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Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.


Working Like Ants

LAST WEEK I HAD a wonderful opportunity. A friend of mine who is a farmer in the Mississippi Delta asked if I could join him on a quick trip to a farming area in north east Missouri. What made it possible is that we would be going up and back in his airplane. We would be able to go up there Tuesday and come back on Wednesday since we wouldn’t have to deal with the commercial airline rat race. It was so nice not having to adhere to a schedule. He landed at the Madison airport. I hopped on and we were up near Illinois in three hours. I loved it because this size airplane doesn’t get up so high that catching glimpses of the ground is not unusual.

My favorite part about the journey up there is that he flew right over garden Works so I could get a photo. I’ve always wanted to do that. I could see Mimi’s car in the parking lot and I could see the yellow ribbon of Black-Eyed Suzies blooming their heads off. I could see the pink petunias still hanging in there. There is so much farmland between Madison and northern Missouri it’s hard to believe that there are food shortages anywhere on earth. Farms are mostly not growing food directly for consumption but you get the point.

We were able to help another farmer up there with some issues that he was having, mainly finding help and we learned a few things. It’s great listening to farmers commiserate with each other. Their issues are very much the same but also very different since every year has something totally new to offer. We spent what was left of that day with a group of farmers then joined them again early the next morning to tie up some loose ends. They dropped us off at the tiny airport, we buzzed off and I was giving Mimi a hug at the nursery at 3:30 that afternoon.

This week I am going to do this article a little differently. I’m going to add to the article at the end of each day. This is the week that I wrote about a few articles back. This is the week that me and Max along with three others are headed to the plains of Colorado to get those greenhouses that we bought. I’m flying ahead to Denver to get enough provisions for five guys to survive on for possibly six days while we dismantle the greenhouses and load them up on a semi-truck headed for Mississippi.

I hope we can get them all on one truck. There are a lot of greenhouses. Freight is so expensive that it’ll be worth the trouble to pack it tight enough to get it all on one truck. Max and the other three guys left at the same time I did in a big van with tools, ladders, cases of water, and a giant speaker to keep it interesting. They will make it to Kansas City tonight, then push on through to the ranch tomorrow afternoon.

We should all arrive at close to same time on Monday evening. The rental equipment will show up the next morning so we should have a skid steer and some scissor lifts to start our day with on Tuesday. That is our plan. Now life will happen, and we will deal with the curveballs that will come our way.

On Monday we all miraculously made it to the ranch within 15 minutes of each other. The very kind family that sold the greenhouses to us had a room available for each of us. There is a kitchen and a cantina where we can prepare our meals and hang out.

AFTER WE ALL GOT moved in, I cooked enough dinner for everyone. We had to bring enough food for at least a week because there isn’t any place to eat anywhere around here.

We are in big farm country and the landscape is incredibly vast. We made a plan to be ready to start the takedown process at 5:30 the next morning.

I had mentally taken these greenhouses down at least 60 times over the last few weeks so we had a plan. Our battery operated tools were charged and ready so everyone was turning screws 5:45. Thankfully the greenhouses were literally in the back yard of the cantina. The rental equipment showed up at 10:00 so we could begin unscrewing everything that was up high.

The smoke from the giant forest fires out west had the sky very hazy which was good. On one hand, at least the intense, Colorado sun (the Death Star) wasn’t beaming down on us. But the haze held the heat down on our heads. The only shade for miles around were the greenhouse roofs. That can work since the sun is blocked by the haze. I really don’t know what we would have done if not for that. We left one of the five roofs on to protect our tools and our skin. Hour by hour it began to look like we were making progress. We went in for a long lunch break then back out to the greenhouses until 8:30 when it got hard to see. It was really cool to watch the guys move back to their places all over the structures like ants.

Thank goodness Max brought his giant Bluetooth speaker so we could jam as loud as we wanted to. The music really helped with the progress. It helped us to not notice how far we had to go. Max cooked dinner that night. We were like hungry dogs wolfing down a hot meal and turning in. At least I did. I’m not sure what they did. We had to be back at it at 5:30 the next morning. I had a lot of dust to scrub off before I could climb in that bed. The next day was more of the same with a great amount of progress. A demo job is one that gives a lot of hope since you can really make a big difference in a short amount of time.

The third day there was a little excitement in the air because the owner and her husband invited us over to their house for a steak dinner and a dip in their swimming pool. She probably wanted to make sure we were getting some form of bath before getting in her hotel beds! We knocked off at 7 p.m. that day so we could get over there. We took dirt roads for about 20 minutes into the farm land. There in the middle of it was a gorgeous oasis. Their yard was irrigated and the grass was as green as anything we’d seen in a few days.

They had built a huge stone waterfall and a river that led to a nice pool of water where the water was recirculated back to the water fall. The swimming pool was as blue as it could be and we were all in there after taking a tour of the couples collections in their home. They had collected perfect condition candy machines, drink machines, gas pumps and juke boxes. I have never seen these things in such perfect condition. It looked like they were brand new. We all sat around a huge fire ring to eat a very special dinner.

A few of her family members dropped by to meet the Mississippi boys. It was such a nice evening. I hope there wasn’t a dirt ring around the edge of their swimming pool when we left. She told me the next day that each of us individually tried to get her away from the sink after dinner so we could wash the dishes for her.

I WAS SO PROUD to be from Mississippi, I don’t think all people are raised to be that way. I know she loved it because she gave us an open invitation to jump in the pool whenever we wanted.

It has been an amazing experience watching these guys work like they have and to work with Max in his element. I have left a lot of the big decisions up to him and the others seem to have a lot of respect for his actions. Tonight, the trucker will show up around 9 p.m. so we can begin loading in the morning, should be interesting.

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