Weeds: Tractor cab a great place for deep thinking

I spend hours alone in combine and tractor cabs each fall. I often find myself to be strange company to keep. I say to myself, “Self, where did THAT stupid thought come from?” Sometimes I just tell myself to shut up. I usually ignore me and go right on talking to myself. I can be so annoying.

It might be different if our equipment had functioning radios. The 2166, 1066, and 7130 all have radios that work when you don’t care if the radio works, but not when there is actually something you want to listen to. So I end up with time for pointless thoughts. Like, if you say our combine and tractors out loud, it sounds like Peyton Manning calling an audible. “TWENTY ONE…SIXTY SIXTENSIXTY SIXHIKE!”

For some reason, the radios seem to get Z-99 all the time. KEEZ out of Mankato must have some nuclear-strength signal that cuts through static created by the electronics on a combine. I probably skew their listenership up, oh, about forty years. I’m guessing that I’m the only Z-99 listener who actually bought an album by the Beatles. (I also bought an 8-track of Captain and Tenille, but we don’t like to talk about that.)

This may not come as a surprise to you, but most of the current hit songs are about being young, at night, and sex. There are very few songs about old guys getting up early and reading the paper. Clearly, we are an underserved demographic.

At various times during my years of parenting, I found my kids listening to a song with questionable lyrics. They told me that they “weren’t really listening to the words.” I have to admit, I have used that line on myself when I am listening to Z-99. I didn’t believe my kids; I don’t believe myself either. Of course at 57, a lot of times I don’t know what they’re talking about anyway.

There are some lines that are patently offensive. There is a Bruno Mars song where he sings “You and me making love like gorillas.” What are we teaching our youth? C’mon Bruno, you only use “you and me” if it’s the object of a preposition. It’s supposed to be “You and ‘I’ making love like gorillas.” Sheesh. No wonder our kids are so screwed up.

My current favorite song is “Wake Me Up” by Avicii. I told my wife that I like Avicii. She pointed out that Avicii isn’t really Avicii. That is the production name for some guy in Sweden who is a “remixer.” Near as I can tell, a remixer takes songs, puts them in a blender, purees them, and pours them out. So Avicii isn’t really Avicii. But then the Six Fat Dutchmen weren’t always six or fat or Dutchmen. Artists are like that; they take liberties.

It strikes me that this column would be better served if I had a production name. Would I want to read something by a “Randy Krzmarzick?” I don’t think so. That is why Weeds will henceforth be written by “Fulgur.” That’s Latin for lightning. Fulgur will continue to write about small farms and small towns. I’ll just be reaching a way cooler audience.

Speaking of the Six Fat Dutchmen (which I was back before I became Fulgur) I have to get my polka fix each day. If the header float control isn’t causing too much static (it’s a combine dealie-thing), I turn to KNUJ at 11:00 for old-time music. An hour of landlers, schottisches and waltzes does the heart good and cures all ills.

I suppose one can get too much of a good thing, but I have lobbied Radio Czar Jim Bartels to give us more old-time music on KNUJ. One hour is just a tease. Back in the World That I Grew Up In, KNUJ was the Polka Station of the Nation. The house and barn radio were both set to KNUJ. I didn’t even know there were other radio stations till I went to college.

Things were better then. The federal deficit was four billion dollars, about what a combine costs nowadays. We thought the Mideast was Indiana. The curse of the designated hitter had not been loosed on society. Men were mengorillas were gorillas. Is it possible that old-time music made the world a better place? I’m just sayin’.

When I’m not grooving to Pitbull or Frankie Yancovic, I check out Minnesota Public Radio. During the early part of harvest, there was 24/7 news about the cage match between Republicans and the President. Apparently we needed to extend the borrowing limits so our nation can go further in debt.

Remember that federal deficit of my youth? Four billion dollars looks like this: $4,000,000,000. Our current federal deficit looks like this: $17,000,000,000,000! Is that even a number?

Now, if I went to see my loan officer, the Estimable Mr. Schmid, and said, “I know I’ve still got $17,000,000,000,000 on that operating loan. But I r-e-a-l-l-y would like a new pickup truck. And a trip to Hawaii. And some other stuff. Could I have more? Maybe add a couple zeroes?” Mr. Schmid might look askance at me.

Hey, don’t blame me. Last year, I wrote how ridiculous it is that the government is still sending direct payments to farmers five years into the most profitable era in the history of U. S. agriculture.

I hoped that column would lead to a national movement of other disgruntled recipients of government largesse, that thousands would stand up and say, “I don’t need this.” I pictured everyone from big oil companies to bloated military contractors to able-bodied guys on welfare just saying “No!” to federal dollars, that a wave of patriotic fervor would sweep the nation as we united to reduce the deficit.

Um, still waiting on that.

That is why the other day in the combine cab, I created a new organization for farmers who think the government handouts are insane: Producers Opposed to Obscene Payments, or P.O.O.P. We are seeking plush office space for P.O.O.P. in Cobden or Evan. From there, we will be the first organization to lobby for less money.

BREAKING NEWS: On Tuesday, I and my farming homies received another 5 billion on direct payments from you taxpayers. Now, more than ever, America needs P.O.O.P.!

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