Making Hay
Week of August 17th, 2003 | The weather was warm all week.

Jolene and I by the backyard swing.

Jolene and I by the backyard swing.

Hello everyone! It was a warm week, but at least we didn't have a lot of activity going on around the farm. Dad left Monday afternoon and returned Wednesday afternoon from upstate New York. He gave a talk to a group of farmers, researchers, and extension people at Cornell University on Tuesday morning. In the afternoon they toured three organic farms. I had to stay home to do the chores. It's easy to do chores now because I don't have school. I have all day to do them and take care of any problems.

Dad stayed with a farm couple while in New York. They farm 1400 organic grain acres. Last year they bought an abandoned grain elevator near their farm. They now have an organic grain and seed business and 6 full time employees. Dad was very impressed with the feed operations as well as the three farms that they visited on the tour. One of those farms has 40 cows and sells the milk to Organic Valley. He really enjoyed his stay and meeting with some of the farmers out east. It was a nice little break from the hard work we've been doing the last few weeks here at home.

While Dad was away, one of the projects I did was repair our backyard swing. There's a lot of history and memories with this swing. It used to be my grandpa and grandma's swing on their front porch when they lived in Alta Vista. They moved into my great grandmother's house in 1976. We think she had the swing already years before that when she lived there but not sure. Dad is going to ask his older sister to see if she can remember. Anyway, what I can remember about the old porch swing was walking up the street from Sunday morning church with Jess, Jolene, and Grandpa, and racing to see who could get to the swing first. We would swing all afternoon until Mom would be done making dinner for all of us. There were many Sundays that we would have dinner together. I remember using pillows from Grandpa's couch to take naps out on the swing. Jolene and Jess would invite their friends that lived in town to come over and swing with us. We had a lot of fun! Then, in 1994, Grandpa moved out of the house and into a rest home. I remember the day when we cleaned the house out and were getting ready for the household sale. The swing was going to be sold at the sale. Jolene asked my parents if we could buy the porch swing. This is all she wanted from the sale because of all her memories swinging with her friends and Grandpa. Of course, Jess and me, too. At the sale Mom bid on the swing until she got it. Jolene was really happy. After the sale, Dad and Jolene built a frame for the swing since we did not have an open porch to fasten it to. Grandpa died in October of 1998. Since the day of the sale, our whole family has enjoyed swinging in the swing. We talk about a lot of things and mostly, we remember all the fun times we had with Grandpa swinging and listening to all of his stories.

This year, the bottom of the swing broke and nobody could sit on it all summer. So, it took me two full days this past week to take the swing apart and rebuild the bottom. The back and sides are still the original, as well as the bottom supports. While rebuilding the swing, I thought a lot about Grandpa and my memories of those days. I purchased some lumber out of the lumberyard in Alta Vista. I rebuilt the swing seat the same way it was built before. I even sanded it! Mom painted the swing black since that's what it had been. I think that Grandpa would have been very proud of me. I am curious just how old the swing actually is and who built it because looking at the wood, this swing must have been built a long time ago. I hope the swing stays in good shape and stays that way for a long time.

On Friday and Saturday, Mom, Dad, Jolene, and I went up to Jess' place (my other sister) in Owatonna, Minnesota. While we were in Owatonna, we went to the Steele County Fair. It was an awesome fair!! Amazing! Really big for a county fair! That night we had a steak supper at her place, played games together, watched a movie and enjoyed visiting with each other. The next morning, Jess made us all breakfast and than we went shopping together. I got some clothes and shoes for school. We came home in the afternoon.

Mom took Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off from work to spend some time with the family before Jolene leaves for California.

On Thursday, Dad hired some of the members from the New Hampton FFA (Future Farmer's of America) Chapter to walk our soybeans. Walking beans is a very rare operation anymore. It is a very high priority for us since we are organic and can't spray the weeds. Walking beans means to walk through the field with corn knives or machetes and cut the weeds. You can also pull the weeds out, but that takes a lot of time and energy. The wages were split between the member's and the FFA chapter. I am an FFA member, too. We thought about maybe in the spring, we could hire them to help pick rock to make some money for the chapter and to also give them a chance to do something good as a group working together.

Farm Fact: The cost of hiring the help to walk our beans came out to be about the same as the cost of applying chemical herbicides to control the weeds. We spent about $10 an acre to hire this help.

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