The bug has bitten

I thought of this year’s planting season just a few weeks ago.

On one of those nice, balmy days my mind drifted off to planting time.

I wasn’t smiling. It’s a stressful time for me. It’s almost like I lose my partner in crime.

Planting time is serious business when it comes to my husband.

Like a fast moving freight train, you just have to stay out of his way.

In fact, even Kate, one of our employees said the same thing about her dad, who also farms, “You just stay out of his way.”

It’s true.

Steve gets into this planting groove and he dances in it for several weeks, until the last seed is placed in the ground.

I can give you an example of how, once planting season starts, the only thing that is in super-farmer’s mind is getting those seeds into the ground, in a timely manner and at the proper rate per acre.

Tuesday evening, after a much-too-long baseball game (too long because it got too chilly) at Mueller Park, we drove home.

As we drove on the gravel toward our home, there were a gazillion bright lights in the field. For a second I thought of saying, “go into the light,” but I wasn’t quite sure how funny that comment would be for a guy that only has corn planting on his mind.

(As I type this column, I can hear one cow making a ton of noise outside. It makes me a bit nervous. I keep looking out my dirty kitchen windows expecting to see “Cows Gone Wild.” So far, so good; no cows running amuck.)

Anyway, as we “drove into the light,” Steve said, “Go out there so we can check on Pete.”

Pete is Steve’s oldest brother. He took over planting so Steve could attend Russell’s baseball game.

Nobody was in the tractor. In fact, nobody was near the tractor. It was running. The powerful lights were heating the atmosphere, but Pete wasn’t anywhere around.

I sat in my Jeep’s driver seat waiting for my next direction.

“Drive over to Pete’s,” my living, breathing Tom-Tom said.

“You could just call him,” I said.

As I turned around in the middle of the road, (I did entertain the idea of ditch-hopping) Steve dug out his phone and called Pete.

“He’s out of seed already?” Steve said in a question format. “That seems kind of heavy.”

We are planting silage corn that is use to fill the silo and as feed for the cows. This corn is totally different than corn we sell at the elevator and extremely different than sweet corn. It gets planted at 34,000 seeds-per-acre rate.

Before I could finish turning around in the road, Steve was mumbling a whole bunch of numbers-numbers that didn’t mean a whole lot to me, but I knew they meant a lot to super-farmer.

The figuring must have gotten too complicated for Steve to cram into his number-loving mind.

He pulled out his cell phone and started using the calculator.

I drove past our house at a snail’s pace thinking Steve would say, “If you want to go home, you can and I will go over to Pete’s.”

I never heard it. There was just silence as he tapped away at his mobile calculator.

By the time we arrived, Pete and his wife Bev were on their way back out to the field with bags of seed corn in the back of their van.

Steve wanted to take it out of their van and put it in my Jeep!

Talk about a silly idea. He wasn’t thinking straight. He had numbers on his mind. He couldn’t figure out how he plugged the wrong number into the planter’s computer and ended up with too many seeds per acre. I think he even refigured on his 10-key adding machine once we returned home.

In the end, even after all the number crunching, they chose to leave the planting rate where it was set. So much ado for not making any changes.

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New skid loader makes me want to move the silverware drawer

 There’s one thing I do, in our house that drives Steve absolutely mad. Knowing it drives him crazy is one of the reasons I like to do it.

I believe other women have done it too and it also drives their significant others mad as well.

I like to move things around in the house, especially those things that have been in one spot for extended periods of time.  

For instance, to add a bit of fun to your life, change the layout of your bedroom. Then sit back and watch your spouse try to find the bedroom door at 4:30 the following morning.

I speak from experience and it is quite hilarious.

I also like to move the silverware drawer around in the kitchen. I have a gazillion drawers in my kitchen. It takes months for the men in this house to stop going instinctually going to the old drawer to find a butter knife to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

For fun, put one set of plastic silverware in the former drawer. Better yet, glue that plastic set to the bottom of the drawer.

It doesn’t have to be a big item that gets moved either. Store the fingernail clippers in a different spot. When your house mate is walking in circles trying to locate the clippers, just let him go for a bit, see if he comes up with any new words of disgust and then tell him where they are located.

“They were right here in for former silverware drawer.”

A woman has to be somewhat careful when pulling these types of stunts on their spouses.

It can turn around and get you in return, in a big way.

Like when the male purchases a new piece of large equipment – like a skid loader.

My spouse went out and purchased a skid loader that is not the same make as the one we already own. (On a side note, I cannot believe Steve has two skid loaders to use. “One is for the crappy jobs and the other we can use for feeding,” he has said.)

I finally had the opportunity to drive the new skid loader Saturday afternoon. Joey was taking a nap and Russell was … I don’t know what Russell was doing.

I grabbed the opportunity to push up feed. I had been terribly sick the previous four days and hadn’t ventured outside, except to do chores. Four days of bed rest gives a person a lot of time to think of things she could be doing outside.

Well, I climbed into the skid loader. Well… I tried to climb into the skid loader. Where in the world was the door handle. I had to stand on the bucket until I figured out the door handle is on the left side of the door, instead of the right.

Once I was sitting in the seat of skid loader, I started looking at all the gadgets and knobs.

Radio. Check.

Windshield wiper. Check.

Heater. Check.



There is absolutely no key anywhere. I had to figure out how to turn this engine over with no key.

In a skid loader, are no words describing what buttons are for. I mean, in a car, the information center has words telling you to change the oil. In a new skid loader, it’s in elementary pictures.

I found the green button after a few minutes of confusion and pushed it.

Green means go.

Now to figure out how to drive the skid loader and the bucket.

This took me a bit. I was so happy I was alone with only the cows. They are females too and absolutely refused to laugh at me. Had a bull or men been in the area, there would have been an uproar of snorting and laughter.

Eventually I did manage to get the feed pushed up. It took me way longer than normal, but it’s done. I was a bit frustrated.

So frustrated I went into the house and thought about moving the silverware drawer again.


Cute, swimming ducks, drooling dogs

Well, we tried starting our own little duck dynasty out here on the farm, but the dogs had different plans.

Several weeks ago, I purchased six ducks for Russell. I have three chickens of my own. For some reason Russell wanted ducks this year.

Baby ducks are the cutest. They are way above baby chicks on the cute scale.

Trying to raise ducks is fine by me, I heard the next big thing on the east and west coast is to have duck eggs for breakfast and for using them in baking.  

Now, I realize that the certain type of duck I chose, Rouen, are best for duck meat, but they also have to lay eggs, otherwise there wouldn’t be more Rouens to replenish the lost Rouens.

The baby ducklings are adorable. And, just like the chickens when they were just a few days old, noisy. They are also a lot messier than chickens. Is it instinct that ducks have to sit in their water when they drink?

I really feel bad for mother ducks and mother chickens. I mean, they get hammered when it comes to offspring.  They don’t hatch just one baby; they can hatch a dozen or so.

They can go from a peaceful stroll to a stroll with 12 squawking little dependents chasing them to the pond, where they meet up with other duck families that have just as many noisy babies.

Imagine taking all them through the duck food aisle.

If only a pair of ear plugs small enough for poultry ears existed.

Back to raising ducks as a hobby. This year, we are keeping our young poultry in the garage in used animal cages. If, and when, it finally warms up consistently, I will put all poultry in the proper caged area.

As of yesterday, the chickens are housed in a used dog kennel that was, at one point, Lilly’s. I have no other use for it. Lilly is too large to even fit in it, and it is the largest kennel available.

The day-old baby ducks were put in a cage that housed a guinea pig.

They’re small enough yet, that the cage probably feels like the Taj Mahal.

For safety, Russell and I placed the cage in a corner, on the work bench, in the garage.

Remember last weekend, when we were teased with one glorious day of warm, wonderful weather. Well, Russell thought he would be nice to his ducks.

He filled the dogs’ swimming pool with warm water by hauling quite a few 5-gallon pails of warm water from the milk house to the garage.

The ducks had a blast swimming in circles.

Quacking up a storm.

Washing themselves in that warm water.

The dogs had a blast drooling by the edge of the pool.

After the swim the ducks returned to the guinea pig home and the lid was locked.

All four of our family members left to help at the Searles Baseball Association’s Annual Fundraiser at the Searles Bar and Grill.

Russell thought he would be nice and he left the garage doors open to allow fresh air into the garage.

Well, the dogs, namely Digger and Eddie, remembered that those ducks were up in that cage in the garage.

And they were still drooling.

It’s kind of like the old Looney Tunes cartoon where a duck or a chicken is envisioned by its stalker as a fully-cooked, delectable meal.

They dogs had to work at it, but they managed to have duck for dinner. They apparently pushed the cage off the shelf and it smashed into the floor and sent the ducks scurrying.

It made all of us a bit sick to think of our dogs eating our ducks for a meal.

It’s awful. Made me hate our two rat terriers for several days.

We have replenished our duck population on the farm. We are also keeping a close eye on the dogs.



Not all Holsteins are black and white. Meet this cutie pie. He is a red-n-white Holstein. He was born last week and is only the second time we have had a red-and-white born on our farm. Unfortunately, he will not be a milking animal and will go to a farmer in a nearby town to be raised as a steer (a bull without the bull parts).