The Fighters

On the dairy farm, I had lots of chances to get outdoors. Watching the sky could be a relaxing pastime. It’s a reason to appreciate creation. After a high pressure system arrives in the summer, the clouds can have beautiful “fluffy” cumulus clouds and the low humidity would be pleasant.

I miss the sky when I visit Chicago. If I don’t leave the downtown, the skyscrapers won’t let me see much of the sky.

When things need to be done outside in the fields, it can be really pleasant. One thing that needs to be done is process the fields. Our main crop, hay, was always a source of work. We preferred alfalfa, which is a legume. It uses bacteria to take nitrogen from the air and “fix ” it so that the fields need less fertilizer. Alfalfa is nutritious for the cattle.

When it was ready, we mowed the hay. The mower is a machine that uses the tractor’s PTO. It’s some gearing and a “cutting bar” that stretched out to the side It had guides that help keep the hay from moving sideways. Behind them were some triangular teeth with really sharp edges. The tractor made the cutting bar oscillate left to right rapidly so that it could cut the hay close to ground level against the guides.

That’s where watching the sky becomes important.

Hay needs to dry before it can be baled up and stored. Rain interrupts the drying and if we’re unlucky, it could even make the hay get moldy. That’s less palatable for the cattle. However, if you store it when it is too wet, it risks spontaneously combusting and causing a fire.

A couple of times, when I was outside, I saw a military fighter plane go by heading north. It was going low to the ground and very fast. I never learned its origin nor destination. Fort Wayne had some military activities at Baer Field so that might explain it.

Sometimes, on the highway I-69, there would be a caravan of military vehicles go by. The trucks were all painted in camouflage. They were going out on training exercises, as best as I knew.

At the time, my attitude toward the military was pretty negative. I didn’t know anyone in the family that was in the service; maybe it was a throwback to the negative attitude toward Vietnam vets from earlier and I never knew any better..

Now, on Veterans Day, I can have breakfast with a friend who served in Iraq. At the time, when we were mostly at peace, the military seemed less relevant, but now I can appreciate the sacrifices they make.