By Bill Anderson
The old-timers around Rutland, and most other American small towns, used to say, “There’s nothing that happens that is so bad that someone can’t get some good out of it.” The Covid19 pandemic crisis, with its shutdown of economic activity, especially travel, coupled with the oil production war between Russia and the OPEC countries led by Saudi Arabia, has resulted in the lowest gasoline and diesel fuel prices in the past 30 years. On Monday, April 20, 2020, regular gasoline with a 10% ethanol blend was selling for $1.39 at Rutland Oil Company’s pumps on Main Street, and diesel fuel was only a few cents more. But the collapse in the price of refined petroleum products is nothing compared to what has happened to the crude oil market. For a while on Monday, April 20, the price of a barrel of American crude oil on the spot market was less than Zero. That’s right, the producers were paying the customers to take it off their hands. A few years ago, the price of crude oil was over $100 per barrel, and everyone was worried that we were running out. How times have changed! Greg Donaldson, owner of Rutland Oil Co., said on Monday that his sources are saying that they do not expect the price of crude oil, or the refined products, to rise significantly for quite a while. So, with gas prices low, travel is relatively inexpensive. The biggest problem is that the entire country is shut down, so there’s no place to go. “Every silver lining has its cloud,” is something else that the old-timers used to say.
Fuel prices couldn’t have collapsed at a better time, as far as local farmers are concerned. There was not much field work done right in the Rutland area as of Monday, but the Brekers were seeding fields in the hills south of town, and Greg Donaldson reported that the Heimbuch Farm near Brampton was getting fields ready to plant potatoes on Monday morning. Some of the local farmers are still harvesting last year’s corn crop, and report that the quality of the crop improved over the winter. Mark Wyum reported last week that corn that weighed in at 48 pounds per bushel and was at 28% moisture last December is now up to 52 pounds and down to 16% moisture, making it a product worth hauling to market.
Meanwhile, on the national scene…well, the national scene is too chaotic and depressing to waste time commenting on it. Suffice it to say that America and the world will breathe a sigh of relief if and when a new American Administration takes over the reins of power in Washington D.C. on January 20, 2021. As of Friday, April 24, 270 days remain until that day.
On the local scene, Rutland has plans to bring the community together again. Stay tuned, and remember that Memorial Day is the last Monday in May, and that Uff-Da Day is the first Sunday in October. We’ve never had a “virtual” Uff-Da Day before, and you never know, it might be fun! Later.