Season is definitely changing
While you might not be able to smell autumn in the air, you can definitely see it.
Summer officially ends and autumn begins Saturday.
A telltale sign that summer is coming to a close is the type of activity that is occurring in the rural areas of Tulare County. In a large city, you have to look for the signs. Maybe a few leaves have begun to fall or the dew is a little more obvious in a large city.
Out here, where America lives, we see the signs everywhere and much of it comes thanks to our many farmers.
Right now scores of crops are being harvested. Take a short drive in almost any direction, and you will see signs that summer is just about over and it’s time to get those crops in before winter replaces fall.
Crops being harvested right now include grapes, walnuts, almonds, silage, Valencia oranges, prunes, olives and more. There is more activity on those back county roads than you can imagine and the dust in the air is by no accident. That is also a product of farming as most harvest operations stir up the dust, especially walnuts and almonds.
Not far around the corner will be the annual harvest of cotton. The white fiber is clearly visible on most stocks and soon, if it hasn’t begun already in some areas of the county, growers will begin defoliating their fields so the leaves drop off and the cotton is clearly exposed for the pickers. Cotton harvesting also contributes to the dust as those massive cotton pickers throw the cotton picked off the plant into the air, and with the cotton comes the dust that has accumulated. The pistachio harvest is imminent.
While machinery has replaced manpower in many jobs on the farm, it still takes people to drive that machinery, people to keep it running, full of fuel, and hundreds of trucks to move the product to the cotton gin, packing house, cold storage or local dairy. On any given day you will have trucks of varying sizes and types moving farm commodities around the county, including cow manure that is now being spread out over fields that are ready to rest for the winter.
The growing of crops has always fascinated me and I marvel at how efficient our local farmers are at what they do. Drive around and you’ll see what I mean. Hardly an inch of land goes unused. Water is practically absorbed to the last drop. Hardly a second of growing season is wasted. Not much is left behind as stocks are cut to the very base — cotton stocks are ground up for bedding, almond hulls are separated for use as cow feed.
As we grow older the seasons seem to come and go faster and faster. Seems like just yesterday I wrote about all the harvest activity in the county and that was actually more than 300 yesterdays ago. Soon, the harvesters and trucks will be parked. The fields will sit fallow — shrouded in fog and ready for another season of activity that will come faster than we can imagine.
Rick Elkins is editor of the Porterville Recorder. He can be reached at 784-5000, ext. 1040, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter.