Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Hired (?) Help

Taken while filling up a diesel tank at the Kanza Co-op, Zenith branch
Meet the County Line's latest hired man ... er, hired person ... er, unpaid laborer.

We have been without a full-time farm employee since late June. If we decide to hire a full-time person again, it will require yet another round of work on the employee house to make it habitable for the next person. Since we've done more work on that house than on the house we actually live in, it's kind of a touchy subject. Enough said about that, I suppose.

Anyway, Randy has born the brunt of more hours in the tractor cab and the extra work. It's nice not to have to write a paycheck every two weeks, but there's definitely a down side, too. 

I've done my best to fill in the gaps, too. Lately, those "gaps" have been craters, so it hasn't left a lot of extra time for writing and other optional activities. 

Here's a synopsis of some of my duties in the past few weeks:
Fuel filling and delivery 
I like it the best when I remember to bring my book and can read while the slow-running pump trickles its way to filling the 100-gallon tank in the back of the pickup. 

The co-op manager told me I need to request that the boss move the tank closer to the edge so that said helper doesn't have to climb onto the pickup bed to put the fuel hose in and then take it out. (In the summer, that pickup bed is HOT! And I am well past the point of just leaping onto the pickup bed!)
Cowgirl and cattle herder
A few of the cattle in the Ninnescah pasture have learned that yes, indeed, "the grass (or soybeans) are greener on the other side of the fence."
Unfortunately, those soybeans belong to someone else. After chasing them through some trees, we got them back inside the fence. We've been doing our best to keep them contained, which led to the next job:
Fence fixing assistant
While my skills at fence "fixing" are not very good, I am good at helping to carry supplies for fixing said fence. 

I've lost count of how many trips we've made to Miller Seed Farm in the past couple of weeks. We are taking the seed wheat we saved during this year's wheat harvest to get it cleaned and treated to get things ready for planting in late September/early October for Harvest 2020. 

We take the wheat trucks to Miller Seed Farm and leave them until it's our turn, then I then take Randy back to pick up the truck with the cleaned wheat. I realized one day last week that I was using my Miller Seed Farm coffee cup, so I took a photo as I drove past their sign off Highway 14. 
Earlier this week, Randy took the truck to Miller's, and I picked him up to take him on to the Hutchinson Case dealer. He picked up the combine, which had been in the repair shop, for the long drive home. 
Randy had to travel on Highway 50 for a few miles before he could turn off on a less-traveled road. That always makes me nervous!
I also have provided an "Uber" service when we've needed to leave vehicles at the co-op shop, the local auto repair shop and the local auto body repair shop. We are helping to keep these local service providers in business, it appears.

 Pilot and pace car driver
One of our farm trucks doesn't have a working speedometer. So I was like the pace car for the Indy 500 on the multiple trips to Miller Seed Farm. OK, not really, but I did help Randy make sure that he wasn't driving more than 55 on 4th Street. In reality, I had to slow down because I was losing him at 55 mph.
I later provided warning flasher lights when Randy had a blow-out on the same truck. Thankfully, he was able to keep it on the road when it blew, and the Kanza Co-op came to our rescue quickly.    
Traffic cop 
Provide hand signals to get the truck backed up to unload the cleaned seed wheat back into the bin. 
Shove a board behind the tires so it doesn't roll. 

Photographer & historian
Try to find a creative way to take photos of something I've taken photos of several times before.
 PTO engineer
Run the PTO on the auger so the farmer can safely clean out the remainder of the wheat from the truck. 

Mechanic apprentice
 Hand tools, nuts, bolts, washers and whatever else is required for a repair on the baler. Provide a little extra umphh for lifting things into place (such as it was).
The cuter mechanic's helper was this little guy. 
 Cook, Meal Delivery, Laundress, Secretary, Go-Fer, Correspondent, Co-bookkeeper, Personal Assistant and Lawn Care
 You'll just have to take my word on these extra duties since I don't have photo confirmation. 

Just like other women in today's world, farm women come in all shapes and sizes. They are young and old and in between. Some work in the field alongside their husbands. Some keep the books. Some have dinner on the table at 12 noon without fail. Some load up the meal in the car and deliver it places that no Pizza Hut delivery guy could ever hope to find, even with GPS.

Some work at off-farm jobs to help supplement farm income. I drove to Hutchinson to work for more years than I wanted early in our marriage, and I've had part-time employment of some sort for most of our married lives. All of those things have been essential to the success of the farm.
I may not be collecting a paycheck every two weeks from the County Line, but I do get some nice fringe benefits.You can't beat the work environment.


  1. So true!! Even with pie in the oven and learning from experience to always turn it off as those " couple minutes of help" might have been if Your watch had stopped!!!

    1. I always know I'm in for an unplanned adventure when he calls or comes in the house and says, "So, what are you doing right now?" I figure the best answer is, "I guess I'm helping you!"

  2. I'm exhausted reading all of this. I know farmer's wives are indispensible but thank goodness you have these fringe benefits.