Category Archives: Bob

Visiting Country Critters

I was looking through videos I have on and found one of Bob releasing a raccoon into our woods. This was back in 2011.

Bob captured this raccoon in a live trap after it was poking around our chickens. Here’s the link. Copy and paste the whole link to see Bob release it…………………………………….

A different raccoon on our front porch

I haven’t set up the critter camera yet this year, but I’m thinking about it. Bob loved the critter cam so much. He wanted to snap a photo of the bear that moves through our area. He never got that photo or saw the bear, I’m sad to say.

When the raccoons come up to finish cat food, they can be very quiet or they can make a lot of noise, moving the metal food pans around.

If I have to go outside in the dark I make a lot of noise so the wild critters know to scatter.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Early morning photo

I was sitting at the kitchen table when I noticed the moon yesterday morning.

Besides the moon, there were ground fog, frost, snow, and bits of sunshine.

I tried capturing the sight with the moon peeking through the branches of our red maple tree. Can you see it?

That is a mirror in the top right. Bob put it there so he could sit by the table and see if a car turned into our driveway.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

In Rob’s words

I’ve shared the tributes from Rachel and Russell in my column. Today I’m working on a column with off-the-cuff stories from Rob and Rebecca. These will come out later this week in the newspapers.

Today, I have the written words of Rob about his dad. I want to share them here today. This is what Rob wrote, though he did go off-script at Bob’s memorial.

“My dad was a hardworking, compassionate, every-man farmer who had two priorities in his life.  His family and his farm.  And, as my mother often pointed out, they weren’t always in that order of importance for him.  But, those two priorities were interdependent and intertwined.  He worked tirelessly every single day of his life to provide for his family.  When my siblings and I were still growing up and living at home, my dad worked two jobs to help put food on the table and keep the roof over our heads.  The summers meant that Dad was working the night shift at the canning company.  He’d leave for work at 6 pm, come home at 6 am (sometimes later if he fell asleep in his truck in the driveway), sleep until 10 am, work on the farm, and then head back to the canning company at 6. He worked so his family could live comfortably and happily on the farm on Gardner Road.  That was my dad.  

My dad was the ever-creative, self-taught engineer.  The tools of his trade – tractors, trucks, plows, and other farm equipment – had frequently lived a long and productive life well before he purchased them.  While I know he couldn’t have afforded to buy new, I also believe he thrived on the creative challenge of giving new life to old equipment.  It was through dad’s example that I learned the values of ingenuity, grit, creative problem solving, and self-reliability.  And, while I know absolutely nothing about the mechanical workings of a 1972 International Harvester, I do know how to face challenges in my life with the same level-headed determination as my dad.   

“It would be a near impossibility to live your life as a farmer without possessing an unyielding sense of optimism.  My dad was the epitome of optimism.  Every spring, he took countless tiny seeds and planted them in the ground – knowing that much of the success or failure of the crop was out of his control.  In the time between planting and harvest, my dad would manage his fields to give his livelihood the best chance to grow. 

Together with my mother, my father the farmer raised his children with the same philosophy of patient optimism.  Every day, he instilled in me and my siblings a strong work ethic, a passion for life, a steady disposition and eternal optimism.  He planted those seeds within his children early in our lives, he tended to us throughout our childhood by living those ideals, and he waited (patiently) for us to reach our potential – knowing that much of our success or failure was out of his control.  I for one think he and my mom did a darn good job with their crop of children.  

“So, let us take the time this afternoon to celebrate my dad’s life and his accomplishments.  Although we won’t have the opportunity to have new interactions and experiences with him, we have countless memories to cherish.  But, more importantly, we help him live on through each of us.  He lived his life true to his ideals – universal compassion, a steadfast commitment to his family, self-reliance, working hard for what you believe in, and eternal optimism. We all can take those ideas with us to honor him and keep him alive.”

Our first family Ph.D.–Congrats, Rob!

I’m also sharing this photo of us with Rob when he got his Ph.D. A wonderful day Bob and I were so proud of our firstborn.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Bob never changed

Since I’m working on my column collection, I’m coming across stories about Bob. This one was written in January 1981. I think it shows how Bob never changed. Over all his years on earth, he had an odd sense of humor.

Here’s misery in perspective — January 22, 1981

Days don’t come much more miserable than this. Outside, the wind howled, whipping snow and sleet into a cold lather.

I anxiously waited for my husband to return home. I expected him to be equally as miserable as the weather — cold, wet, and disgusted. So, thinking of him, I warmed some hot chocolate and turned up the thermostat.

Finally, he came in the door. But instead of stomps, groans, and grumbling about the weather, I heard laughter.

“What’s so funny?” I asked. I figured I could use a good laugh to brighten my day, too.

“I blew the van’s radiator hose,” he giggled as he shook the snow off his jacket.

“Oh, that’s too bad…. but what are you laughing at?”

“The radiator hose, on the van… It split right in two… Rotten clear through.” He continued laughing as he removed an icicle from his chin.

Had the pressure of the day finally taken its toll? Had Bob popped his cork, causing everything in his head to come babbling out?

Not wanting to upset him further, I said, “Why don’t you come and sit down. Put your feet up. Rest for a while. And tell me all about it. Start at the beginning… the very beginning.”

“I was going to town to get a tractor part when smoke started pouring out of the back of the van.” He giggled.

“It got worse as I drove. By the time I reached town I couldn’t see out the back window.” He laughed again. “I thought the engine had blown.

“The radiator hose broke… just the hose. Not that bad and I was right by the hardware store… I even had my tools with me and money in my pocket.”

“So?” I waited patiently for him to get to the funny part.

“So, I bought a new hose and fresh anti-freeze and fixed it right there… right in the parking lot.” He smiled.

“So?” There must be a punch line in all this.

“Nothing else… don’t you get it?”

“No. All I understand that you had trouble with the van. But somehow I don’t think that’s funny.”

“Don’t you see? It could have been worse… much worse… It could’ve been the engine… or it could have gone out halfway to town… or when we were broke… or when my tools were in the truck… or when YOU were driving alone…”

“I’m not laughing,” I told him as I lowered the thermostat.

“You don’t understand. The hose… the parking lot… Our luck’s changing… I guess you had to be there to appreciate it.”

“I guess so.” I nodded as I drank his hot chocolate. “I’m glad I wasn’t. I might have laughed myself to death.”

That was my Bob.

Bob relaxing back in the early 1980s.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

The gift of a laugh

I felt a chill this afternoon. Before going onto the front porch to feed the barn cats, I grabbed one of Bob’s heavy shirts.

After feeding all those moochers, I got a laugh. I had missed a snap on the shirt and the front was cockeyed.

Bob had done this often. Many times during our life together I was telling him to fix his shirt.

Today, when I did the same thing, I couldn’t help but laugh and thank my husband for all those years of fixing his buttoning/snapping.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved