Our day starts with breakfast. Usually we have toast, homemade because Bob likes that best.
I have hot tea and Bob has water. We share a banana and drink a little orange juice, and then we are ready for whatever comes our way.
This particular day, I was at the computer writing letters to all the readers who entered my last book give-away contest. Even though the entries were birthday cards for Bob, I'm the one writing answering letters.
Bob isn't much for writing, so if you want to communicate with him, you'll have to catch up to him when we're at Farm Technology Days this summer. We'll be there all three days!
Being in the house, I had a pot of soup simmering in the kitchen while I was slaving away on the computer.
Bob went outside to start the day with his usual chores: tending to our flock of 12 chickens and feeding the barn cats. After that, he wasn't sure what he'd be doing.
This mild spring weather made my husband more antsy than usual, which is saying a lot. Like most farmers, he's chomping at the bit to get planting.
For the first time in years, Bob planted oats. He's using the oats for rotation, not because he expects to make money growing oats.
Like others, Bob was holding back planting corn. He knows if it goes in too early the seeds could rot in the ground, but boy, oh, boy, has it been hard to wait, considering the weather.
Just thinking about planting season wakes Bob up in the middle of the night. When this happens, he ends up by his computer, where he reads farm articles and then plays solitaire.
This particular day, Bob decided to travel the five miles to rented acres with our stone picker. That would keep him busy for a time.
Before he left, Bob checked in with me.
"Do you have your cell phone?" I asked.
He did, but the battery was near dead.
I handed Bob mine and put his on the charger. I'd be in the house (mostly) to answer a call from him if he needed help.
Then off he went riding his 1960s Allis-Chalmers D15.
I didn't expect to hear from Bob until lunch time. That old tractor isn't speedy, even in fourth gear, so getting to the farm would take him maybe 30 minutes.
Little by little I worked my way through more birthday cards. I had world music to keep me entertained. It's also less distracting as I work. I mean, I can't sing along to songs when they're in French.
Eventually, Bob putt-putted back into our yard. When he came into the house, my husband had a tale to tell.
Half way to the other farm, he was cruising along when he hit a bump in the road - nothing unusual on that country road. Anyway, something in the gears went caphooey. Suddenly, he was in first gear.
Bob tried to shift back to fourth, but it wouldn't go. The only gear he had was first-forward. Nothing else worked.
Slowly, he turned around and, slowly, he came home - I could walk faster than the tractor going in first gear. Instead of picking up stones, Bob spent his morning on the road.
After lunch he started to work on his D15 - Bob even had the Allis-Chalmers shop manual that came with that machine, so he had something to help with his repairs. Too bad it didn't do him any good.
Poor Bob fiddled and fiddled with his tractor, only to be totally confounded. Nothing he tried worked. He just couldn't get it out of first gear.
There was no one to call. No dealer would know anything about such an old machine.
I wanted to help, but my two cents did nothing, so I went back to my letter writing. I added a note to each letter about Bob's tractor problems and asked for help - I could do something after all.
There are readers (especially of a certain age) who know about old tractors. Maybe one who sent a birthday card could help Bob.
The letters went out and I'm waiting for a reply/call.
Bob really misses his old friend, the D15. It's our only tractor with a loader and is low enough to fit into the old barn.
If anyone is out there with D15 mechanical knowledge, please call Bob. We're listed in the telephone book.
Every day, Bob goes to visit his old tractor and pokes around the gears. After nothing changes, he returns to his other work.
Even if he gets another small tractor, we'd both like to see that D15 roll again. Yes, it's old (like us), and needs help (like us), but it's part of Sunnybook Farm (like us).
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net;