July 4, Monday
Blessed with slight rain. It took me all morning to prepare meals for the week for Michael Everett and nephew Luke Combs, who will do feeding and stay at our house while we travel to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, delivering 3 bulls.
I love lettuce from the garden, but it takes a while to clean, and I am not sure the guys appreciate all the effort. Other than gallons of ice tea, beef barbecue and shredded chicken, one of my favorite summer dishes is Texas Caviar: fresh cooked corn, diced tomatoes, onion, black beans, cilantro and chipotle seasoning.
Bill is hooking up the trailer, stocking it with hay and water in case of breakdown. We just bought a new Duramax Chevy pickup 4 X 4, and we are both eager to try it out. But Bill discovers that our old Ponderosa trailer is a very tight fit from the gooseneck hitch to the new truck. (Hmm, I am not 100% sure he did not plan this so we would “have” to get a newer trailer.)
We move the bulls up from the woods and clean them up, giving them water and hay in the corral for the evening so we can make an early start tomorrow. I twisted my knee when I stepped in a hole. Drat. Stepping in holes was never a big deal until this year. I feel like my body is heading downhill.
July 5, Tuesday
Just a little after 6 AM and we are on the road to U.P. We have a cooler full of ice tea, water and deli sandwiches. Our new truck is really comfy and as a favor to me, Bill bought the version with dual temperature controls. I have a week’s worth of newspapers and magazines and a history book. I love to read, but usually fall asleep by page 2 or 3, so traveling is my catch up time. The Journal News is doing a great job of in-depth reporting of local news. We subscribe not just for news, but we believe that a local newspaper is important to the community and want to help it stay in business. I just subscribed to the Wallstreet Journal (WJ) this year. They had a super deal and I used to read it every day 30 years ago when I worked at The Ohio Farmer magazine. With all the economic shenanigans going on today, and all the misinformation on the internet, I wanted to go back to my trusty old WJ. TV is too sensational and repetitive for me.
It’s a 13 hour drive so we trade off and Bill snoozes, sort of. After we trade back, I dig out the truck manual, and we start to learn about all the bells and whistles on the dashboard. Whew. TMI – too much information. We have a 6 month trial of XM radio and On Star. Heck, we just learned how to work our Garmin GPS a couple of months ago. (It was my Christmas present, but is always in the truck. Go figure.) It takes both of us to figure it all out, and we still have problems with saving favorite stations on the buttons on the steering wheel.
After we cross the Mackinac Bridge, the temperature drops 10 degrees to the mid 70s and it feels great. Right after the bridge, we turn in for our livestock health papers to be inspected. The line is short so it takes less than an hour. We have 3 more hours to drive. Along Route 2 we follow the Lake Michigan shoreline for 2 ½ hours. There are a few people out swimming in the icy water and figure they must be from Alaska or the Canadian Northwest Territories.
By 7 PM we arrive at our destination and drop off the three bulls at 3 farms directly into the pastures with the cows. The buyers are potato farmers who use alfalfa as part of the potato rotation. They are running irrigation on the potatoes and baling hay when we arrive. They have so much hay that they are chopping it and will work it into the soil for next year’s potato crop. We are envious. We have never had too much hay – and alfalfa hay at that. The Verbrigghes are some of the hardest working people we know. They have never been to our farm, and picked out their bulls via our website and photos that we emailed. They were very nervous when we delivered their first bulls 10 years ago. But we told them if they did not suit them, we would load back on the trailer and bring them back to our farm. They were relieved when they saw the beefy bulls walk out of the trailer, and we were relieved we did not have to bring them back home.
We drive another ½ hour north to spend the night with my nephew Jay Wagner and wife Linda.
July 6, Wednesday
This is the first time we did not drive directly home after our U.P deliveries. We were always rushing back to make hay. Jay and Linda just moved to the U.P. and we wanted to see their new home. They have dreamed of living in the U.P for years and are happy 40 something lovebirds. We discover that the Lake Superior north shore is more to our liking. The rocks and trees and clear water, fresh cool air — are invigorating. Marquette has been transformed from a decaying old city, to a beautiful destination.
July 7, Thursday
We are heading south back to hot weather. Ugh. Summer in the U.P. seems great, but the winters with snowfall averages of 200 inches – we can live without.
We stop in Fremont, OH to visit my 92-year old Mom. My brother Wayne is visiting. Wayne is an Extension Beef Breeding specialist at West Virginia University so we have plenty of news to share. We have fresh perch dinner at the best fish restaurant on Lake Erie – the Sandusky Fish House. It’s right on the lake but is carryout only. There are several picnic tables and a pretty gazebo across the street.
July 8, Friday
Whew. It feels really good to make it back home. We are praying for rain as we drive through several showers. Michael and Luke have worked hard, and everything at the farm looks good. Since we sell bulls direct from the farm, we look at our farm and home as a storefront and try to keep things looking neat.
I catch up on watering and watering and watering, despite the ½ inch of rain. One of our calves has cut his foot badly, and his Momma is not good – she deserts him. So we bring both up to the barn. Baby 830 gets tetracycline 300.
July 9, Saturday
Calf 830’s foot is swelling up. So we get him in the chute and soak his foot in Epsom salts. I am catching up with office work and laundry and cleaning, but I would rather be working outside.
July 10, Sunday
Chores. Church. Chores. Baby 830 is back in the chute soaking his foot. I have more patience than the guys. I just read on the back of the Epsom salts bag, that it makes good fertilizer. So rather than dumping the salt water on the ground, I try it on our asparagus and flowers. I will let you all know if it kills or promotes growth.
We have lunch with Bill’s cousin who lives in Ripley. He is a safety foreman helping to build new power plants. He shows us pictures of TALL (in the clouds) smoke stacks that he has to climb. That’s another career path you can cross off our list. We’ll stay on the farm.