Mankato Goldstock', the new fiber standard. It comes out of a ten generation sequence selection from the original Minnesota 8'. 20 tons per acre, its says here."

"Yep, it sure looks strong, all right. What about corn borer?" "They say it's resistant but still recommend rotation, following beans. Then a cover crop or winter wheat can be planted after harvest."

"Let's try that on the old pasture, the ground is pretty level down there. What is the weather forecast for the next few days, son?"

"Just a sec, . . . . . . looks like clear for three days. Could be frost next week, though."

"We'll have to start harvest tomorrow then. Honey, could you scare up something for a field lunch tomorrow? If it's not too much trouble."

"Now Al, you know I always take real good care of you boys. I'll be out there at noon with lunch. What time will you be in for supper?"

"I know you do dear, we should wind up by six, ok?"

"Hey Pop, look at this one: dual harvest too, like what we got going now with Fibrimon. Only the yield is supposed to be 50% greater. It's a pistillate dominant type but still sets a nice seed head. Up to 3000 lbs. of grain per acre, Wow!"

"That reminds me, we have to fill the combine-decorticator with hemzoil before morning. I want to get started while the dew is still on."

"Already done Pop, I checked every thing this morning. We're good to go. But check out this Early Bird strain. It's drilled pneumatically at a rate of 900 per square yard. Harvested in late July here. It's a specialty niche crop, Fine paper producer, for Bibles, documents, currency, etc. That's where the real money is."

"Maybe we could try it on the north forty next year. Be sure to order alfalfa and buckwheat seed too, we'll put that in after for hay. I think that should do it, Bud."

"I've got the Co-op on line now, I'll send off the order. Done. Hey Mom, is that pie ready yet?"