Farm field adventures

Susan Manzke
Deer crossing a field on the Manzke's farm.

Anyone who knows Bob and me, expects to find us on our cart traveling down the farm lane every evening—weather permitting. Times change according to the seasons, but most days you’ll find us traveling our trail with Sunny our dog. As Bob drives (slowly) we look for critters. We count animals and record the numbers in a notebook.

These little rides are mini vacations. Along with our four-footed companion, we also bring binoculars, and a camera—Sunny looks forward to our drives. If farm work keeps us away, our dog is very disappointed.

Last week, Bob was planting soybeans, so he couldn’t take the trip. I felt sorry for Sunny. The dog and I went without Bob. We saw three deer, four ducks, twenty-five geese, a few turkeys, and an uncountable number of killdeer.

The following evening our drive took an odd turn. Earlier, Bob didn’t know exactly when, a small wheel came off the planter. That evening instead of searching for animals we were looking for a pointy sprocket wheel.

Sunny came along for the ride. I don’t think he understood why we didn’t go down the lane as usual. Instead, Bob guided our maintenance golf cart into the planted field.

I watched for the part to the right and Bob looked to the left. We both glanced directly in front of the cart, too.

Back and forth we followed the planter tracks, hoping to find the missing part. Sunny looked around, but though we explained to him to look for the pointy wheel, our dog insisted on keeping an eye out for critters.

Nature photo while on our farm lane. We raise large turkeys on Sunnybook Farm.

Sunny sniffed the air trying to get a whiff of deer. His ears perked up when neighborhood dogs started barking in the distance. Once, Sunny stood on the seat and danced his feet. Across the field a deer had appeared. He was one happy dog—I added Sunny’s find to our nature notebook count for the day.

Once in a while Bob and I lost track of our mission. We caught ourselves looking for animals instead of the part—habits are hard to break.

Bob drove the cart from one field to the next, giving sticky areas a wide birth. We didn’t want to get stuck in mud while on our search. That would have only made matters worse.

The evening was perfect. A slight breeze kept the bugs at bay and it wasn’t extremely hot.

As the sun started to slip over the horizon, we went into the third field. It was almost too dark to see. About the time we were ready to head home, Bob stopped the cart. He had spotted the missing wheel!

I was surprised. My thoughts were already figuring on how to buy the part—though the no-till planter was new to us, it wasn’t a new machine so parts might be a little difficult to find.

The search was over. Happily we rode to the farmyard. On the way back six sandhill cranes flew overhead—I added them to the notebook list.

A killdeer wading in field pool.

A second search took place a few days later. It was a different planter part that went missing that day and in a different field. Again, Sunny joined us in our search. Too bad no one found anything that evening. The part is still out there somewhere. Maybe it will be found. Maybe not.

No matter, 98% of our planting is done, only some muddy spots have gone unplanted. So basically Bob is finished. This year’s seeds are officially growing. Thank goodness.

Susan and Bob Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165,