Winter seemed to last forever here on Sunnybook Farm. When spring drew near Bob and I really started looking forward to our annual trip to the WPS Farm Show in Oshkosh. It's not that we were in the market to buy anything; instead we were ready to meet and greet friends we've gotten to know through this column.
We left our farm early on Tuesday morning, hoping to get there for the 9 a.m. opening. That turned out not to be early enough. Everyone else was heading to the Farm Show at the same time so we got caught up in the line of arriving cars and trucks.
Luckily, the procession kept moving forward and soon we were at the show - we arrived even earlier the next two days so we were at the Wisconsin State Farmer booth before the show opened. That will be the plan for next year, too.
As Bob and I walked toward Hanger C where we would spend most of the show, we looked over the huge tractors and equipment on display. For these two old farmers, those machines are just dreams.
Since none of our children will continue farming on Sunnybook Farm after we're gone, we're just trying to keep our old stuff working until Bob finally decides to retire for real.
When we got to the booth we started our day. Right off the bat friends came over to chat and share a laugh. Boy, seeing all those great people sure helped brush away winter's cobwebs for me.
I had a few photos of our grandchildren with to share. As usual, it was like visiting with old friends. Some we had met before, others had sent cards and letters to us in the past, and finally there were those friends we were meeting for the first time.
It didn't matter who the people were, we had a great time visiting with them.
Bob had old-timers come up to him asking if he had ever gotten his AC D-15 tractor running. When they heard that he hadn't, they offered suggestions that might help get that old tractor going.
One problem for Bob is finding a good place to tear apart that D-15. He would love to fix the gears again, but we don't have a heated shop for him to work on it in the winter.
When things warm up, Bob will be too busy keeping our other tractors working. He won't have time or energy for that D-15 - Bob told his Farm Show friends how he replaced that machine with another old tractor and loader. This time it's a Massey Ferguson.
Many visitors asked about our chickens, too. They were wondering if we had any left after being raided by murdering wild critters. I told them that five chickens remain: one rooster and four hens.
We check on them every morning, wondering if they survived another night in their chicken house. So far so good (knock on wood), but we still worry.
Everyone who has experienced such a problem knows that the wild animals who got a free meal in a chicken house could return for another any day. Those critters don't forget where they found food in the past.
One farmer brought a chicken catalogue to give us. He pointed out a light system advertised on the back cover that is supposed to keep varmints away. He thought it might solve our predator problems.
A few other men suggested traps for catching our killers and still others suggested poison - Bob and I were honored that all these people were thinking of ways to help us with our chicken problem. It sure is nice having so many friends thinking of ways to help our birds survive.
Another man brought two books written by his family for us. They are filled with genealogy and stories. Bob and I loved reading them. Thanks Don for your thoughtful gift. We cherish those books.
Bob and I feel like the luckiest two people in the world. Who would have guessed when I started sharing my stories in 1980 the biggest benefit would be all the friends we would gain. I thank you all for being so special.
FYI: Our first outing is behind us, but more is to come. I will speak about saving family stories at the Black Creek Community Center (library building), 507 S. Maple St, Black Creek, for Home and Community Education on Tuesday, April 9th at 6 p.m. This event is open to the public, so come and join us.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net;