Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fair day

What a difference a year makes! Our day of fun at the Great Minnesota Get Together was a vast improvement over our trip to the fair last year. There was no blood this year, very little sweat, and only a few tears. We were not prompted to leave the fair early by a toddler meltdown. No, despite waking up four hours early on fair day, Dan made it through the entire day without a single meltdown – something we've been seeing more of lately now that he's trying to explore his independence. We even navigated the sea of people sans stroller for a couple hours, with Monika in the baby carrier and Dan on Glen's shoulders. It was almost like our days at the fair before we had children.

The biggest difference we saw in Dan was his patience while we gabbed with friends we happened to bump into. Glen said he used to hate waiting while his parents stopped to chat at the fair; now, he was doing the same thing to his kids. In our first half hour at the fair we stopped three times to catch up with friends. What are the odds of finding our vet and two old high school friends among the hundred thousand people at the fair – and we weren't even close to the barns.

Dan also did much better this year as a Little Farm Hand. He peddled the tractor, gathered his egg and tomato, milked the cow, and picked an apple. At the end, we pulled his hat down over his eyes as we raced through the gift shop at the exit and decided we wouldn't go back again next year. Dan lives every day as a Little Farm Hand – with real chickens, cows and apple trees, (He did learn some very important lessons in learning to wait in line, though.)

We didn't have any blood in the sheep barn this year, but our visit with the woolies did require a change of clothes. The young man who worked for us when we farmed up north had his ewe lamb at the fair for the 4-H show. Glen put Dan in the pen with the lambs so he could pet them. After kissing and hugging the lambs and proclaiming, "I love them," escalated into chasing the lambs around the pen, one of the lambs jumped into the water pail while trying to escape. Three gallons of water went flying in all directions, including Dan's. Luckily, I was a good mom and had packed a set of cool weather clothes into our back pack.

I can only begin to imagine the memories we'll create next year at the fair.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Soggy business

I believe Mother Nature got the codes for June and August mixed up when she entered them into the national weather program. In June, our lawn looked as brown and dried up as is usually does in late August. Right now, it looks as green and lush as it usually does in June. The same is true for our pastures. During a typical year, we'd be heavily supplementing the cows and heifers with dry hay. We're feeding a little hay right now, but not as much as we usually do. Actually, we're feeding more hay because it's wet than because it's dry: we had to keep the cows in the barn for a couple days because the sod was too soggy to handle the traffic.

And when the pasture here is too wet for cows, that means our yard is really a mess. I wear muck boots all year long and by late summer they've always acquired a few cracks. Usually, it's not a big deal because mud isn't an issue in August. I walk around in cracked boots until September or October, when soggy socks send me to town for a new pair. Not so, this year. I went in yesterday for a new pair.

As further evidence that Mother Nature is mixed up this year, our third crop of alfalfa is the crop that got rained on. Apparently, the third time's not always a charm. Our first crop went up without a drop of rain; our second crop saw a little sprinkle, but not enough to push us back terribly. We took a chance on third crop and tried to squeeze the harvest in between two weather systems. It's a good thing we didn't buy any lottery tickets that week. After two days of terrifically muggy weather that resulted in no dry-down at all, our beautiful third crop was thoroughly washed by over two inches of rain.

Glen was pretty bummed, but chose to see the sliver lining behind the clouds. "Look at it this way, now instead of 150 bushel corn, we'll have 200 bushels an acre," he said.

(All in all, the third crop turned out to be pretty decent. The test results aren't back yet, but it looked reasonably nice coming out of the baler.)

Monday, August 17, 2009


We took the afternoon off yesterday and spent some time in Minneapolis. Part of our trip was a stop at the hospital to pay a visit to our neighbor. He's been there 10 days now and really appreciated the company.

Unfortunately, it sounds like it will be a while before he's able to return home. When his tractor rolled after the collision and pinned him beneath, the weight of the tractor crushed his pelvis. He underwent surgery last week to fasten the bones back together, but it will be about three months before doctors will know if the bones fused. If the breaks are healing, he'll be able to start bearing weight; if not, they'll do surgery again. He's hoping to be moved to a facility closer to home sometime this week.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A long night

So much happened today, I don't know where to begin.

Right now it's 10:47 p.m. I just finished helping Dan pick out a Dora video to watch because he doesn't want to go to bed without Daddy. Glen is out in the barn with the electrician trying to fix the motor on the vacuum pump. It quit with five cows left to milk at about 9:30. So, our late start on chores this evening is turning into an extraordinarily late night.

Normally, this would have made us all unbearably crabby.

But life is all about perspective. The troubles of our night are minor compared to what our neighbors are dealing with right now.

Earlier this evening, our neighbor was hauling bales off the field with his son. They had a quarter-mile drive from the field approach to the driveway. Half-way to the driveway they were rear-ended by a vehicle; the driver of the sedan claims he blacked out just before he crashed into the loaded trailer. The trailer buckled and the tractor rolled over, pinning our neighbor underneath. Our neighbor's son is okay; we don't yet know the extent of our neighbor's injuries.

This will be a long night for their entire family – and for our neighborhood – as everyone waits. And prays.