Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Now That Is a Lot of Beans!

It is amazing what you can find in the road ditches of America when you look. This weekend, my father, while field scouting on the farm, happened across a number ten can of baked beans and a huge glass jar of navy beans. I haven't seen a number ten can of anything since my grade school cafeteria days. I was reminded of the day my father and I were working out in the shop and my dog Ted came trotting up with an object wrapped in white butcher paper. Ted laid down on the floor, carefully bit off the white paper and proceeded to eat two of the nicest T-bone steaks I have ever seen. Ted himself was dumped in the ditch near my grandfather's house along with most of our other adopted dogs and cats.

We once found a half dozen large trash bags in the gravel road ditch in front of our house full of mail and magazines all addressed to someone that lived in the nearby town of Milton. We kindly informed the county sheriff, who I'm sure kindly informed the owners of the mail, who then had to pick it up and pay the county a fine for their troubles. Once when the Lions club were doing their annual trash pickup of the highway ditch on the outskirts of town, they found a used condom and a 'Dear John' type of breakup letter only ten feet apart from each other, the letter having been written by a girl in the grade ahead of me in high school. Perhaps it was the quickest romance in history!

My parents own some of the best land in southeast Iowa for pheasant, deer and turkey hunting and allow family friends to hunt on it every year during the appropriate seasons. So they work hard to preserve the hunting experience for those people by running off other people who hunt illegally or trespass on their land. One fall day as I was coming back from discing a field, my father spotted some illegal ditch hunters slowly walking the ditches along some of our land and radioed me because I happened to be nearby with another tractor and disc. With him coming at them from one direction and me from another, we lowered our disc wings down to prevent their escape and confronted them. Turns out they were hunting worms. One type of worm likes to bore into the woody stalk of a particular weed found in the ditches surrounding our fields and when the stalk breaks off, it is a sign to the passing hunters that there is a worm directly below the break. They drive around finding and harvesting these worms to be later used for fishing. We bid them a good day and happy hunting before raising our disc wings and heading off again.

As a kid, I used to pick up bottles and cans along our road to redeem them for the deposit money. All proceeds from that endeavor were put directly into my firework fund for the fourth of July celebrations every year. Fairly often I would find a full, unopened can or bottle of soda or alcoholic beverage. Although tempted, I never did drink any of them thanks to the poisoned Tylenol scare that was happening at that time and you just never knew what someone would try to poison next.

I found a lot of things in the ditches of America over the years. I have found everything from an entire wardrobe of clothing (Are that many people driving naked?) to enough car parts to fabricate one of my own so I wasn't surprised when my father found two huge containers of beans. Now if I can just find a pot big enough to cook them in.

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