We had a visitor to the farm one day that upon learning that Henry and Finley were cousins born only eight weeks apart remarked how they were Bo and Luke Duke.
    How I never came to this conclusion on my own is beyond me. The boys and I love watching “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Indeed, they are the Duke boys in so many ways. Finley with his blonde hair, is a pint-size version of Bo (John Schneider), using his smile to get the ladies. Henry, dark hair like that of Luke (Tom Wopat, whom actually has family connections to our area), is always ready to talk his way out of a jam and definitely gets the girls as well. These two boys keep us on our toes with our ears open, and a giggle suppressed as they recount their latest fantastical adventures.
    One day after chores, the little boys, Cora and I were heading down to the house with a wagon in tow. The boys were alternating who was riding and walking. We were grocery shopping around the farm – cheese from the shop fridge, meat from the shed freezer. With our goods loaded, Finley jumped in the wagon, Henry pulling. As we came across the scale (because it’s entertaining to weigh even a small load) my tongue started tripping over itself in an effort to redirect the boys before they dumped the wagon. But it was too late. Henry, who is generally the instigator, gave a yank and made the wagon fly off the scale edge, which is about a foot off the ground. I was interrupting their wickedly elated giggles to explain that the outcome could have been much worse, and they shouldn’t try it again when it hit me all at once. I could see them, 16 years old, reckless and wild, bouncing through mud puddles and over dead furrows in a field. A premonition of sorts, I suppose, supported by much evidence over the past couple years.
    They grab straws out of the cupboard in the house to use as agitators for their pits. They haul manure and chop corn almost daily. Henry is usually the general manager of all farming operations, directing Finley to the fields that need chopping. Occasionally, they are hauling their girlfriends (every female Little People) around in the airplanes taking them to their respective farms. If the weather is less than desirable, they spend the morning inside the freestall barn rather than traipsing around outside. The two of them can excavate the front of a cow stall in no time, using their tiny Ertl tractors and construction equipment. Their infinite knowledge of terminology never ceases to amaze me. I will be working with cows across the barn and pause to listen for their contented storytelling, their constant explanations of what they’re doing to one another, just to make sure they’re still where they should be.
    A few weeks ago the rumbles from the stalls grew quiet, so I went on a hunt for the mischief makers. There’s always the few seconds of complete panic that go through my mind, quickly followed by the more reassuring thought that they usually tell someone where they are headed, and they know where not to go. I went to ask the girls in the calf barn if they’d seen our midget Duke boys and found evidence of snacking, and two baffled, grinning girls. Let me preface this story with the fact that Henry and Finley love the story of “Hansel and Gretel.” Finley can quote things from it verbatim. Jaime and Shelby, smiling and shaking their heads told me that Finley filled his pockets with pellets from the calf grain because “they were going to be Hansel and Gretel” and the two assured the girls they wouldn’t fall asleep and dream of a candy house. If that were to happen, the house might be real and the witch would be there. Henry further comforted the girls by telling them, “Don’t worry, we’ll come back and live happily ever after.”
    Beyond the calf barn is a section of woods the boys are allowed to explore. Thomas has a food plot in part of it, and it’s full of animal tracks and things for curious minds to see. I went back there and kept my laughter tucked in my cheeks, though it was so very difficult.
    I found them by an old truck.“Did you follow your trail back?”
    “No, we ran out of grain.” Finley says with disappointment.
    “Did you see the candy house?”
    “No, because we didn’t fall asleep.” Henry smiles.
    They are so matter-of-fact, it only makes it harder not to giggle.
    “Which one of you is Hansel? Which is Gretel?”
    After a smirk, Finley says, “I’m the girl and he’s the kid.”
    “Why is that?”
    “Because he gets locked in the jail, and I push the witch in the fire!”
    These two would be lost without each other. They can fight like brothers, but love like cousins. It doesn’t matter if they spent the morning fighting like mad in the barn, by nap time all is forgiven. I read to the two of them, and put them in their respective beds. Within five minutes I can hear the hum of whispers upstairs and creep up the steps to examine the source. Lo and behold, Henry and Finley snuggled in bed next to each other, reading a stack of books. On days when napping seems impossible, this is how they pacify me. As long as they can stay quiet, they can snuggle and read. It’s so difficult to scold them when they are taking turns, reading the pictures with bits and pieces of words they remember from the books. It helps me keep the visions of car jumping at bay, and the gray hairs it is undoubtedly going to cause from these Duke miniatures of ours.
    Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wis. Her children, Ira (11), Dane (9), Henry (4) and Cora (adventurous crawler), help her on the farm while her husband, Keith, works on a grain farm. If she’s not in the barn, she’s probably in the kitchen, trailing after little ones, or sharing her passion of reading with someone. Her life is best described as organized chaos – and if it wasn’t, she’d be bored.