A touch of spring fever

Farm Forum

Spring is a wonderful time of the year. A body feels like getting out and enjoying the fresh air and the sunshine. It’s calving season here at the Green Rancho Grande and things are going fairly well, but the other day we had a calamity and I gained a new friend. I named him Hop-a-long Cassidy after the old time cowboy I used to admire in the movies. Does that age me or what? Ha! Anyway, read on for the rest of the story.

My new friend

My new friend has big brown eyes, large furry ears, and is always happy to see me each morning. I named him Hop-a-long Cassidy because he has a bum leg due to a calamity that happened in the cow lot, and he has to do some hopping to get around. And even though it is time for the Easter bunny to come, my new friend is not an Easter bunny, but instead is a new- born black bull calf with a wonderful personality.

How this tragedy of a bum leg came about is anyone’s guess. Either some cows were fighting over him or his mama stepped on him or something, but his left hind leg was broken which resulted in a trip to the vets and a cast being applied.

Hop-a-long has now become a bottle calf and thus he and I have become buddies. He is always so happy to see me each morning and immediately slurps down his jug of milk in a hurry. Miraculously, he appears to be getting around quite agilely even with the cast and his bulky aluminum support brace. I guess the old adage applies here: “Where there’s a will; there’s a way.” And this little fellow has quite a will to live and be active.

I do believe he will soon outgrow his pen and then what do I do with him? Build a larger pen, Jane. Duh! But I will worry about that later in the season. Right now, something else is much more important than building a new pen for Hop-a-long Cassidy.

Spring has sprung

Good Friday is here and it’s time to plant the potatoes. Like so many other years, I will be planting my first potatoes in a large flower pot. Last week, I carefully chose some nice sized seed potatoes at the grocery store. Naturally, I selected our family’s favorite variety known as the great tasting Red Norlands.

And a funny thing happened as I leaned over that basketful of seed potatoes. I breathed in that old familiar smell of potatoes and dirt. What a great smell! One whiff of those spuds and I was immediately propelled back to my parents’ farm.

There I was, along with the rest of the family, cutting seed potatoes by hand. Actually, dad would nail several sharp knives around the edge of the old hay rack. He positioned the sharpened edge so that it faced toward the center of the rack. Then he would empty a full one hundred pound sack of seed potatoes by each knife and we would have to cut them into smaller pieces with each piece containing an eye of the potato. The cut pieces were then dropped into a wooden slat-sided potato pail.

As soon as we finished cutting one sack of potatoes, dad always dumped another sack in front of us. It seemed that we cut potatoes for days and days, but actually it probably wasn’t that long. To past the time, the family told jokes, sang ridiculous songs, and of course had contests.

Invariably, it became a contest to see who could cut the most pails of potatoes in an afternoon. Mother was by far the fastest and most efficient and kept our hired man busy just emptying her pail of cut potatoes. Sometimes I would try to beat her, but I usually ended up with a calamity—cutting my hand or finger.

Well, we no longer grow acres of spuds, but just the mere sight and smell of those seed potatoes in the grocery store brought back some great family memories. And so, I just had to buy a few spuds to plant on Good Friday.

These tubers usually grow quite well in the flower pots because I keep them inside on cold days. By Memorial Day the potato plants should be up and growing vigorously so that I can place the potato flower pots on my parents’ grave site. Tucking in a few fresh flowers for color, the growing potato vine will serve as a way to honor my parents for all the potatoes they raised in order to send me and my sisters to college.

A touch of spring fever

Good grief, Jane. How in the world did this article go from a new born calf to potatoes to Memorial Day? I must have a touch of spring fever. I most likely do and my mind is swirling in a million directions of what I need to do for the upcoming season. I have to build a pen, I have to plant my garden, I have to get the cattle to pasture, I have to help with the field work, and, and, and…

Right now, however, and of utmost importance, I want to pause for a moment and give thanks to our Lord and Savior for putting me here on the prairies of South Dakota. And I want to also wish each and every one of you a Happy and Blessed Easter.

Jane Green and her husband, Jim, live near Clark. Contact Jane for some public speaking, to order one of her books, or to register your comments. E-mail her at: