For many years I kept my own full-time desk job while trying to juggle four children, so the farming was for my husband to worry about. Now that I work at home doing writing, photography, book cover design, and just about any other odd job I can get my hands on while trying to get the two kids still at home to their activities, my husband has been asking me to help more around the farm. Today's adventure involved cleaning out corn bins. During a heat advisory.
As I walk you through this, keep in mind that I have a healthy level of claustrophobia.
First I had to put on this annoying mask to keep out harmful corn dust that can do a real number on your lungs if you don't (this is coming from the same person who has panic attacks when wearing a snorkeling mask). It basically feels like sticking a heavy, damp blanket on your face. Not only does it make breathing normally a difficult task, but it produces buckets of sweat. I kept thinking if I didn't get to breathe in fresh air soon, I was going to pass out, or drown in my own fluids. I even wondered if my will is up to date.
Once the cotton Vader mask was in place, it was time to get inside the bin. To do so you have to enter through a very small opening that would make Malibu Barbie squeamish (middle of the three spaces on the left). While I'm considered "average" for my height and size, I must've stared at this hole for a good minute before I convinced myself that I'd fit. Once I made it in, my work boots immediately filled with corn. I soon learned that not stopping to empty them every time this happens is the equivalent of stepping on Legos barefoot.
The main objective in cleaning out a bin is to keep pushing the auger into the corn, keeping in mind that it spins fast enough to rip off your arm, foot, or any other appendage you would accidentally touch it with. You do not want to get a pair of jeans caught in that baby. I almost had a heart attack when the broom slipped from my hands and nearly dropped into the spinning metal disk of death.
Of course the auger doesn't pick up every grain, so you have to constantly shovel and sweep the stuff that's left behind while remembering not to touch the side of the bin as it feels as hot as a blazing fire from the intense sun beating on it from the outside. Plus I'm watching the mound of corn three times of height of me as it tumbles down the giant golden hill, wondering if it all kept coming if I would eventually suffocate to death. My husband assured me this wouldn't happen, and proceeded to tell me our 11-year-old son was in there with him the other day, climbing the ladder on the side and jumping into the pile.
In the end, I walked away from today's adventure with two thoughts: (1) I'm way more excited about my career as a writer than I am a farmer's wife, and (2) in today's technology where tractors and combines are able to drive themselves, why in the hell haven't they invented a better way to empty out grain bins (i.e. one that crushes itself like a pop can until every last kernel is gone)?