Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's October 17...

Do you know where your crops are?

Mine are still where I left 'em a few months ago, mostly.  Someone asked me at the elevator how we are getting along.  I referred to my official finishing language to explain.
The Done and the Undone
“You done?” my friend asked. I, of course, fully anticipated this opening query and
had even crafted my reply as painstakingly as a press secretary during a sex
scandal. This conversation was the real reason I didn’t want to come to choir
practice in the first place. 

Being DONE - that metaphysical state of agricultural nirvana that we get to
experience twice a year (we hope). Beyond the completion of an intensive effort to
plant or harvest, it is also the agonizing finish of a race with neighbors and friends.
And despite scientific evidence to the contrary and professed disavowal on our part
of the “racehorse” mentality, speed still counts in the manly evaluation of farming

Done is a state of higher existence, a lofty, carefree plateau of superiority from
which to pity our slower, and therefore, lesser neighbors. It means falling asleep
easier, tasting our food, and speaking to our friends again. During particularly bad
seasons it can also mean the ability to communicate verbally in something other
than grunts.

Periodically it is necessary to check with others to see what the score is. The score
keeping system, however, can be confusing, like a cross between cribbage and
tennis. For outsiders or beginners, let me offer this handy clip-and-save guide for
answers to this eternal question.

Just started [Actual completion 0%] The idea of planting or harvesting seems
reasonable, and significant efforts in that direction will now commence. Fields
look like they are supposed to look, and the increase in activity in the
neighborhood is noticeable.

Not near done [Still 0%] This phrase indicates that most of the major machinery
necessary (planter, combine, trucks, grain bins, etc.) have been located and the
prospect of actually getting into the fields now looms as likely within a week or so.

Half-done [25-33%] The concept of “half” here is sort of metaphorical and subject
to free interpretation. Field work has actually been accomplished and one or two
fields may be completed.

Almost done [40-66%] This phrase is used less to indicate an actual performance
mark than to revive flagging spirits who can no longer remember doing anything else other than planting or harvesting. It indicates the approximate midpoint of a
seemingly endless endeavor. It is the same phrase shouted to marathon runners at
around Mile 11. First use of this phrase in a group of competitors can galvanize the
whole neighborhood into renewed frenzy.

‘Bout done [66-75%] [Note: Many neophytes will misunderstand the subtly
shaded meanings of these phrases.  In some sections of the country they may also
appear in different order, as well. Be sure to check closely with more experienced
operators to make sure you are “talkin’ the talk”. Above all, do not be misled into a
literal interpretation.] This phrase indicates the actual possibility of finishing has
slowly emerged as a non-humorous comment. By stringing several pieces of good
fortune together (combine keeps running, miss the next two rains, elevator doesn’t
slow down, etc.) completion is now imaginable.

‘Pert near done [75-85%] [Again, local usage varies] This phrase is used almost
exclusively to update a report of “bout done” at the previous conversation. Some
progress must, of course, be made, without actually acknowledging a fixed level of
accomplishment. ‘Pert near usually indicates the shift from active interest into
obsession with getting done. The heady odor of completion drifts on the wind like
an agricultural pheromone. Consequently, bad farming may be about to occur.

Done all ‘cept ... [90%] This phrase is followed by softly mumbled caveats similar
to car financing disclaimers. It indicates that outside agencies [crop sprayers,
elevators, rain, landlord peculiarities, etc.] let you down. Mostly it announces that
it’s not your fault you’re not done, and therefore you can use the sacred word to
begin your statement.

Done [95%] Virtual completion. Some rounding error may occur. You must have
no complete fields left, and a clear window for the beloved last round. Test plots,
wet holes, male corn, dryer bottlenecks are typical allowable exclusions. It is at this
point that the physical “completion letup” degrades rapidly to a full-body

ALL Done [100%] [Note: pronounced with emphasis on the “ALL”] Fields are
fully completed, machinery has been herded home, trucks emptied, bins and sheds
closed. Appetites and obnoxiousness are peaking. Immediately after achieving this
status, maximum time is spent cruising the neighborhood to share this happy news
with the less fortunate.

Example: This article is ALL Done.
Forgive the laziness - I started to excerpt and thought what the hey?  Some of you are too tragically young to have ever seen this.


Anonymous said...

Curious how the new combine is getting along? Shall it offer assistance in your use of the aforementioned terms to accelaerate you into the next category of "doneness"?

Anonymous said...

Dude! You were, like, farming back in '98? Did you, like, have horses or something?

John Phipps said...


At the risk of sponsor alienation I will offer a review of my JD 9570 soon.

Pray for me.


You forget your history, you refulgent whippersnapper - 1998 was before the wheel.

Anonymous said...

waiting for that review and pics--regards-KEVIN