Monthly Archives: April 2014

Walking the dog

I just finished writing my column for this week.

Now it is time to head outside for a while. I can’t go without taking Sunny with me. He’d look so sad if I left him behind at home. It isn’t always easy taking him. He is funny though, so I usually get a laugh or two out of him.

Sunny likes to roll on the ground. That’s okay if it is just grass and not mud or worse, icky pooh.

So off we go into the wind…for a while. I may be able to walk tomorrow. Rain is coming tomorrow night and Thursday. Bob has a doctor checkup, too. It’s walk today with Sunny or wait for Friday.


Current column

Spies like us
By Susan Manzke

Recently we had a family gathering. I brought bubbles for the grandchildren. They like to play with containers of soapy liquid so they can make a thin film forming a hollow globule around air, or just blow bubbles. I also like bubbles, so when they play so can I and we all have fun.
Sometime during the winter, I found a bargain. It was a telescope. I decided to purchase it so when our grandchildren visit during the summer they will be able to sit outside in our backyard and look up at the night’s heavenly bodies. It seemed like a perfect activity that could be enjoyed by all ages.
Of course, I couldn’t just leave the telescope in the box for months. I had to unpack all the pieces and check things over. It wouldn’t do to wait and find that pieces were missing. And as long as I had all the bits out on the table, I might as well put it together.
I called Bob to help and soon we had the telescope standing. Then it was time for us to check to see if it worked. Freezing temperatures kept us inside, so we pointed it out the window and tested to see what we could see.
That first day we didn’t view much. It was snowing and nothing but white was visible, except close up in our yard.
The next day I pointed the telescope out the window again. I couldn’t see anything, which puzzled me because it wasn’t snowing. That’s when I found out I had the gadget pointed up into the overcast sky. When I tipped it down I eventually found tree tops and then land.
Both Bob and I were amazed how far we could see and how sharp an image we had. I had only paid $15 for the telescope, but it brought our farthest field, a half-mile away, up close.
I had a hard time finding my way across the field though. When I thought I was scanning to the right, I was actually moving the telescope to the left. Having it mounted on a pivot took a while to get used to. After much practice, I’m able to find my way around our fields without much trouble. Oh, I still wander a bit, but every time I use the telescope I get better at finding the location I want.
There wasn’t much to look at when our world was winter-white. Even wild animals weren’t wandering through our neighborhood. As time progressed, though, we’ve found critters we could target.
First deer began to appear and paw through the snow in our wheat field, looking for something to eat—our winter had been extra hard on animals. It was nice to see any sign of wildlife at all, even ones that tend to nibble on our tender crops when we don’t want them to, which is most of the growing season.
The following day four turkeys were added and then sandhill cranes arrived. We were glued to the window. One of us was on the telescope, while the other had the binoculars, and then we’d switch.
As we stared out the window I started wondering what people who drove past saw. From our position, we couldn’t see any other building, not even our closest neighbors, but it would have looked odd from the outside.
If we lived in town, it would have been much worse. Standing by our window with binoculars and telescope would look like we were spying on our neighbors. “No, we’re not spying on you. There was a redheaded polly-wolly sitting in your birch tree.” Or “I’m not peeping. I was just trying to figure out what that shiny thing was hanging in your tree.” If I keep writing about using binoculars and a telescope like this, no town will allow us to live there. That or all our neighbors will draw all their blinds and shades … or get their own binoculars and telescopes. In the end, we could start a stargazer club.
I guess it’s a good thing we live out in the country. When the grand kids come they will be able to search the sky or the horizon and no one will care….at least I’m pretty sure no one will.IMG_3739

Chickens and me

I found a video I made from last summer with my chickens.
It is of me handing out treats. Treats are grapes. I cut them in half if they are large.
Chickens love them, but grapes are too expensive to hand out all the time.
Still I love how they come to get grapes.

The rooster hardly ever gets any. He talks too much and the hens are faster.

Chicken of the Day


I don’t know why I like chickens so much, but I do.
They are not the brightest bird around, but watching a hen scratching in the yard is comforting. It soothes the savage breast. As much as watching fish in a tank swimming around is calming, so it chicken watching.

I guess it more hen watching. Roosters and their antics aren’t soothing. If we have more than one rooster, they are fighting and no matter how many we have, the roosters are always after the hens.

This hen is my favorite at the moment. The rooster hasn’t pulled out many of her feathers trying to mate with her, so she’s very pretty. I’d like ten more like this hen….but that would be my limit, even for hens.

Hens at least give eggs and they don’t need a rooster to do that.

WPS Farm Show 2014

IMG_3617Three days in March
By Susan Manzke

The WPS Farm Show may be over for this year, yet it is still on my mind. Those three days were a big change from our usual quiet life on Sunnybook Farm, and I couldn’t help but write about it.
Ten days before the show, I started checking long range weather reports. I’d go from local reports to the Internet reports. Ten days out they are often different. I liked the one on the Internet the best because it kept telling me we’d have nice weather. I told myself that the others would catch up to this report as we got closer.
No matter what report I checked, as we neared the first day for the event, they all started saying snow. Still it wasn’t supposed to be much for us, only an inch or two during the night. Surely, by morning the roads would be clear.
I didn’t sleep well that night. I was sure I’d forget something important at home, like my purse, or Bob, or something. When morning came, I looked out the window and saw white—darn. Our road was white and slippery, but that was our road. I figured it had to be better when we got onto more traveled highways.
Bob and I packed the car with my books and stuff. After tending to chores, we headed out on our 50 minute drive to Oshkosh.
As expected, country roads were snow-covered and slippery. Still, the main road had to be better. Traffic would have taken care of it by this time. Right?
My wishful thinking didn’t help the roads any. The state highways were as slippery as the country roads. Well, US 41 had to be better. Right?
Nope. It was icy, even with all the trucks and cars on it. The only good thing about 41 was that it was so slippery everyone was going 35 mph. No one was speeding past the rest of us cautious drivers.
It turned out to be a long drive to Oshkosh, but we made it without a problem. We were a bit late, but that couldn’t have been helped. At least we got there.
The wind was cold and bitter walking from the car to Hanger C where Bill was set up in the Wisconsin State Farmer booth—Bill’s drive in from the south hadn’t been any better than our trek down. I guess we were all happy to arrive unscathed.
The weather and slippery roads didn’t stop country people from coming to the show. Soon the aisles were swarming with people. It was so nice to talk to readers. Some came to shake our hands, others to visit, and others to tease.
I expected to be visiting with women readers during the three-day show and I did. The thing is by count, I think most of the people who specifically came looking to meet me were men. I’d say maybe 90%, by my rough calculations.
One man said his wife read my stories every week. He implied that he didn’t, that it was a woman’s thing. I then introduced him to Bob. Of course, he knew all about my husband—I think that man secretly reads my column on the side.
We met and talked to people from all over the state. Of course, there were farmers from near Oshkosh, but others came from Janesville, Wausau, Racine, Oconomowoc, and from our neighborhood: Seymour, Black Creek, and Pulaski.
Lucky for us, the road conditions improved that afternoon. Wednesday we started from home earlier and didn’t have any road issues. That day at the show was incredibly busy. I think everyone was watching the weather for the following day when rain was predicted.
All three days it was cold and blustery, but that did not stop visitors from coming to the EAA grounds and visiting The Wisconsin State Farmer booth. Everyone was bundled up for the cold spring weather. Talk of the coming year and what to expect weather-wise were big topics at our booth. An old folk tale about the number of above 90 degree days equaling the number of winter days below zero was addressed.
Every night, Bob and I came home very tired, but it was a good tired. We had spent our energy visiting with nice people. It took me an extra three days to feel my normal self again, but it was worth it and I can’t wait for our next outing. Wisconsin Farm Technology Days in Portage County is only a few months away, August 12-14, 2014. Hope to see you there.