Being the ‘gopher’ isn’t so bad


By Melanie Yingst



It has been a stop-and-go kind of harvest, at least it has been on my dad’s farm this year.

I don’t do much to help other than stay out of the way, don’t ask about yields and UberFarm my dad to place to place when I’m asked/told. It works out for all of us.

Yet, one evening while Dad was hustling well into the night running corn, he asked me to run up to North Star and get a part for an auger.

I love to drive. I also love to drive to faraway places in the middle of nowhere. I also love to get paid to drive to faraway places I’ve never been and go on back roads I’ll probably never see again.

It’s the nomad in me.

Before I jetted off to North Star, Dad walked me out to the barn to show me what part he had called and requested from the implement outfit. He had called it in, written all the specs out on a yellow piece of paper and had the serial numbers, make and model all in print. I even took a few pictures of the piece on my phone. This wasn’t a trip anyone wanted to make twice.

And then I headed to North Star.

Sometimes I think Miami County has little, tiny villages that are just pass-through towns on state routes, but driving through Shelby and Darke counties has us beat in the quaint little village department.

I’m somewhat familiar with the area due to the many pilgrimages to “The Track that Earl (Baltes) Built” — Eldora Speedway near Rossburg. The track is now owned by Tony Stewart and welcomes tens of thousands of fans from all over the world throughout the summer.

Yet, for some reason, I never take the same route there and back. I always get twisted around even in the era of iPhone Maps.

There’s a lost art in getting lost. It’s kind of fun taking back roads when you aren’t really in a hurry. I love seeing the farms, small villages and their churches and buildings, and various homes along the way. Little Yorkshire, population 96 in 2010, didn’t disappoint as I meandered through. At least the little place had a bar at the blinking light. I bet they have an amazing fried bologna sandwich in there.

So I finally made it to North Star. North Star got its name for being the north point in Darke County that was not part of the Great Black Swamp wetland.

I had to laugh when I saw North Star’s historic marker on my way into town: Near birthplace and early home of Annie Oakley, “Little Sure Shot, ” born 1860. The “near” part made me chuckle.

It’s funny how people stare at you when you walk in the door of an unfamiliar place. Yet, I made my way to the counter and waited for someone to help me, armed with all the information I needed in case something went awry. During harvest, implement stores are busy helping farmers stay in the fields in spite of the various breakdowns and mechanical failures.

The part that I was picking up matched my photos and I filled out the rest of the check and I was on my way. It was an hour trip for five minutes of business, yet when the field conditions aren’t expected to hold up due to rain, two hours is a lot of time in farmer minutes.

I decided to take a new route home, going north up to Osgood and meandered my way back to familiar roads near Ft. Loramie and back into Shelby County.

On one particular road, the hills were littered with bright orange and yellow leaves like it was something out of a movie. I wish I knew the name of it.

The part was delivered in one piece, I didn’t fail at my mission and I managed to enjoy a two-hour cruise in the country. The rain began to fall about two hours after I returned, ceasing the field work for the day and shifting to repairing the auger.

It’s fun being the gopher sometimes.

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By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. She doesn’t mind when she’s asked to go ‘fer this, go ‘fer that.

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. She doesn’t mind when she’s asked to go ‘fer this, go ‘fer that.