Our village showed up this week, and it was amazing.
To say that our 2020 Christmas tree harvest was a shit show (pardon the language) would be an understatement. Everything that could break…broke. Everything that could quit…quit.
There are a few choke points in a tree harvest that if they go down, the whole operation falls apart. I say this like I know what I am talking about, but every year I learn a little more about how much I don’t know.
We bought a fancy tree cutting machine last year. It’s like walking behind a mobile saw mill and sometimes the trees just give up and lay down when they see it coming. It makes cutting 1,200 trees easy. Well…easier, anyway. This year, the big spinning blade stopped spinning. So instead we got to lay in the dirt with chain saws and cut the trees. That stops being fun after the first few hundred trees…
Last summer we bought a mechanical baler to wrap the trees for shipping. You need to bind them tightly so you can fit more trees on a truckload. Wrap them too loose, and you are shipping too much air. That’s expensive.
This year, mice chewed through the wires that make the baler’s spark plug spark. Once again…we were dead in the water. The atv wouldn’t run. The chainsaws kept jamming up. The list goes on and on…and I should add that I’m not mechanically inclined. I’m learning, but mostly, if someone says “What happened?” my simple reply is, “It broke.” My only recourse is to give up. Or ask for help.
So, here’s where it gets interesting.
Our neighbor Dave offered up his atv with a trailer so we could keep working. He stopped by to monkey around with the cutter and help get it running. Tom found the right sized belt late at night when we broke one of those. Zach brought his tractor. Penny and George taped up the mouse-chewed wires. After a long day in the fields, Dwain drove through the rain to buy a new chain. 30 people traveled four hours round trip from the city to wear themselves out and lend a hand. Some of them came back a second day when they saw that we were struggling. Lance, the high school senior from the farm next door brought his 1974 flatbed pickup to help run trees up the hill to our staging grounds.
“I can stay for a little bit,” Lance said. And he stayed for hours. He piled hundreds of trees.
It rained. It snowed. The 40-mph wind beat us to a pulp.
It’s all pretty humbling. And it’s all pretty amazing. And here’s the best part…I didn’t get help from my blue friends. And I didn’t get help from my red friends. I got help from all of them. And I needed every single person to get this done.
Tune into the news, or surf your social media stream and you might be tempted to give up hope. Take a deep breath and work hard with the people around you, and you just might be amazed.
I have said it for years, and I believe it’s true. “There are assholes everywhere, but the good people still outnumber them.”
Yeah…language again…but I am tired. And as I look at the division around us, I just want us to do better.
Let’s remember what holds us together. Let’s remember that we need each other. We can find a way forward, America…but it’s going to take each one of us to get it done.