Category Archives: Farming

Still watching crops grow

Last spring, Bob sat by the kitchen table like I am today. His view was of our field across the street. For the first time in his life he wasn’t farming those acres, renters were, but even if Bob wasn’t out there he was riding along virtually.

The last couple of years that Bob farmed he had trouble with his planter. Either a row was missing or crooked. Those errors always showed up right next to the road where every other farmer could judge his farming. This ticked Bob off.

This year, like last spring, the renters’ rows look nice and straight. That is except that two rows were unusually close right next to the road.

I figure the acres aren’t exactly square and rows will never exactly match up for anyone.

That’s the exact spot where Bob had problems. Maybe this was done on purpose in memory of Bob.

No matter, I’ll be thinking of my husband every time I look at those two close rows.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Looking out the window

About this time last year, Bob was starting to feel better. It was the first year in his life that he didn’t farm. Instead, he watched our renters working the Sunnybook Farm fields he had traveled since 1978.

Bob with his old tractor and planter.

Yesterday, I watched the same family working in the same fields.

The renter working up the soil for planting.

As I watched them, I thought about Bob.

I felt him looking out the window with me.

Big changes have come to our farm, none of them easy.

Bob’s spirit is still here. He planted a bit of himself into the soil each year, as did his dad, and other farmers before them.

I continue on today with Bob in spirit, even if others are doing the farming.

Such is life.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

One week later!

It wasn’t long ago that I wrote about starting to sprout alfalfa seeds (March 19 blog). I actually had them started a day before posting about this venture.

The first batch is ready to eat and I’m enjoying them. It’s something fresh and green in my diet.

Besides alfalfa sprouts, I’ve also started a mix with clover and another with lentils, peas, mung bean and adzuki bean–whatever that is. These just went into the sprouter yesterday and I already see little shoots starting to pop out today.

Since I’m having so much fun growing these seeds, I went searching for my old sprouter. I remember that two of the plastic levels had broken. Maybe I threw the whole thing out at that time, but maybe I didn’t.

Guess what, I found my original sprouter or at least half of it, and now I’m able to have more seeds going.

The new set up is on the left and the old sprouter is on the right.

I’ve been munching alfalfa sprouts for a couple of days. Finally, I have enough to make a mouthful. If I keep the seeds cycling through the containers, I should have something growing to eat every day.

I bought my packaged seeds online through Amazon, but from the Sprout House (

Yum, alfalfa sprouts.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Growing my own

Years ago, I sprouted seeds in my kitchen. With all that is going on, I decided to get started sprouting again.

I could have sprouted some seeds in a jar. I found simple directions on Google:

How to Grow Sprouts in a Jar

  1. Place one to two tablespoons of seeds in your jar, and cover with approximately two inches of warm water. …
  2. Drain the water, using a fine sieve or cheesecloth.
  3. Rinse the seeds by adding water to the jar, swishing the seeds around, and draining.
  4. Repeat twice a day, every day until your sprouts are the desired size.

I’d suggest you start with one teaspoon of seed for alfalfa seed. Here’s a link to growing alfalfa:

I didn’t start growing my alfalfa seeds in a jar. Like any kid, I wanted a ‘toy’ to play with and bought a sprouter online. Kitchen Crop VKP1200 Deluxe Kitchen Seed Sprouter, | 6″ Diameter Trays, 1 Oz Alfalfa Included

That ounce of alfalfa that’s included will take me a long way, but I also ordered some seed mixes.

My new sprouter

Water drains from the top, through the sprouting levels and is caught in the lower green level. I’m to put the water through this straining system two to three times a day.

It’s like having another pet, though it is not a Chia Pet. It will grow edible sprouts. I’m not so sure about eating Chia sprouts. At least those packaged as a pet are not recommended to eat, but the ones that are sold as edible chia seeds are.

You’ll have to wait a few days to see how my project is growing.

Today I feel like a farmer again. Bob would be proud.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved

Booking it!

My 1980-1981 column collection is finished and is up on Kindle for purchase. The paperback will be in production as soon as I get my proof and check it over. I’m supposed to get my proof copy by next Tuesday.

Stories from these two years include three children: Robby, Becky, and Russell–Rachel came into the picture in 1982.

Here’s a romantic story form this book in honor of Valentine’s Day:

Oh, Rats!” to those bats

August 5, 1981

       He came out of the house. We sat by the picnic table, a full moon above our heads. It was so romantic, a fragile evening.

       The work noises of the day had faded. I was no longer overpowered by the roar of the tractor being tuned up near the shop. It sat quietly nearby—in pieces—not to roar again until a needed part was shipped in.

       Birds swooped about the yard in silent precision, eating hundreds of juicy insects. The sound of a muffled train whistle sounded in the distance.

       It was an evening all the money in the world couldn’t buy. It was an evening worth waiting for, for weeks… for months.

       He whispered into my ear, “You’re alone?”

       I sighed, “Yes.” And thought, “Oh Boy! Here it comes. Here comes one of his priceless romantic statements.” (They are so priceless because they’re so rare. Anyway, it had to be one the evening called for one; it yelled for one. And so did I, silently, of course.)

       So I waited and waited for the words that were sure to come from his lips—words I would cherish for another five years, until the next time, when he’d again stumble over another few.

       “I’m surprised you’re sitting out here like this,” he said.

       “The night was made for it… for us.” I thought a few words from me would help him spit out a good line.

       “I’m just surprised. I know how much you hate them,” he said with a yawn.

       Somehow it wasn’t quite what I expected him to say. I wanted romance. Instead I got a puzzle.

       “What are you talking about? What do I hate?” I had to ask, knowing his answer was sure to blow the evening for good.

       “Bats… you hate bats.”


       “Those happen to be bats flying around the yard,” he said, calmly.

       “Bats? No…. BATS? Are you sure?” (Why I asked him if he was sure I don’t know. He’s always sure. And with one more look up so was I.).

       “BATS!!! I thought they were birds.” I jumped up and ran to the house, my head tucked under my arms.

       “Where are you going?” He remained sitting on the bench, in the moonlight.


       “But it’s such a nice night…. I thought you knew they were bats. They weren’t hurting you.”

       “They didn’t hurt me when I thought they were birds. They might now that I know they’re bats.”

       For a man who claims to love me so much, he can be cruel. He stole away the night and the promise of romance, with one word – “BATS!”                         “Oh, RATS!”

I hope you enjoyed the story I shared.

I also hope that you would consider buying this kindle book or the paperback when it comes out.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Manzke, all rights reserved