Sometimes in farming and ranching, it is the small things we have no control over that have the biggest meaning to us. It is the unexpected, good things that happen due to nothing that we have done or could do. The things that we should be grateful for when the day is done. That was my day last week as I planted rye.

I started out early in the day. OK, it was about 9 a.m. by the time I got all the chores done and the tractor serviced. Well, to be really transparent (that is the new term for being honest these days) it was about 10 a.m. by the time I got everything around and planting, or about two hours later than I had planned on. In any case, I was in the field planting by 10 and I intended to get all the rye I had to plant done by dark that night. It should not have been hard to do.

The first three fields went very well. I could go crossways across the field, and I had no problem finding my wheel tracks when I turned on the ends. I am not saying there will not be any gaps or skips because that is my signature move when planting, but I think I covered most of the field. After all, is not rye considered a cover crop?

It all went very well, and I was making good progress, the drill was doing a good job. When I finished each field, I had about the right amount of seed left in the hopper. That is also a very comforting thing — to go back and look in the hopper, and it is at the right level versus looking into a nearly full hopper at the end of the field. OK, I cannot be the only one that has ever happened to.

That left me with one last field to plant — it was the one I had been dreading all day. It was the farthest from the seed tender, hardest to get to and, most importantly, not shaped very well. What do I mean by not shaped very well? It borders the creek and because of that is shaped like a capital “L”. That is not good because I could not go crossways across the field in the opposite direction the previous crop of Sudan grass had been planted. This made it very difficult to tell where I had been.

Because of the shape of the field and a few other obstacles, it had to be planted the same way as it had been drilled for the Sudan. Keep in mind also that by now, it was later in the day and the six-inch-tall Sudan was casting shadows, too.

The first four rounds were not too bad; I could go round and round with the drill, but then I got to where I had to pick up on the ends and turn around. I would come out of my turn desperately looking for any sign of where I had been — tire tracks, drill marks, anything. Sometimes I would be close and other times I could find nothing. I think that was about the time my blood pressure started going up. That was even before I got off and checked the hopper.

When I looked in the hopper, it became apparent to me that I had not used enough seed or at least that is what I thought. I may or may not have been agitated at that time and I may not have been seeing things right.

I got back in the cab and proceeded on. Each turn I gritted my teeth until I found evidence of where I had planted before. When I got to the middle of the field, I started going back and forth looking for gaps and filling them in when I found them. It was much like sweeping my shop with a West wind. The more I looked, the more gaps I found.

Finally, an hour after I should have been done, I quit. That was when the silver lining of my predicament hit me. Unlike the other three fields, this field was off the road and shielded by trees. The only ones that would see it was myself, the cows and two or three deer hunters. The cows rarely talk, and I was not telling anyone, but the deer hunters might be a problem. I guess I will have to come up with a nondisclosure agreement they will have to sign before going back there each time.

At the end of the day, it really does not matter what my planting job on that field looks like and I am sure it will serve its intended purpose even if it looks a little goofy. The seed left in the hopper was about right and I should not have gotten as frustrated and mad at the situation; life is too short for that. Once again, it was a reminder to me to not worry so much. After all, God takes care of little babies and fools and for that I am grateful.

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension educator for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. He can be reached at

Glenn Brunkow is a fifth-generation farmer in the Northern Flint Hills of Pottawatomie County in Kansas. He was a county Extension agent for 19 years before returning to farm and ranch full time. Reach him at