Monsters in the Fields

When we moved back here the first time, in 1986 when the girls were teenagers, I made them accompany me to the potato fields after the equipment was out of the fields, we gleaned enough potatoes..big old russets for the entire winter. The girls were less than impressed. Walking along the rows in the field looking for low spots where the lifter had missed some spuds was not these born and raised in the city girls idea of fun. I told them to just pick faster and soon we would be done. We gleaned potatoes for many years, I do not eat russets anymore..well not often anyway..I prefer the reds..the reds are grown in some other state where I am sure that someone else is irritated by the early morning crop dusting, the use of chemicals so strong that those Peligro ( Spanish for Danger) signs are in the fields and the smell is enough to gag a maggot. The years where our birds finally have had enough and move more hospitable areas..the years where we have no bugs..and then I wonder are all the French fries standing straight up in a box from a well known fast food chain really worth it? I don’t think it is..after all what will be left when the land is all chemicaled up and used out..and the water doesn’t flow anymore? I probably won’t be around to see it..but I am smart enough to know that whatever you take from the land you have to put back twofold, if you don’t it will become a nutrient deficient wasteland where nothing will grow. I remember the color of these fields when I was young, you could tell the health of the soil just from looking at it, a dark richness. Sometimes the fields went into the "soil bank" and just laid idle…they rested. In the spring the old farmers would spread the manure from the barn into the fields and spread it around. I smelled manure in a couple of fields this spring..Far Guy would say what is that smell..manure in the unmistakable odor…but there were no "Peligro" signs. There isn’t much resting going on in this area or manure spreading either…and the color of the soil is the reflection of corporate farmers misuse. The farmers of old would have been able to feed America..the new corporate farmers are only interested in the bottom for feeding America..I suppose they fast food chains with their stand up french fries.

You can count on the crop dusting helicopter to wake you up early in the morning after a rain. They spray after every rain. The helicopters noise is much like the irritating drone of a mosquito. When they used an airplane the noise was much worse, it was like a big old angry bumble bee, that would spit and sputter and you would hope if he crashed it would be over a field and not over our house in one of his turnarounds.

 The helicopter sprays his chemicals, he lands on a platform which I believe is a big tank on the flatbed of a semi trailer to get his refills. He never shuts down to refill.


I watch him sometimes, I am sure he thinks that I am stalking him..he wears a yellow helmet. I cannot tell if he smiles at me or not. Sometimes he is the only entertainment around. I watch for his over spray..he has pretty good aim..but sometimes the wind switches. I will watch those areas where he has over-sprayed..I will watch the trees and the wildflowers..I will watch for changes:(

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2 Responses to Monsters in the Fields

  1. buffalo gal says:

    What a great blog! I love the story about gleaning potatoes after the mechanical harvesters were finished…you were like Ruth and Naoma in the Bible..gleaning wheat from the fields of Boaz..but of course Boaz’s fields had not been sprayed with agricultural chemicals. I, also, get sick in my heart when I see the volumes of spray that a sprayer in our area lays down on fields surrounding us…I think of the food we eat and how much of that chemical is left in the food…I think about the rising cancer rate in spite of all the efforts to find a cure or a better way to treat it. I am convinced that agricultural chemicals are part of the cancer cause equation…we consume carcinogens from our food supply. All we can do is pray that God will protect us and there is not much else we can do with the burgeoning agri-business culture. I know what big producer is in that area near Park Rapids where so many chemicalized potatoes are raised. I wonder if someday he will answer for what he has done to the soil and the water. We are supposed to be good stewards, no abusers and big agri-business is basically abusive. They do not replenish the fields they take so much from; the cannot replace the deep water aquifers they so blatantly use up. There must be a just price to pay for those who are so stupid and abusive of the land entrusted to us for a short time.
    There I have had my rant and I feel a little better!

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