Field Four

Last field. The fifteen acres alongside the lane and road are about half combined. When I stopped at sundown last night I had everything except the two Stanhoist barge boxes and the anti gravity wagon full of beans. Including the 1440. After a miscommunication the truck wasn’t called to haul away a load yesterday. Fortunately the seven or so acres I have left will fit on the two Stanhoist  wagons leaving the bigger anti gravity wagon to use when I switch over to combine corn. Just in case we continue to miscommunicate with the trucker and the beans sit on wagons for a while. I like leaving my options open.

Yesterday morning while the dew burnt off I moved the hot wire re bar posts over alongside the beans by the fence across the creek so I wouldn’t hit them when I cut the outside Round. I saved the outside to finish filling hoppers that were too full for another round but not quite full yet. I would whittle away at that outside round a little at a time filling those nearly full hoppers on my way back to the wagons I dump the combine on. Then I loaded some old cement and rocks to throw onto the creek crossing. I was able to drive down through the crossing my grandad put in back in the fifties.

Well I’m fresh back from loading another semi load to go to the crush plant. The trucker called as I was writing that last paragraph. It’s twenty after ten on a dry, dew free morning. There’s a breeze picking up out of the east and that can mean rain. I better go hit it one more time. With any luck the next post will be to brag about getting done with the beans. Make hay when the sun shines they say. That reminds me I have fifty five acres of pasture/grass hay that needs to be hauled in from the field where my older brother custom baled it. That should be done before the snow flies. It will be one of those filler jobs when the opportunities present themselves.

Gotta go …….



A Solid Base

First base was a mulberry tree. Actually it was a mulberry bush that was never cut. If you graze off or cut down a mulberry tree suckers grow out from around the stump. Enough suckers to call it a bush. First base was originally a bush  made up of at least six sucker branches that had grown into a tree. I say at least six because only six trunks are there now. Not all suckers survive to tree hood. This “Tree With All The Trunks” as we called it was a male mulberry tree. The males put on no fruit so they tend to not proliferate without a female nearby. To this day I target the females first for removal of rouge trees. If I see berries I mark them with a red X with spray paint to remind me in off seasons which to expend my time on first.

Between first base and third base ran another number nine wire clothes line. Third base was the epicenter of Mom’s number nine wire clothes lines. One ran to a third pine east of the house. One ran to first base. One ran to the pine tree that was second base. One ran to that old walnut tree that I’d mentioned in the last post that I’d found Dad’s hammer by all those years ago. From the old walnut tree the number nine wire clothes line ran back to second base forming an irregular triangled clothes line. The old walnut tree, second base and third base (the baseball diamond pines) were the only trees with more than one line attached.

Way off on the east side of the house (the ball diamond was south of the house) stood the largest pine that was the terminus of the longest number nine wire clothes line. Halfway between third base and the east pine a two by four board about seven feet long propped up the wire. It was stapled on the top end and simply stood on the ground, with the tension of the wire holding it upright. It would lean it’s top to the east or west, never standing strait up and we would mischievously bounce on it back and forth until scolded by mother or an older sister.

One would think that with all those clothes lines criss- crossing the infield, the outfield and the foul ball zone over beyond third that we wouldn’t play baseball on laundry days. With twelve children in the family laundry day was three days a week. We would play even then. Of course the laundry was one of the best infield players there was. Short of pop flying a ball over it or grounding one under it you could never make it to first without being easily thrown out. Unless the ball was caught in the pocket of a fitted sheet or a pillow case. Then the batter had a running chance. But don’t try to slide into first, tree bases don’t budge.



Diamond Pines

The pine tree. Second base? From yesterday’s post? I remember stealing Dads hammer and nails from his “shop”, an old dirt floored garage that may have been a carriage house back before the automobile, and driving quite a few nails into the old pine before moving on and loosing the hammer when I either ran out of nails or became bored with tree nailing. The reason I remember it was I had to go find Dad’s hammer for him when he next needed it. That meant retracing the steps I took losing it with my immediately older brother helping in the remembering part. Starting with all the nails I’d driven into that old dirt floor. After the pine tree we found it by the old walnut directly on the other side of yesterday’s post’s red cedar.

Of course the red cedar hadn’t been transplanted yet back when I went on my tree nailing spree. The cedar may be nail free. But I doubt it given all the nieces and nephews who followed. Not to mention the three children we’re raising and the three we’ve already raised here, one of them a boy like me. Fifty or sixty other cedars have been transplanted around the building site as windbreaks since this cedar came in from the road. Some by me in high school but most by my younger brother after I’d left home. We would find the cedars growing wild along roadsides in ditches in the surrounding countryside when they were little enough to spade out by hand and carry home in a car trunk. Now they’re two and three stories high and simply beautiful.

As is that pine tree. I know it’s dead but the standing dead tree that’s lost the needles but not the branches has a beauty all it’s own. Occasionally a hawk or an owl can be seen resting on it’s bows and taking in the scene. Once upon a time it was part of a three way number nine wire clothes line that ran from it to the previously mentioned old walnut the over to another pine of the same genus (aka third base) and then back to second base,  the pine tree first mentioned. Off towards the house was home base. Right in front of the oft broken hall window. Until they put the new basement in, then we’d break the new basement window directly below the hall window. Today a sugar maple from grandpa’s yard up in Harlan stands on home base and balls don’t make it past.





Rain. Good. Good rain.

But not before six more bulls sorted themselves. I quickly loaded them up and hauled them off to the sale barn.

This morning when I got up and looked outside it hadn’t rained. I decided to give the cattle a second bale of hay. I’ve been feeding them only one bale at a time for a few weeks because once it warmed up they started wasting too much hay. They were only half done with the bale I had given them last evening. I decided that another bale was timely if it was going to rain since I hate slopping around in the mud to hay them and by evening again they would need another bale. While I was driving by the cattle pens (I’m haying them out in a corn stubble field) I noticed the two herd bulls that are there to breed the cows were in the pen following a cow in heat that was trying to lick the mineral blocks I feed there. A few other younger bulls were tagging along for sloppy seconds. I jumped out of the tractor and swung the gate shut to lock them in.

After I finished haying cattle I unloaded the rest of the hay from the flatbed trailer so I could unhook it from the pickup truck and hook up the stock trailer. I threw a small square hay bale into the catch pen to coax the group in. A few cows and calves were swept up into the catch pen with the bulls and heating cow. They sorted out quite easily since the whole bunch was busy with lunch and not really aware of what was going on. I ran up to the house and asked the stay at gone mom to help me run the bulls up the loading chute. The last six bulls I had loaded were a lot smaller and I had barely been able to get them pushed into the trailer. I needed her to stand outside the chute and give them a little shock on the butt to get them up into the trailer while I stayed in the back of the column and kept pushing them towards it. Mine is a rather dangerous job given that cattle can kick backward very hard. I was fortunate. I was only kicked once and it wasn’t that hard.

Once I had them loaded and the truck and trailer were back up on the gravel pointed towards the road I was safe from rain and the mud that goes with it. I backed the rig up to a drop cord and plugged in the air compressor I keep in the truck box. It’s a thirty gallon tank with an electric built in pump. I like to have extra air out on the road in case I need it to get to the next town should a tire start to leak. I grabbed my hat and a cup of honey tea and we were off to Dunlap, the earliest sale in the area coming up on Tuesday. On the road again …….

On the way to Dunlap I remembered the first batch of calves I had sold way back some 28 years ago. Probably because they were sold at Dunlap also. Back then I hired a trucker to haul the calves the day before the sale. When I went up to watch the calves sell I noticed after passing the last town along the way that I was running very low on gas in my car. Having left my wallet at home I had no way of buying gas. With seven miles to go to Dunlap I began parking the car and walking the ditches for empty beer and soda cans. Here in Iowa we have a nickle deposit on each one. I would go about a half mile at a time and walk up one side and down the other side of the road throwing cans into an old box I had found in the trunk.

I wish I had left earlier. I waited quite a time on the bleachers watching calves sell hoping to see mine. When the killer cows started selling I went to the office to see if mine had sold. The cattle had sold by the time I arrived at the sale barn and they had my check waiting when I walked into the office. It was almost as much money as I had paid for the cow/calf pairs the year before. And I still had the moms. Maybe these cows were worth the effort after all. Maybe my old man was right. Livestock was farming, growing crops was glorified gardening. I pocketed the check and have never looked back.

What I did look for was a service station that would take all those empty cans. Here I was with a multi thousand dollar cattle check but no gas money, both feast and famine. Dunlap isn’t that big of town. I finally had to explain to a gas station proprietor what had happened, showed him my calf check and convinced him I wasn’t trying to con him. He seemed to think I had too many cans for that stretch of highway.  I was a little in awe myself as to how many cans there are along the roads. I had a trunk full and a few on the back seat floor. I think the rest went to a HyVee store to buy beer.

This isn’t what I had planned for a Sunday but then I’m not allowed to follow my plans anyway. Something better always comes up. That’s OK, plans are tentative at best anyway. I had planned on getting the two breeding bulls out of the herd a couple weeks ago so I wouldn’t have cows calving in January next winter. Hopefully those two weeks will be during our January thaw. Sometimes His plans, no every time, His plans are better than mine. Have a great Sunday even if your plans don’t pan out. As long as the gold does it will be alright.

If you’re at the Dunlap sale barn Tuesday …….

See you then, see you there.



All Latin

I sent an idea out to see where it would go. Not anything particular in mind. A simple whispered word upon the wind. Life’s an echo chamber and I wanted to find my location. I listened vaguely for the direction of it’s first return. I squared myself to the orient, focusing on the next rendition. Two points with me makes three. Triangulated to the zone beyond. Perpendicular to the perimeter. The third, fourth and fifth returns gave me field of view. A corresponding vision of platted cardinal points. Telling me occasionally where my idea had turned to something new. Bouncing off the broken surfaces of objects in my surroundings. Returned somewhat garbled. Mixxed and blended all the thoughts turned into a grey goo. Opaque and yet translucent as if lighted from within. The fog of dueling ideologues a casualty it’s true. As long as thought vibrations have had their way with space. Entering into all locations. Impossible to stop. Swine define the pearls in the Porcine Latin squeal.