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Wednesday, September 24, 2003 ISSUE #291

Will finds Illinois farm show swamped

# 291, Sept. 24, 2003

RANTOUL, Illinois: The farm fields around here in eastern Illinois have some of the best soils in the world. If the rains come when they're needed, corn grows 200 bushels to the acre, and after harvest, the farmer can afford a new pickup truck for himself and remodel the kitchen for the family.

But this rich soil has one slight defect. Too much rain and this flat ground turns into M-U-D. And that's what it is today. MUD. Now ordinarily that is not a problem...that 200-bushel corn is still standing so you let it dry out a couple of weeks, and go on with harvest.

But this year, this week, mud is a problem. See, the folks that publish the Prairie Farmer and Indiana Prairie Farmer and a bunch of other "state" Farmer magazines put on a big Farm Progress Show every year. This year it's here.

Now yesterday was fine. And over a hundred thousand farmers were here. Those were the smart farmers, the ones who looked at the weather map and saw what was coming later.

Sure enough, last night it rained... and rained some more... and washed out the Show for today. And probably tomorrow.

So today, folks like me that go by the calendar instead of doppler radar, have no Show to show up at. The exhibitors that intended to use their tractors to demonstrate the newest tillage equipment are instead using them to pull out campers and motor homes and pickup trucks.

Meanwhile, we may as well relax and stop at a neighborhood restaurant, like Ott's right here in Rantoul. They all stocked up for the crowds, so no one will go home hungry. And there's the Aerospace Museum at the old Chanute Air Base. It's where Lindbergh learned to fly, and the famous Tuskegee Airmen. And... the parking lot is paved.

There will be another show next year, and folks that are disappointed today will show up for it. That's farmers for you, always looking ahead to a brighter day.

Out in California tonight, the candidate debate went on without me. The arguments got kinda hot a few times, even personal. It's odd. Here, we're surrounded by mud. But California is where they're slinging it.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

"(The farmer) has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer." WA #57, Jan. 13, 1924

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