We were zipping down the road in my old pickup truck. Peterson Farm Brothers blaring on the radio. Goats loaded up in the back. We sang happily along with the wind whipping through our hair from the rolled down windows. There were fancier rigs at fair, but none as fun as us.
The day before we brought in the static entries, pillows, plants, the things they’ve made at 4h camps all summer. As the kids finished their interviews my son was snatched up first. A gang of children wandered by and spotted him. They called his name from across a field and he was absorbed. He disappeared only to be spotted from a distance as they roamed about doing whatever it is kids do at fair. My daughter finally finished her interviews and went off to join them.
We stayed longer than we had needed to as they helped wash pigs, visited dogs, and probably caused trouble.
Today we were bringing the goats. They traveled happily in the box in the bed of my pickup. We had loaded them earlier and taken them for a ride, testing it out and getting them used to the idea. Hauling a whole trailer seems excessive for two tiny little goats.
Not as many friends were about today and the ones that were had been busy showing pigs since early morning. Mine were too nervous to play much anyway. They clung and fought. We settled the goats and looked at their projects from the day before. Finally it was time for lunch and the show to begin.
The showmanship class was good sized, for such a small fair. Five kids, five children too of course. My daughter and her friend had smaller dairy goats, I think that may have helped them look better handling them. They placed highest.
Then it was time for the littlest kids. They are in Clover Buds but got to show with the big kids. Participation awards but my son was wore out from the long day. He frowned and drug his goat through the class. It was a good learning experience, even if he managed not to enjoy it. Loosing, how you manage that with a participation award I’m not sure, but he was sure he had, loosing gracefully is a learned behavior that must be practiced.
They had a great time with friends, learned a lot. Like how to help your friends get ready to show, how to help them do their absolute best, even if they will be showing against you. It’s looking like we might be doing goats again, even after we swear it off every year.
I had help driving the semi over to the wheat fields this morning. He drove while we off roaded. Before too long he’ll be driving for real, hauling the grain to the elevator. His sister was behind us in the combine. Other than getting the semi over where it could be loaded with wheat our job was to watch for traffic coming over the hills. The combine header is as wide as the road. Meeting vehicles is difficult. We need to slow them and warn him so he can get off the road as far as possible. Luckily we only met a couple of cars.
While my son steered I texted a friend along the way. Her kids met us on the road and road along. They could come ride in semis or in the combine and play in the wheat in the trailer once it started getting filled.
That was the plan at least.
Driving and talking I wasn’t paying as close of attention to the combine as I had been. There were no big hill and no traffic to worry about. Soon I looked back and there was no one there. We slowed to a crawl and waited. Eventually they caught up. My daughter came over the walky talky. They’d had a small break down. But they were going again.
We went around the corner and looked back to see they had stopped again. She came over the radio again, it was stopped, the break was set. It wasn’t moving. I set the breaks on the semi there in the middle of the road and we waited.
It wasn’t going. It wouldn’t be going any time soon. The kids and I went ahead in the semi and parked next to the wheat field we had just almost made it to. Then we started walking. It was almost a mile across the field and pasture. As we got close I got a phone call to say they, my husband and his father who had gotten there by then, were driving to a neighbors house to take the broken piece off of his combine. Borrowing the part needed to get the pully going to release the parking break so they could get it out of the middle of the road to work on it for real.
Our daughter started walking across the pasture to meet us. Anything is more fun that working on machinery with grouchy guys who are mad about it having broken down. It was apparently enough to make her brave walking past the cows.
We were right there and all walked back towards the combine together. The kids played in the water hole under the bridge. We petted a cow. Hung out in the shade. It wasn’t the playdate we had planned but it was still fun.
There were a few pickups that went by. They had been polite and friendly. Talking to the guys as they worked. Offering condolences, because everyone understands how much that sucks. Then they went down into the ditch and around.
The guys had just gotten back from borrowing the part off the other combine when we looked up to see a semi coming down the road. It’s a big open stretch and you can see the combine blocking the road from a long ways off. There was no reason to worry. We watched him keep coming and keep coming without slowing. My husband was under or behind that combine in the middle of the road. The idiot in the semi was getting really close and still hadn’t slowed at all. I started running for the road. There was no way I could get between him and the combine, or get him to stop if a huge combine in the middle of the road wasn’t enough to do it, but I was going to try.
Finally he slammed on the breaks and skidded noisily to a halt. He sat there. It was a manure spreader, still a semi, technically. Three more came behind him. I didn’t really care if they hit him. So I stayed where I was in the pasture. The lot of them were together and sat there in the road. Apparently unable to figure out that the road was blocked.
I walked over, prepared to be friendly, let them know how they could get around since they didn’t seem to be able to figure it out on their own. With cigarette smoke billowing out the window I stepped up on the running board and said hey, sorry, combine is broke.
He was snarling and grouchy. Couldn’t we tow it out of the road?!?!
Nope. I’ve been saying that a lot lately, need to get to that story too. But for now, the break was stuck on. They’d have it fixed enough to get off the road in a little bit, or you could back up to the intersection just behind you and go around the block.
More snarling. They could sure drag it out of the road with that, he said gesturing vaguely behind him. I could only assume he meant the big payloader he had on a trailer behind the manure spreader he was very fittingly driving.
Nope, there it was again. We aren’t interested in ‘dragging’ it anywhere thank you. He was welcome to go around the block.
While I still stood there on the running board and his other manure filled buddies sitting in the road behind him, he threw it in gear as he got on the cb. I stepped back off the side and mentally flipped him off enthusiastically. The whole herd of swine started to back up.
Unfortunately about that time they got the combine going enough to limp it to the driveway that had been so tantalizingly close the whole time. The road was clear. The snarling yappy little creature who had chosen a carrier so incredibly suited to him was able to go forward. Heaven forbid he have to go a couple of miles out of his way. I hope they have fun spreading the manure that it was so terribly important for them to get to. Maybe like fish out of water they were suffocating with out poop to wallow in.
The combine sits there now. Out of the road in a neighbors hay field. Parts no where to be found. The wheat sits in the field, ready and waiting. The frustrated men had no trouble fiding other jobs that need done while they wait impenitently for the needed parts. We dropped the friends off. Maybe next time we can actually play in the wheat.
The kids and I swung by the pasture to check the tank on our way to town. We only had a few minutes because, as usual, we were running later than I had hoped and we didn’t want to be late for an eye doctor appointment! As we got the salt put out I looked at the cows grazing in the not to far distance and thought I saw too many hanger downers 😉
There were two of the bulls. But a couple other cattle standing next to them also had the tuft of fur under the belly. That didn’t seem right.
I checked my watched, contemplated the length of the drive we still had and decided there was enough time to walk over to the bunch. Once I got over there there were way to many cattle with hanger downers. Yearling steers. Yay. That meant the neighbor had cattle out. I would need to get a hold of someone. But first we had to get to our appointment. We were going to be late.
In town I texted around and got numbers for the suspected owners. Called one, the father, and left a message. Then got the number of the son and texted.
The son answered immediately. The response made me so made I had to sit and think a bit before responding. Always best not to text mad 😉
He said “Probably ours, went around fence, but your half was not great. We fixed it up some, but needs a lot of posts. We are out of town until tomorrow but will get it then. ”
Now I’ve dealt with these people before. I’ve been out there fixing fence on miserably hot days because they told my husbands father the same thing and he said oh ok, or some such. Then ordered us out to fix fence for the neighbors. Knowing what they are like I was extra careful when I went over that fence line. I wasn’t having it. I informed him the fence had been fine thank you. Very politely of course. He didn’t respond.
The father called me back as we went through walmart. He was very polite, until he started in on it too. Figured out who I was and which of their pastures I was talking about, which took awhile. Then said they’d get to it once they got back from vacation. But, you know, that fence isn’t very good between us. I wasn’t having it. I was already pretty grouchy after talking to the son. My children had chosen that moment to start a brawl in the aisle. I grabbed handfuls of what ever I could get, hair, and yanked them apart. Giving them my best knock it off or I will beat you look I sent them cowering apart. Then smiled, because it can be heard in your voice and told him, nope, the fence was good, I walked it and have been checking it. We chatted a bit more and he started in again!
You know, your fence between us….
Nope! If he wanted to repeat himself I could repeat myself. I thought a moment about the absurdity of it then decided I could do it as many times as he could. And we did. There in the middle of walmart with a smile fixed on my face, sobbing pouting children and people trying to get to the chips behind me. I held my ground and refused any reply except to restate that the fence was in great shape. Yealings can be hard to keep in, no one is mad at them but it was not the fences fault.
Seriously! Accept blame. Be polite, apologize for your cattle, and promise to come get them. I’ve been on that end of things before. It happens. Refusing to accept any responsibility is the behavior of a child. Grown men should know better.
The kids and I went over and took lunch to their father in the field where he was working summer fallow. Then we started driving the fence line.
There were way more than the few head I had seen earlier. It was really beginning to look like there were way more yearlings than pairs! A handful of them were in the summer fallow. They had torn the fence down between it and the pasture. We put it up and, after careful consideration, I texted the son again. Let him know that we had a bunch more than originally thought and some didn’t have water.
He texted back that they’d be there this evening. Then started insisting that I didn’t need to be there to help with the sorting!
The more he insisted that I not come the more determined I was that I was going to be there. The way they had acted so far didn’t lead me to believe they would treat the cattle decently or sort thoroughly. I wanted to make sure my cows didn’t disappear or get run hard.
The kids and I loaded up the 4wheelers. There’s plenty of barb wire laying around I wouldn’t want to risk any horse’s legs.
We got there. Drove over and picked up my husband from the summer fallow. By the time we got back they were there. All two of them. They had been determined that two guys were going to sort fifty plus yearling out of the pairs by themselves? I had even been assured, in one of the many texts telling me not to come, that it would only take them a few minutes. They had high opinions of themselves. Or hadn’t believed me about the number of steers.
They took over issuing orders. Their yearlings, so fine. We sorted and pushed and sorted some more. It was actually going rather well. We were able to leave cows and calves behind as the herd walked towards the gate.
Then everything balled up and the easy sorting was done. Working hard we got a few more out. My son put in a good days work, real work not kid stuff, pushing cows we got out back to that herd and holding them there. Someday his kids will be as fascinated and horrified by his tales of life growing up on the farm as we are when my grandpa talked about driving the team farming by himself when he was five. If he was as dedicated and hard working as this boy I can see how he would have easily done the job. My husband worked the cattle on foot. My daughter and I ran around doing a bit of everything. Hopefully helpfully 😉 Daisy dog clung to the back of the fourwheeler.
With a few head left in the bunch it was decided that it would be easier to pull a couple of cows back out of their pasture than to sort where we were and the whole bunch was sent through the gate.
There they all took off at a hard run. The three of us took off after them. my husband had rejoined our son and were busy keeping cows in the pasture I think. I don’t know. We never looked back. Despite my determination not to let them run our cows hard there wasn’t much else to do at the moment but to keep up. We caught them before the draw and each took a cow. Either the guys did a better job chasing them, or they had easier cows. They got theirs back while we fought with ours
I think a 4wheeler should work cows like a horse. Stop and turn on a dime after them. Daisy was having a hard time holding on. My daughter was giggling hysterically with an arm around me and the other holding tight to Daisy. Back and fourth we cut that cow until she quite fighting and, somewhat, quietly went back to her pasture.
With that part done I begged my daughter to please take Daisy back to the pickup. This was hard on her and there was nothing she’d be able to help with. They got dropped off as close as possible to the pickup and they walked back with plenty of water holes and trees to play in along the way. Then we, my trusty green mount and I were back in the fray.
We had sorted part of the herd, but there were plenty more to work through. It took a couple of hours and lots of wear and tear on the 4wheelers but we did finally get all of the yearling steers out. The grass, which had looked good went from having another week or so of grazing to needing the cows moved soon. The cows were run hard. I can only imagine how hard they would have been run without us there. I pulled the father aside one time and told him to take it easy. I didn’t want the cows pushed that hard or to lose any calves. Not sure he actually herd me. Or listened. I had worked hard to avoid screaming when one of them took off after my old 524 cow. She’s the second oldest in my herd and a dang good cow. If they hadn’t backed off before I could react, well, I do seem to be a bit grouchy lately, I think I’d be willing to take a grown man 😉
There were yearlings coming back to the fence already as we finished and paused to talk a bit. Fortunately they didn’t say any more about how their cows being in our pasture was my fault. Of course they didn’t acknowledge me at all, only deigning to speak to my husband. Probably for the best. He has better control over his temper than I do.
They went down the fence line to chase their yearlings the other way. Their only concession to the trouble their calves had caused when the father said they’d be taking three or so of them back with them to a different pasture because they were high headed trouble causers. On his way to get the steer who was waiting right back where they had taken the whole fence down, he stopped and very self righteously put a staple in our fence. He had claimed it to be weak, falling down, and generally bad, guess he had to find something wrong with it. I hope that one staple made him feel better.
It’s almost time to start wheat harvest.
A couple of neighbors are going already. The small fields here at home are ready, the bigger fields farther afield are still green.
The kids spent all morning yesterday washing the combine. Their job was to get the hopper on top washed clean of corn, and get some places around the bottom. My husband took one look at it yesterday afternoon and was horrified. He started scrubbing on it this morning and said they may have managed to somehow make it worse than it already was
Oh well. They had fun and worked really hard, if nor effectively.
He washed for awhile this morning then I took over. It’s strangely satisfying and I’d happily work at it all day.
We parked on a grassy spot that’s heavily grazed by the horses. It will get watered. Then we’ll run the chickens over it to clean up the corn that is washed out. The goats have been happily eating on the corn under it too. Nothing is wasted.
The combine is very old, by combine standards. The meticulous care my husband takes of all things that are his and his brilliant mechanical mind have kept it running. Many times it has broken down and needed rebuilt mid harvest. Many parts are worn thin, very literally, from the tons of corn and wheat that have run through it.
The insides are intricate and fascinating. I spend the time as I hose them off looking in awe at the complicated workings. I can’t imagine what the newer ones must be like.
Washing the undersides results in water mixed with chaff and dirt splashing back in my face. Girls out washing cars in short shorts are sexy. Old fat ladies out washing combines, even in short shorts, not so much. My husband looked at me in horror when he stopped by to check on my process. He did offer to hose me off, so there’s that. All that washing required a shower before I came in for lunch.