The beginning of the end

Published 8:42 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

By Rex Alphin

We’ve been caressing these crops all year.

We laid them in a V-shaped bed five months ago and gently pulled a soil blanket over top. We made a menu and dropped some delectable food just to the side so their first mouthful would be refreshingly delicious.


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We stood guard when they were infants to keep flying marauders from dive-bombing their first tender leaflets. We encouraged them to nestle their feet deep into the earth that they might sustain the trials of adolescence. We protected them from bullies whose main wish was to intimidate and traumatize those who appear weaker.

On bended knee, we asked the Sovereign One to send them water when they thirsted and rays of sun when they chilled. We checked daily for signs of fever, weakness, discolor and lethargy, that we might remedy with the right diet.

We have watched them grow strong as a result and stretch their fingers to the sky. And now — yes, now! — we marvel as their maturity has manifest itself in bounty.

With anticipation we pull the combine towards the first rows of the first field. It is about to begin — that mad, crazy, passionate dash toward the gathering in of the crops.

We might still see a thunderstorm move in from the west, a low pressure slip up from the south, a Nor’easter drop from above or a hurricane slam in from the east.

Ahead lie flat tires, busted bearings, broken shafts, long nights, stress, aggravation, missed meals, frustrated spouses, greasy hands, indecisiveness, torn jeans, phone calls, stiff legs, sore buttocks and improvisation.

We line up with the first row, lower the combine head and slip the machine into gear. A low rumble builds as belts and chains and sprockets start to turn. We gently roll into that first row and the first ear of corn pops off the stalk and rolls into the harvester.

Yeah, baby! It has begun. The beginning of the end. All the crops in all the bins all hauled to market start with that first, beautiful, solitary ear.

Let the party begin. I cannot wait. My goodness, it sounds good. Can you hear it?

Rex Alphin of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for the Suffolk News-Herald. His email address is