Category Archives: Seasons

Industry

I was tickled last week to see this story from Fargo, about a guy who has problems with an industrious red squirrel.

https://www.inforum.com/community/7213005-42-gallons-of-nuts-Red-squirrel-stuffs-Fargo-mans-truck-with-nuts

For one thing, I am amazed that a walnut tree could be so prolific. I am also pretty impressed by the tenacity and single mindedness of the squirrel. I truly can understand this from the squirrel’s point of view. I don’t know what it is about having fresh produce, but every time we swear that this is the last tomato or eggplant or green bean we will pick, Husband and I automatically start to think of new ways to use them or preserve the ones that still are coming. We give what we can to the food pantry, but they are only open two days a week.

Husband picked a bunch of Spanish Giant sweet red peppers yesterday, and swore that he was going to pull up the plants. He didn’t, though, as he decided that would be wasteful. So, here I am, watering the garden again as it is going to be in the 80’s this week, because the peppers and tomatoes are loaded with fruits yet to ripen. The lack of a killing frost has made the garden last far longer than usual. I made two spanakopita on Saturday using up three pounds of our garden spinach leaves. There is a feverishness to harvest. Sometimes I think we are nuts with our garden. I lay the blame on our parents and grandparents.

How did growing up with Great Depression-era parents impact you? When have you been industrious? Got any good squirrel stories?

Already?

Good grief.  Is it pumpkin spice season already?  Is there no product that is not marketed at this time of year without pumpkin spice?  Coffee creamer. Pancake mix. Syrup. Oreos. Cookie dough. Chocolates.  Candles.  And of course the ubiquitous muffins, lattes and breads.  Even if I liked pumpkin, this is just an onslaught.  Every year!

Tell me what you like about autumn.  (Or don’t like.)

Clash of the Ash

I’m almost to the final chapter of my adventure with the Forestry Department of Minneapolis.  Back in April, we came home to see our two ash trees in the very back of the yard splashed with green lettering.  Someone had painted our trees.  Having lived through the city’s Dutch Elm debacle (plant thousands, wait too long when it’s clear something is amiss, cut down every one regardless of health, give citizens little to no notice), I was pretty sure this was the end of our ash trees.  Despite knowing for the last two years that this was coming it was a little sad nonetheless.

The green paint was followed by a form left on our front door stating that the city required the trees be removed (of course at my expense) and that they would be collecting quotes from various tree services on our behalf.  I called the Forestry department twice when we didn’t hear anything for a few weeks; at the end of the second call, the department representative made it all too clear that I was to await the letter than would eventually show up and not to call again. 

All summer I’ve looked out the back to see my green-trunked trees, impatiently waiting for the Forestry department to get on with it.  Finally the first week of August we got a letter.  The city had to get a special quote because of where our trees were located on the property line.  At the end of the letter they listed two different quotes.  One was for $3,500.  The other was for $18,000 – this is NOT a typo.  This time when I called the city, I got a more helpful person.  She sighed when I squawked about the 18 grand figure and said she wished that the companies would just say they didn’t want the business.  I was a little concerned that some computer somewhere would assign this company to me but she said I could fill out the postcard that accompanied the last letter with that request.  I told her that I would like to get my own quote – and after a bit, she acquiesced and said I could write that on the postcard as well.

Well, my tree guy came in at half the price (of the lower figure) and is including grinding out the stumps.  They were here yesterday and the whole job, including avoiding all the powerlines and doing all the clean up took less than two hours.  I’m still in shock about the $18,000 quote. 

Have you ever been over charged for something?

That Fall Smell

The farm report comes to us from Ben

Had a good rainshower Monday afternoon. One of those downpours where traffic slows, and windshield wipers are on high. I could see it coming, I was several miles from home and the sky was dark and I was hitting Every. Red. Light. At one point there was some pea size hail, just a few stones, and I was considering my odds… can I make it home? Where should I park otherwise? But I thought I could make it. (Risk taker, remember?)

And then I could see the rain coming. Boy, just a few times in my life I’ve been in rain that heavy. Thankfully only lasted a mile or so. We ended up with .87”. Thankfully no hard winds with it in our area. I did hear reports of funnel clouds in other areas.

Rain like that in the fall is tough; the crops don’t really need it anymore, and the weather is cool enough it doesn’t dry as fast as it would mid-summer. The corn is tall enough the sun can’t hit the soil and it stays wet for a week. And it just makes harvest harder because now there’s mud to deal with. So, we’ll see how that goes.

I was out checking crops last evening and I noticed that fall smell in the air. The beans are coming along. I saw several farmers out harvesting soybeans in the area today. Soybean pods are fussy; they dry out in the late morning or afternoon, but they’ll pick up moisture after dark or with the dew. Plants along the edge of the field might still be soft and mushy, but the rest of the field is dry, and the pods crack open easy, which is what you need to harvest. The corn is still looking good, it’s roughly 30% moisture which means the ears haven’t tipped down yet. Too much rain and it gets down inside the husk and can cause mold issues on the kernels. Once the corn dries more and the ears tip down, rain won’t cause mold issues.

After the discussion last week on PTO shafts, I was thinking about how some other things have changed.

Hooking up wagons or implements is different these days. One of the greatest inventions is the extendable wagon hitch. LIFECHANGING! Back when tractors were smaller and didn’t have cabs, it was easy to just look over your shoulder and you were almost looking right down at the hitch (called a drawbar) so backing up to a wagon was easy and we got real good at getting lined up so the hitch pin would drop right in. And the tractor or wagon was small enough we could nudge it a little bit to make the connection.

With a cab, sightlines changed and sometimes it’s harder to see the hole in the drawbar, so it was harder to get lined up right. Some people have added mirrors to the rear window so when the window is open, it allows one to see the hitch. (I need to do that on one of my tractors).

But now, with extendable hitches, as long as we get close, we can extend the wagon hitch to connect it, then we back up and it locks back into place. It’s wonderful! Especially when hooking a wagon to another implement, so I’m guessing where that hitch is way back there; the extendable tongues are life savers!

I remember the first wagon Dad bought with an extendable hitch. It was a remarkable thing.

Hitch pins too – at first, they were just pieces of straight rod with a washer welded on the top. Or even a large bolt if you were desperate. But again, machinery got bigger.

I made a couple hitch pins in high school welding class; that’s where I learned about hardening and how to temper them so they didn’t wear out so fast.

I had no idea I had so many hitch pins until I got them all together for this photo.

Then seed dealers started giving away hitch pins with an ACTUAL HANDLE on the top! That was another wonderful revelation! Course, on a hill it was easy for that hitch back there to drag on the ground and push the hitch pin right out. I ran one wagon through a fence and down into the calf pen when the pin came out… didn’t break anything or lose any bales, just the wagon. (And had to fix the fence). Lost the pin on the grain drill one day and didn’t notice until I got home and didn’t have a drill behind me anymore. One time the anhydrous tank came unhooked from the applicator. Knew that right away and thank goodness I was on flat ground and thanks goodness for the safety disconnect valve that separated. But getting it all hooked back up again was a struggle.

If you wanted to be safe, you put a clip in the hole at the bottom of the pin. If there WAS a hole for a clip. IF it stayed when going through cornstalks.  Again, tractors and implements have gotten bigger Now I use locking pins that might be 5/8” or even 7/8” diameter. And the big tractor has something called a ‘Hammerstrap’ hitch that’s about 1 1/2” diameter. And it will actually drop itself in! (if I back up straight and hit the hitch of the implement just right. It works pretty well and it makes me laugh when It does).

In this photo the PTO shaft is the round thing above the hitch.  Bigger tractors might have a pin as big as your wrist. If you imagine the pull on these machines when they’re in the ground, you can imagine why they might need a pin this big.

Duck Report. The three older ones and the younger ones are just starting to hang out together. And nobody goes in the pen anymore; they just hang out down here by the pond.

I saw a duck get a little air the other day… just a few feet, but I’ll bet it’s coming soon.

What do you remember changing your life? What’s coming soon for you?

September Farm

The farm report comes to us from Ben.

We had some friends and their kids visit and we had a good time giving tractor rides and gator rides and collecting eggs and seeing cows. It’s always fun giving farm tours.

I finally got around to working on the brush mower. I had to order bigger sockets to get the nut off the broken spindle on the big spinny thing. (It’s 45mm by the way) And then trying to get the gear box off the mower deck, I didn’t have the right size sockets for that either. It’s 30mm. I am getting more and more metric tools, but I didn’t have anything that big. I have a 3/8” drive socket set that I use for a lot of things. And a 1/2” drive set for some of the bigger stuff. And then I started buying 3/4” drive stuff for the really big stuff. (I mean the size of the square on the head of the ratchet is 3/8” or 1/2” or 3/4”). Then I put a 3’ long pipe over the handle to get enough leverage to get the nuts loose. Took the gear box up to John Deere for them to fix.

How’s that go: Every job is an opportunity for a new tool. Worked here.

On the way home from John Deere I stopped at a farm stand and bought 4 dozen ears of sweet corn. A couple kids run this stand and it is really good corn. Got that frozen and it will be really good this winter.

My mom has a possible Covid exposure from one of her physical therapy people. I had seen her on Sunday, and she found that out on Monday. But she hasn’t tested positive herself yet and they all wear masks and mom is vaccinated and I’d think the PT person was too. So hopefully she stays good. She needs to isolate in her room, which she isn’t very happy about. And her food comes in a Styrofoam container with plastic cutlery and that’s her biggest complaint. We had a care conference Tuesday and there seems to be exceptions for everything so she’s gotten real plates now. Hope that keeps up.

Monday was Labor Day and I wondered if I should really take the day off or do some work. If I didn’t do anything I’d feel guilty. I took a nap first off. But then decided to clean up the swather and get that put away. I washed it off and oiled the chains, loosened some belts, and filled the gas tank and added some ‘Stabil’ to the fuel, and tucked it into the shed for winter.

Then decided it was a good day to burn a small brush pile behind the shed. Got that burning and cut some grass while keeping an eye on it.

We’re having a little experiment with the ducks. When they go into the pen at night, they can either walk up a ramp or they can hop up onto a block and then into the open door. Most of them seem to hop in. One day I had not put the ramp in the door, it was sitting down on the block. Everyone had gone in except one black duck and two brown ducks. They were very distressed to be outside on their own and I finally went down and put the ramp up and one brown duck went up the ramp and the other two hopped in from the block. Hmm, were the other two moral support for the ramp duck?

This is very curious, so the next night I also left the ramp down and everyone had gotten in except a black duck and a brown duck. I put the ramp back up and both ducks hopped in without using the ramp.
The third night I put the ramp in the door right away. About dusk everyone heads over to the door and the white ducks always go first and hop on the block and up into the door. Might take them two tries, but they make it. Eventually the ones waiting got tired of waiting in line and they all went and got a drink and then came back and some more hopped in, and again, the remaining few got tired of the queue, went and got another drink and then came back and no one used the ramp and everyone hopped in. Evidently the ramp is more emotional support or a guide? It’s very interesting.

FOURTH NIGHT! I had the ramp up and I watched closer; they seem to use the ramp as a guide rail. A few actually use it, some bump against the side while hopping in, and some jump up onto the ramp about 1/2 way up. Very curious. And when they come out in the morning, it’s last in, first out.

When I got home one day, all the ducks were out of their pen. We’d been talking about letting them out; they’re old enough and big enough, but being ‘adolescent’, they don’t always make the best choices and we lose a few to coyotes. That day they found a hole – or maybe ‘made’ a hole and they were all close, just on the wrong side of the fence. It wasn’t too hard to round them up, patch the hole, and get them all back inside. And then I noticed one of the white ones has a wound under one wing. Neither Kelly or I were working from home that day which makes me wonder; maybe a coyote came in the yard and caused a commotion which is what scared them out. Kelly says every day around noon there is some kind of commotion, and the dogs bark and guineas get upset so there’s something going on.

I showed Kelly how to fire the rifle and the next day, when the noon commotion began, she fired a shot. We never see anything, but we’re trying to scare it– whatever “it” is– away. Kelly really wants to shoot a coyote but she’s having trouble making the scope work for her. She is just hoping for plain, dumb luck. And she’s going to work on firing from the hip.

Chickens; they get into the ducks pen, but they can’t ever figure out how to get back out…

BONUS! Two Sandhill Cranes standing in the field when I left for work the other day.

There has been a pair here all summer, we don’t see them, we only hear them. I’m guessing this is another pair passing through.

Can you fire from the hip? And accomplish what you are trying to accomplish?

Fill of Berries

I made my annual pilgrimage out to the farm for raspberries last week.  Beautiful day for picking – sunny and not too warm.  A little muggy from the big rain the two days before but after our dry summer, I am NOT complaining about rain.

Since I was the first one out in the field, they stationed me at the far southeast corner of the biggest patch of canes.  Pretty shortly after, they started to put someone opposite me (on the other side of the line of cane I was working on) and she protested that she didn’t want “to be near anybody else”.  I told her I didn’t take it personally and that I had a mask in pocket if needed.  She moved on to another line.

An older couple were then placed opposite of me.  They didn’t even look toward me and so I knew there wasn’t going to be any chatting.  (This turned out to be OK because pretty soon a VERY chatty woman started picking two lines away and even thought she was speaking to the folks near her, I could hear her clearly!) 

I expected that the couple across from me would move ahead of me fairly quickly.  Two people picking together are always faster than just one.  Except this time!   The gentleman stayed pretty even with me and the woman lagged behind.  This was so different from what I usually experience that I started to pay a little more attention to them.  The woman was digging thoroughly through the canes, clearly searching for every single viable berry she could find.  The gentleman was not as thorough.  I soon realized that another reason they were slow was the amount of time spent moving their hands from the canes to their mouths.  The farm does encourage folks to taste while they pick, but this couple was taking it to new heights.  They quit picking before I did with less than a flat of picked berries and I’m sure it’s because they were full! 

So far I’ve made my freezer jam, added raspberries to pancake batter and, of course, enjoyed fresh raspberry shortcake!

How do you like your raspberries?

Hey, Hey Straw

To wrap up the oat harvest, let me explain test weight and pricing.

There isn’t a big market for oats, so they won’t take the oats if the quality is a little low. By ‘Quality’ I mean if it isn’t at least 32 lbs test weight (That’s the ‘standard’ weight of a bushel of the product. 56lbs for corn, 60 lbs for soybeans, 32lbs for oats). The weight can vary depending on a lot of things; moisture content of the crop, the weather as it grew, the variety, ect. The market price is based on that weight though, so if it’s low, we don’t get paid the full amount because while we deal with the crops in volume (the trucks and wagons it takes to get it hauled in), we’re paid by the bushel. If your corn sample only tests 50 lbs, then it takes more corn to get to 52 lbs and we get docked for the low TW.

My oats samples tested 38 and 39 lbs. The truck is heavier, which means it takes less grain to make 32 lbs so I get more bushels on the truck. But no bonus for being Over TW.

Price this year was $3.58 / bushel at the Elgin elevator (which is closest so most of the oats went there) but they were full so the last of the oats went to another elevator and it was $3.71 there. Heck; if I’d known that I’d have taken it all to that second place!

Remember; hay is something animals will eat; it contains nutrients. Straw is just an empty stalk; there’s not much nutritional value in straw.

Baling straw; it went pretty well this year. No problems.

It might take a while to get the baler working right; get the rust off it, so to speak. I like to bale straw; it’s light and the bales are easy to throw around.

I broke a shear bolt just after starting; a ‘shear bolt’ is protection against something bad happening. It might simply be overloaded or it might be a safety feature against something catastrophic. But sometimes they just wear out. That was the case here.

This shear bolt hooks the baler flywheel to the hydraulic pump for the baler kicker and sometimes it just fails. Then the kicker looses it’s oomph.

In the old days, Clyde and my dad had to have someone on the wagon to catch the bales coming off the baler and stack them on the wagon. I was about 10 years old when Dad bought a kicker baler which ‘kicks’ the bales into the wagon. Less manpower needed. Course, getting them back out is a little more trouble.

In 1993, we hosted 2 men from Russia for a few days. They were here as part of an exchange program with the Farm Bureau. They didn’t speak English, but they had a Russian / English dictionary and we had a good time doing hand gestures. I was baling hay and they rode in the wagon and insisted on stacking the bales as they flew in there from the baler. I tried to stop them; warning them this was dangerous and not to get hit by one. They assured me it was fine and kept stacking. And it’s a wonderful thing; so much easier to unload when they’re stacked, plus I get more bales on the wagon. I’ve been stacking a few ever since. Just the bottom row or two, and a ‘wall’ at the front to help keep the bales in the wagon.

The kicker part of the baler rotates left and right. That allows me to throw a bale in the wagon even when making a corner. And there’s a power adjustment to kick the bale just a little bit or kick it real hard! The average is 3 or 4. It goes to 8, I haven’t had to use it that high unless I’m kicking it all the way over the wagon just for fun. Because the power is based on weight, kicking to the back of the 16’ wagon only needs about 4. If the bales are so heavy it needs 6 or more, then they’re too wet to bale and I can’t even pick them up.

Up or down hills changes that a bit… and making a corner when it kicks can still kick it over the side. All in all, it’s kinda fun.

Here’s what it looks like from the tractor cab.

I’m watching my left mirror as that shows the back of the baler and I can tell the bale is good (not missing a string) and I can see most of the wagon. The right mirror shows the row going into the pick up.

Here’s three loads in the shed.

A few weeks ago we talked about backing up wagons. Here’s what it looks like to back up a wagon into the shed:

You need to trust yourself about what’s behind you.

I had about 200 straw bales left in the barn. I baled 612 (there’s a mechanical counter on the baler; each time it ties a knot, it trips the counter). 166 bales (one stacked load) went to the neighbors for their strawberry patch. He’ll use it for cover this fall. The other 446 went in the pole barn. I unloaded one load by myself; back the wagon into the barn, toss a bunch out, get out and stack them, toss a bunch more out. It’s not too hard when the stack is low. It’s too much work once up about two rows.

My brother came out; he helped me get the elevator set up and then he and I unloaded the last two loads. The cows came to watch me.

Here my brother is trying to figure out how to start the load

Here comes a bale destined for VS’s garden next spring.

A clean field and the last bale are welcome sights.

I didn’t need anymore small square bales this year so I hired a neighbor to make round bales from the rest of the straw.

 I’ll sell them to the neighbor with the cows.

I’ve left off the tractor that inexplicable died. (turned out to be the coil wire). And the dead battery in the other tractor. And the post that has somehow twisted a bit so now the gate doesn’t swing in AND out anymore, so I have to take it off to get the elevator put up.

I did get the hitch welded back on the elevator so that’s one thing.

And I got the second show open.

And time to cut grass again.

Hey! “Straw is cheaper, Grass is free. Buy a farm and you get all three.”

So? “Sew Buttons on a balloon, you’ll get a bang out of it.”

What’s your favorite sarcastic reply phrase?

Doesy Doates

Today’s post comes from Ben.

When last we left the farm the swather was standing on one tire and a jack.

Mechanic Nick came out from John Deere and fixed it up in no time. Now that was a good decision to call them. And $637 later I’m moving through the field again. I was estimating $500. “Labor” was $500… bearing, flanges, locking collar, service call, misc and …. Just put it on my tab. But it’s fixed and I finished cutting oats and the swather is back home in the shed.

I spend a lot of time thinking of ‘what if’s’. What if the machine breaks down? What will I do if I can’t fix it? Who can I call that would know people to come and cut oats? And then, as I near the end it becomes ‘I would just leave this part’, or ‘who has a sickle mower I could use’, or ‘I wonder if the bean head could do this’? This year I learned something. I learned I call John Deere and they can fix some of it. Course it depends what, exactly, has broken. 

And what do I think about all day just going round and round? I have music in my head. Last week I had the ‘Mairsey Dotes’ song in there for a while… that annoyed me. Had to work real hard to get something else in there. The first day it was a Pink Floyd song. Got some Led Zepplin going, there was probably a show tune in there somewhere… I can’t remember what finally settled in.

No cab or radio, and I’m wearing hearing protection, long sleeves, and a dust mask.

I observe the direction the oats was planted versus the direction I’m cutting it and I wonder if it matters because of how it sits on the stubble; is sitting sideways better than sitting in line? When going the same direction, in line, does it fall down between the stubble more? Hmmm. (It depends how heavy the windrow is). And I leave some stubble so it sits on top of that in case it does get rained on it’s not flat on the ground.  

I observe how whenever I stop with the planter, I leaves a gap of a few feet and weeds grow wherever there isn’t grain growing.

Which is kind of amazing when you think about it.

I look at the damage the deer cause and I curse them out a little more.

When the combine (we should clarify the pronunciation of this if you’re not familiar. It’s not com-BINE, like adding things, it’s COM-bine. I don’t know where that came from. Subject for another day). The combine has to pick up the oat windrow the same direction it was cut. And that means from the head end. As the swather cuts it, all the heads fall to the back and it’s usually pretty easy to tell. Trying to go the wrong way, it just doesn’t feed into the combine as well.

When cutting, it’s best to make about 4 or 5 rounds all around the field, so there’s room on the ends for the combine to turn around, (and that goes for any crop; corn or beans or anything); we call those the ‘headlands’.  And then it can just be cut going back and forth. Corners are tough so we avoid those when we can. Tough in that the machinery doesn’t make 90 degree corners very well, it doesn’t plant well in corners, hard to stay on the row in a corners.

OK, so now it’s Saturday and the combine is here and harvesting and I don’t have any trucks yet. I can’t get the truck guy on the phone. I call another guy from the farm, but he’s over in Wisconsin and he can’t get anyone on the phone either. Finally, we just go to the farm and get a semi and drive it back here ourselves. And, of course, there’s a summer shower and the harvesting is done for the day. Next day he’s back and finishes that field. And a few days later gets the last of it.

I don’t have the final numbers yet, but it looks like a real good crop.

As I write this, I’ve got some straw baled, got another show ready to open, ducklings moved to a bigger pen,

and I’m going to cut the grass!

Talk about when you had to do something yourself. Why is good help so hard to find?

Food Opportunism

The peach man arrived in town last week. He is also the cherry man, and comes to town a couple of times a week in the summer selling Washington and Montana cherries and Washington peaches in the mall parking lot. His wares are hard to resist, and we bought a crate of lovely organic Washington peaches from him. We can’t find Washington peaches in the stores here.

Our vegetable garden is starting to produce a lot now, and we are scrambling to use up all that we harvest, either by eating now or freezing. Buying a crate of peaches was rather impulsive. The peaches ripened fast, so this weekend we had an additional scramble to use them up. I used 9 pounds in peach pie filling, which I froze. Husband looked up beet and peach salads. He has yet to make one, but the recipe he chose has champagne in it. I found a peach and pasta salad with arugula and goat cheese. I also made a peach quick bread. There is no rest for us in late July.

What do you find hard to resist buying? What is your favorite peach recipe? Made any impulse purchases lately?

Summer Camps

Today’s post comes to us from Steve, who is at the extreme left above, petting the dog.

The pattern of sending kids off to summer camp is much stronger in the East than in the Midwest, but summer camps seem increasingly popular here. Kids from cities like New York or Boston might be shipped out to spend the whole summer in one or more camps. The Midwestern pattern is more likely to let kids live at home, perhaps attending one or more camps in the summer.

Camps used to be very traditional and outdoorsy, much like Boy Scout camps everywhere. Kids would play outdoors, swim, do crafts and have bonfire picnics. Modern summer camps are increasingly educational, perhaps teaching computer skills or a foreign language. My daughter has fond memories of Artward Bound, a camp that encouraged kids to engage with the visual arts. Alas, it no longer exists.

My first camp was Camp Matigwa, a Boy Scout operation. I was at an awkward age, shy and reclusive. They taught me to make a lanyard, which later made the Billy Collins poem all the funnier. We were supposed to swim once a day, but the water was cold and I was delighted to learn I could spend that hour at the camp’s “canteen” eating Baby Ruth bars instead.

I wore shorts on the day we took our first hike. I contacted some stinging nettle, which hurt like liquid fire until one of the counselors found some jewel weed, a plant whose sap canceled the nettle’s poison. The obvious lesson was that we should learn all about plants. I now suspect that our counselors staged the whole thing. They obviously knew where the nettle and the jewel weed grew, so I was the dupe they maneuvered to blunder into the nettles so they could showcase their expertise.

My favorite camp experience came in the summer of 1956 when I spent two delightful weeks riding horses at the Larry-Jo Dude Ranch near Boone, Iowa. We camped out, sang around a bonfire, groomed horses and took two trail rides each day. On my faithful horse, Margarita, I twice won the water relay event at our end-of-camp rodeo.

But the big event from that summer was when we played hide-and-seek on horseback. Pardon me for telling a story I’ve told before. We rode south of the ranch to a patch of woods. I had been assigned to ride Diablo, a large white mare that was the fastest horse in camp. But Diablo was lame that afternoon. When we divided up to go hide ourselves, I was stuck riding the largest, whitest, slowest horse in camp. I dismounted and led Diablo into a little gully where we could hide under some overhanging shrubs.

It was so exciting my heart still races when I remember it. Horses thundered all over the woods, kids screaming and tagging each other. I knew enough about psychology to know that time passes slowly when you are hiding like that, so I kept squelching the impulse to come out. Then the noises stopped. After what seemed an eternity, I ventured out of the gully. The woods were empty. Everyone had gone back to the ranch house, obviously unaware they were one buckaroo short.

As a courtesy to my lame horse, I held Diablo’s reins and walked her for half an hour back to the ranch. When I got to a hill overlooking camp, I saw three cop cars near the corral, their red and blue gumball lights madly spinning. And I understood: the town’s cops had been called in to find me.

The camp’s managers were delighted to find me perfectly alive and unharmed, but they infuriated me over and over. They kept calling me “the lost camper.” That was outlandish. I knew exactly where I was every minute of that day. They saw me as the lost camper although I saw myself as the hide-and-seek champion of all time.

Do you have any summer camp memories to share?