After battling mud all spring back home, the Black Sea study tour participants found themselves stuck in Ukrainian mud when their tour bus turned off a bumpy highway. The bus started up a dirt-covered road which led to home of Dutch-born farmer Case Huizinga, who is a leader in the wave of foreign investment helping to make Ukraine an up and coming competitor for U.S. crop exports.
A brief, pop-up thunderstorm had made the farm road’s surface slick and greasy and, as it turned out, virtually impassable. Before long the bus was stuck badly in the mud and the group’s hard-working driver Constantine just couldn’t get it out. He tried rocking the bus back and forth to dislodge the tires from the mud, but it did no good. He pushed weeds under tires to get some traction, but they kept skidding. He looked for drier, more solid spots in the road, but there were none.
So the Iowans, without being asked, did just what they always when a vehicle gets stuck on their farm or a neighbor’s. They got out and pushed. First, they pushed the big bus forward to try to crest a small hill. Then it was backwards to get the bus back to the center of the road after it slide to the side. Then it was forward again.
Boots got muddy and backs felt the pain as they pushed and pushed, with Constantine trying to steer the big bus to surer footing. The group made gradual progress, but finally the road won the battle. In the end, Black Sea study tour crew had to wait to be rescued by the driver of one of Huizinga’s big John Deere tractors, which towed the Farm Bureau bus to the farm.
All in all, the adventure with the stuck bus was a lot like today’s farming. No matter how technical and sophisticated agriculture becomes, there are still a ton of tasks that still require old-fashioned muscle, know-how passed down from generation to generation, hard work and a willingness to pitch in. It’s just something farmers do as they work to offer consumers a vast food choice and feed a growing world population. And if they didn’t, we’d all be stuck.
Written by Dirck Steimel. Dirck is the editor of the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman.