It never seems to fail. The moment I throw something away, Mark will need it the next week. It all started with Michael and Sara’s wedding. Our house was going to become a weekend bed and breakfast for family and college kids. I did not know how many people were going to be staying with us or where they were all going to sleep. I just knew I had my bed, and it was first come, first serve for everyone else. The week before the wedding, I was in a constant state of organizing and cleaning. The stack of magazines and papers on the countertop and china hutch needed to be cleared away. Well, in my push to have everything tidy, I started pitching old unread farm magazines, back issues of papers, old auction bills and a coupon postcard from a tractor company announcing a special summer tractor parts sale. “Spend $400 and save $100.” Well, we will not need that, and in the trash it went. We had a wedding to get ready for.
    When Michael and Sara announced they were going to be married the last Saturday of June, my first fleeting farmer thought was second cutting hay. My next thought was great. These two kids are such a perfect match. They met 10 years ago at National 4-H Dairy Conference. Sara was excited to see a bull named Bolten. Michael casually mentioned that he thought we had an Excellent Bolten daughter in our barn. We had only one Bolten daughter, and she was Excellent. Since dairy cattle brought them together, it was only natural they would want to take some wedding pictures at the farm and include a few cows in the shots. In fact, they asked a special friend if he would serve as a personal attendant to Cobalt and Jackpot. Cobalt is a daughter of Michael’s show cow, Crystal, and Jackpot is one of the few other cows in the barn broke to lead. Once the kids graduated from 4-H, we have few animals being broke to lead. So, on a beautiful Saturday morning, while the girls were off getting their hair and make-up done at the salon, Matt was washing and prepping the other girls for their wedding shots, too. I cannot wait to see how the pictures turned out.
    The wedding weekend went off without a hitch. The weather was perfect, warm but not blazing hot as predicted. The storms never developed over head and blew out of our area. We had received enough rain in June to have a green yard accented with blooming bright yellow lilies and pink peonies. The hay fields surrounding the driveway looked like a lush green carpet, close but not quite ready for the second cutting. The cold wet spring had pushed the first cutting back and hence lined up harvest perfectly for the second cutting to occur around the Fourth of July.
    While the weather held off for the wedding weekend, we were not quite as lucky with the hay crop. Forecasted rains, high humidity and an endless supply of breakdowns delayed our harvest. But, once we saw a break in the weather, we were off and running. However, it was a staggering start. It seemed like every other load of chopped hay provided a new delay. Between the bagger not working, problems with chopper boxes and overheating tractors, we were able to finally finish the bag and move on to wrapping baleage. I was jumping between tractors hauling empty boxes to Mark in the field while Al and Austin unloaded. I noticed there was a shimmy in the rear of the 7230. Now, a shimmy in the rear is nice on the dance floor; it is not what you want to do down the field road. There was a certain point in the speed when I thought I was going to drop my rear end. This tractor has been shaking for awhile, but now it was getting worse. We kept using it, and I kept praying it would not break while I was driving. Prayers were answered, and the tractor was parked for repairs.
    It turns out it needs an $1,100 part. Mark remembered the tractor parts coupon and started looking for it. He wanted to save some money, and that coupon was as good as a $100 bill. He asked me where he could find the coupon postcard. I started searching through five bags of trash that had not been disposed yet. No luck. It turns out there is a code on the card the dealer needs to claim the rebate. I am not giving up yet. There has to be another way to find this lost coupon. I am on a new adventure to track down a living person at an international company who may actually know what is going on. This should be fun. The challenge has been made and the deadline looms. Off I go.
    Natalie, Mark and his brother Al, farm together near Rice, Minn. They milk 100 registered Holsteins under the RALMA prefix. Their four children are grown up and all involved in agriculture with hopes of someone returning to the farm. For questions or comments, please e-mail Natalie at