Springing Slowly

Today’s Farm Update comes from Ben

The snow has been melting slow enough we haven’t had the big spring rush of water coming down our valley. And that’s OK. Not that we have damaging floods, but most years we have the usual snowmelt rush. This year it’s just a nice little stream. Plus still got piles of snow in the shadows and on the north sides.

Ground is still cold, in fact, I Just ordered some soil thermometers, mostly because this new oat venture I’m trying, they want oats in the ground as soon as it’s possible. Oats can survive down to 20-degree air temps. And guys using ‘no-till’ equipment can get in sooner than I can. Using traditional equipment I need the ground to warm up and dry enough I can work it, then get it planted. But I do want to try and push it a little more this year than I have other years. Pending two shows I’m lighting and college commencement. (I usually try not to do a show outside of the college in April, but… life happens). Commencement is May 10th. Oats should be in for 3 or 4 weeks by then. By the way, soil temps yesterday were about 35-degrees.

This week on the farm I hauled scrap iron to the scrap iron recycling place. Forgot to take a picture of the first load, which was some junk from a theater in town, plus my scrap metal tote at home. The tote is a 4’x 4’x 4’ box and I throw all the misc. scrap iron in there. Old, worn out disc blades, pieces of pipe, or broken bits of things. Old ceiling fans, old electrical conduit… just… junk. Bolts, empty propane bottles, I don’t know… just … stuff. But it does accumulate over time.

I also had the front of an old chopper box I had cut up several years ago. I use the tractor loader and put it on the trailer. That load of scrap was 2200 lbs.

There’s a pile of scrap machinery behind the shed I need to get hauled in. Accumulation of many years.

The next load was two old rotary hoes, an old snowmobile I last rode in about 1987. (Took Kelly for a ride. It was a John Deere 400. Dad bought it back in the late 1970’s. My high school friend Pete and I rode a lot. But then I got interested in theater. And Girls. And there wasn’t time for the snowmobile anymore.) It sat outside behind the shed for a lot of years. Weeds and trees grew around it and through it and I ran into it with a tractor once or twice. Finally added it to the junk pile when I was cleaning up back there.

Also in the junk  pile was a mower I didn’t even remember. Dad must have bought it and I don’t even recall it, so it must not have worked very well. Before I started buying the rear mounted ‘Brush Hog’ type mowers, Dad had a side mounted sickle mower. It was good for mowing because it was off to the side in front of you and easy to watch. Dad cut a lot of hay with this back in the day. (When he also pulled a ‘crimper’ behind him. Clyde knows what I’m talking about. Nowadays those jobs are combined into one machine called a ‘mower-conditioner and can be pull type ((like mine)) or self-propelled. Or the big guys mount three units to the tractor: one on the front and two on the back and cut 30 feet at a time.)

When that side mower wore out, Dad found some other old, used, sickle mowers. I even bought one too. They all sucked. Brush mowers work great, but behind me, it’s more cumbersome to operate.

The mower had been back there so long I had to cut a 12’ tree out of it before I put it on the trailer.

(The spikey things are the rotary hoe.)

This load was 3300lbs.  Back in December I talked about hauling some scrap in and it was $50 / ton, a low low price. Tuesday it was up significantly to $195 / ton.

You know, it’s interesting how many things used to mount right onto the tractor, rather than hooking on behind as we do now. I have a lot of memories of helping Dad mount the brackets on the side of the tractor, and some pieces under the axle, and then hooking the mower to those. Or the corn picker that had a real heavy frame that bolted to the sides, and more heavy frames over the wheels, and then the elevator mounted to the back, and we’d drive the tractor into the picker to mount it. Or the cultivator; that had two small brackets bolted to the front of the tractor, then drive into it and muscle the two sides over into place and bolt it on, and a couple rods connected to the ‘rocker arms’ to raise it.

These days, everything hooks on behind. It’s easier to hook up or unhook, but not so easy to watch what we’re doing. I wonder why that changed. Convenience? Tractor size? (probably size; and cabs made all that stuff impossible to attach, which means it was comfort), and just the size of farms and efficiency. Farming was a lot more manual labor back then. Over in Europe there are more front mounted implements. Which is becoming more of a thing here, again. More tractors have front mounted hitches in addition to the rear.

We’ll try to avoid the Thunderstorms and blizzard this weekend. Still double checking my bookwork from 2022 and meet the accountant mid-April for taxes. And busy with the show at the college. It’s called ‘Boy Gets Girl’ by Rebecca Gilman, and it’s about a stalker. Well written… hard to ‘enjoy’ but it’s a good show. We’re doing it ‘in-the-round’ with the stage in the middle and the audience sitting right around the actors.

The critters are good, although I hadn’t seen the ducks in a few days, but they showed up yesterday. They must hang out back in the swamp or maybe they just need to ‘get away’ occasionally. Got one black hen that has gotten ‘broody’, meaning she’s trying to sit on some eggs. Course I gather the eggs every night, but that doesn’t dissuade her.



59 thoughts on “Springing Slowly”

  1. This made me laugh: “We’ll try to avoid the Thunderstorms and blizzard this weekend.” If you succeeded, Ben, I’d really like to know what you did. I tried my damnedest, too, but failed miserably. Mother nature pulled an April Fool’s prank on us; personally, I think she went to far.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Around here, it was really hard on the trees. When I was out on some errands this morning I saw numerous big branches that had ripped off and fallen.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. From the reports of friends, it’s like that all over the metro. Some places have no electricity due to downed branches. Our power was flickering on and off when we went to bed last night, but mercifully stayed on.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. Ben, you said oats can survive 20 degree air temps – is the ground temp they can survive the same?

    I do vaguely remember holding the flashlight for my dad, but more often for Husband during various projects (can’t remember details of any of this). I also recall holding a wire with plyers when fixing the breaks on a bike…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It *can* germinate at 35 degrees, but 40 is better. I wouldn’t try at 35. The longer the seed lays in the ground, the greater the chance of insects or rot. I’ve been reading about corn planting that if the weather for a few days after planting is real cold and wet, it’s better to delay. That shock to the seed is hard on it. Which, of course, is really hard when we’re trying to beat the rains. To not plant on a day of nice weather?? INCONCEIVABLE! But it might be better in the long run.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    We had flashlights around the house—without batteries, falling apart. I don’t remember having a flashlight that actually operated usefully when we needed. Therefore, I never held a flashlight for anyone. There was not ever one that worked.

    I also did not give up anything for dating. In high school I had a boyfriend for a few months, but I thought dating was SO BORING. Plus I was not very good at flirting, and I completely missed any cues that a boy liked me, so then I would do something clueless. For example, Bob Taylor asked to give me a ride home, along with 4 or 5 other kids. I climbed in the back seat with my friends.
    He said, “Aren’t you going to sit by me?”
    I said, “What for?”

    DUH. So I gave up dating until college. It was just too much work and I did not much enjoy it.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. My former neighbor, Raghavan Iyar has died, sadly. He used to walk his dog down the street in front of our house and we would chit chat a bit. He was a good neighbor, as was his partner. When they moved back into the city about 5 years ago after his son grew up, he did not look well due to the initial effects of cancer treatment. I always wished that I could tolerate curry and Indian food so we could chat about that, but no. We did discuss growing peppers, though.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. There a wonderful small (and very pricey) store called Golden Fig Fine Foods on Grand Ave in St. Paul. One of the owners posted this on their FB page this morning:
        “One of the sweetest, most patient, talented and yo mamma loving jokes man has moved on from this life.
        Please send sweet Raghavan all your good energy as he journeys to the next place where they better be ready for his sassiness.
        I loved him so and will miss him and his giggle forever.”

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t remember specifically holding a flashlight but if I did it was probably when my Dad was doing something with the furnace. That was his line of work. I remember he guided me the first time I replaced a water heater and he was there when we tried to cut through the cast iron main sewer line with the intention of adding an additional connection. It was a Sunday night, so there was no fall back option. Instead of cutting, the pipe crushed like an eggshell. Luckily I had some extra pipe and could piece together the sewer line so we could use the plumbing. I learned plumbing basics from Dad but he didn’t do electrical. I had to figure that out myself.

    I didn’t date until college and even then “dates” were informal hanging out together for the most part. Nothing I was doing was so compartmentalized that I could say dating replaced anything I was previously engaged in.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. To this day, I’m not sure I understand the American concept of dating.

    I had one “boyfriend” for a period of nine months when I was sixteen. He was the older brother of one of my friends, and they lived two house away from us. Because all of us neighborhood kids hung out together and engaged in the same activities, our “relationship,” such as it was, didn’t interfere with any other activities. He was two years older than me, but as clueless and inexperienced as I was. Within a month of us breaking up, he met the woman he married a year later and is still married to today. He had a minor stroke two years ago and his wife has advanced dementia, but they still live in their own home. They have three adult children and a bunch of grandchildren. I think they’re satisfied with the lives they have lived and would probably describe their marriage as happy.

    I went on to sample a lot more partners, in more or less detail, most of them short lived, before “settling down.” Looking back, several of my romantic relationships evolved from friendships. More often than not, we discovered that we functioned fine as friends. We liked each other and enjoyed doing certain things together, but as a “couple,” it just didn’t work. So we split as a “couple,” and after the dust settled, resumed the friendship.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This is really interesting. I didn’t realize the act of dating might be different in other countries I guess. (Not sure I’m phrasing what I mean correctly…)


      1. I suspect that dating these days is lot different than it was in the fifties and sixties, Ben. When I arrived in the US (in November of 1965), I was twenty-two and already married, so I really knew “dating” only from what I read, saw on film, wasband’s experience of it, and what I observed and heard once I got here. Dating someone wasn’t considered an exclusive relationship until you decided to “go steady.” I honestly don’t know precisely how a relationship changed once you decided to go steady. More heavy petting? Premarital sex was not acknowledged as a reality (though I suspect in actuality it was, at least for many).

        In Denmark, premarital sex was pretty much accepted as a reality for “exclusive” relationships. Sex was considered too important to leave it to chance that you were sexually compatible. (Inger and Steen Hegeler had published “The ABZ of Love” in 1961, and the book that was enormously influential in fostering a more enlightened and less moralistic view of sex.)
        No one in their right mind would dream of marrying someone they hadn’t slept with. (Aren’t our euphemisms great?) Perhaps that’s one reason why Danes didn’t date multiple partners? Personally I was neither physically or mentally mature enough at sixteen to even consider engaging in sexual activity, raging hormones notwithstanding. I recall my first French kiss, and the sheer sense of terror that ensued. I had had sex education in school, of course, so I knew about intercourse, but I was convinced there was some secret alternative way girls “got in trouble.” Intercourse seemed like such a complicated ordeal that surely unwanted or accidental pregnancies were not likely to result from it. Luckily I didn’t actually tell anyone this.

        My Irish Catholic mother, of course, steadfastly espoused that sex outside of wedlock was dirty and sinful. Considering my sexual abuse as a very young child and mom’s convictions about sex, it’s a small wonder that I ever came to consider it a normal, healthy, and pleasurable activity. It took considerable work to overcome my conflicted thoughts and feelings about it.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. That’s all very interesting PJ. Dating is definitely different these days. I hear it from the college kids.
          We just got to know a couple that met online just before covid, had 6′ dates for a while, talked and watched movies online together, and got married in the fall of 2022.
          I’m just glad I’m not trying to date these days.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I think Denmark had it right…

          Dating as I knew it just wasn’t a very good way to really know what a person is like during, say, the hard times. Kind of like some of social media, where a lot of people show just the good stuff…

          Husband and I were house mates when we first got together, which is a whole different way to get to know a prospective spouse. : )

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, my dad often asked me to hold the flashlight for him. One time in particular stands out.

    My brothers played rough outside a lot and one of them split his lip open requiring stitches. My family was medical on my dad’s side. My grandpa was a rural doctor through the early 1950s and my uncle was a research microbiologist at Mayo Clinic. My dad was a dentist in Owatonna but he had been a Navy corpsman and he had lots of medical supplies at home. So when it came time to remove the sutures, Dad pulled out his suture kit and handed me a flashlight. He told Eric to lie down on the bed on his back. Then he told me to sit on top of Eric and hold the flashlight steadily on his lip without moving.

    Have I told this story before? I feel like I may have told it before. Anyway, for me it’s always the tiny bead of blood. I held the flashlight steadily on Eric’s lip and Dad started to snip the sutures, then pull them through and out. A tiny bead of blood would follow each suture as it was pulled out. Dad wasn’t a patient man and he yelled at me, “Hold that flashlight steady!” The next suture pulled through, the next bead of blood and over I went. I woke up on the kitchen floor with my feet up on the refrigerator. Dad was completely disgusted with me and Eric’s sutures were all out.

    I lost my brain when I started dating. Fortunately it was only temporary.

    I meant to say congratulations to Chris for the write-up on him in the Southern Minnesota Scene magazine. I’m sorry, but I’m not able to find a link to the article.

    Liked by 5 people

        1. Yes. I step outside most nights and look at the sky before bed. We even had our yard light taken down 30 years ago so we could see them better.
          (It’s funny to me; Back in the day, getting a yard light was a sign of modernization. It mean you had electricity and didn’t HAVE to walk in the dark anymore. You were modern and with the times! My dad didn’t understand why we took it down.
          I did have to add a few more security lights, but they’re on switches or motion lights.)

          Liked by 4 people

  7. I’m pretty sure I never held a flashlight for my dad because he wasn’t a handy guy. He didn’t do chores and jobs around the house and even considering the passion that my parents had for remodeling, I’d still say my mom did probably 60% to his 40%.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. We didn’t ever really have flashlights, it was the ‘Trouble light’. A 60 watt lightbulb on a handle with a shield on the back so you could burn your hand, and a guard on the front that only allowed the right size thing to smash the bulb. And a hook on the top that never fit anything to actually hang it and snagged on everything else. And when you dropped it the bulb burned out.
    I learned about holding the trouble light though… I have several LED versions now everything from the LED trouble light to the 4′ long ‘mount under the hood’ version. Plus I carry my own flashlight and old it in my mouth… mostly because I don’t have a helper to hold it very often.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I come from a long line oh, them know that responsibility means giving up your enjoyment and your purpose in life come on provider my grandfather was a professional baseball pitcher. Yes, Joni got married and had to settle down family and become a bricklayer. He was a pretty fancy dude before I got my hats because my dad got his dad. His dad and I got mine and my dad , when my dad reached that age and quit hanging out with the boys, the Elks club up there in Fargo got married can’t settle down cut back on that kind of activity except for stag weekend where the boys get together and get drunk and play golf for three days off from Great Lakes I was in Walker in my Volkswagen van and had the love of my life travel along with me unfortunately she came to early in my life. She ended up marrying a hippie a Building Milwaukee Ave., North in California which is where I would have been happy I think but instead I kept screwing around, went to sales for fun and then got married, and had to get serious and get more and more and more I have since realize they’re on my way, but how long the way the stuff that I enjoy is that a list in the back of my day timer instead of on my calendar for if I get pocket as a lifestyle, I love your transition to do a fancy olds have you looked into getting certified organic I would think with your small farm can figure out how to do that you can ship over price props and make up for any depleted totals that you bring in my offsetting tire truck values. I’ll be interested to hear how the old stove that’s a really interesting story in my mind. I love the note about scrap metal prices of 50 bucks to 200 I scrapped off aluminum and was amazed at how the price fluctuate over three or four months.
    my dad was never needing a flashlight holder
    i tried to get my kids to hold a flashlight but little interest
    they are amazed when i fix sheetrock spray ceilings patch a fence or roof
    i had a friend whose dad always fixed everything when i was 15 or so . i thought that was good and laugh about how your an expert after you’ve done it twice but you may never get there

    Liked by 1 person

      1. “Bygmester Finnegan, of the Stuttering Hand, freemen’s maurer, lived in the broadest way immarginable in his rushlit toofarback for messuages before joshuan judges had given us numbers or Helviticus committed deuteronomy” …

        tim, you give Joyce a run for his money, and we don’t have the benefit of a study guide to help us through your scribbles. Help!

        Liked by 3 people

        1. two more thoughts popped into my head later on in the day today first was about my great grandfather. The Native American of the staff he had to go through to accommodate his new life first going from living on the reservation to moving to Minneapolis to get an education and how he gave up his native ways to learn how to be a white man and live in the white man’s world and the woman that he fell in love with I don’t have all the bits and pieces in the proper order. He was a very successful athlete, lawyer, community leader, athletic Director at Saint Thomas worked at the Carlisle school with Pop Warner, then went up to northern Minnesota to help the natives up there and ended up buying lots of land with all of his money, rather than putting it in the bank after the crash of 29 took most of his fortune, but when he met his wife, he had to give up his ways and become a Catholic in order to marry her, and he made a comment somewhere along the line that he didn’t know if this Catholic business was a very good deal for him. He kind of liked hanging out with his friends to Masons better than he liked hanging out with the Catholics and I thought about all the changes he went through to marry his Polish wife and live up in the leaf lake area. The second that was the favorite song that I play is don’t think twice by Bob Dylan and the favorite stanza in there is not even mother coming out my name girl order in by the columbine and girl I can’t hear anymore I’m thinking and wondering walking down the road. I want to love the woman a child. I am told I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul. Don’t think twice it’s all right and I had somebody ask me back when I was 16 or 18 or whatever it was I think I’m 16 what does that mean to you? I gave her my heart, but she wanted my soul and I just kind of flippantly said oh well, I gave her what I had but she wanted more and that is kind of the essence of what the song is Valatie a huge statement and a lot of people do that I give you I’ll give you the best that I’ve got, and I try and fit into the mold that you want to shoot me into an SP the undoing who’s wrote the song if I was the man that you wanted I would not be the man that I am Lyle Lovett that’s another good one

          Liked by 2 people

        1. Did you ever meet your great grandfather, tim, or have you just heard the stories passed down about his life? Is he on your father’s or mother’s side of the family?


  10. I’ve never been sure how to define a date in real terms – if it’s something like “I’ll pick you up at 7” then I’ve probably only dated fifteen or so times in my life and not any time recently. I’m pretty sure no sacrifices were involved, though my memory is pretty fuzzy.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. no, I go back and see that the first one was OK never mind there’s a song after it that was playing when I turned back in that’s a great song I just isn’t what I was after


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