Note from "Miss Nancy": Michael and Madelyn arrived at Grasfeder Farms within days of each other and decided to write their journal together. Most of their entries will be things they did together, but every now and then they may put in individual thoughts (seeing as how boys and girls don't always think alike). We at Grasfeder Farms have enjoyed our visitors from the West Coast .now for the happenings on the farm.
The Journal of Michael and Madelyn
Day 1, Wednesday: We arrived at Grasfeder Farms on October 28, 1998. We had been cramped up in our envelopes for who knows how long and we still had to wait till everyone got home from work and school to get out! Since it was almost night, we didn't do a whole lot except get to know our "host" family. First, there was Nathan. He is 8 years old and in the 3rd grade (perfect playmate for us). Nathan likes to draw and had drawn us a picture of the farm. Next, there was Kyle. Kyle is 15 and in the 10th grade. He is doing lots of things in high school with the Future Farmers of America and other things teenagers like. We think he tolerated us the way big kids do! The Dad in the house was "Mr. Bill". He's tall and strong and couldn't wait for us to see his farm. (The house is not on the farm, but about 7 miles away across the state line into Kentucky.) We didn't know we would get to see 2 states on our journey! Then there was the Mom "Miss Nancy". She seemed to be nice and gave us a good meal and tried to get us to bed a reasonable hour, since Nathan and Kyle had to go to school the next day. It was so hard to get to sleep, we were so excited about going to the farm!
Day 2, Thursday: "Mr. Bill" took us to the farm bright and early. He said that he would be very busy trying to finish harvesting the soybeans. We got to ride the combine and watch the beans go in the front on the stems and come out the top into the bin on the combine. Then we put them in a truck and took them to the grain bins on the farm. "Mr. Bill" was always warning us to be very careful and stay away from the moving parts. Farming can be fun but also very dangerous too. We watched the truck dump the beans and an auger lifted them to the top of the bin. "Mr. Bill" said he usually hauled the beans straight to the granary, but the price was so low right now, he was going to store them for a while. We had a long day and were glad when Nathan got home from school and we could play. That night, we went to the church for a Halloween party. The boys went to a haunted forest that was super cool! The girls did the hayride thing in the back of a truck and sang songs.
Day 3, Friday: We were kind of surprised that the weather was pretty much the same as in our home in California. It was cool, but up in the day we took our jackets off. "Mr. Bill" said that it had been a very strange year for the weather here, milder than usual. We had seen the soybeans and "Mr. Bill" was trying to finish so we stayed out of his way and went to school with Nathan. School is school, but it was Halloween, so they had a dress up party and festival like thing. We went to a high school football game that night. We won! We did find out that the school here is very small. It's a county school, but the county is not real heavily populated. There are 3 3rd grade classes with 23 or 24 in each. The high school has less than 300 students in 6 grades (7-12). It seemed like everyone knew everyone else.
Day 4, Saturday (Halloween): "Mr. Bill" finished cutting the soybeans and we played all day waiting for it to get dark so we could "Trick-or-Treat". We dressed as "clowns" and Nathan dressed as a "farmer". We did learn one thing about "Trick-or-Treating" in the country----you get lots of stuff. We went to several houses, but they were very far apart, we had to be driven in the car. But the people in the country don't get a lot of "Trick-or-Treators" so they are very generous!
Day 5, Sunday: We went to Church with the Grasfeder Family. They go to a small country Methodist Church. We were really surprised to see only about 18 people there. Sunday School class was fun with "Miss Lori" and a couple of kids our age. "Mr. Bill" had some time to show us around the farms. We saw the cattle.
He told us about corn harvest and gave us these pictures. He uses the same combine to cut soybeans as this, but with a different front part.
They had just finished harvesting all the corn and had worked the ground a little and sowed wheat to grow all winter and harvest in June next year. Some of the wheat was up in places and was real green.
Day 6, Monday: Since there hadn't been a frost yet, "Mr. Bill" decided to get one more cutting of Alfalfa hay. We got to drive the tractor that mowed the hay! It was pretty fun! "Mr. Bill" said that kids on the farm learn to drive at an early age to be able to help with the work. We cut the hay and it laid flat on the ground, not chopped up like a lawn mower. He said it had to cure a few days before we baled it. We fed the cattle, the pasture is not growing real fast due to the cooler weather. We took straw bales (they were baled last June when they did the wheat) into town for one of the stores to sell.
Day 7, Tuesday: "Mr. Bill" said most of the field work was done for the year, but there were always things that had to be done on the farm. He and his brother have this barn they started last year and they work on it when they have time. We helped one day, but were kind of scared of going up on top. Here are some pictures of it.
Nathan had "Cub Scouts" so Michael got to go. Madelyn stayed home with "Miss Nancy" and baked cookies for the boys.
Day 8, Wednesday: We spent the morning learning how to rake the hay for the baler to bale it. Since it is so late in the year, "Mr. Bill" said the hay was real thin and we wouldn't have a lot. Normally, they would do what he called a 2 round windrow, but we had to do 4 rounds. We helped to drive the tractor with a rake behind it. We went around the field 3 times, then reversed and went the other way to finish the row. In the afternoon, we baled the hay with the baler. Kyle and Nathan helped to pick it up and put in the barn after they got home from school. Here's a picture of the baler and some bales.
Day 9, Thursday: We had to chase cows today! The fence needed to be repaired, so guess what we did the rest of the day .that's right worked on the fences. We painted the new posts "Mr. Bill" drove into the ground. He and the hired hand stretched the barbed wire and we helped to fasten them with clips. There were four rows of wires and we had to be real careful, because the barbs are real sharp and could cut us. "Mr. Bill" told us that it was a full time chore to keep the fences in good shape. We asked about electric fences, but he said he never had much luck with them and the pastures were too large to maintain a good working electric fence. We wondered about the milk barn that was on the farm. "Mr. Bill" told us that they used to milk cows years ago, but after he and his brothers were grown men, they kind of divided the farm up and the dairy cattle were sold. When he decided to farm full time, he wanted to spend more effort on the row cropping aspect of farming. That's why he just has beef cattle he still wanted livestock, but did not want to be confined to milking every day.
Day 10, Friday: It rained, so our hosts decided it would be a good day for us to visit the place where "Miss Nancy" works. She works for a company called "Stanley Jones Corporation". They are mechanical contractors. "Miss Nancy" works in the accounting part which is kind of boring, but we got to take a tour of the rest of the place. We saw huge pieces of metal being pressed and welded into air conditioning duct work. A nice man there gave us these jar openers from there for a souvenir.
Day 11, Saturday: "Mr. Bill's" neighbor, Mr. Key, wanted to buy some of "Mr. Bill's" calves for his herd. We all (Kyle, Nathan, "Miss Nancy", Granddaddy (Nancy's Dad), "Mr. Bill", the hired hand and us) helped to get the front herd up to the holding pen to sort them. We learned the other day that "Mr. Bill" has 2 herds, the front ones (about 45 total) and the ones on the back side of the farm (about 55). It went pretty smooth, they had been feeding the herd kind of close to the gate and they just kind of got together there and we more are less just guided them to the pen. He separated the cows from the calves. Then he separated the calves. He kept the girl calves, called heifers, he wanted to keep from the ones he didn't and the bull calves. He told us that you tried to only have 1 bull with the cows in the herd. We kept the ones that were going to be sold in the pen and ran the others back to the pasture. Mr. Key brought his truck and stock trailer, then we loaded them and they took them to be weighed. When we were done, we had the rest of the day to play!
Day 12, Sunday: Again we went to Church and saw all the people we had met last week. After lunch, we went to a place called Columbus Belmont Park. This is a state park in Kentucky that has Civil War relicts and stuff, located on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. It wasn't too far away, only about 20 miles. We didn't realize that we were that close to the Mississippi, but there it was. We watched barges on the river from the bluff. But the main reason we went was they were going to have a Civil War Battle re-enactment. It seems that they do that quite a bit in this part of the United States. Since we were in Kentucky, most of the re-enactors were Confederate. They had cannons, and real guns. They even had a hanging it all looked pretty real. Here's a picture of a re-enactment that took place at a place called Perryville, but it looked pretty much the same.Day 13, Monday: It rained again today so we didn't do much work on the farm. We road around with "Mr. Bill" in the pickup truck and paid some of the bills that needed paying. "Mr. Bill" says he likes to pay his bills in person, so the people he owes knows he's paying them and it makes for a good relationship with the business people he deals with. We went by the local country music radio station called KYTN. We got to look around and see how a radio station works with all the electronics and stuff. We watched J.C. do the announcing and in between songs and he showed us a bunch of stuff. Mr. Rodney gave us some cool bumper stickers that have KYTN on them. He told us that this area being right on the state line has a split loyalty. The KY is blue (for the University of Kentucky ) and the TN is orange (for the University of Tennessee).
Day 14, Tuesday: Well, we are starting to get anxious to be going back home. We've had lots of fun and learned a bunch of really neat things, but there's no place like home. We had one more thing to do, that would be the "Pinewood Derby" for the Cub Scouts. Nathan and his Dad have been working hard on a new car for the Derby, it was green with a John Deere logo on it, but tonight they decided to run an old car and it won the race. We were all excited. "Miss Nancy" said we would have to go to bed early because she would pack us up early and take us to the Post Office so we could go back home. ~California, here we come!~