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Contributed Article

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.

two men working on skeletal structure of upright beams and crossmembers
A new shed...
a red ferguson tractor that will go in the shed
for Big Red!
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 dehydrated death.

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 build."

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 better.

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 season.

"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 return 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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