COLUMNISTS

Many hands lighten load during weekend visits to the farm

Susan Manzke
Rachel, Wyatt, Susan, Arianna, and Eli on Sunnybook Farm.

Work and play are incorporated in family visits on Sunnybook Farm, even on Mother’s Day. That’s the way it has always been here.

Put a saw, clippers or tool in the hands of my family and things will be chopped and trimmed.

An old, half-dead bush needed to have the deadwood cut away. At first, I wasn’t sure how much I wanted trimmed. Some in my family wanted to demolish the whole thing. I dragged my feet when it came to cutting it completely away.

“But the chickens like to hide under that bush,” I protested. “Can’t we leave some?”

The work began with a few little snips and then the chainsaw came out.

Actually, half the bush was in miserable shape. Large dead branches ended up going to the brush pile.

Next to the green bush was a mass of overgrown trumpet vine—Bob’s favorite.

For years, I tried to get my husband to let me trim it back some. “But the hummingbirds love it,” was his answer.

Rebecca and Andy taking clipped limbs to the brush pile.

When I drove the lawnmower, I would mow down some of the vines that were wandering into the yard. When Bob mowed, which was most of the time, he went around those invading vines, giving them more space.

We did not take down all of Bob’s trumpet vine—I wouldn’t do that to him. What we did do was to trim away some of its tangled branches.

All the brush accumulated was going to be heading down the lane in the back of the cart. Too bad those loads didn’t get moving the original day they were cut. A flat tire took care of that.

First, Russ tried to fix the tire, and then David made an effort, too. It had to wait until Monday morning before I could take it to Dan’s Tire in Seymour. There it was a quick fix.

For this family weekend, a second cart came out of winter storage for our day of fun and work. This cart hadn’t been used all last year. With a little TLC, the guys got it out of retirement (it’s only good for fun, not hauling). The cart coughed and sputtered as it came out of the shed, but it was moving. The old gas had to be burned up first before we could trust it going down the lane.

Wyatt and Grandma on the backup cart.

We told Arianna and Eli that they could drive it all they wanted around the buildings. That way, if it stopped on them, they weren’t far from help.

The kids couldn’t believe their good luck. They loved driving the cart and used up much of the old gas as they had fun circling the barns over and over again—we could hear their loud voices before we heard the sound of the cart as they came around the buildings.

Laughter filled the yard, even when we were working. The only grumbling that took place was when we couldn’t get the tire fixed right away.

So far only half of the bush has been cut away, the dead or dying stuff. The chickens still have their hiding place for now.

I’m not sure if more cutting will occur this summer or not. I see places where a few more branches need to go. Snip, buzz, and those will be down on the brush pile, too.

Eli demonstrates a rubber band rocket.

That’s how it starts. A little snip here. A cut there. Pretty soon the chickens will have to search out another place to hide. And who knows, I might be the one who does some of that cutting myself. That has been known to happen.

FYI: One thing I noticed, that at the end of the day, whether it be a day of play or work, I’m usually pooped.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net/blog.