Outstanding in Their Field

Outstanding in their field Stng Head-WEB

The past spell of above-average weather to start the New Year was a blessing, allowing me to tackle some of those odd jobs on the farm that were relegated to the “do later” pile.

In 1971, my father built a 45’x90’ Morton pole building on our farm in Manhattan. At this time, agriculture was transitioning from old barns and farmers who were “Jacks of all trades,” so to speak, to specializing in one or two commodities or one specific animal. I was told by a neighboring farmer once that my dad’s shed was one of the first built in the area, and many farmers came to see this new style of building.

This past spring when a storm struck, I was called after dark and told that the door on the end of the Morton pole barn was blowing violently in the wind. 30 years ago, I would have risked my life and found a way to secure it to save it from destruction. However, at the age of 59, wisdom, plus a little bit of self-preservation and the urging of my wife, Cora, made me sit in the house and let the ravages of Mother Nature eventually rip the track and door from the barn.

After many months of more pressing farm work, the door has finally been replaced. It had been over 20 years since I had hung a sliding barn door. Once the door was on the new track, I realized that Tyler, my farmhand, and I had installed it with the rollers backward. We would have to remove the door and flip them around.

It was at this point that I leaned my head against the door and lifted to remove it. Somehow the door and my hat shifted, and my ear took a brutal scraping. Tyler confirmed the pain I felt by saying, “Your ear is bleeding.”

I am happy to state that an hour later, the door would glide open and shut with merely a push of your pinky finger. Before we left for another job, I turned a grain bin fan on to aerate some corn. I returned later that night to shut it off after dark. It was at this point that I walked into the support beam of an auger when leaving the grain bin. I cursed under my breath and ducked, albeit too late, and then rose again, just in time to hit another support from a second auger parked right next to it.

In five seconds, I bashed the top of my head twice within a distance of 5 feet. One must wonder if farming is a more dangerous profession than boxing Mike Tyson and losing an ear in the ring, or playing football and risking multiple concussions.

Within the last 10 days, I have received almost 20 calls of prospective customers looking for hay. There is a serious shortage of hay for sale in Will County. Several have begged me to sell them 20 bales until they can find some. I did buy a semi load of hay from Wisconsin in November; it cost me $9/bale. It is all gone, plus the many thousands of bales that we made on my farm this summer.

If you have any surplus hay for sale, it is now a seller’s market, and I recommend you get it advertised and sold. I am waffling on whether I should try to truck more hay in or take it easy and become fat and lazy. I will keep you updated.

Once again, this winter, I do not have to set aside any time on the weekends to watch the Chicago Bears in the playoffs. That should give me more time to clean up my “do later” list: organize the barns, and get my farm books in perfect order for the tax season. Full disclosure: I am going to sit with my wife, a lifelong Green Bay Packer fan, and watch for the Packers. Please, no hate mail.

“Go Pack Go,” I say that begrudgingly. Perhaps all those whacks in the head have done some permanent damage after all.


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