Friday, July 15, 2011

Onions For Sale

Onion Harvest A Few Years Ago

I'm not into S&M.  All that leather gets damp and smelly in this heat and humidity.  I'm taking a few minutes off from working with my friend Manuel Labor because I tripped on a wooden garden stake yesterday with an armload of onions. I put my hands out in front of me to break my fall.  I didn't break a wrist, but my left one is sore and swollen. I will hit the fields today for another session of self abuse. A wrist brace will help along with doses of Tylenol.  I've got a few blogs under my belt, feeling like I connected with the saner parts of the world. 

We finally got the cover up over the canopy.  For two days the thing sat there empty.  Then I parked my car under it so Mandy and I would have a nice, cool car to jump into when we went to the KwikStop.  My chalkboard advertising Kickapoo Center Onions, "NO CHEMICALS, ORGANIC FERTILIZER, was  propped up in the garage.  There were bunches of washed onions on a work table next to the sign.  At the bottom of the chalkboard, I wrote 75 cents/bunch. Then I went in the house to collapse.  It is 5:30 pm and I've just harvested one of our onions plots, laid them out in 30 foot rows in the grass next to the plot, weed whacked the pigweed with my Stihl, and brought out the Troy-Bilt horse to till the dirt. "Ain't that pretty", I said to myself when I went inside.In my head, I visualize the money I'll make.

A half hour later I go back to the open  garage and all but one bunch of washed onions are gone.  "We been robbed," I rush into the house and tell Dawn.  She hurries out with me to view the crime scene.  Curiously, the thief ignored two Stihl chain saws, two weed eaters and various tools like my Dewalt portable drill.  Under the old fashioned kitchen scale I use to weigh bunched onions are three one dollar bills.  Dawn reminds me that this is the way people do business in the area.  They'll put out an assortment of whatever-firewood, pumpkins, bakery-veggies next to a collection box.  People take what they want and leave money.  It's called the honor system.  Jorge says the system is slowly disappearing.  In the fifteen years he's lived here, he's noticed a decline of collection boxes. Sigh.

Sigh. The main reason I went to the computer is to check the NWS forecast. Should I irrigate the crops?  Yesterday I hung laundry, watered the corn and left the car windows open.  It rained seventeen drops on our way to buy cat treats and chicken leg quarters.  Today, after an amazing dawn sky spectacular of red and orange and gray cumulus clouds, I went back to bed to dream of cutting onion tops. The kids were left outside to guard the place.  It's dirty sheet gray right now.  The weather forecast office in LAX ( Lacrosse) says slight chance of rain.  The cukes will still be shaded by the trees at the east fence line.  I will begin the watering process, which because of the next week's forecast is mandatory.  They ran out of colors for warnings on the weather map. Starting on Sunday, the high temps will range from 93 to 95 degrees for the period Sunday through Thursday. Shoot. There goes my fun.

Like a mother hen, I worry about extremes.  I worry about the grass snake that's living in the now defunct broccoli patch.  Yesterday I harvest two-four pound cabbages to take to town for a special order and my friend the snake comes out from under leafy broccoli and stares at me. He's the reason we haven't had much trouble with cabbage loopers.  Under one cabbage leaf at ground level, I find a complete empty snakeskin with yawning jaws.  I know he'll find shelter under the wild pumpkin vines on the compost pile.  I'm hoping he'll head for the potatoes for shelter.

So, unless it rains, I'm offline for a week.


T. Roger Thomas said...

Sorry to hear that you'll be offline for awhile.

Also, I hope the heat on Sunday isn't as bad as the forecast is calling for.

snoringdogstudio said...

Three dollars? Seriously? That's just awful. All I can think about is the hard work you did to bring that harvest to the table. There's nothing "honorable" about short changing someone. I feel just sick for you.

Take care of yourself. There's much left of summer!

Gavrillo said...

A few well spaced showers have mitigated the need to begin watering at first light, but today the forecast calls it the hottest of the season. Our north wall thermometers register 96 to 98 degrees. With the humidity the heat index is triple digits. Two showers and three clothes changes a day. BTW, $3 the money was for four- one pound bunches of small onions. I've priced them below the local food co-op and above the regular stores. It's a slow but sure trickle of cash. Pays the seed bills.