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Platte Valley Farm-Her

Road tripping through a toddler’s eyes

Barb is a freelance journalist who grew up near Battle Creek, Nebraska, and now farms row crops with her Platte Valley Farmer, Don Batie, northeast of Lexington. She can be reached at

After a four-year gap between reunions, my husband’s Burbank family was able to gather June 24-26 in Nebraska City at the Lied Lodge and Arbor Day Farm. While the many tales from that gathering will need to wait, getting there was equally fun as our oldest daughter and her son car-pooled with us.

As we loaded the car at Juliana’s, she warned us that our 2-year-old grandson would probably provide non-stop commentary on our drive as he practices his ever-expanding vocabulary. Now that he is able to sit looking forward in his car seat, he takes in quite a lot looking out his window.

We weren’t even a mile down the road when Dorne noted, “Pivot broke!” Sure enough an old center pivot tower sat at the end of a field, one we’ve passed by for nearly three years since his parents moved to their acreage.

As we ventured onto Highway 30 and later onto Interstate 80, we were informed about the status of the corn and soybeans outside our windows and what the various center pivots were doing. “Pivot on!” “Pivot off!” he would exclaim.

If there was a tractor working in the field we would know within seconds if it was red, green, blue or orange and if it was cultivating or perhaps baling hay. Yes, this farmer’s grandson knows his farming terms quite well.

Once on the interstate Dorne would discuss the semi-trucks and their cab colors and when going through construction zones would point out the excavators, graders, occasional crane and so on. This stems from several books he loves that talk about construction equipment.

As we’d pass towns, he’d point out grain elevators and water towers. Since his father is a civil engineer who works on water towers, sewer and water lines, it’s no surprise he has a grasp on waterworks.

On the farms he’d pick out the barns and grain bins and rattle off whatever kinds of livestock he could spy, from cattle to sheep to goats. Occasionally a motorcycle would cross our path drawing special excitement.

However, things got sad when we approached York County where massive hailstorms in June destroyed miles and miles of corn and soybean fields and toppled center pivots like so many dominoes.

Dorne’s frequent announcements of “Pivot broke!” drew heavy sighs from the three adults in the car. We had heard that up to 600 pivots were destroyed in that region alone and those still standing had all their nozzles broken off by the severe wind-driven hail.

Getting pivot parts is nearly impossible after all the destruction caused by fire, windstorms and hailstorms this year, so each “Pivot broke,” broke our hearts. Thankfully our little co-pilot crashed before we got half-way through the county, and we drove on in silence.

After the reunion we traveled to Fremont for a family gathering on my Bierman side and when it was over, we headed back home with the grandson in tow. His mama bid us good-bye at my brother’s house so her Papillion cousin could drop her off at the airport to catch a plane for a conference in Vermont. We were flying solo with Dorne to take him back to his dad.

Since he had a three-hour nap that afternoon he was in fine fiddle and regaled us with a new narrative to fit the new scenery. As the sun set in front of us, he announced, “Sun is going to sleep,” and we thought for sure he’d go to sleep, too.

But as he got drowsy, he began softly singing to himself to stay awake. He did this for almost an hour, and much to our amusement didn’t crash until we got to Kearney. By then we were only 25 minutes from his home. Truth be told, Grandpa slept more on the drive home than Dorne did. Which actually helped keep Grandma awake while she drove.

Later this summer we will have No. 1 Grandson for a week while his parents take a couple’s trip. This grandma is certainly looking forward to new adventures and perhaps a road trip, although a shorter one, might be in order to see things from a toddler’s eyes.

Barb Bierman Batie can be reached at  

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Barb is a freelance journalist who grew up near Battle Creek, Nebraska, and now farms row crops with her Platte Valley Farmer, Don Batie, northeast of Lexington. She can be reached at

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