The Fall Wrap-up Letter: The Circle is Complete

Finally getting around to "The Fall Wrap-up Letter: The Circle is Complete "—a novella.

Some of you may not know why you are getting this. Well, you probably asked me a question once that was vaguely farm related and I misinterpreted that as you wanting to know everything there is about farming. My intent here is not to annoy you, if you are NOT interested in this PLEASE delete it. Trust me, said the politician, you won't hurt my feelings. For the rest of you, pull up a chair, its a long one.....

Been very busy around here finishing things up, doing all those odd jobs that never get done over the summer.- adding another hanger to the bird feeder, building another wood feed bunk for the heifers, emptied a 30 gallon oil barrel to exchange for a new full one. Having three loads of rock put on various places of our driveway. Have a new door to put in the milk house one of these days (with a full vinyl frame, even so it won't rot out like the old one). Replaced the old metal cabinet in there that was rusting out ( and then one of the doors fell off that)—replace that with a Rubbermaid all plastic cabinet. Working in the office occasionally, have an appointment with our accountant November 17th for tax planning purposes, so finally got the deadline I need to get my bookwork done.

And then those odd jobs that just happen. Like the rear tire on a tractor that was low and when you add air the valve stem core breaks off and you try to get the old one out and a new one in before all the fluid sprays out on you.

Or fixing a small hole in the hood of the stalk chopper that leads to a bigger hole which leads to removing four small patches and replacing with one big patch which you also burn a hole in. Things like that....

Of course there was the day I watched soap bubbles in the wash tank down in the barn for 5 minutes(and Kelly thinks I am working). But it was really cool! You know how you always get a big bunch of really soapy bubbles and then some white kind of film/foam? Well, I was watching this "river" of foam move from the right side of the tank through the big bubbles to a circle of bare water on the left side of the tank. And when the entire surface was filled with foam, the river stopped. "NATURE ABHORS A VACUUM" or so I have heard.

Got the crops all out in record time this year. Has been a very good growing year for everything. Harvested more hay this year than I ever have before - filled all the barns by third crop, filled the silo and still cut a little fourth crop of hay. Just got an official freeze last night. It was 22.

As I said, the circle is complete. Told all of you about planting and getting things ready this spring and how excited I was about seeing the crops emerge and grow, now all the crops have been harvested and the fields are bare again.

Got the soybeans combined October 10 & 11. The trouble with beans this year was that we didn't get a freeze to kill any weeds, dry up the stems and get rid of any leaves. So it was slow going for everybody with beans cause they didn't combine very well. Yield was very good.. 49 bushels/acre. Occasionally you get a year where people are combining corn and beans at the same time...Usually beans go first, then corn. This year people were doing a little of everything at the same time. I went to Zumbrota the last week of September to buy a couple of springing heifers (that means pregnant. I bought a Jersey heifer, named her "Aileen" and a Holstein heifer, named her "Monica"—sorry.....) and driving home from there saw people chopping corn silage, combining corn, combining beans, baling hay and plowing. A very weird year as far as that goes.

Speaking of heifers, some of you have been following my adventures with 4 of my heifers: Aileen, Monica, Katie and Orchid. By the way, a heifer is a cow who hasn't had her first calf yet and therefore hasn't been milked yet. And it's easier if you can get them used to being in the barn before they have that first calf. Then all you have to do is get them used to being milked. Easy!! So.... Aileen, being the nosy Jersey that she is, she came right into the barn and into a spot (just to see what was going on there...) and has ever since. Katie, daughter of Danube and Kirby, is also very calm, friendly and comes into the barn and into her proper spot all on her own. Now Monica was a little more typical. I had to let her look in the barn door a day or two before she would go in, then let her wander around the barn and sniff everything for a day or two before she would let herself be "suckered" into a stanchion with feed or hay. She still isn't quite ready to come in on her own, but if headed to the barn will go in and find the right spot. And then there's Orchid. Had her in the barn once several weeks ago, and has been violently opposed to returning. Orchid is what you might call.... High strung. Or Nervous. Or Jumpy. But eventually, after closing enough gates so that she had no other alternatives, got Orchid in the barn again. Only had to do that twice though before she would willingly go in. And eventually got her into a stanchion long enough for me to lock it shut. And now she is fairly comfortable with that. ( Eventually they realize there is better food inside than outside. And as it gets colder, it is warmer inside than outside.) Curiously, Orchid is using Norma's old stanchion. Norma is a cow that I finally sold because she had an attitude problem than we couldn't overcome. Orchid is due to calf any time now. Pray for us....

Several years ago there was a bull named Car-val. He was a pretty decent bull as far as transmitting the ability to milk and look good to his daughters. The problem was his temperament was like negative 12—and he often transferred that to his daughters as well. Dad liked him and used him ALOT—just before he quit milking. Everyone knew Car-val. You could tell breeders, vets, or truck drivers, "She's a Car-val. " and they would say, "Ooooooh".

And then finished picking corn on October 13. Remember all that "narrow row"/"wide row" stuff this spring? What I picked and chopped was the wide row stuff that I planted. The narrow row is what I had combined by my neighbors, the Scanlons. They also combined beans for me. They got the corn combined on the 13 and I had that stored in the "Grain Bank". That means I pay the elevator to store it for me and deliver a load whenever I need it. (I don't have a place to store shelled corn on the farm. More importantly I don't have a place to dry it for storage. Shell corn needs to be about 13% moisture going into storage and then you really have to watch it as the weather changes. It came out of the field at 24% moisture which is normal for a normal year, a little high for this year.

The price for crops has been very low this year, you have probably heard something about that on the news. I sold my beans for $5.02/bushel. Last year I got $6.60/bushel and it cost me $5.04 / bushel to grow them. Haven't got all the numbers in yet for this year.

Anyway, milk prices are at a record high. Which you have also no doubt noticed at the store. Sorry about that and thank you very much!

Anyway, Spent the next day chopping stalks ( kind of like mulching....makes the field easier to plow ) and then as usual it rained for the next week. Got some chisel plowing done after it dried out again and that's when I cut my fourth crop of hay. And now is has rained some more and kind of cooling off, more seasonal weather coming up. I don't know if it will dry out enough to do anymore fieldwork or not. And if not, that's OK too. Still got fence to put up, manure to haul, bookwork to do.

While I was cutting that last crop of hay, I watched a small rabbit running around the end of a field trying to find cover after I cut the hay it had been hiding in. I have a very vivid memory of riding with dad while he was cutting grass in the calf pen - I was probably about 8 or 9 - and he scared a rabbit out of hiding and chased it down until he caught it. He put it inside his shirt and we took it home and made a cage for it. I was so impressed that MY DAD could run faster than a rabbit! And then that he put it in his shirt! WOW! I don't remember what happen to the rabbit after we got it home, it probably died because I remember getting "real pet" rabbits from my cousin David after that. ( I had the cage now after all, needed something to put back in it. ) So after I saw the rabbit while cutting hay, I thought I wonder if I could catch a rabbit. And when I got back to the end of the field I saw it running around yet, stopped the tractor and mower, jumped down and followed the rabbit into some tall grass. Then the rabbit just hid there while I reached down.....and ......picked ...up. I must was * very* anticlimactic. And while I didn't put it inside my shirt—I could have, it never moved—I set it on the window ledge of the tractor cab. So I took it home and put it inside a laundry basket with a board on top so I could show it to Preston and Amelia. They both said, "Oh. A rabbit."

I took the bunny back to live in the grass.

So in other news, I am having a good time being a township supervisor. Was an election judge on Tuesday. My position won't be up for election until March. I am also the Haverhill representative to the Eyota Volunteer Ambulance Association Advisory board. Haverhill township is split into three. The west half has Rochester fire and ambulance service. (we live in the west half.... ) The northeast quarter has Elgin fire and ambulance and the south east quarter has Eyota fire and ambulance. The State association of townships annual meeting will be in Rochester the end of November so will be attending some of those events, and the county township association will be meeting in Haverhill sometime in December. I just keep thinking, I sure hope I am re-elected in March for all the stuff I am learning and all mailing lists I am getting on, it would be annoying to start all over again for somebody new in March.

I am currently in negotiations with "Car Talk" to be on "Stump the Chumps" Will let you know what happens with that.

Kelly is dealing with some "chumps" at work right now. The doctor she works for is leaving and management is being stupid about who they want to replace him with. So she is fighting that losing battle.

School is really tiring Preston and Amelia out so we are getting them to bed earlier at night and that give us a little time to watch movies together. And we continue our Wednesday afternoon dates. So life could be worse, huh?

Amelia got glasses a week ago. Hasn't decided she really likes them yet. Daycare spends most of the day trying to find where she left them. But she continues to do really well. Has most of the movie "Singing in the Rain" memorized and can do all of Donald O'Connors dances. Or at least her interpretation of them.

Preston really likes school. And the teachers all like him. He has had very good teachers at Bamber Valley. He dressed up as a Pumpkin for Halloween.

I think that is about everything for now. Fold this letter up and save it for six weeks and when you get our Christmas card, stick it in there.

We really hope all of you are living the good life. Don't get hung up on the wrong things and keep the big rocks in focus!

More Stories

Write me: