Homefarm keeps her close to Bob in spirit

Susan Manzke
Susan taking a break from yard work.

When the sun shone this week, I brought out my rake and started to work in the yard.

I’ve never especially liked raking but it’s got to be done. Or at least, I need to make a good effort. If I only get part done, that’s okay. Spring will continue with or without my scraping up leaves. Eventually, grass will start growing and mowing will chop up leftover leaves.

It’s too bad that there’s more in the lawn than leaves. In certain places, gravel found its way into the grass after the snow was plowed. Bob and I always worked hard getting gravel back out of our lawn, that’s just life, as usual, living with a gravel driveway. To protect mower blades, getting as much of the stone out is the best thing to do. Another thing to worry about hitting an errant rock, it can go flying and cause harm.

This year’s yard work was no different than any past years except Bob wasn’t here to rake alongside me.

Bob was always the first one out the door to do early spring work. Besides raking, my husband picked up the large pine cones that covered our yard.

Those who really knew Bob, know that he couldn’t bend and pick something off the ground. A bad hip prevented him from doing this. Bob had remedies for this short-coming.

Bob always carried pliers in his jeans pocket. It was there if he needed to grasp a screw or bolt—that is if I wasn’t there to do the heavy lifting for him.

Using pliers to do yard work wasn’t a good solution. Bob had a handy-dandy grabber he carried around the yard to pick up pine cones. With the long-handled grabber, Bob didn’t have to bend much. He just leaned over, squeezed the handle and brought up a pine cone which he then deposited in a 5-gallon bucket he brought along for the pine cones.

Bob picking up apples last fall with his grabber.

Since Bob picked up one pine cone at a time, he counted as he went along. After working an hour or so, he’d come in for a drink of water and tell me he got one hundred cones so far.

Bob also did this when he picked up fallen apples in the fall. These were days when he wasn’t busy farming and he had time to spare. The apples were taken away from the trees so he could mow safely. They were then dumped away from the house—not to bait deer, but somehow the deer did find the apples. Bob never hunted deer in his life.

Anyway, while I’m out there cleaning up pine cones, I can’t help but think about my late husband. The memories are good. My back aches aren’t, but I continue on. I’m sure Bob would be proud of me.

When Rebecca and Andy came by with groceries for me, and we were standing at a safe distance from each other, Andy noticed little round things on the ground. “You sure must have a lot of rabbits around here.”

I laughed. “Those are seed pods from the basswood tree. They are everywhere.” (They are also too little to rake up.)

Everyone I know is busy with yard work. Some do it as exercise. Some do it as couples, working together.

This feather from a blue jay creates a colorful contrast against the dormant lawn.

Today, I found a blue feather as I was bending to pick up pine cones. It was from a blue jay and it made me stop. Again, I was reminded of Bob. He used to bring turkey feathers to me after finding them by the woods. They were a gift to me and sometimes shared with grandchildren.

No matter what I do on Sunnybook Farm, I find essences of my husband and that makes me happy. As I’ve told others, I live in the best place on earth and staying close to home these days isn’t difficult. I’m with Bob.

FYI: if you want more from Susan, read her daily blog, or find her on YouTube. You’ll see her there reading old columns.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;;