Friday, August 8, 2008

Issue 4- Summer Days Driftin' Away

I'm officially counting down my days of summer. In the next week or so, I finish up my last summer grad class (which means doing a lot more work in the next few days), start coaching volleyball tryouts, try to squeeze in last minute appointments, try to find time to get some work done for the new school year, attend our first day for teachers (the 15th), and start school on the 18th! Whoa...that's a lot...and I don't know how I'm going to get it all done. Oh, and I forgot, Grant and I are hosting our first ever farm party for some of our friends tomorrow night. I have been getting many requests all summer from friends to come visit; since we've been SO busy all summer long, we just decided to open it up to one night of fun for any of them that could join us. Therefore, since Grant was gone all day at the Illinois State Fair, I was left to get our farm ready for our guests tomorrow night. I can now say I know how to pressure wash a house...woohoo...and boy, did the house need it. I never knew how dirty a house could get until I was the one washing it! And thanks to Grant's mom, Marsha, our lawn looks fabulous...she rides this super fast lawn mower around that I don't trust myself with! I'm sure tomorrow night will be a great last night of fun with some friends before school starts next week!

These past few months of summer were filled with many weddings (seven to be exact), two vacations (one to Michigan with Grant's family right around our 1 year anniversary (pictured above) and the other to the Northwest to experience Seattle, Oregon, the Olympic Peninsula, Victoria, BC, and Vancouver, BC.), coaching volleyball and basketball camps, preparing an advisory program for Dunlap freshman, attending an AP conference and preparing curriculum for teaching AP English this coming school year, and three grad school classes. It's been a crazy summer on and off the farm, and Grant and I both agree that we can never be this busy again over a summer. Even though I had nothing to do last summer and found myself bored, I can now say that I am back "juggling 10 different plates over my head", as my mom says, in Kristen style. While I am sad to see my summer days driftin' away, I am happy to know that I will have a set schedule very soon: teach, coach, go to grad class once a night, and enjoy my weekends when I'm not coaching or doing school work.

Since the last time I posted, I have experienced a wide variety of new farm life experiences that you might find interesting...

Grant and our brother-in-law, Jeff, took me "pole fishin' " in June during sunset on the Spoon River right by our house. I never knew that we lived on such a beautiful river!!! We slid the boat down the bank and into the river (they actually did that), we loaded all the poles into the boat, and we went up and down the river sticking poles into the river banks in hopes of catching catfish (30 poles in total). I opted out of going back at midnight to check for catfish and re-baiting the poles for fear of bugs, the dark, and scary things that come out at night. I can hardly walk Dudley when it's dark out here because it is so dark...there is NO way I'd put myself out on a river that late at night!!!

In early spring, I helped Grant calibrate a planter. He called me on my cell phone with a sweet "Please come help me so it won't take as long", and I couldn't say no. I had already had a long day of teaching in high heels (those days seem to be so much longer) and an hour walk with Dudley, so calibrating a planter was the last thing I wanted to do. But, being a good wife, I went out to the machine shed, and pretended that I was doing scientific experiments as we calibrated. I'm assuming you don't know what that means...because I didn't before doing it. Just to clarify, a planter is the tractor that plants the corn or soybeans during planting season. Before it can plant the seeds, you need to tell it how much to plant in each row and make sure that it is planting the exact amount that you want it to. Therefore, you need to do a set of "experiments" with powder to make sure that the planter computer is set the way you want it. While this should have only taken us less than two hours, after an hour, Grant realized that we had been using the wrong over an hours worth of work was for nothing. We then had to re-do it all! After standing on concrete those two hours and climbing up and down the tractor to input measurements into the computer, my feet were ready to give up on me. At least I didn't have to calibrate in high heels!!!

Spring time brought lots of rain this year!!! Many days we were at the point that if we got any more rain much of our fields would have been flooded. Thankfully, many of the large storms that blew through Iowa went just North of us, like this picture here. That doesn't mean that parts of fields weren't flooded. We just caught a lucky break with all the rain that so many places around us got.
I can now say that I've experienced wild wind and rain storms out here in the country...something that I hate getting woken up by because I ultimately think that there is a tornado coming towards us. I can't tell you how many times I've woken up with an intense fear that I hear a tornado coming towards our house, only to look out the window at a lit up sky of lightning, rain, and wind. A few night ago, we were woken up by strong winds, fierce lighting and thunder, and loud rain...I looked outside to see our umbrella missing from our was blown all the way across our lawn next to the road. I learned my lesson: always take the patio furniture in at night!

For the last month, Grant and I have been enjoying our own home-grown vegetables. There is such a huge difference in fresh zucchini and onions! Our tomatoes are not quiet ready yet, and we still need to dig up our potatoes. Oh, and I learned that potatoes grow in the ground and not on top. Over the past month or so I've been looking for potatoes growing from our plants. No wonder I couldn't find any...One afternoon Marsha said to me, "Any time you want to dig up your potatoes, I'm sure they're ready by now." My response: "No way, I have to dig them up?!?!" Duh, Kristen!

And lastly, a few nights ago I was outside on a beautiful evening before dinner soaking in the last rays of sun as I read one of my many grad class textbooks, and I heard two gun shots echo off of our grain bins. The first shot caught my attention and I didn't know exactly what it was; the second shot was definitely a gun shot. Grant had gone out hunting deer about an hour earlier...that was him shooting at Bambi!!! He came home unsuccessful, but it was still strange to hear gun shots off in the distance coming from the trees. That's not something you hear living in suburbia...or at least something you hope you never hear living in the suburbs or the city! (Disclaimer: It is not hunting season yet, but since we have so much crop damage from the deer, they have a permit to shoot 10 deer in the next few weeks.) For the past few weeks, I've been seeing the same mama deer with her twins running around the fields as I drive down our road during dusk...I just hope they steer clear of my husband!

...I can't think of any more examples of farm fun that I've had these past few months, but I know there are many more. My brain is full of grad school stuff at the moment, so it's hard to think of anything else besides that information. I hope you are enjoying the last days of summer as we enter into a hopefully plentiful harvest the way, the crops look amazing!!! But shhh...I'm not supposed to say that...I guess it's bad luck...I don't think typing it counts!

Until next time, take care...and much love to all!!!


PS...If you are looking for a great read, Three Cups of Tea is an amazing book that everyone should put on their reading list. And of course, if you ladies haven't read Eat, Pray, Love, it's a must!!!