Our son is 15 this summer and has ventured into the workforce for the first time. Detasseling is a common job for teenagers in the Midwest and so, like many of his peers, he signed on with an exceptional crew and has been working about two weeks, now. Detasseling only lasts about 3-4 weeks. The work is hot, very physical and exhausting. The young men and women working in the fields are tasked with removing the tassels from every female corn plant and leaving the tassels on the male plants, so that the male plants pollinate the entire field and create a brand new hybrid variety of corn. Hearing it defined, makes it seem not too tough. The reality is, quite frankly, exactly the opposite.
Before the past week of high, high temperatures (heat indexes over 110 degrees), we had experienced unusually heavy amounts of rainfall. With detasseling, like with all farming, you can’t really decide what your schedule will be. The crops and the weather decide that for you. Once the corn begins to tassel, there is a narrow window of time (3-4 weeks) that the tassels can be removed before pollination occurs. So, even though the fields were completely saturated, detasselers still got into the field. Fields aren’t always flat, so at the top of a hill, a row may be dry, yet, down at the bottom of the hill, there may be standing water. One day, in particular, our son worked through an area where water was up to his chest. Another day, the mud was so thick and deep it sucked the shoes right off his feet. Even on days when it is dry and hot, the corn is still covered in dew when they first start working in the mornings. (That explains the garbage bag over his shirt in the pictures. He just peels it off when the dew has evaporated.
Dressing for detasseling is a sort of comical, and yet, necessary task that must be handled with great care. Corn leaves are sharp and even as tall as my son is, the plants are often well over his and his coworker’s heads. Dressing to protect themselves from cuts and corn rash is a critical part of their early morning routine (We’re up at 4:30 to get ready and drive to meet the bus.). Every inch of skin has to be covered, even when he pulls off the waterproof gear once the dew is gone. His first layer is a t-shirt and long shorts with tube socks as high up on his leg as they will go. Then we cut the tops off tube socks to make “knee protectors”, since his socks just won’t reach that far. We cut the tops off a second pair of tube socks that he wears around his wrists. Then he puts on a pair of waterproof wind pants, a cotton, button-down shirt and a garbage bag with head and arm-holes cut out. Finally he ties a wild-west “robber style” bandana around his neck to protect his neck from the sharp corn leaves. The detasseling company provides him with gloves and a cap that has strong mosquito netting to protect his face. He also wraps duct tape around his feet, over his socks, to help prevent blisters, and then ties Wal-Mart bags over his socks to help keep his feet dry. Then he is ready to put on his shoes. Phew! What a process! I’m not gonna lie. He’s a sight! 🙂 But, fortunately the entire crew looks just like him, so there is no issue with anyone “standing out” in the crowd. 🙂
At lunchtime, our son peels off the wind pants and then continues to work in the long shorts and “tall” socks, underneath. You can imagine what his shoes and socks look like at the end of the day of trekking through, mud, muck and mire, not to mention an occasional “wash-off” from a livestock feedlot. As soon as he gets on the bus, he peels off the button-down shirt, muddy shoes and socks and stuffs them all in a bag. When I pick him up in the afternoon, he is a muddy, smelly, exhausted mess. He slides on some sandals and rides to the pick-up spot, so I can pick him up and drive him home to bed. lol If I would let him, he would collapse into his bed, mud and all. But, while he is cleaning up, I’m left to empty the bag of mud-caked clothing and get it ready for the next morning.
Remember that wonderful, deep wash basin sink I shared with you in my previous post? It is perfect for this task! I empty the muddy mess into the bottom and start rinsing the clumps of mud away. I snapped a few pictures of what that experience is like. Yikes!
I really didn’t hold out any hope that the socks would ever be white, again, but I’ve been testing Arm and Hammer Power Gel with OxiClean for the Switch and Save Challenge, so I decided to invest a little extra effort and see how it handled detasseling dirt. I rubbed the blue gel directly into the dirty cloth on our son’s gloves. I could see it breaking down the dirt, already, and the dark discoloration was already lightening before I put them in my washer.
I used the regular amount of detergent for my washer, but I also put a small amount of Arm and Hammer Power Gel with Oxi Clean into the prewash dispenser, too. Then I set my washer to wash in hot water and for heavy soil.
I was so pleased with the results when the load was complete. Arm and Hammer Power Gel with Oxi Clean certainly didn’t get those grubby things “out of the bag” white again, but they were so much cleaner than I had expected. My only disappointment, initially, was in the gloves. I was lamenting to my son that I didn’t expect to ever be able to get them anywhere close to white, again, and he started laughing at me. “Mom, the gloves are gray. They were gray when they gave them to me.” lol
As I said, I had no illusions that these socks would ever be “white as new”, again, but I was pleasantly surprised at the results. That is much, much whiter than I had ever expected to see them. Arm and Hammer Power Gel with Oxi Clean definitely did its job! What a great surprise!
I have one more. Arm and Hammer is sponsoring another $25 VISA Gift Card Giveaway! I can’t believe how incredibly generous they have been. One of you will benefit from that amazing generosity.
You must be 18 or over and a US resident to enter. Winner will be selected in a random drawing using random.org. Deadline to enter is midnight (CST), Sunday, August 14, 2011.
What is the most challenging laundry mess your family has ever created? Leave your answer in a comment below.
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This is a sponsored post for Church & Dwight Co., Inc, the maker of ARM & HAMMER branded products, who is compensating me to try different products. Save $1.00 on any 2 ARM & HAMMER Laundry Detergents. And be sure and head over to The Switch & Save Challenge for the chance to win $25,000.