When in "Drought", Build a Tractor Shed
Making the best of El Nino Weather
by Marion Jackel Wilson
El Nino has really played havoc with our land and garden. The
thunderstorms, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and finally the drought of
this year has taken its toll on this earth, this country and this land.
What started out to be a bumper crop of sweet, yellow corn was
swayed, knocked down and finally dried up by the whims of Mother Nature.
Out of twelve long rows we harvested twelve ears of edible corn. The
rest was plowed under in defeat and disappointment at its loss. The
rest of the garden, namely: cucumbers, eggplant, squash, tomatoes and
bell peppers faired decently but nothing compared to what could have
been with less burning heat and more cooling rain. But, we took what we
could get and relinquished the rest to the discolored distortions of
A new shed...
for Big Red!
Jim/Bob stood in the heart of their garden field and wondered, "Now,
what'll we do? We can't plant anything else - it's too late or too
early or too hot or too dry. How will we spend the rest of this summer
without a garden to tend?"
With the drought, there was barely any grass to cut; it, like the
veggies had withered, yellowed and died. Old Yellow (an early '60 s
International Harvester cub) and Big Red (an early '60s Massey Ferguson
35) sat idle in the dilapidated, ancient old, rotted out shed.
"AH! LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION!.... a new star is born; a new saga
unfolds; a new challange for Jim/Bob - "a new tractor shed we will
The garden plotting maps and calendar were instantaneously replaced
with architectual designs, dimensions and sketches of "THE SHED". A
dated goal timetable was calculated to determine the deadline for each
stage of production. My errand list that used to include seeds, plants,
fertilizer and plastic was now replaced with cement, lumber, roofing tin,
nails, screws and paint. The tractors and tiller were put to rest - a
sort of semi-vacation and the nailgun, hammer, saw, screwdriver, ladders
and paint-sprayer were put to work. The old attic fan was brought out to
supplement the lack of fresh air and the old refrigerator converted
from a vegetable storage unit to a gatoraide supplier to keep Jim/Bob
hydrated and production began with the same energy, enthusiasm and
dedicated respect as once was given to the garden. Old Yellow and Big
Red had done their duty over the years and deserved some recognition and
reward. What better way to acknowledge their worth than to give them a
new shelter, a way station, a monumental museum in which to display
their artistic beauty? The success of previous gardens had outgrown
the size and capacity of the old shed.
What better way to encourage future success than to prepare a new,
spacious and modern hub filled with designated cubby holes for each item
used for the garden - racks for the tools, stalls for the tractors, loft
platform for the hampes, boxes, carriers that hauled in the harvest,
spaces to sort, clean, cool an cook the wealth of veggies yet to be
harvested in years to come - El Nino and the drought can't last forever
and when it's over, Jim/Bob would be ready...ready to be bigger and
Of course, as with all projects of new endeavors, there are mishaps,
accidents and minor hang-ups. Jim/Bob's shed project was no different.
Bob shot a nail through his finger; Jim fell off the ladder and landed
on the saw table; heat exhaustion struck both of them in ways they could
have watered the garden with their own sweat and regurgitation and,
finally, the strain of climbing turned kneecaps into swollen footballs
and the heat turned skin into strawberry fields of heat rash. But, they
pushed on .....and on......and on....until the frame and roof were
complete - only to be tested by the winds and rain of the hurricane
"THE SHED" was officially christened on September 6 (a combination
Labor Day and my Birthday celebration) with a crab boil of unprecedented
smell and taste and the joyful laughter of success.
As we leave this episode of Jim/Bob, with "THE SHED" complete, the
cool breeze of Fall in the air and the return of almost daily showers,
the land beckons them once again to be plowed, tilled and planted. They
to the field and put down their first rows of Irish potatoes, reroute
the irrigation hoses and, in perfect contentment, sit under the shade of
the new, green shed to (what else?) watch their garden grow.
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