By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

ELKADER -- His face was caked with dust from the bone-dry soil, yet Jim King was quick to set down his lunch to visit with a passerby.

Even if it meant jumping out from under the protection of a tree where he had parked his battered Ford pickup while eating from a bag of Doritos.

An equally battered International tractor, pulling an undercutter, idled in the field not far away.

"I'm cutting bindweed back," he said. "It grows really good whether it's dry or not."

There's some moisture in the ground, King said, noting he's pulled up a clod or two as he worked the ground.

"We've gotten a couple half-inch rains," he said.

While King lives in Scott City and runs a motor grader for the Scott County highway department during the week, he was busy working away on the Logan County farm midway between Oakley and Scott City.

His late father-in-law, Clarence Turley, the longtime sheriff of Logan County, long had toiled the land where King was working.

It's not a big farm where King was busy trying to stop the growth of the noxious weed as it tried to bloom in the middle of the field.

"It's my mother-in-law's wheat," he said of a field directly west of where he was taking lunch. "I'm a hired hand. I just take care of it."

King was unsure how the wheat would yield.

"That would be great," he said when asked if it would make 20 bushels to the acre. "But I doubt if it will make that."

The field where the wheat had been growing also struggles with bindweed.

There's only approximately 170 acres of tilled ground on the farm, split between growing wheat and fallowed ground.

There's also a bit of pasture, and King said his son-in-law used to bring cattle up for the summer.

He didn't this year, King said, because it's so dry.

"He decided to let the pasture rest," King said of his son-in-law's decision not to run cattle on the 240 acres of grass. "To look out there, there isn't much. I'm glad we didn't put the cattle out there.

"We'd have to take them off already."