Friday, October 31, 2014

Because this is what we do

Just as family and friends have rallied around Bruce and I while I'm undergoing chemo, keeping our fridge and freezer full and helping out with odd jobs, farmers in this community rallied around a farm family in mourning on Thursday. Just a month ago a young farmer received the devastating diagnosis of aggressive cancer that had already spread through his body. Before the family even had the chance to come to grips with this, he died early Tuesday morning leaving a wife and 2 daughters in shock and several hundred acres of corn yet to be harvested.

The neighboring farmers had already set a date to combine Neal's corn and the farmers answering the call was just staggering. Combines, grain carts, tractors and wagons and semi's poured into an empty bean field early Thursday morning and received their maps of which field they were to report to.

There were two and three combines to a field along with equipment to haul the corn away.

I'm not sure of the exact count, at one point I heard there were 22 semi's.

It was quite a sight.

Farm Credit Services had the lunch covered for all the workers, there were between 70 and 100 farmers working.

"Dr. Wilcox, I presume??"

Mark laid claim to these overalls after his son, the vet, left them at their house.

Despite the sad reason all these farmers were here, it was an uplifting gathering, when friends and neighbors can come together to help another, it makes you proud.

Here comes another combine, stopping for dinner.

Even the littlest farmer is happy to be here.

More semi's roll in for a bite to eat before heading to the ethanol plant to unload.

This is not a complete list of all the combines but you get the idea.

Even my farmer got in on the harvest of love, that's our red tractor and wagon, they sent those with wagons to town to the elevator.

I would bet that most farmers left their own equipment in unfinished fields to help out the family, like this one.

But that is what we do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I was out checking on the chickens when I saw white feathers everywhere, my heart was instantly in my mouth, MURPHY?????

Then I saw this poor dear!

It wasn't Murphy, it was the dreaded molt.

They quit laying and shed feathers but what a time of year to do it.

It's nearly November, winter isn't far behind.

I'm going to have to knit her a pair of knickers, she was huddled up between two other hens on the roost tonight, I feel for her.

"Do you MIND?? Quit taking pictures of my bare bottom, I would like to retain a semblance of dignity!"

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I'm back in the tractor again

I told Bruce I was feeling well enough to help him haul corn stalk bales out of the field next to our house, all I had to do was drive the tractor, it's not like I was lifting anything. We had an unexpected inch of rain but needed to get the cows out in that field so made one trip in the evening to see how it would go.

It was muddy!

I love our big round baler and the tractor that picks up the big round bales.

And puts them all in a row on the bale cart, it's so much less work than doing it by hand.

It never complains about picking up bale after bale after bale, unlike someone who shall remain nameless.

Bruce starts his row of bales for winter, before he is done, there will be about 200 of these babies to feed and bed our cattle for the winter months.

Since it was late, we only did one load that night, I didn't expect the phone to roust me out of bed early the next day, after all, I've been almost an invalid, guess that's over. I took this photo to prove how early it was, that's the sun just coming up.

Ye Gads!

We hauled bales all morning and the pile grows, when the field was empty, Bruce shut the gates and called his cows.

Yesterday I took the dogs and the gator and drove out in the field to see how they were getting along cleaning up the downed corn before letting the horses out. Those older cows are spoiled brats, they came running thinking I was taking them to yet another field. It made the dogs very nervous, they are afraid of the cows but more afraid to leave the gator. Murphy was on the seat next to me and the closer we got, the more she hugged my seat until I nearly had her in my lap. Mollie was in the back and had her head over my left shoulder, "If I don't look at them, they can't hurt me." 

And they call themselves herding dogs.

This is one of our future cows, won't they, that's the daddy in the background, make beautiful babies next spring?

This shot is the last corn field here at home to do, behind 'Rabbit Garden's.'  Bruce and Grassy are still out combining in the dark as I write this, the green is the alfalfa field and then more big round bales beyond that, by the black top yet to be picked up.

I'm thinking I might get another early morning phone call.

Me and my big mouth.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A day of surprises, or that's what friends are for!

Thursday was a day of surprises, beginning with Jean and John from WI, driving 6 hours out of their way when they were at Ames, to come and see us and bring me some warm and comfy lounging clothes that Jean and Shirley purchased on a buying spree for days when things aren't going so well. It was a short and very sweet visit because they had to be back on the road home in the fog and we had a doctor appointment. 

While we were in Cherokee waiting for test results, Rosanne called and asked if we had some hip waders, I said yes, but they do leak a little, wondering what in the heck she wanted some hip waders for. Then she informed me she was headed up to clean out the pond, she could tell I was a bit worried about all the leaves that had fallen in because I never got the netting stretched across it. What a relief! I love my pond but it takes maintenance that I just couldn't do this year. 

When she got here, she had another surprise, one of our garden club ladies, Eva, was bringing food and her boots and gloves to help her. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, all I had to do was point them in the right direction and sit on the garden bench.

Eva cut back all the grasses and plants around the edge.

While Rosanne cut the pond plants and pushed pots over on their side for the winter. She used the rake to get most of the leaves and debris that had sunk to the bottom and filled buckets to be dumped into the gator.

Of course, where the gator is, you will find the dogs, Eva had to carefully throw the debris in the back....

.....and not disturb Mollie's nap.

Rosanne kept raking piles of leaves out of the water, if it didn't get done, the decaying leaves might kill my fish over the winter.

The fish weren't too disturbed by all the work going on but Rosanne did find a frog hiding in some leaves.

While the girls were cleaning the pond and I was sitting on my butt, Lisa, another garden clubber, called and Bruce told her a pond cleaning party was going on so she grabbed her boots and gloves and came to help.

You can't buy friends like this.

Someone who drops everything to come and clean up a stinky backyard pond for winter.

And bring food to feed my hard working husband.

Rosanne had all the pond plants trimmed below the water line and I found the netting I'd used last year so we stretched it over the pond and fastened it down with rocks from the edge. Zoe was fascinated with watching the fish again, she hadn't seen them in a while.

The weather has been gorgeous everyday, the reason for trimming all the pond plants back is so the vegetation doesn't rot over the winter but the plants are getting the last laugh. Today I see the plants have grown about 3 inches, guess they aren't ready to be put to bed yet, Rosanne, we might need those waders again!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chemo, second time around.

I was dreading the second dose after all the problems I had the first time, I knew Bruce needed to be in the field so was extremely grateful when Janet called and said she could go with me because they were at a stand still. I don't know if I will ever be able to walk through those doors at BV and just do what has to be done without a meltdown, accessing my port in the lab was traumatic again and I don't know how to get over that. The nurse evaluation is first before seeing the doctor so we filled her in on all the problems I had, they did not know I spent a week in the hospital. It was back to the waiting room while the doctor reads and digests everything that I told the nurse. This time it was Dr. Wender, the no nonsense doctor, he decided to only give me one dose of the Treanda, that is a strong drug and the one I took over a two day period so I would only have to do one day. I also told him I wanted to do the 7 days of shots rather than the one big dose of Neulasta. We did get into it when he looked at the sore under my tongue that Janet wanted to get some medicine for and he declared that "It didn't look like much to him." This was said as he was headed out the door, dismissing me and that set me off, I started crying again and said, "It's not your mouth that is so sore, everytime I try to eat or drink it rubs on my teeth!" He did not take lightly to being talked back to, got in my face and said, "You need to talk to me, you aren't talking to me!" I'm not sure what he meant by that because I thought that was exactly what I was doing. I said again, "You have no idea how sore my mouth is." He left and came back a while later with the news that a prescription for 'swish and spit' would waiting for me at the pharmacy.

After another wait we were escorted to the big room but they let me choose where I wanted to go so I went back to the hidden corner where we were before. I still don't feel like being sociable and sitting and talking to others, I want to hole up and sleep through it. It always takes awhile to finally get the chemo started, they do a lot of other things first, anti nausea, benedryl, steroids, and finally the drug. They start it on a low rate and gradually bump it up but everytime they tried it on 200, I would get bad chest pains so they had to stop, redo the meds and start over. This went on most of the day and finally had to call Dr. no bedside manner, in I had only received about 1/3 of the dose but he said to quit and give me the Treanda and call it a day. 

Needless to say, it was a very long day by the time we got the mouth medicine and was back home, Janet stayed till Bruce came in although I had not more chest pains. She reminded me to start taking all the anti nausea and pain meds even if I felt like I didn't need them, to ward off trouble. I'm also eating even if I don't feel like it, that is what got me into this mess the last time. I slept pretty good but woke up feeling like I had the flu, Rosanne was coming with dinner for the guys who were hard at work combining corn so I didn't have to do anything. She was also going to take me to the hospital for my first shot, which according to insurance rules, had to be 24 hours and 1 minute from the last chemo that ended at 5:25. That meant the specialty clinic was closed and I had to go to the emergency room. I talked to Deb, from the specialty clinic earlier in the day and she said it was all set up. I don't know who took the information but they had me down for an infusion and I had to convince them I was there for a shot, that does not give me a lot of confidence. So something that should have taken 5 minutes, turned into 45 minutes, luckily from now on I can go anytime so today we go to the clinic at 1 and I'm going to talk to them about the mixup because this weekend, I have to go back to the emergency room.

It was nice having Rosanne here for the afternoon, we took blankets and books to the gazebo and read and napped the afternoon away. Besides dinner she brought cookies and some homemade granola, people are keeping us well fed and I appreciate it since I do not feel like cooking. It's now day 3 and so far, so good, and that is wonderful news to me, although I have to admit, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I'm able to be out doing my chores and that always lifts my spirits communing with the animals. Bruce had another combine breakdown yesterday, it was leaking anti freeze so while waiting for Tom's repair to come, he started baling corn stalks so he can turn the cows into the field by our house. (Tom's repair found a rat had chewed a hole in one of the water lines and it was fatal for him. Bruce saw the dead rat under the combine the day before but thought Morris must have killed it. They are coming back today to replace both lines, it's a pretty expensive rat trap!) I'm feeling well enough this morning, I think I can help pick up bales out of the field. That would really make me feel better.

I have so much support, from both near and far, food, prayers, cards, you have no idea how much I appreciate it. Thank you all.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Everything is not roses in the corn fields!

The corn is very dry and we had some strong winds that knocked it down and makes combining a challenge. The field should not look like it has already been combined like this.

Or this, broke over and some was actually laying flat on the ground.

You should be able to look down the rows and see a clear path, not a jumble of downed corn.

When Bruce spears into this, it tends to pile up on the corn head... then he either has to get off the combine and clear it off or go into a good row that will move the pile of stalks on through the combine.

This is what he likes to see when he's in the combine, stalks standing tall and strong.

Yesterday was the worst day until he and Grassey removed the 'corn savers' from the top of the corn head that really made the downed corn pile up. So today he was able to smile again.

The best thing is the corn is so dry, there is no need to put it in the drying bin, no need to spend money drying the corn and waiting for the corn to dry. It is going right into the bins where it will spend the winter. Grassey is great help, he was able to fill another bin today.

He is adjusting the swing auger so no corn spills onto the ground.

It is beautiful corn.

He's heading out to the field for another wagon.. would be a slow harvest without him.

Back at home, Murphy is not having such a good time, I accidentally ran over her front foot when she bailed out of the gator while it was still running when she saw a squirrel. She carried her foot the rest of the evening but the next day she was putting weight on it so I knew it wasn't broken. It never even swelled.

Tonight I was in the gazebo and caught her in the act of chasing a chicken so she received a sound thrashing, I wonder if she will ever learn. Mollie was beside herself, slinking around, a worried look, she takes it to heart when Murphy is in trouble. I keep telling her she is my good dog but she still isn't sure.

Bruce told me last night if he greets Murphy first when he comes home, Mollie is crest fallen, "I thought I was the one you love the most?" It's hard to believe that just a year ago we were wondering if Mollie would ever grow up!