Sky Ranch by Bobbi Phelps

Sky Ranch by Bobbi Phelps

Author:Bobbi Phelps
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781510751095
Publisher: Skyhorse
Published: 2020-07-14T16:00:00+00:00

Chapter Twenty-Four

A Guest from Pennsylvania

“I can’t believe how big they are,” Susan exclaimed as she stood close to two ranch combines. “My gosh, the tops of the tires are over my head.”

“That’s my favorite machine,” I told her. “At harvest time,” I continued, “Matt and I ride with Mike during cocktail hour. Instead of wine and hors d’oeuvres, I bring cold sodas and cookies . . . enough to hold him ‘til he gets home for dinner.”

My college roommate, Susan Church, had joined me at Sky Ranch. She had never been on a ranch, and I was eager to show her Idaho’s wide-open spaces and my adopted lifestyle. I drove her around the miles-long boundary of Sky Ranch and stopped at its corporate headquarters, showing the control center and their numerous farm machinery. From the main section, we moved to the parts room.

“Whenever anyone goes to town, they have to call the ranch to see if any parts are needed,” I said. “After spending all day running my own errands as well as grocery shopping and picking up horse food, I hate calling to see if anything is needed.”

We sauntered outside and I showed her a huge scale placed in the ground beside the building. Farm trucks drove over the cement slab to calculate the “before and after” weights during harvest. With these figures, the ranch could compute their crop income. Behind the headquarters Susan saw a dozen farm vehicles, red International combines and tractors and pale-yellow trucks. They were lined in rows like Revolutionary soldiers with an elevated gasoline container nearby.

“The farm has to be as self-contained as possible, including having constant gas for all its equipment,” I explained. “Remember in ’79 when we waited in long lines for gasoline? Well, the ranch never had to worry. The government knew people needed food, so they weren’t going to let farmers go without fuel for their equipment.”

From there, we tramped across the dusty, dirt road to one of the new potato cellars. I pointed to an older one still standing down the road. The main portion of the 1950 cellar was underground, hence, the name “cellar.” Two-foot strands of grass grew upward from the sod roof, acting as insulation for everything inside. The yellow-tinged grass caught the morning rays in a golden glow, looking postcard perfect.

“It’s used for only short periods,” I said. “Any potatoes stored in the dirt cellar are sold as soon as possible.”

The new potato cellar, made of vinyl, aluminum, foam, and concrete was air-conditioned and completely above ground. It stored potatoes for months. Consequently, Sky Ranch could sell its crop when potato prices were high instead of directly after harvest. Susan and I climbed the thirty-foot, metal ladder inside the cavernous building. At the top, we looked at a dark, empty cellar.

“It looks like a football field,” Susan exclaimed.

“Not quite, but it is huge,” I said. “In another month, this will be one busy place. A conveyer belt will move the potatoes from dump trucks into the cellars.


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