IT’S OFFICIALLY HERE!

The Farmers Almanac winter 2018-2019 predictions.  (In case you have not read my other posts, I love the Farmers Almanac!)  Considering the spring and summer we have had; I was not really surprised by their predictions.

They call it their “Teeth-Chattering Cold Ahead” report.  I take issue with that statement.

I love fall colors and changes in the temps.  I love the snow even when it gets feet-deep (Anyone that has kids or still feels like one must – snowball fights and snow fort building – woohoo!).  My favorite holidays are all after October first – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and new seed catalog shopping (yes, that is a holiday in our house).

The issue I have is the “teeth-chattering cold” part of their prediction.  I am a huge fan of cooler temps, 75-55 degrees and I am in heaven.  This bit about dropping below freezing is not so hot – bad pun intended.  I lost all my long-underwear in the fire and have not gotten around to getting new just yet.  Guess this is my incentive.  And we all know what a stunning creature anyone becomes in long-underwear!

(Why do they look so cute on babies, but so dorky on adults?)

Before the tornado, we were revamping our old chicken coup into a new garden/tool shed.  We even did some insulating and moved an old cast-iron fireplace into it for winter.  Perhaps this was our women’s intuition kicking in.  If we get enough cold and snow that the power goes out, our little shed may become home – eek!

cast iron fireplace(Close to ours but no brick wall behind it, and ours is much older with claw feet.)

Then there is the critter worry.  The dogs and cats would most likely join us, but I draw the line on the chickens (sorry Mark and Kristie).  I don’t care how spoiled your pet is, if it can’t go outside when nature calls, it does not need to be in the house!

(Looking for house chicken pics, I found this great oldie by Gary Larson.  Had to add it just because it makes me laugh!)

I hope you are all prepared for this coming winter if not, you are not alone.  If you want to check out your area here’s their link:

Farmers’ Almanac 2018-19 WINTER OUTLOOK

(P.S. – have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  OH NO I DID NOT SAY THAT!)

winter wonderland

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Uninvited Guests That Never Leave!

City gardens are so different from country gardens with one HUGE aspect – weeds.  The farm garden when we were kids never seemed to have as many weeds or so fast.  I remember weeding, but it was a fun thing to see who could (not would) get the dirtiest.  Usually, my younger sister won just because she would be found sitting in a mud puddle before the job was done.

I remember my beautiful corner backyard garden in Denver, but again, I don’t remember this many weeds.  I would blame it on the birds, but I love all our birds – domestic and foreign.  Instead, I am now blaming my weeds on the winds.

This has got to be one of the weirdest growing seasons we have ever had.  Yes, we have some winds on-and-off every year, but this year has been just nuts!  Wicked enough to rip off our double-layered greenhouse cover, just a few weeks ago.

We have always had winds out here, just not so long, or so rough.  When the huge windmills started popping up across the U.S., Colorado was all in for that.  We have fields of them not far from our home.  I guess that is a bit of an indication on the strength of winds we get here.  The weird part is how long they are lasting now.

It was never unusual to get a gust here and there.  Even the occasional “micro-burst” would happen – but only in summer (still think they are mini-tornados that just didn’t finish forming).  Now we get the “sustained” winds.  These suckers come in without warning and last 12-48 hours.  Very unusual.

When we moved here in 2000, our biggest task was learning how to water everything using the best conservation methods.  Now, it is how to stop our plants from ending up in Kansas.

wicked winds 2(“I don’t think we’re in Colorado anymore Toto.”)

We have installed pound-in rods, rows of field fencing, and extra windbreaks all just to keep our plants from having the snot knocked out of them.  If the Hail King wasn’t bad enough, we now have the Wicked Wind of the West to contend with – eeek!

wicked windsHappy Gardening!

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SHOULD-A, My New Worst Friend.

I have realized, just this year, that the phrase “should have” (“should-a” in gardener-eze) has become my worst best friend.
• Should-a put the vinyl lattice on the outside of the fence to start. On the inside, the dogs have destroyed almost half the panels.
• Should-a put the drip/soaker likes for the plants under the soil by the roots. As hot as it is here on the Colorado plains, most evaporates before it gets to the roots – even early morning.
• Should-a bought a backup greenhouse cover when we purchased the first. (Cuz you know plastic does not last forever – ocean dump zone excluded.)

I think this phrase has haunted me most of my life. I get these great ideas, just way after the fact (we’re talking YEARS after).

Should-a turned the little grey shed into a garden potting shed when we moved in 18 years ago. No, we had to turn it from a horse tack room, into the chicken barn. Then, when we decided to build the greenhouse, we knew the chickens would not work being that close to it. So, we moved them, but then just started piling all kinds of stuff in there instead of just the garden stuff.

While working on the greenhouse, more and more things got thrown into that poor little shed. In 2017 we finally go around to cleaning up our “should-a” and decided it would be a perfect garden shed. Then the kids happened. My daughter needed a place to dump her and her stuff, so our should-a got elected.

A couple of kids from Michigan ended up in our driveway (that’s a whole other story), and they were actually living in it for a bit.

Well, this year, right now, we have finally gotten back around to our little grey shed should-a and it’s looking great! We do not have it painted as we want yet, but I will share the finished product pics as soon as it is beautiful. That is as long as another should-a doesn’t come along.

perfect garden shed
(Hee, hee, nope this is not ours – just my dream of what I hope ours will look like in the end.)

Happy gardening guys!

(Oh, wait – just got another should-a: put a piece of that huge plyboard my sister got from work onto the back wall. That should keep out a big part of the north wind chill in winter. See, happens all the time – grrr!)

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ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD – maybe?

Well, this year is starting off just loverly – NOT!  It’s been three months since I last posted something for good reason – TOO MUCH DRAMA.  I’ve finally found my funny bone again, so I have taken back my life once again.  Time to remember that life goes on.

This is just a small part of what’s been going on:

  • The daughter was sent to rehab center – court ordered this time. Second time for her.  We will see.
  • Bullies have zeroed in on my Grandson. Awful verbal abuse: ”You should have died instead of your brother.” Just wrong in so many ways.  They targeted his feelings toward missing his dead brother (the fire was four years ago – April), which is BEYOND tolerance.  So, of course, I had to go ballistic on the school.  I wanted the parents, but they are not allowed to tell me who they are.  They said they would handle it.  Again, we will see.
  • The weather changes have brought “sustained” strong winds. We get gusts, no big deal.  When this round happened, it was vicious.  It’s been seven years since we put the double poly top on the greenhouse.  Took us the better part of the day to do it.  It took these wicked winds just moments to find a weakness (in the middle no less) and rip it wide open.

4-17 the cause 1

Looks like haze, but it’s not.  The winds were so strong and so continuous that they were picking up the dry dust/dirt from farmers fields, roads, and wherever and sandblasting everything.  A couple of times we could not see this overpass due to the thickness of the dirt.  April 17th, day after my 59th birthday – sucked!

4-17 the cause 2 This was just before it happened.

It all happened so fast; there was no way to catch or stop it.  You can see it popped open at the middle, grabbed the top layer and just flung it up and over. If you look close at the bottom layer at the opening, you can see where the wind was able to yank the clamp right out of the wood.

4-18 distruction 2

We put straps over the roof on either side of the opening, but two days later another sustained wind from the south grabbed the north end and ripped it the rest of the way off.

4-20 distruction 3 (2)

So, after a day’s worth of crying, I pulled up my big girl panties and started brainstorming.  How was I going to make lemonade from this huge lemon?  Viola′ – greenhouse part two, phase one:

4-23 phase 1 new life

Obviously, someone somewhere was trying to give us a hint that there is just too much on our plates right now.  Hense, the hint to downsize.  Phase one: build a wall in the middle of the greenhouse.  No, it’s not for the hot tub we dream of having one day again.  It’s for our new “seed/plant starter” area.

5-14-18 phase 2 new wall GH

Phase two has a partial plastic wall up.  There is a vent at the top center and will be screened, closeable windows on either end of both sides of the wall.  We are not worried about cooling, as the swamp cooler is on the north end and totally useless to us now.  It will be used for starting seeds and young plants.  Eventually, we will put some in-ground plots in there, just not right now.

There is a door in the center to transplant seedlings into our plots to the north (No they did not end up in Kansas.), or to easily move them to our other outdoor plots when ready.  It is downsizing without losing space.  It should be easier to maintain in the winter.  I am worried about it just being a single cover.  Not as strong as the double layer, but it will have to do for now (replacement double cover is out of our budget.).

Then (while I was reviewing everything) doing my extra watering needed now on the north side, and hating the 85+ degree weather we have been having – our bee guys showed up!  Ahhh, heavy sigh of relief!  When they come in the spring, I know everything will be alright in the world.  They had unloaded some the night before which, at sunrise, has them immediately seeking out water.  What was I doing?  Watering.  Where were the bees?  All over me – landing on my hands, arms, crawling up my legs, and forcing me to watch where I step in my own walkways.  I LOVE OUR BEES!!

I then went and picked up my Grandson from school that evening.  The school Counselor had called me and told me of what actions were taken against the bullies and assured me that things were going to be better.  He was smiling as he came running up to the car.  Always, the first question from me to him is, “ How was your day Punk-a-doodle (One of my many Nic-names for him)?”  His response was a very loud and squirrely “GREAT!”

Planted back into the moment again, all is right with the world.  We did not have blossoms during the winds-from-hell, so no lost fruit (actually some tiny fruits on the trees now).  Our spring flowers had not emerged, but they are here now.  Our little Downey Woodpecker is back up front.  And I saw my beautiful Red-headed Woodpecker on a fence post this morning.  Life goes on.

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Do You Miss Home? Part 4 – Winter.

A true child’s story of winter.

When winter finally set in the snow would start.  I am sure we must have had snow-days due to the heavy snowfalls, but I don’t remember them.  I do remember spending almost every daytime second outside.  We didn’t care how cold it was; it didn’t matter.  You know how they dress the kid from A Christmas Story all bundled up – that was how all of us looked every time we went out to play.  My little sister and I would just flop down on the heavy blanket of snow and roll all the way down the hill.  It was a blast and a beautiful memory – even the struggle trying to climb back up to do it all again.

kid in full snowsuit (Yes – we looked EXACTLY like this every winter!)

Christmas was a wondrous time, but winter itself was (still is) my thrill.  Snow drifts would build over six feet high and get a frozen, crusty layer on the top of them.  That was always our snow forts.  We would start hollowing the drifts out and make tunnels, doorways, windows all along the drifts.  As long as the weather stayed freezing, the drifts would stay in that shape from playtime to playtime.

These pics give you the idea. However, we were never such woosies that we had to use portable fire pits. (Mainly because we did not have them back then.)  Oh, and NO DRINKS of any kind.  When we got cold enough, into the house, we would go, and mom always had hot cocoa on the stove waiting.  A bowl of marsh mellow’s on the side, please.

The kids on top of the snowbank are exactly what we looked like.  Not so many trees, more steep rolling hills.  When dad came through the driveway, around the barns and sheds with the tractor and front end blade;  the snow would really pile up on the banks, and then the fun would begin.

old tractor and plow

(Yep, this was like ours but no Quonset, we had a machine shed -bigger than a Quonset – that kept all of our farm equipment.)

We also did not have sleds we had saucers and one huge bad-ass toboggan.  The toboggan held the whole family if we squished together, it was huge!  The saucers were the most fun for us.  Not only did they go downhill the fastest, but they were lighter/easier to lug back up the hill, and could easily be hooked on ropes behind that little tractor and pull us all over the place.  Our large field off the yards and gardens was our favorite.  Plenty of room to swing way out when sledding.  Think of water skiing only sitting down on a big metal saucer (yes, our original ones were metal – never grab without gloves metal), hanging onto the heavy rope handle that was tied to the tractor.  Dad’s job: Take corners fast enough to swing us wide and try to dump us off our sleds – happened every time.  Dad 3, daughters 0.

Kids saucer-plastic      This is a new version of our old favorite, and yes, if I had the opportunity to try one today – I would!

kids saucer-metal   This one is almost exactly like ours – but no tow-rope or connectors for it, and the handles were a heavier rope type, not floppy like these nylon-cloth ones.  Man, could it fly down the fields and across the snow!  Think about your car sliding around on icy roads.  That would be us only laughing about it all the way.

When it gets right down to it, I still believe that winter is my favorite of the seasons.  The others have their merits, but winter is:

  • Family
    • Christmas
      • Fun
        • Warmth
          • Sharing
            • Playing
              • HOME

Tis the season to remind us that snow is here specifically for the kid in us all.

winter-time for home

(Oh, and a Merry Christmas to all!)

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 2 – Summer.

In keeping with my fond memories of what our home was like, I move on to the next season.

Summers were filled with running amok.  Dad was one of those “real dad” type guys.  When it came to my baby sister, maybe too much so.  He tried very hard to make sure we had all that we needed and more.

We had horses, eighty acres to ride them on, and very wild imaginations.  Dad also got to know our neighbor with fantastic woods, so we could ride their lane when we needed a different scene for our imaginations.

We played at a pretend secluded cabin in the woods.  The horses were placed in a make-shift corral we made from downed logs. The fact that they were downed, to begin with, should have been a hint to us.  On more than one occasion the beasties got lose.  They, of course, were intelligent enough to head straight back to the farm where they are well fed.  We, of course, never learned not to do that.  Grumbling and walking all the way back to the farm became a, several times a week, task.  The best part is we would do the same stupid stuff every summer.  Ride the horses into the woods, slap them into a make-shift coral, and expect them to just stay in the rickety thing – duh.

While in the woods, we would dream of hunting and fishing for our meals.  A branch of the Milwaukee River broke through our back fourty and again at the end of the neighbor’s woods.  There were turtles, frogs, and great eating fish in that stream.  Sometimes we would actually go fishing, but most times we just caught turtles and frogs to play with.

kids playing in creekThis reminds me of our pond.  It was only there in the first part of summer as it was created from winter snowmelt.  No fish, no turtles, some frogs, but lots of blood-suckers.  The first couple of years we didn’t think about it.  If the day was hot and we were not riding the horses, we would chase them into the pond and grab onto their tales.  I still remember the feeling of being dragged through the cool water.

If we were riding, my younger sister had to make sure to stay AWAY from the pond.  If she allowed the horse to get into the water up to its knees, the darn thing would drop and roll on her.  At first, I thought it was just the one horse.  But she had a couple of others after that one, and they did the same thing. Now, I know it was just their way of getting rid of her.  Don’t worry; she never got hurt when they flipped.  I felt sorrier for the horses, as she would catch up with them and punch them in the nose (ya, like that would hurt the horse?) for dumping her.

One exceptionally warm summer the pond was still up in July.  The only reason I remember this is because of the blood-suckers (leeches).  We (our cousins and my younger sister) all decided to go for a dip because of the heat.  It started out fun, then my sister came up out of the water in her bikini and had blood-suckers all over her belly.  We freaked out and started whacking her stomach to get them off.  Eventually, it worked, but her belly was red for the rest of the day.  Mom banned us from the pond the rest of that summer.

leech picture

As the summer waned, mom would get the Aldens Catalog (a mail-order Sears-type catalog) in the mail.  We would all gather together to go through it and pick out our school clothes for the upcoming school year.  A few weeks later we would come home from riding horses all day to find several large packages piled on the dining room table.  It was like an early Christmas!  We couldn’t wait to rip them open and try them all on.  Then the hard part was trying to decide what to wear on the first day of school.

This also marked the end of all our summer fun and the start of fall school year – bummer.

aldens catalog pic

Tis the season for reminding siblings that revenge is sweet.

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 1 – Spring.

I am not talking about where you may live now. I am talking about that feeling of home you got when you were young. This time of year, I get very homesick for those fond family home memories.

I decided that my way to handle it this year is to share a bit of my Wisconsin home life from back in the 1960’s. I will be posting “Spring” today. Then over the next 10 days, I will share, Summer, Fall, and Winter (just in time for the Christmas). I hope you will enjoy my memories and share some of your own.

Maybe I was just very blessed to have the childhood I had.  Sure, some bad things happened, but you get up, get over it, and get on with life.  One of my little sister’s fav saying is:
“Ya just need to pull up your big girl panties and move on already.”

My home life, compared to others, apparently was outstanding!
Spring on the farm meant:
• Picking Rock
• Planting the fields.
• The beginning of hay season.
• Planting the family garden.
• Catching tadpoles, baby turtles, and whatever else we would get away with.
• The end of the school year and the beginning of the summer fun days.
I bet a bunch of you stopped at the “picking rock” statement. You need to understand the big picture here. So, here goes:

A big, strapping, dark haired, blue eyed, father of three daughters. The daughter’s ages roughly four, six, and eleven. Three girls that, through the grace of their mother, were each blessed with a very warped sense of humor.

The youngest, being too small to actually pick up most of the rocks, was harnessed with the task of driving the tractor. I specifically say harnessed because she was. It was just a small Massey Ferguson tractor, but she was still too little to reach the pedals or do anything more than drive it in a straight line. Dad strapped a block of wood to her foot to reach the pedal to stop, and then tied her into the seat so she wouldn’t slip off. He had her stomp on the clutch to stop the tractor; he would put it in gear at the very lowest speed, and away she went. It only took her about three tries of popping the clutch and killing the motor, but she finally got a feel for it. Then the fun began.

old fashioned rock picking(Ok this pic is a bit before my time, but you get the idea. We did not have cell phones or cameras in the field while picking rock. But rocks this big were occasionally dug up.)
She, on the tractor, was to simply pull the flatbed wagon in a straight line down the field. Keep in mind this is the slowest speed so the three of us could walk along, pick up the big rock, and place it on the wagon (FYI, our mom had one of the best rock gardens around by the time we sold the farm). Dad would get the biggest rocks. My elder sister the next size down. My job was to pick up anything that would not fit through the plow tines. No problem – right? Wrong.
My little Speed Racer sister on the tractor was getting bored. She started watching us picking up the rocks. The first time she pulled the stunt, it was on me. I had found a larger than my normal size rock. It was a bugger just to get it out of the ground, never-the-less me pick it up, but I did it. I was struggling to get it to the wagon. Speed Racer’s job was to stop the tractor when she saw we were having a hard time with any rocks. A major part of her task was to give us time to unload it.

She saw I was struggling.

She stopped.

I approached the wagon and lifted my monster to place it on the wagon and…

She took her foot off the clutch and lurched forward.

I dropped the rock on the ground (missing my foot by inches.).

kid picking up big rock

Dad, who of course had been watching the whole thing was trying to reprimand Speed Racer, but could not stop laughing long enough to get the words out. This became a family tradition.
Up until the day we sold the farm, Speed Racer got to drive the tractor, we got to load the rocks, and I was forced to chase a wagon every spring picking season.
Even though this “tradition” was not one of my favorites at the time, I remember it very fondly today.
I hope you join me for my next post so we can visit our family summer traditions.

Tis the season for reminding siblings who is the boss. 

(When I figure out who it is, I will let you know.)

dancing kittens-saved

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PLOWSHARE THURSDAY – NOVEMBER 16, 2017

Today I am not endorsing any specific idea or product.  Today I have decided to do something a bit different.  My Grandson decided, all by himself, that he wanted to gather up some of our leaves.  Not to help me mind you, but to help himself.  He said they were getting in his way.  So he grabbed one of our leaf rakes (at least he grabbed the right kind), and began wrestling with it and the leaves.  So, to pay homage to the poor rake because he beat the snot out of it:

An Ode to the Humble Rake.

(Please sing to the music of Moon River.)

Humble rake, ever you’re on call,

Always in the fall, you’re used.

You leaf raker, my heart breaker,

Forever the one, the one that I choose.

 

Two huge trees, litter up the ground,

There’s such a lot of ground to see.

We’re after the same goal my friend, rakin’ up the bend,

My gardens you help tend, Humble Rake and me.

Today’s Plowshare is simply to acknowledge that the leaf rake is one of the most used, and abused items in our gardening armory.  My Grandson was a bit overwhelmed by all the leaves and quit after only an hour.  I found the rake, on the porch, leaning against the house like this:

our leaf rake after N done

I hope that my share today will help you to appreciate your poor gardening tools.  They do so much for us and ask so little.

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HOW DID I MISS THIS SEASON?

I have discovered that there is a third season.

• First, there is planting season, which is on and off all year long.
• The second was school season, which is only from around the first of September until the end of May.
• Now I have realized that I have a third season. We are getting our first snow of the season which turned on all my crafting switches, so – IT’S CRAFTING SEASON.

DSC_0048    (This is one of many I have on Etsy.)

I truly hope that everyone who is reading this has their own crafting passion. It is something that no one should be without. It is one of the few things in life that brings me enormous amounts of pleasure, especially when I can give something I made to someone else.
I have known for decades that I am a craft-a-holic. I may slack off on it sometimes as the other seasons will take precedence. When we have to get things in the ground, or process foods, that must come first, or we will have nothing. When it is time to start school, supplies, clothes, and all other school things must take precedence. When it comes to crafting season – colder weather gives it the precedence.

il_570xN.854844369_id2v

(Hand crochet crown choker cowl with deep bronze Swarovski jewels.)

Childhood on the farm in Wisconsin as a kid was forever fun. The huge snowbanks, ice skating on the pond, sledding with family and friends down our hills (and we had come goodies), and the warmth of shedding the snow-covered exterior layers of clothes on the porch, to go in for hot chocolate by the heaters. Thank goodness we had a huge, cement floor, porch. It had a large hanging rack just inside the door where everything outside was hung to drip and dry. Since it was a cement floor, it was easy to mop up the mess as it melted.

  • Even as I kid, I was always making things(Fair warning – some of this you may find gross.):
    • Snowmen and snow forts.
    • During the summer it was wonderful weed and grain pies from piles of cow poo (ewe-yucky but great fun to play in when we were kids).
    • Using fallen tree branches to make horse pens way out in the woods. This may not have been the smartest idea since we were at least a mile away from home, and the horses always broke out of it. They were the smart ones. They always knew to run back to the barn where they got grained. We would have to walk back.
    • The walking back also led to crafting ideas. Picking up leaves, twigs, dead things, and occasionally live things and bringing it all back to the house to make something.

    • The frog eggs led to frogs lose all over that wonderful cement porch.
    • The turtle led to turtle eggs, which led to the pet raccoon eating the turtle eggs and us having to take the turtle back to the river – boo hoo.
    • All leaves, feathers, odds, and ends, were always transformed into mega messy glue works of art (mom loved, dad questioned and laughed).

So, in conclusion, I believe that this is my most favorite time of the year. When the crafting bug hits me this hard, I just can’t wait to see who I get to gift too next.
Happy first snowfall everyone!

DSC_0006

(Simple knit ultra-warm hat. You can also see that I have so many different yarn things now they are just piled up on the table. Oh, and can you find the cat snuggled in it all? And yes, the cat chewed off the nose of my head display – stop laughing – LOL – if you can cuz I can’t.)
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HOW DANGEROUS IS YOUR GARDENING?

This question came up while I was driving by a farmer the other day.  He was out on one of their huge new-fangled tractors (you know, the kind with the cab over it for heating and A/C), with the strangest thing I ever saw behind it.

My father’s influence made me pull over and watch it for a bit.  He is long gone now, but I still look at all the newest farm stuff with him in mind.  The thing behind the tractor, at first, looked like a normal plow – no way.  It turned out to be anything but “normal” in my eyes.

(ours – pretty close anyway)                     (the newbies)

We used to have to take wide swatches when we plowed because it was not easy or safe to turn a tractor pulling any heavy equipment in tight formation.  So, the common practice was to begin in the center of the field, plow through it and along the far side bottom to the farthest corner.  Turn and plow up to the top, across the top, then go back down next to the row you first created.  You simply drove in a type of rectangle/circle formation moving one row over each time until you got back to the gate where you entered the field.  It worked perfectly fine.

Well, this new creation would have made my cousin squeal with joy.  Before he even got his drivers license, he was elected (pretty sure he didn’t volunteer for the job) to plow up one of our fields.  He was kind of cocky so when he got the general gist of the project he took off.

We happened to be riding along the lane next to the field when it happened.  He was going too fast and not paying attention to the plow in the back.  Took a corner too fast and too tight, and the tractor wheel got caught in the plow and lifted the front end of the tractor right up off the ground.  Luckily he was so scared and shook up that he took his foot off the peddles too fast, and the tractor quit right there.  He could not get it all undone by hand and had to go, teary-eyed, back up to the house for dad’s help.

I am glad I was there to see it. However, this new-fangled plow would never do that.  The farmer had some type of hydraulic system that actually picked up the plow into the air, flipped it around, and set it back down.  He was able to go whipping back-and-forth, up-and-down through the whole field with barely slowing down – AMAZING!

Pretty sure my dad is in heaven somewhere, wetting himself, watching me watching that.

angel dad humor

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