Many hands share the load during 2021 Camp Manzke

Susan Manzke
Seven of Susan’s grandchildren bid farewell and say goodnight to the setting sun.

It had been two years since we had a family camp-out on the farm. Finally, last weekend we were able to come together.

I was anticipating having tents again in my backyard. The last time all were here, we shared the time with Bob. This time memories of my late husband drifted about the gathering.

My children decided it would be a good time to remove some of the junk from the farm. Two dumpsters were reserved for the weekend, one for junk and one for recycled metal. All my kids, including in-laws and two large grandsons, helped. All they wanted me to do was to point out things to keep for a future auction.

David on the tractor with Russ assisting to get metal in the dumpster.

It was a mega effort. I couldn’t believe the things that hadn’t been thrown out before. Bob and his dad were big recyclers. Bob would take two broken machines that were good for nothing, mix and match parts to make a new machine. Because of his creative genius, Bob kept stuff around just in case. Now I have to contend with that stuff.

Meanwhile, while the adults worked, my young grandchildren played. They tossed footballs and Frisbees across the yard, between tents and the firepit. They also had a water balloon catch, which worked a heck of a lot better than a water balloon fight. No tears were shed but I missed catching every water balloon that daughter Rachel tossed my way.

The work crew had two carts and a tractor running so things could be put into the dumpsters. It was a good thing the tractor had a loader because some of the metal was pretty heavy—Bob had put aside scrap metal waiting for the price to go up. He wouldn’t sell it when it was low, so it accumulated for years. Finally, the price is worth taking to the salvage yard.

Grandsons Wyatt and Caleb wait their turn as Eli runs the hydraulics for the splitter.

Masks and gloves were worn while working. It was hard, dusty work. Even so, my son-in-law, David said it was fun working together.

I had bought extra bandages but luckily, we didn’t need them. Oh, there were a few pinched fingers and scrapes. The worst accident happened to Rebecca.

My daughter went to remove a hollow piece of metal and as she did, she disturbed a wasp nest inside of it. She was stung twice on her arm. An ice pack was applied and I misted her skin with First-aid spray. Fortunately, Rebecca isn’t allergic.

Each family packed in food and beverages. Russell’s family grilled our Friday supper. Rachel’s family did Saturday breakfast. Lunches were a hodgepodge of who brought what. Saturday supper came via Rob’s family and Rebecca took care of Sunday breakfast. In between, we munched fruit and veggies. All I supplied was homemade bread, which was gobbled up at all meals—midway, Saturday, ice cream bars were brought out instead of s’mores over the campfire.

The only real disaster came in my kitchen. I was up early and decided to put the coffee pot to work. Since I usually drink tea or use coffee in a pod machine, I hadn’t used my coffee maker in years.

Somehow, I did something wrong. I think I didn’t put the carafe in place and instead of filling the glass container, coffee and grounds gushed out of the stupid machine. Dark liquid ran everywhere.

Rachel came to my rescue. Together we mopped up the mess. Rachel then made a new pot of coffee without any gushing or grounds splashing about the counter.

Susan is surrounded by all her grandchildren. Back row from left, Ethan, Seth, Mathew holding Charlie, and Serenity. Middle row from left,  Caleb, Aryana, Susan, Arianna, and Eli. From row from left, Harrison and Wyatt.

After the dumpsters were filled, other chores were done around the farm. I was so appreciative of all the help, I asked Rachel what I could give her husband, David, as a thank-you.

Rachel laughed. “You don’t have to give David anything. You already gave him me.” That’s when David laughed.

There are still tons of things that have to be tended to on Sunnybook Farm. It may take a while, but with the help of my great family, everything will eventually get done.

I’m just so proud of my family. My thank-you wishes will stretch on forever.

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