This last Saturday felt so productive. The farm was humming (quite literally if you listened to the truck traffic) from sunup to sundown. It was a sight to behold, and the easiest way to help you conjure up this image is by running through the numbers.
    Two agitators set up by Dad to load manure out of our first stage pit by early morning.
    Seven trucks arrived at daybreak, ready to rock, and kept busy all day, hauling roughly 25 loads holding 3,800 gallons of liquid gold apiece; 600,000 gallons left the pit in a flurry of dust clouds. Two guys were attached to the agitator tractors all day, filling those trucks. One Sam, our faithful chopping sidekick and manure truck loader, was the recipient of an unexpected shower at the end of the day. One hose blew and sent some of that quality fertilizer into the cab and gave him a good drenching.
    One Ray Baby in his Claas chopper kept his crew of four silage trucks going strong from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m., harvesting 570 acres of hay. Two mergers worked ahead of them until they finished up late afternoon. Two people on the pile kept the loads moving and sculpted them into a nicely sloped pile that meshed with our second crop alfalfa. Thirteen year old Ira was in the White for a day and a half, until he was promoted to the hay unloading crew, and 15-year-old Julie took his place. Nine tired humans covered the 200-foot bunker by the light of the skidsteer and watchful eyes of Burr (the dog). One chopper operator became the tire seeker as he zipped around the bunkers to scoop and deliver buckets of half-tires to keep our 18 helpful hands full.
    One heavy-duty pick-up truck pulling a trailer weighed down with big straw bales made its way through the maze to unload five times. 20 bales on each of four loads plus 12 golden bales on the last load – filling up the shed with 92 more bales that will be so appreciated. One Jose in the payloader pushed the bales off of each load, and then hopped into the skidsteer to put them in the shed.                    
    One 71-year-old, determined man baled 1,000 small squares of alfalfa hay under the gorgeous blue sky. This translated into eight loads of bales, varying in heaviness, with some loads holding about 250 bales. Two adults and anywhere from four to six kids unloaded them into the mow of the old barn, filling one side. The team of two 11-year-olds and this 40-year-old mom on the wagon was the ‘A-Team.’ Dane and Natalie made a great team; they were very aware of surroundings, didn’t drop a bale on my head, and pushed bales to the side in a way that made them easy to grab the twine and toss to the elevator. One and only brother Tony stopped by as the first load was finished and went to the field to grab the second for us. The next loads were hauled by Ira and the 1940 Farmall M, putt-putting along in the flow of silage and poop trucks. I went along on one load with him, and as usual, was impressed with his tractor skills. Three generations worked together to drop the empty hay wagon and pick up the overflowing one; a well-choreographed dance with the M and the 766 in the field. Stacy and her two boys came over to help with the last three loads while I milked cows.           
    Two cows that had a mishap in the return lane of the parlor Friday evening appeared to be OK by Saturday morning, thank goodness. That meant they could go back to their pens. Twenty-three cows in my hospital pen that only holds 21 had become a few too many bodies. One bull calf was born, adding to the dozen bellowing boys to feed over the weekend. By evening I promoted eight fresh cows to the main parlor. Ten minutes later, eight opportunistic cows were out because of a gate not being chained after the transfer across the alley. Four quick-moving children did a great job of assisting the parlor guys with their return.
    Four dozen homemade kolaches on the table at 6:00 a.m. dwindled to a lonely lemon-filled one by the day’s end. Six pounds of hamburger were thawed and grilled for lunches for 15. One batch of refrigerator bread dough formed into three dozen burger buns, risen and baked fresh for lunch. One 13- by 9-inch pan of cream cheese brownies disappeared by route of sneaky children and sweet-loving men in less than six hours. Six loaves of fresh bread, four pounds of sandwich meat, two pork roasts and two pounds of sliced Muenster contributed to the meals on Friday and Saturday of chopping. I didn’t attempt to count the dirty dishes; before washing they covered the counter and filled the sink.
    Two children – overtired but clean – had to be carried to the van at 10:45 p.m. Two equally tired boys, coated with a healthy layer of dust and grime dragged themselves to the van to head home. One teenage boy with two of the most rancid smelling feet kicked his boots off, causing me to drive with one window cracked open all 7 miles home.
    One thoughtful, pondering farm mom drove home in relative silence and marveled at all that was accomplished over the course of the day. The full moon and near cloudless sky as we stepped out of the van to climb into the shower and bed was the perfect calm ending to a day of much work. Nostalgic as always, it makes me giddy to see Tony stop by unexpectedly and help out for a bit, and see all the kids working together, then taking a break between loads to play on the bales and swing in the mow. The guys staying to help cover the bunker, thank me for the food, and still have good spirits at the end of a long day is a great reward.
    Jacqui and her family milk 800 cows and run 1,200 acres of crops in the northeastern corner of Vernon County, Wisconsin. Her children, Ira (12), Dane (10), Henry (5) and Cora (3), 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.