We are paying super high real estate taxes on our land to support the local public school system. That could be another story all by itself, especially in Worthington.
    We pay tuition and donate money for private Christian kindergarten through eighth grade schools all my grandkids attend. And now I am paying my 14-year-old grandson to drive tractor during school hours because he is not really in school. Well kind of, maybe, sort of, partially, in a social distancing sort of way.
    While the rest of us suffer financially from depressed prices, job layoffs or reduced hours, Vince will graduate from eighth grade without entering a real classroom for three months and get paid besides. Vince turned in his hours yesterday to the paymaster at Ocheda Dairy for the month of April. Now Vince does not estimate or guess when it comes to hours. His math skills are average at best, but his ability to make a 10-second statement into a 5 minute soliloquy is surpassed only by our minister. This is how he turns in his hours, with no total, so the paymaster (me) has to add them up.
    - April 1: scraped manure, loaded cattle to Kansas, 11 hours.
    - April 2: sorted cattle at Seth and Kia’s, and scraped manure, 6 1/2 hours.
    - April 9: leveled tile lines at Vance farm, and fed calves at dairy, 5 1/2 hours.
    - April 11: hauled manure at Paul’s, and at old feed at Berket’s, 6 hours.
    - April 13: hauled manure at my house, 6 1/2 hours.
    - April 16: hauled manure at my house, 1 hour.
    - April 17: helped at shop with field cultivator, 8 hours.
    - April 18: helped hook up rock picker at Paul’s, and rock picked at both Vance fields, 7 hours.
    - April 20: hauled manure at my house, and dug Lindon’s and Vance north farm, 13 hours.
    - April 21: field cultivated, 10 hours.
    - April 22: brought seed to the planter and field cultivated, 10 1/2 hours.
    - April 23: field cultivated, 9 hours.
    - April 24: field cultivated, 8 hours.
    I totaled them once, came up with 96, and figured close enough for a kid who would rather drive tractor than be in a class room any day of the week.
    There were some serious lessons about tractor driving and farming safety that Vince learned this past week. He was doing so well over thousands of acres and even moving the 9RX and 60-foot field cultivator down the road between farms. Then he was rounding a curve on a tar road, and he did not stay far enough on his side of the road and a shovel on the folded up cultivator took a mirror off a neighbor’s pickup. There is probably more to that story than I will ever know, but thankfully no one was hurt. The very next day he was trimming the edge of a field on the final pass, and the harrow and rolling basket clipped a three-phase REA power pole and split the pole in half. The wires stayed up, thankfully, and again no one was hurt. I immediately took a picture of the pole and sent it to a lineman friend of mine that works for Nobles Cooperative Electric. I also called it in to the co-op office as required. The line crew made a special after-hours repair that night yet because strong winds and rain were forecasted for later that night. They did not want the pole to go completely down. The lineman friend also reminded us about how close that accident was to being very serious. He also gave Vince the big brown insulator off the broken pole as a souvenir and reminder to respect power poles.
    Troubles usually come in threes, and Vince proved it is true. After those two mishaps, he was putting fuel in the tractor from the portable fuel trailer. Apparently, the bearing between the gas engine and the actual diesel pump failed, causing heat, smoke and maybe even a little fire. Vince shut it off and threw water on it, which luckily got it out. But water was probably not the right choice. Again, Grandpa and Dad have not adequately trained our youth in safety procedures. I wish I knew the answers to how much and how early we let teenagers do work. If we do not allow them to do anything until they are 20 years old, will they know any better by then?
    Just a follow-up on last month’s article on COVID-19. As many of you are aware of, Worthington is a hotbed of infection, somewhat related to a large hog processing plant located here. So far as of this writing, we are all OK. All of our employees are OK. Our three semi loads of milk are being picked up daily, and that is much appreciated. Milk prices are down to under $12 per hundredweight, but cull cow prices have already improved dramatically.
    We are blessed.
    Vander Kooi operates a 1,800-cow, 4,500 acre farm with his son, Joe, and daughter-in-law, Rita, near Worthington, Minn. Send him feedback at davevkooi@icloud.com. Follow him on Instagram, @davevanderkooi.