From the Farm: Spring-cleaning, dairy-farm-style
I have spent more time outside helping with the cleaning out of our compost barn than I have ever spent doing that silly activity referred to as spring cleaning.
I clean portions of my house every day; I’ll just pick a day of usual cleaning and call it spring cleaning.
A true version of spring cleaning happens in the compost barn every spring and fall. Come February, we need to clean all of the used bedding out of the barn and haul it to nearby fields and spread it.
This task requires an army. OK, an army might be and exaggeration. Tuesday morning there were four of us participating.
One person was driving the tractor with the loader on it removing the bedding from the barn and loading it into the semi-trailers and manure spreader. That’s not that easy of a job, in my opinion. The manure in the barn is about four-feet deep and steams something fierce.
Guess who was driving the tractor with the manure spreader? Me! It’s been a long time since I have helped with this job. Why? I don’t know.
Honestly, I really wasn’t looking forward to helping all that much. It’s time consuming and there are a million things I could be doing in the house.
When we haul manure, Steve likes the driver of the tractor to use the auto-steer, so the manure gets spread evenly across all areas of the snow-covered field.
“Don’t you just think of all the baby corn plants that will be growing in the field this spring?” Steve asked.
“Well, no. I am just thinking about not getting stuck in a snowdrift!”
Normally I prefer to be alone when I am in a tractor. It’s good to sit in a nice quiet cab for hours. Tuesday, solitude was out of the question! Digger and Eddie, our rat terriers, insisted on being inside the tractor with me, getting the passenger seat all full of soft, white doggy-hair.
It was kind of funny at one point. The field I was hauling manure to is quite lumpy. Digger was with me at the time and he popped up and out of the passenger chair when I hit a rather large frozen lump of dirt. He looked like a piece of popcorn. No animals were harmed during this procedure. He landed on his feet; he’s cat-like.
Using the auto-steer on the tractor was a benefit. I didn’t have to have my hands on the steering wheel all of the time. Out of grogginess-inducing boredom, on one trip past the mailbox I stopped to pick up The Journal. It was the Tuesday after a holiday, I knew there were at least two papers with fresh crossword puzzles. No mail on Sundays and no mail on holidays means two puzzles, and I like that!
I tried to fill in the tiny squares, but couldn’t get individual letters written in individual boxes. I am anal when it comes to crosswords – neat and orderly. My letters were unrecognizable.
I did have to kick the dogs out of the tractor cab several times, but in the end they always looked at me with those darn sad puppy eyes. No kidding. Digger would climb up the steps on the tractor, hop onto the huge tires and look at me with those eyes, through the manure sprinkled windows.
Who can resist something like that?
Digger did figure out that if he laid across my lap as we drove across the field the bumps were not as body-wrenching. Every time he wanted to sit on my lap, again, he would just look at me.
In the end, I spent seven or eight hours hauling manure from the barn out to the fields. I was proud of my even spreading of those nutrients for the small corn plants in the spring.
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