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Spinning in circles around the farm

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 editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

There are some days that are frustrating, and you just can’t do anything about them. Today was one of those days. We are at the time of the year when I am so busy and have so many things to do that, I don’t know which way to turn. That usually means I just spend my whole day spinning in circles. That was exactly what I did today.

I need to get the soybeans planted, I have rye that needs to be baled and I had some feed I needed to get picked up before I got really busy. Oh, and all of this with a deadline because I have surgery scheduled in early June. No worries, I still have most of the month of May. Wait, May is almost one-third done, now is the time to panic.

As I predicted when I scheduled my surgery, I was going to make May a wet month. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciated the rain we got last week but it did add to the sense of urgency I am starting to feel. About half of my acres have rye that need to be baled before the soybeans can be planted and the other half could be planted now. I decided to check the acres that did not have rye and found that they needed another day or two to dry out. Coincidentally, that just happens to line up with the next chance of rain. A nervous twitch starts to form.

I think I could start on the rye. I don’t want to cut any ruts, then there is the fact that balers and mud do not do well together. I could bale around the wet spots and just wait for them to dry out. I could, except that the baler is still in the shop waiting on parts. This one was my fault, because I didn’t get it in the shop right away when the dealership called. I am not sure what I was doing, but it must have been important. Also, I did not envision the rye being ready so early or so short.

The rye maturing early should have been a good thing, but right now it was adding to my stress in two ways. First, it was ready, and I was not and second, it was not going to produce as much hay as I had hoped. I go in for my pre-op testing tomorrow. I wonder how high is too high for blood pressure. I guess we will find out.

That’s all right, I can save the day and go pick up my feed that should be ready. It should have been ready last week, but the plant had an issue with its bagging machine. Just to be sure, I called ahead and guess what? It still wasn’t ready, but it should be tomorrow. That is fine, except I have a full day of plans tomorrow and it might be dry enough to start planting. The nervous twitch was definitely back, and panic started to set in.

What was I going to do? What direction should I go? Why is it when we have so much to do paralysis sets in? I couldn’t decide, so all I could do is jump from one thing to another and that wasn’t getting anything done. I remember my mother talking about times like this and she liked to say that tackling a big to-do list was like eating an elephant. She was exactly right, but all I could do was worry about what kind of bar-b-que sauce I needed to use on it.

I know, Mom was right and eventually I will dive into one of the big tasks and start to get it done. We have never had a year when the crops didn’t get planted or the hay didn’t get put up. Eventually conditions will be right, and things will get done, but living in this world of limbo and not being able to get anything done is driving me nuts. OK, so it is driving me more nuts.

I guess the upside to all of this is that I am resting my cranky hips and that will help me get more done when things line up better. Farming and mother nature have this way of showing us who is boss and that we do not get to do things on our schedule. In the meantime, I guess I can choose to worry and stew about everything that needs to be done or I can relax and help that blood pressure out just a little bit.

Just now as I wrote this column and got one more task done, the shop called to say my baler was done. I guess I am mowing hay tomorrow or am I planting or am I going after the feed? It’s time to start nibbling away on that elephant. If only I could decide between KC Masterpiece and Carolina style sauce.

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 editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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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 editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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