Thursday, June 17, 2010

Beware the Prairie Chicken

It's the time of year when I put in the mind of pollinating. I pollinated corn for 17 summers...although the last few were only on the weekend due to my 'real' job. I finally stopped 5 years ago when I had LASIK performed on my eyes a couple weeks before pollinating would begin. I wasn't quite recovered in time but also the thought of getting jabbed in the eye by a corn leaf after I just spend $4500 getting them fixed gave me the willies. But I do miss it...a lot. This time of year I am always thinking of the smell of pollen in the air and rich, dark soil. The feel of dew on the corn leaves and the sun shining down relentlessly.

I also think a tiny bit about Prairie Chickens. A prairie chicken is a medium-large bird that used to be abundant in Iowa and across the central USA. Brown and white feathers and the males have large yellow comb and large orange circles on their necks that they can inflate...especially for putting on a display for the females or trying to intimidate males. Due to habitat destruction, prairie chickens are now on the endangered species list. A rather pretty bird really, but this is not what I am thinking about when I think of prairie chickens.

Picture courtesy of GregTheBusker @ flickr

A pollinator with apron

As a pollinator (much different than a detasseling) you were required to carry a lot of different stuff throughout the day. In the morning you would have a your knife and hundreds of Lawson 205 shoot bags (glycines), later you would be carrying mainly just your stapler, and after midday you would be carrying a few hundred Lawson 404 pollen bags, thousands of paper clips, you knife, pencil and memo pad, water bottle, etc... As a pollinator you were stocked with all kinds of accoutrements. To carry all your gear you were issued an apron. It was not like a cooking apron. It wasn't full torso and it wasn't for protection. Smaller, below the waist only and containing many different size pockets for all your different gear. To right is an example of what this looked like. White cotton, large deep pockets on the sides for larger items and smaller pockets in the middle front for paper clips and such. The whole thing wrapped around your waist and tied with long straps. Please forgive the crude drawings as it has been a really long time since I have actually drawn much of anything and this was done very quickly...although I think they actually turned out pretty good...see the safety glasses? And any pollinator will recognize the correct pocketing.

Performing the Prairie Chicken
So what does this have to do with prairie chickens? Well, many of the older, long time, regular pollinators played a game similar to the game in Waiting. The basic idea being that you would pull your testicles out of your shorts' zipper and let them hang underneath your apron. Then you would come up behind someone in the corn, lift your apron and make a gobbling sound...forcing the other person to look in horror at your balls. The sound didn't really sound like gobble gobble but that is the closest in is more a combination of gobble gobble and the stereotypical Arab alalalalalalalala yell.

I am not sure who came up with the prairie chicken name for it (although I have my suspicions)...but it is a perfect match. I always think the display was similar to the real prairie chicken male puffing out his orange sacs.

We didn't have the various poses as was 10+ years before that movie was made but the principle was similar. It was silly, it was stupid, it was fun....but unfortunately now summer always reminds me a little bit of testicles.

This post is dedicated to redacted who was always the dominant prairie chicken...and had the prairie chicken call perfected (and yes, who's balls I have seen WAY more than I ever would have wanted...and I would have been more than happy to have seen them zero times). Much love to all the people that I pollinated with over the years. Gobble Gobble.

Update - The Prairie Chicken Preservation Front has attacked this website and items have been redacted at their will. They are very much like the men in black.


kelly said...

There are few things in this world more unsettling than going in the back to grab some condiments and ending up staring at a huge, steaming pile of cock.

Michael said...

You can't just pull down your pants and go "Look at my dick" you have to be sneaky.

Anonymous said...

I am sad to think of what your memories are hiding with that post, Kelly. The pollination drawings are quite accurate and I agree about this time of year bringing back memories. Sadly, I think I, too, was exposed to far too many chickens in my years at Pioneer. Still impacts me to this day. The person you speak of was all too eager to show of his chicken.


*Lesli* said...

I was wondering where this chicken thing was going....i knew you wouldn't disappoint. Pretty sure I made reference to the bat wing over the weekend...


Michael said...

The bat wing is good...but it's just not The Goat.

Dixon said...

Ahhh, yes. The Prairie Chicken. Close descendants include:

The Wrist Watch
The Bee's Eyes
The Turkey Baster
The Red Snapper
The Bat Wing (Although, in truth, this is an involuntary one, normally caused by humid conditions)

Shannonnicolle said...

Nothing like a little on the job sexual harrassment to make the workday pass quickly.