Letter to Dave

Dear Dave,

Congratulations, you’re an Uncle! There was a time when I had enough
cows that one individual birth wasn’t a big deal. Since I now
specialize mostly in finishing steers, the birth of a calf is
special-and surprising. I named our newborn after the guys who
covered my work shift so I could stay home and fret; the newborn is Mark
Adam Nelson-Angus calf. I guess you can’t really be an Uncle to an animal
but please remember never to bring that fact up around our cats.

I’m sure it’s too early to be out in the fields near Carrington,
North Dakota; still, there must be a few nervous farmers trying to
drag the high ground. It’s probably good therapy but considering the
cost of fuel and damage to wet soil, maybe they should instead try yoga or beer and
popcorn-two of the three have always worked for me.

It is wet here, really wet. The fields look like they are covered
with anxiety-driven flop sweat, like they’re as nervous about spring
planting as farmers. Fortunately, the last few days have been warm
and windy, it’s almost like the weather is trying to make up for the
wet fall and cold winter. I’m not in a big hurry, I will plant
more pasture and just a little corn this year. Trying to get our little field of corn
harvested last fall has put me off row crops for good. Dad told me
that corn matures too late for this area, I should have listened.

I will no-till some corn and soybeans for the cattle to eat in
the August heat. Together, those two crops make a nice balance for pasture
cattle to finish on. I like fencing off a day’s worth of feed at a
time and then let the steers go crazy, their enjoyment and salivation
pass for appreciation.

My projects are starting to line up pretty well; I just finished
gluing plywood to the back side of the wood siding on our barn. I had
planned to use steel siding but opted to make the wood siding last
a bit longer with some reinforcement. I stood on a ladder in the hay mow
to place the higher boards and so far have yet to fall. I hate
heights so everything I do is twice as hard because I move so stiffly
from fear and grip the ladder fiercely, even though I am inside and quite safe. When I am near the
peak of the roof it’s really unsettling to think that air, fear and a
good, thorough bone-crushing fall awaits; all just a board’s thickness
away. It has been a white knuckle project and I am glad to be finished.

We recently had the steps on our house rebuilt. The old steps rose about
seven inches per step. We extended the total run out to about ten feet and
made each step rise only a couple of inches. I can now run a wheel
barrow full of corn, for our stove, right up the steps. It’s also
lovely to walk up the steps as each step demands so little effort,
however there are three times as many treads. I wanted it to make hauling corn easier, but it would also work great for older people or someone with bad knees. I included a picture so you can see what I mean.

If we were sitting at mom and dad’s place right now the “bird clock” would be making the loon call; I guess it’s time to go.

You’re little bro’


(below is a picture of the steps I talk about in my column-GN.)


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