Category Archives: 2021

Play Date for VS

When I was little we didn’t have “play dates”.  Nothing was ever organized; at some point most days my mother just said “go play outside”.  It seems like every mother and father said the same thing to their kids because there always seems to be kids out and about.  We banded together to play all sorts of games and wander all over.

These days if you want to have fun with the kids in your neighborhood, you have to set up a play date.  Last weekend we had a few folks over to celebrate YA’s graduation from her MBA program.  She wanted the festivities but was extremely opinionated about what she would allow.  For example, no theme plates/napkins/cups, etc.  Luckily I had already ordered the graduation cupcake liners and decorative picks.  She also didn’t want a whole lot of décor but did agree that I could put a chalk message on the sidewalk.

Nobody love using chalk more than the little girls who live next door so I asked their mother if they could come over on Saturday morning to help decorate.  She said “what time” and when I said that around 10 would be good, she put it in her phone.  I had a playdate!

We ended up with parents helping and another little girl from up the street came down to join us as well.  It was my first “gathering” in over a year and even though it was just chalk on the sidewalk, I had a fabulous time.  I’m thinking I should set up more playdates now!

What would you like included in your next play date?

CRP & Seed

Our Farm Report is from Ben.

Mid May and the corn is struggling to emerge through the crust that was created on the soil from the quick heavy rain we got back in late April. Beans haven’t emerged yet. Oats is looking good. Haven’t gotten our garden going either yet.

Back in blogworld…

I have 11 acres of CRP, Conservation Reserve Program, ground planted to wildflowers. I have it burned about every 5 or 6 years. I hire a local prairie restoration company to do that. I was in town when they started. Kelly said it was pretty interesting to watch them get going; A lot of prep work and back burning first. There was one guy with small tractor and water tank, then 5 or 6 other guys with shovels and backpack sprayers.   I could see the smoke from a few miles away.

Last fall I mowed around the edges so that makes a good buffer for this and it went well. I had 3 fiberglass markers in the middle of one piece to designate a line. I wasn’t sure if I had to move them or not. I knew the fire really wouldn’t get that hot. The boss, Jon, came to tell me I lost one flag because he wasn’t willing to throw his body on it. He said it’s not the flames, but the residual heat that gets it. I expected to find an orange puddle of plastic, but nope, just 6” of the fiberglass pole melted, which, in fiberglass, just leaves “strings” and the rest of the pole laying there. I cut that part off and put it back in the ground. Good as new, just 3’ shorter. (The part underground and the melted part.)

I picked up soybean seed from my dealer, Meyers Seed. They were busy unloading a semi of seed. A pallet had tipped over inside and was leaning against the wall. Plus, it had punched a hole in the bottom of a bag. So, they had to strap the leaning tower of beans to the forklift, and carefully drag it out. The hole making a trail of soybeans… they said it’s not the first time that’s happen and it’s always a pain to deal with.

I get 60 bags of seed on two pallets. It’s 30 bags of ‘treated’ seed and 30 untreated. (more on treated seed in a later blog) The guys are a little concerned with how tall my stack is, I should have used a trailer; which comes with its own issues because my trailer has short railings on the sides, so they have to push them in from the back. And with the pickup, even a full bed, two pallets won’t fit end to end so they’re stacked. I didn’t really think of all this at the time. I got home with no issues and used the forks on my tractor loader to take the pallets off and stack on my seed wagon.

Meyers have not started planting yet, ground is too cold. I have seen a few people planting. Really, it’s early yet.

I have found 3 deer antlers this year. ‘Sheds’ they’re called when the male deer shed their antlers. These are three separate deer, not any matched. They can poke a hole in a tractor tire, so you don’t want to run over one. Many years I don’t find any so kind of unusual to find three this year.

Next up; we start planting corn.

What have you seen leaning? What mess have you cleaned up lately?

Accidentally On Purpose

I woke up at seven this morning thinking “Dang, I forgot to set the alarm” – I needed to be up at 6:30 if we’re going to do our regular Zoom workout class. But then I remembered it’s also our 41st anniversary, and wondered if I had unconsciously planned this so we could “sleep in” this morning.

As kids we would have called this “accidentally on purpose.” We might “forget” to go home at the time our moms had told us, or do that extra chore, or tell ourselves we couldn’t find the borrowed toy that we didn’t want to return just yet.

Do you remember this phrase from your childhood?

Can you recall doing anything “accidentally on purpose”?

Do you see any “accidentally on purpose” actions going on around you – personally, or in the greater scheme of things?

RIP Johnny Crawford

Johnny Crawford was one of my idols when I was a kid.  Although he is best known for his role as Mark McCain on The Rifleman, he was a very busy young man, appearing in not just Mickey Mouse Clubhouse but a myriad of other movies and tv shows.

He also had a musical career with several of his songs making it to the top ten on the charts.  His most famous was Cindy’s Birthday.

He appeared on the rodeo circuit for a time; apparently he was a master at rope tricks, which he had learned during his years on western/cowboy pictures.  He served in the armed forces for a few years as well, but kept returning to acting.  His last picture was a piece with Chuck Conners in which the roles from The Rifleman were reprised.  Apparently Johnny and Chuck had remained close in all the years since their television show.

Crawford’s career was cut off when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019.  Sadly he passed away from complications of Covid last week.  He was apparently a really nice person and had a beautiful smile right up until the end.

Who did you have a crush on when you were younger?  (Or now for that matter!)

NEVER LOOK BACK

This week’s farm update is from our Ben.

This week’s farm update comes to us from Ben.

Into May and corn is all planted and working on beans. Things are going well. Back in blog world I’ve finished oats and working on anhydrous nitrogen for corn.

How good are you at details? Do you pay attention to your surroundings? I think I’m pretty good at that. And yet… I miss the most obvious things sometimes. We still laugh about the truck parked on the driveway with the naked guy asleep inside. And somehow, I missed the naked women sleeping beside him. Huh. I was just so shocked by the man being naked I walked away at that point.

And my previous post about the fertilizer spreader PTO shaft breaking; how did I not notice that? I’m looking right there to be sure the apron is still moving and 12” away is the PTO shaft and I never noticed it break or wobble or whatever it was doing when it broke.

A few years ago, I finished planting oats and was heading back home with the grain drill. Got home, turned to back it into the shed and I have no drill. Huh! Well, it must have come unhooked just up around the corner and…. Nope. Not there. It was ½ mile back up the road. Hitch pin had come out and, thankfully, it’s not a complicated machine so just two hydraulic hoses that pulled out and the hitch dropped and it just rolled to a stop. Thank Goodness it was level there and, on our driveway, and not up on the highway or something. How did I not notice that?? Still can’t believe it. However, I have started using locking hitch pins on everything since then.

My dad made a big point of looking behind and watching the machine to be sure it’s working properly. It was a bit easier on the open tractors and smaller machinery. Nowadays with cabs, monitors, and mirrors, it’s easier to pay attention to all those things and not turn around and look behind me so much. I do watch behind me! Honest! But I still miss something plugging up and suddenly I’ve made a full round and there’s a big trench behind me because I picked up a tree branch or something. Man… how did I miss that?

Sometimes I’m not good at details. Ask Kelly; she could have told you that. Maybe it’s just overload; I’m so busy watching that one thing, I miss the other.

We got a decent rain finally, .4 inches. Definitely too muddy to work in the field. Which is OK because I have straw to deliver to Northfield and made the straw and poo delivery to some of you in the Twin Cities.

Got 45 baby chicks delivered the next week. Was able to use my favorite line at the post office. “I’m here to pick up chicks.” I can hear them ‘cheep cheep cheep’-ing in the back room there. People always look and smile as I carry them out. Sometimes I crack the box open so they can look. 

Applying anhydrous nitrogen isn’t hard, but one has to be extra careful hooking up hoses and dealing with it. It’s nasty stuff so I take a lot of safety precautions and make sure I know what I’m doing. Too add to it, the coop where I get the tanks decided farmers have to pick up and return the tanks ourselves (rather than the coop delivering)  which means my truck has to have a DOT inspection, so that was an extra expense this year, plus the time it takes to go and pick up the tank. However, Kelly and I got a road trip date out of the deal. (Plus the dogs)

I always thought the tanks held 5000 lbs. Turns out it only had 3800 lbs in it, which messed up my math for how far one tank should go at the rate of 150 lbs / acre. Assumptions were made. I should know better.

Saw a pretty cool sunset too.

The sandhill crane pair that had been hanging around for a month finally moved on.

Next up: Burning CRP ground

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever gotten in the mail?

Gardens Galore!

(Sorry picture is fuzzy – I don’t have the original….)

In the past ten days our yard has gone from the scourge of the neighborhood to the envy of everyone.  I don’t chop too much down in the fall on the theory that the old stalks and leaves hold onto water and protect the spring buds.  (I don’t know if this is actually true, but I cling to it… especially since I have trouble getting motivated for autumn gardening.)  YA and I have gotten everything cleaned up, spread about a ton of mulch (well, it feels that way, anyway) and turned our eyesore into a lovely garden.  The fact that the daffodils and tulips are in bloom on the boulevard doesn’t hurt!

As we’ve been working, I been looking at some of the plants that I’ve been lucky to receive from baboons on the trail.  Lovely hostas in the backyard from PJ, raspberry canes from Linda, a massive hosta display on the front boulevard from our tim and, of course, my lovely Prairie Smoke from LJB.  It’s made me think that although our baboon troop was initially brought together by music, we’ve also bonded over gardening.  Helping out PJ with her garden after the accident, the great chainsaw gathering at Steve’s, filling in Anna’s spot with various plants, Ben bringing us bales and poo, Jim providing seeds and loads of gardening talk over the years. 

As always, I’m grateful for all the fabulous friendship over music, books and gardening!

Any gardening projects in store for you? 

Open & Shut

Shouldn’t be a surprise to me that after a year plus of pandemic, businesses are feeling it.  As I drive about my neighborhood, I see that a few businesses have bitten the dust:  FedEx Kinko’s and Wax City at the Hub are gone as well as Old Country Buffet and my dog-training place, Canine College.

But it’s heartening to see that new folks are still willing to try starting up business in their places.  This morning I see that the Old Country Buffet is becoming a “Million’s Crab” – looks like the first one in the Twin Cities.  And Wax City is being replaced by “The Archery Cosmetic Tattoo”.  I was a little excited about the tattoo place until I realized it’s all about eyebrows and other cosmetic stuff – no skulls or motorcycle gang graphics!  I can’t wait to see what’s going into the FedEx storefront.  The dog-training place is still sitting empty; I can’t imagine what kind of restoration the owner would have to do to that building to make it palatable to anybody else.  I have a small (probably irrational) hope that maybe Canine College might be able to come back.

This is just in my small corner of the world but I’m assuming it’s same elsewhere.  I’m torn; it’s sad that businesses have failed but I’m glad there is enough hope out there that new businesses are opening.  Now if I could just get a bagel shop to open up within walking distance of my house!

Anything business that you valued gone under?  Anything new opening up near you?  What would you LIKE to open up near you?

Goodbye, Big REd

My most delightful coworker told me a very funny story the other day about the demise of her beloved red Honda van. It must date from 2000 or so, and has a gazillion miles on it. She has kept it going far longer than the mechanics or her husband thinks she should have. For a while , she could only get it into gear by sticking a screwdriver in the top of the steering wheel. She just had new tires on it and planned to keep driving it, when she started to have trouble with the horn.

My friend told me that she was on her way to a home visit for a client when she parked in front of the house, turned off the engine, and opened the door. The horn started honking and wouldn’t stop. She phoned her husband in a panic. He told her to drive the car a couple of blocks and see what would happen, She did, and the honking stopped until she again turned off the engine and opened the door. She tried starting, driving, parking, and stopping four more times. By the final attempt the honking wouldn’t stop at all, and she drove across town with her horn honking until she got home and her husband disconnected some cable. She said she was so embarrassed driving like that, as other drivers were pulling over and letting her pass as she drove by. Many waved at her in recognition, and others started following her to see where the big emergency was. She said “I always wanted people in town to know who I am, but this wasn’t quite what I meant!”

I commented that this was the end of Big Red, her pet name for the vehicle. She still thought she could get it fixed, but her husband put his foot down and said it was the end for the van. Now she is stuck driving the brand new Honda van they bought this winter that she didn’t like very much because of all the fancy gadgets on it.

What is the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in public?  What has been your favorite vehicle?

Fledged!

Despite still living at home, YA is pretty independent.  One of the characteristics of this independence is that I sometimes find out about things after the fact.  When she changed her employment five years ago, from one gym to another, she told me about it the day after she accepted the new job.  Two years ago I found out she was thinking about an MBA program after she had already applied and been accepted.  I’ve never really challenged her on this; I assume she sometimes doesn’t want to be swayed by any strong opinions that her mother might have.

As the end of her MBA program loomed, I knew she was applying for various internships and jobs and occasionally I would hear about it.  When she was approached by a recruiter and did a few interviews, it came up for discussion.  When she applied to the FBI, we talked briefly about how long she would have to go to Quantico for training (I don’t think either of us thought this would pan out).   The first I heard about the last job application was when she informed me she had an interview.  At my company.  I do see all the job postings for my company but most of them have long lists of requirements that she doesn’t fit, so I hadn’t been actively looking at all of them.  When she got a second interview, I was a little surprised because I know how competitive it is out there and she hadn’t even officially finished her graduate degree.  When the third interview went over an hour, I had a good feeling and I was correct; they called and offered her the job the next morning.

In the Travel division (in which I work), we call all the other divisions “the other side of the house”.  I don’t know if those other divisions call Travel “the other side” but I expect I’m about to find out.  And it’s a little weird that in two weeks she’ll be working more hours than I will (since I’m still only at half time).  I’ve noticed in the last few days she’s been slightly more interested in what I’m doing for work although it’s not a “I’m going to have to do that” kind of interest.  Just a “oh, she’s doing work for my company” kind of interest.  At least that what it seems like.  We’ve talked a little about going this weekend to check out the building she’ll be working in and a little bit about timecards.  We discussed carpooling, although I won’t be going into my building until the summer is over so it won’t be an issue until then. 

I’m very proud of her but it’s impossible to know if I’m just a bit extra proud because she’s joining me at a company where I’ve been very happy for 30+ years. 

What was your first job?

Farm Update!

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

It’s the first part of May when this posts and I’ve got some corn planted and we had some rain finally. But in farming blogs, we are still back in early April and I’ve got one field of oats to plant yet.

I worked at the college, had some meetings and changed three house lights in the theater. Went out about 7 o’clock at night to work up the last field to be oats. The new LED headlights on the tractor are fantastic. Such a white color and so bright, they are awesome. Only problem is, it is so dry, there is so much dust behind me I can barely see. No breeze, so it all just hung with me.

The new LED interior light is really nice too. A nice orange to light up the controls, it’s very bright and really nice.

Rain predicted for the last two days has not amounted to anything. Sprinkles last night, about noon today it rained enough to make the cement wet. Still talking rain overnight and scattered showers the next two days. We did get .4”.

The day after the rain I did plant part of the last field of oats. Well, I started and tried. We’ve gotten just enough rain the dirt is a little bit sticky. Dirt sticks to the press wheels of the drill and builds up. (There are blades which cut a track the seed drops into, and then the ‘press wheels’ cover it up.) It’s a problem when dirt builds up on them, because that affects the depth of the seed. I planted ¾ of the field before I ran out of seed, but I really shouldn’t have been planting in these conditions anyway. But they’re talking more rain so I’m trying to rush and that is rarely helpful. I swapped a press wheel that seems to be dragging. Left the crescent wrench lay on the drill and lost it in the field somewhere. Dang. It should be easy to find; it’s shiny and silver laying in black dirt. And it should have fallen off the back so not run over or anything, it should just be laying right there. I walked the field, I drove the field with the gator, and the 4 wheeler. Multiple times. I cannot find it.

Three weeks later I found a crescent wrench in the bottom of the tool box. Hmmm… was that wrench always down there? Did I somehow put the wrench from the drill down there? Or is this a different wrench? It’s a mystery, but since I still haven’t found one in the field, maybe…? 

Most every farmer carries some tool with him. As I grew up, the multi tools, like Leatherman or Gerber, weren’t popular, or maybe not even invented yet so Dad and I carried pliers. Dad wore the pants with a plier pocket built in. I didn’t like that; I wore a belt with a pouch for the pliers and a pouch for a swiss army knife. The pliers are on my left side, knife on my rear right, cell phone clipped to my right pocket. At the college, if I’m wearing my tool belt, all the tools, including the pliers, are on my right. I have to move the phone to my left pocket and my hammer hangs on my left side too. I’ve tried wearing the hammer at my back like the professional carpenters do… still working on that; it’s not natural yet.

It takes a day or two at each place to remember where my pliers are. I’ve tried swapping the pliers at home, but they’re heavy and they pull the belt out of the loops when undone and then the pliers fall out. So that doesn’t work.

Dad wore his belt buckle off to the side, like after the first belt loop. I never understood that. He just said it’s how he learned. Maybe because he was lefthanded.

How ambidextrous are you? What do you always carry?