A short one

Last week’s column was Pouring a Tall One and this week it is going to be A Short One. I’m pressing to get out of here for a week, Tracy (my daughter) and the two grand daughters (Erin and Justine) and I will be leaving early tomorrow morning for the farm in Wisconsin. This is the farm where Barbara grew up and Tracy spent many of her summers as a little girl.

The farm has been a part of my life since about 1959. I had my eye on Barbara and on a late winter Sunday I drove past her house with my then-girlfriend Rosemary, just to see where she lived. I would see Barbara in school every day, but the farm was about 7 miles from town. Of course I tipped my hand because cars driving by out in the country back then got noticed. They all knew I’d driven by and Barbara had an interest in me too and knew my car.

It wasn’t long before Rosie and I had split and I began pursuing Barbara. In our senior year we shared a civics class called American Problems and the teacher, Mr. Pieper, seated his students alphabetically. Barbara’s maiden name was Stewart and she sat right in front of me. How lucky was that? We dated from 1959 on, and when I came back from Colorado in November of 1962 with a fat bankroll from a season working as a Euc Skinner on the Dillon Dam, I proposed. We were married in June of 1963 and we had an outdoor reception at the farm.

This writing is a strange gig, I have an imaginary extended family out there, and while I do know some of you and even slip an occasional comment into a column that one or more of you will know is aimed at them, little secret messages, most of my readers are strangers to me and here I am spilling my story to the universe. Oh well.

Originally I was just going to write for a year, encouraged by Siri Stevens, who was the Roving Reporter for the Fence Post at the time. Siri is now the owner, publisher and editor of The Rodeo News and a good friend. I was going to take the readers through a year of beekeeping and be done with it, I’ve told the story before, but one year turned into two, into three, and here I am almost 25 years later with nearly 1,200 columns behind me and readers who have become friends over those years.

I’m amazed at how hard it is to leave for such a short time. Friends will cover the birds, make sure they get fed and collect the eggs. Water is a key and I really have to pump things up so the yard and garden don’t burn out, but they should make it for a week, in fact it will probably be good for the lawn, it will stress it a bit and the roots will have to reach down deep chasing the moisture. As I said earlier, the weeds are getting ahead of me and with a week without me they will have taken over I’m afraid and I’ll be returning to a jungle. The really special tomatoes will be ripening while I’m gone and I’ve encouraged a few friends to harvest whatever they find in the garden that they can eat so nothing goes to waste. The chickens got their first zucchini of the year tonight, a 20-pound monster I’d left on to slow the plant down.

The bees should be just fine on their own. There’s a flow on in some of the beeyards, but they are all supered up. The alfalfa flows have become less predictable in the last few years, changing climate means some farmers take the first cutting really early and try for four cuttings while others stick with three cuttings. This affects the timing and duration of the honey flows and it is an even bigger guessing game than before. The supers are on though and if there is honey coming in the bees have room to store it.

This is going to be a marathon trip, Tracy is limited on time away from work, Erin will start her first semester of college when we get back, Justine starts her freshman year at Berthoud High School and me, well I always seem to be busy and behind. We’ll drive straight through, about 17 hours, but Tracy, Erin and I will switch off driving so it should be fine. I’m actually looking forward to the drive because it will give us all lots of time together to talk and catch up on each other’s lives. It’s hard to get youngsters to sit for more than five minutes and I’ll have them for 17 hours. By the time we get back to Colorado we will be well-bonded or sick of each other. We’ll see.

In the time warp of column writing, hello from Wisconsin, because by the time you read this I’ll be back on the farm, writing a column from there for the next week, which you won’t read until I’m back in Colorado.

We leave at 2:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. Off we go. Over the river and through the woods … ❖