When you’ve lived as long as I have, and been involved in agriculture the whole time, you reach a point where you think you’ve seen or heard about every conceivable way that agriculture could make you smile — or shake your head in wonder.
Wrong! The stream of events that lead to aggie stories never ends. And, my good friend and sheep shearing buddy from Iowa, ol’ Nick deHyde, called last week with a dandy, and wholly unlikely, story worthy of telling in this column. Nick swears he wuzn’t personally involved in this story, but heard it first-hand.
First, Iowa just keeps putting up new wind farms across the state. Nick explained that a wind tower is erected in several stages, by several different kind of contractors.
The first stage is delivery of the all the materials for the tower — which are unceremoniously dumped on the ground close to the tower site by the delivery people. Next comes the folks who build the huge concrete base for the tower. The next group comes with a crane and erects the tower and installs the three 90-foot blades.
And, the final group contains highly skilled technicians whose job it is to make sure the three 90-foot blades on the wind tower are perfectly balanced. The whole she-bang won’t work properly until the blades are balanced.
In this story, the wind tower is erected and the blade-balancing technicians arrive on the site out in the middle of an Iowa pasture.
Their first test shows a huge imbalance in the blades. They take all day and can’t find the problem. Nor the second day, but they did think they isolated the one blade causing the imbalance problem. Thoroughly perplexed, on the third day the technicians call for a crane and crew to take the offending blade off the tower and lower it to the ground.
Once on the ground, the team sends its smallest member through the hole in the base of the hollow blade, flashlight in hand, to do an inspection. Into the dark interior of the blade the inspector walks and then crawls when he gets toward the tiny tip of the blade.
And then the inspector spies the problem. Right in front of him wedged into the tip of the hollow blade, is a DEAD SHEEP — in pretty decomposed and smelly condition after being frozen and thawed who knows how many times during the winter.
Yep, the poor sheep apparently went looking for shelter from an Iowa winter storm and thought the hole in the wind tower blade looked like a good, warm, sheltered place. Alas. once inside, the sheep wuz trapped, died a nasty death, and caused the wind farm company probably thousands of dollars to extract the carcass.
Years ago I wrote a long poem about sheep entitled Wooly Ways to Die. I might have to add another verse about a sheep dying in a wind tower blade.
The last couple of weeks, I’m shared with you clever songs that my Grandmother Ann shared with me and the rest of her grandkids. Early in their marriage, my grandparents lived in Fossil, Oregon, where my mother was born.
I suspect that this little ditty from Grandma Ann has some connection to her days spent in central Oregon. Here’s the little song.
Pat McCarty, hale and hearty,
Living in Oregon.
He heard a lot of tawk
About the Great New Yawk.
So he left the farm
Where all was calm
And landed on old Broadway
He coaxed a pretty Mary
And into a swell cafe.
The waiter brought the card
And said, “What will you have,” to Pat.
Pat looked at the prices
And he said, “I believe I’ll take me hat!”
“Ere I be gone, I want to go back to Oregon,
Ere I be gone, I wanna go back to stay.
“Where you can buy the horses
A many a bale of hay.
For what you would have to pay
To feed a chicken on old Broadway.”
“Ere I be gone, Go way,
Go which a go way. Go which a go way, go on.
Ere I be gone,
I wanna go back home to Oregon.”
The Good Lord’s Big Corral in the Sky must need a lot of good cowboys and horseman because my good friend Bill, from Parsons, Kan., was called to the Big Corral last week. Bill was the third such good cowboy/horseman who departed my friendship circle in the past year.
Bill loved family, friends, kids, horses, fishing and the Labette County Fair. He always jumped at the opportunity to help any and all of the things he loved. He was a man you could count on and his word was his bond. His helping hand was always extended. His marriage and his family remain a tribute to him and a legacy to be proud of. Rest in peace, my good friend.
Ya’all have a good ‘un.