Mom was the first lady to haul truckloads of beets to the Jessica Beet Dump. The beet dump was located a few kilometers south of Padroni.
As a child, I loved going with her. I admired the lady of the scales who worked inside the small greenhouse. I thought his job looked like the most exciting in the whole world and I dreamed that one day I could have a job like his.
She weighed the trucks full of sugar beets before unloading them. On the way back, she weighed empty trucks and gave the drivers their weigh tickets.
In the summer of 1993, my dream of working in a weigh house came true. I was hired to work during the wheat harvest by a local silo in Inman, Kansas.
It was easy for me to tell that the local farmers were eager to start the harvest. They brought a sample of wheat to the office. They wanted to check its specific weight and moisture content. If the moisture content was too high, they looked shot. It was not yet time for them to turn on their combine harvester.
Local farmers also liked to guess who was going to bring in the first load of the summer. They remembered who was first on the ladders from previous years.
Soon the harvest is in full swing. A few days after the start, a driver did not wait for the mechanical probe to be removed from the box of her truck. It was bent beyond repair and we had to manually probe each load to check test weight and moisture content. This significantly slowed down the truck registration process.
My favorite job was to sit behind the window and operate the scales. When a full truck was parked on the scale, I filled in the farmer’s information on a new ticket and entered the weight. When an empty truck was pulled on the scale, I found the correct ticket and typed in the weight. I then calculated the net weight, tore up the copies of the tickets and gave the original to the driver.
In my childhood, beet trucks had a piece of cardboard with a number printed on it. It was prominently inside the windshield. This helped the Lady of the Scales to know which farmer the beets belonged to.
At the wheat elevator, they didn’t require the trucks to have numbers displayed. I’m glad I have a good memory. Sometimes the driver’s face stood out to me; other times their truck did.
I remember when a farmer brought in his last load. His three young boys were with him. It reminded me of when my brothers, sisters and I piled into the cab of the truck with Mom. I knew the thrill they must have felt.
When their father came in to check his tickets against our records, they timidly entered the office. As the outside pop machine was broken, I asked the kids if they wanted a free one. They happily shook their heads yes. We had some stored in the fridge and I let them choose which bottle of pop they wanted.
Their dad told me when he was young the elevator provided free soft drinks. A cow tank was filled with soft drinks and ice to keep it cool. They were on an honor system of only taking one a day.
Far too soon, my temp job ended. Being a scale maid took me back to my farming roots, and I loved it!
Susan Davis is a former Sterling resident and author of “Small Farm & Big Family”, “Ancestry’s Journey”, “Bushels of Nostalgia”, and “Lovebirds for Life”.