An onion field that has been harvested.

Creative Project

Here’s the Dirt

You can never know what someone else’s life is like until you walk a mile in their shoes, so for my creative project, I decided to spend an entire day with my granddaddy. I wanted to see what an average day was like managing a farm. I assumed that there would not be too much for us to have to do, after all, it was the eve of Easter, and none of Granddaddy’s workers were out in the fields. I was not prepared for what was in store.

Granddaddy sitting in his chair before the day began.

I asked Granddaddy what time I should be ready to start the day and he just told me early in the morning. I thought that this meant at around 9 in the morning, but when I showed up, he asked me what took so long. He said he’d been ready since 6:30 in the morning. We sat and talked for a bit before we left.

We talked about what he used to do when he was younger. He told stories about his hunting and shenanigans that he and his friends would do. He told me about this one time that he and his step-brother (Uncle Dale) accidentally committed a felony. He said it was raining and the dirt roads were so messy that the county had to put out road closed signs. He and Uncle Dale thought it would be funny to move the signs to make it where traffic would go down the muddy, boggy roads. It was all fun and games until a mail truck went down the wrong path and bogged down. Because mail is a federal entity, the police got involved. Granddaddy said that he and Uncle Dale ran all the way home and didn’t tell anyone about what they had done for years, but now they just laugh about the fun times they had.

After we were done talking, Granddaddy was ready to go and said that we had a long day ahead of us. I went and got the truck, helped him inside, and we set off. We had a couple of errands to run. First, Granddaddy wanted to check on his onion fields. He said they had planted around 375 acres of onions this year in 9 different fields. We looked at fields that were still growing, just plowed, and fields that were still being harvested. He makes the decisions on which fields should be harvested next and if the process needed to be sped up or not.

Onion in the fields still growing.

To help out, I would get out of the truck and grab an onion or two that Grandaddy wanted to look at. He did this to help him determine how much longer the onions needed to stay in the field until they were fully mature. We had to go up and down rows and rows of onions to pull up a test onion because in each field they plant many different varieties to ensure that the whole crop doesn’t get any diseases.

Plowed onions ready for harvest.

We also went to some of the fields that hadn’t yet been picked up. These fields had been plowed so that the onions were no longer in the ground, but instead, would be laying on top of the ground. They have to sit out in the field for a few days until they dry out before they can be picked up and their green tops could be clipped. That day, Granddaddy and I were going to some of the fields to see if it was time to pick them up.

Onions in bin-boxes, waiting to be taken to the packing shed

We finished looking at the onions by going to fields that had already been clipped and picked. The onions are picked up by the workers. The workers then determine if the onions’ quality is worth being picked up and they cut the green tops off of the onions. Unfortunately, no one was working this day, so I didn’t get to take a picture of the workers out in the field collecting the onions.

After looking through all the onion fields, we decided to go through the fields of watermelons. Granddaddy grows 150 acres of watermelons and has another farmer growing 75 more acres for Granddaddy to sell. These watermelon fields are also spread out all over. This is because watermelons cannot be planted in the same field for four years or else disease will spread.

Watermelon seedlings

We went to a few fields where the melons had just been planted. They plant the watermelon in raised, plastic beds to prevent weeds growing. They start planting watermelons in early April, and they are ready around the beginning of June or late May. The season only lasts until July the 4th. After that, the demand for watermelon severely plunges, and it isn’t worth growing anymore.

The pivot is the main source of irrigation for the watermelons.

Watermelons require constant irrigation. Granddaddy said he tries to keep the melons hydrated constantly to make sure they keep their syrupy, sweet consistency. While we were riding, he said the dirt around the melons looked dry, so he told me to turn the pivot on to start irrigating the watermelons.

After a long day of driving around nearly all of Candler County, Granddaddy decided we had done everything he needed. We made it back to his house and told Munner (my grandmother) about our day. We ended our day with a home cooked meal made by Munner.

The meal Munner made.

This day with Granddaddy helped me to appreciate what my Granddaddy does. His daily routine now is checking on all of his fields and making sure everything’s running smoothly. He told me that before he made his farm to the size it is now, he had to do all the steps by himself with the help of a few others. It is a process that takes a great deal of thought, time, and commitment. His daily schedule is often disrupted by the constantly changing problems that regularly occur on the farm. This project has allowed me to appreciate the hard work Granddaddy endures fully. I appreciate all that he has done to provide for our family.