I’ve been living on this farm for 4 years and 2 months. It is only now that I have come up with a theory that is rocking my little ag-life world…
Action Figure Pete has a stunt double. I know, right? All this time he’s been leading a double life right under my nose. I go to work 25 miles due north assuming that he is hard at work mixing feed, feeding calves, mending fences, digging fields. But in reality, something else is going on. The clues began to add up.
If I happen to come home unexpectedly early, no matter what time of day…he is home. Taking a nap, watching HGTV, playing with the cat or just coming out of the shower. “And don’t tell me you haven’t been taking a nap Action Figure Sleeping Pete, I can see the indentation of your head in the pillow! And it’s still warm!”
Ach mein gott! It suddenly hit me, all clues point to Stunt Farmer Pete!! All this time, when I’m around he is all action-packed, industrious and hard-working…but if I step off the farm, in comes Stunt Farmer Pete so that Action Figure Pete can go home, hang up his cap, eat chips and pet the cat. (and no that’s not a typo, there’s no “e” at the end of cap. He has a baseball cap, not a cape. Although if he had a baseball cape, that would be interesting.)
Now that I know the ugly truth, when do I get to meet this Stunt Farmer Pete? The Action Figure one just laughed at me, denying this accusation. And then it happened, one day I was standing at the end of the driveway at the calf barn. He wasn’t expecting that I would be there. But I was. Waiting. Wondering. Where was Action Figure Pete? Just then who comes tearing down the road in his souped-up lawnmower but gasp! Stunt Farmer Pete in the flesh. No cap, no cape, just a maniacal grin on his face plowing up the road.
It was probably about 4 years ago that Pete took me to see my first Horse Pull. That’s not something I could see in my neighborhood in Chicago. That would be a little out of place. But here, beyond the bend in the road, past a few dusty buildings tucked amidst cropland, one of the first horse pulls of the season took place. 4 years later, the art of the pull started to sink in. Namely, that this is a sport, and these are equine athletes that train specifically for these events. And they are one hunk of sheer power in a bolt of movement.
Like any sport, there is an exactitude and science behind every movement. I haven’t figured all that out yet. I’m still trying to get beyond the awe of the horse’s massive musculature and sheer determination. There is a beauty in that power, sort of an homage to this beautifully engineered animal. Today’s event was only the beginning of the season, a demonstration if you will. A promise of the season to come. At first I thought it was all just fun and games, let’s see some horses pull some weights. But the announcer took the time to speak about the sport a little bit more. And this is what I learned, that there’s more to it than meets the eye. For example, there are hookers and pullers for each team. The puller drives the horses while the hookers, one on each side does just that, hooks the team in and they’re off. They’re not just pretty accessories those hookers, they have to be quick, deft and sure. And the puller, I am assuming here, needs to be able to communicate with the horses with absolute assurance. That’s gotta be a lot of training for everyone, horse and human.
One more thing, they go for the full pull.
That was what I kept hearing announced after each pull, “and it’s a full pull“! Again and again. I know the question marks were bouncing around like little cartoon drawings above my head. What the heck is a full pull?! And they don’t seem to be doing anything less than a full pull so what’s the big deal? Someone must have seen my overhead question marks bobbing around because Mr. Announcer said that a full pull is 27.5 ft. I’m trying to imagine pulling 7000 lbs 27 feet. Nope. But I did drive a heaping pile of concrete blocks for 6 miles in my car once. Not the same thing. And it was Pete’s car. And I wasn’t supposed to do that. oops.
Anyway, these are power horses no doubt. And they do the full pull and love it. You can see it in the way they hold their heads up high and prance off the arena. I want to see more. Maybe try to understand the art of the full pull. And maybe try to encourage myself to do a full pull when the going gets tough. Meanwhile, I’ll just look forward to seeing more of these beauties…
Friday evening we stepped out the door and on our way to dinner in town. A few steps off the porch I was hit with a distinct smell….not manure if that’s what you’re thinking. That happens too, but this was different. It was, soil! I’ve been living here 4 years now and I’ve never been gobsmacked in the face with such a strong smell of soil. In fact, I had to announce it to Pete. “I smell soil”. Someone must be digging. Sure enough, our neighbor of the field next to ours was out in his tractor churning up the earth, turning the soil and letting loose that delectable smell. It’s digging time.
Now the days get a little unpredictable. If the weather is good, any other plans are put aside and Action Figure Pete hits the fields running, engines on, full tractor speed ahead. Go man go. And that’s where I saw him yesterday while I was taking Bowzer B. Dawg for a walk along the tractor road.
Here he comes. Let’s take a Dawg break and watch Action Figure Pete tear up the field. Bowzer B. doesn’t really like taking a break when he’s doing some serious dog walking. He’s pretty goal oriented that way. I mean it took Bowz about 10 minutes before his butt slowly maneuvered into a true sit position. Sometimes he’ll hold it in mid-air for a long while in case I change my mind and do continue walking. But I held my ground and waited for the tractor’s approach.
Oh how nice. He stopped for a visit.
“No need to stop. Keep digging. I’m just walking Dawg.”
Nope. He’s still coming. “Don’t you have to keep digging? Don’t you have a deadline? Why do you look so serious?”
“‘Sup there tractor-boy?” Turns out tractor-boy had something to say. And it sounded like a pick-up line that I’d expect to hear in a night club,
“Look at my new drag!!”
Whaaat? Er. Okay. What’s a drag? Well, it’s a $5000 piece of equipment attached to the back of the tractor behind the disc. All gleaming metal and chains. A girl would be impressed. And I am. Looks pretty. What does it do, besides dragging that is? Well, it helps even out the soil that the disc just turned up and over. It kinda sounds like a paradox but okay. It smooths out the soil that you just took the time to dig up. Dig and drag.
After being duly impressed with the new drag, Action Figure Pete leaped back into the tractor cab to carry on. But not without first cracking the door open one more time so I could hear the radio cranked up high and filling the cab with classic rock, nice and loud, nodding his head to the pounding beat. Slamming the door shut, he bounced the tractor on its wheels up and down a few times like a souped-up ride before turning up the next row. That’s right, you bounce that field Pete.
Next time you’re driving along and you see a farmer digging his field, nod your head to the beat he’s got going. It’s soil baby.
“We’re bored” said the mummies. You would be too if you were all wrapped up with nowhere to go, stuck in a room waiting for a more permanent spot on the farm. And where do mummies on a farm go anyway? So they cooked up a scheme for themselves while I lay sleeping. Those scheming mummies. Most of their work happens at night so I might as well get some sleep and let them do some work for a change.
What they did surprised me. They got themselves signed onto a new fashion ecommerce company called shopvida.com that connects artists worldwide with producers in a way that brings them back to life. You can imagine how happy the mummies are about that. I am too. The mummies and other drawings I’ve done are reinterpreted into tops and scarves. I can now wear my mummies! And so can anyone else if one so desires. How cool is that!
This ecommerce company has a story that I feel I can get behind. Not only does it give my mummies something better to do, but shopvida.com collaborates with multidisciplinary artists to produce custom apparel while at the same time, providing education for the makers of the final product allowing them to go on to build a better life for themselves and their families. It may only be one small way that I can help give someone else a leg up in this world, but I’ll take it if I can. I’ve always been hapless with volunteering. I can’t build a house, I’m awkward around strangers, and the last time I volunteered to pick up trash in a park, there wasn’t enough trash! So the mummies and I are in on this one. We now have a collection on shopvida.com. http://shopvida.com/collections/voices/micka-klauck,
If you do visit, be sure to read the company’s back story. It really is enlightening. Plus, the wealth of artists and their product is simply beautiful and one of a kind. And it’s made to order. It’s not running off the press like yesterday’s rag. All custom-made items are printed, stitched, and hand-finished before it gets to you.
I don’t know how this will ultimately go I’ll be honest with you, but it is a kick in the pants to get back to some drawing. Now that warmer weather is approaching, the milkhouse studio will be opened, aired out and back in business. Which means maybe I can start working on some Primitive Cat studies…
Because every mummy needs a cat.
*Disclaimer note: I did not take the photos of the dress form images. Those are composite images of my artwork on the apparel provided by shopvida. Just wanted to mention that. Otherwise, the mummies and primative cat…yeah, me.
Dense Fog Alert.
When I see that pop up on my smarty pants phone, I get the shivers. I love how fog shrouds the landscape in its ghostly way, but I don’t like driving in it. Fortunately, I was driving home from work when it was still a general mist. Not enough to induce panic, but enough to widen my eyes and appreciate that strange feeling of floating in a sea of nothingness. Driving on rural roads banked with flat cropland covered in snow and layered with mist leaves no notion of landmarks. It’s an eerie feeling. By the time I got home, I felt a sense of relief.
There’s only so much “floating in a sea of white” that I can take. Once home though, the mist became The Fog. With a vengeance. Thus the always helpful, “hey-just-in-case-you-didn’t-know-already” Dense Fog Alert. No problem, I’m not driving. Except drat, my cat has a vet appointment in an hour. And the fog is getting more and more heavy-handed. Oh Siri, so you gotta let me know, should I stay or should I go now. If I go there will be trouble (I can’t see in front of me) an’ if I stay it will be double (the cat is scratching her ears, and her nails are digging into me).
I opted not to go and will pay double. Thanks for the options Clash. It’s a white, white world out there and I think I’ll play it safe. The cat got a reprieve. She doesn’t have to go the vet. She doesn’t know how close she was to her most unfavorite car ride. But don’t worry kitty, a reprieve is just that, a mere postponement. In two weeks time we will be visiting the vet. It’s called, “rescheduling due to inclement weather”.
Don’t give me that look, or I’ll have them give you a bath too!! (p.s. love you cat!)
When one is bestowed a beautiful, snow-carpeted day, one must go forth and explore. Cue me and out the door I go to follow some tracks. I am not a professional tracker by any means. But I can pick up subtle movements laid down in the snow. What’s this? Looks like, tracks. Tire tracks. Upon closer inspection I determine these to be tractor tire tracks. It was the silo that tipped me off.
Emboldened by my discovery, I pushed onward. No stranger to harsh winters and blinding snow, I remained fearless in the daunting cold. (if not the snow, something’s sure getting thick around here)
But what is this? More tracks on my trek. I see small animal prints going one way due south I believe, and a larger Platypus-like print going due west, no doubt for better foraging grounds. Those are fierce-looking tracks large and small.
Walking the perimeter, scanning the horizon, I hoped to come across the creatures that laid bare their path in this barren snow.
When lo, I spy…the elusive creature, Felis Barnus Caticus. Around these parts he is well known for his skills at climbing onto and into parked cars, peering through kitchen windows and preying on bits of blueberry bagel. Felis Barnus Caticus is looking a little stout by the way. Must be the winter coat.
To be clear, Felis Barnus Caticus should not be confused with another elusive creature known as Felis Domesticus Spoiled-Rottenus Caticus. Similar in stature to Barnus Caticus, this derivation of Caticus is conditioned to and owns the indoor territory. Every inch of it. In fact we had to move into the barn. It’s cold.
That still leaves us with the mystery of the Platypus-like tracks. But I have it figured out. It’s Yeti! In Wisconsin! Yay, my husband will be so pleased! Not pleased. It was just me. Yeti me. Happy trails for the New Year!
It was a quiet, foggy day here on the farm, lending itself well for general indoor activities. That is until Action Figure Pete came stomping in the door with his giant Mickey Mouse farm boots and proceeded to say “Oh um”. Rats, whenever he starts a sentence with “oh um” I know I’m in for it. My quiet morning reverie began to look a little more like this:
In other words, it’s procedure time. There are moments when Action Figure Pete needs a helping hand when his two are not enough. So I pulled on my big girl boots and faced the situation. Align the mixer chute so that the corn flows into the properly assigned bin. Tractor, check. Mixer, check. Farmer, missing. What am I doing here?
Once AF Pete was present and accounted for, and in the proper tractor driving position, I assumed my designated stance at window number #4, also known as window #5. Window #4 and #5. When did we start assigning numbers to windows and why wasn’t I told? And why two numbers for one mere window? And why don’t I get a number? I’ll give myself a number. I’m #1! Unless there’s a window called #1, then that can get confusing.
Back to it, my job today was to help guide the chute into window 4 or 5. Whatever it calls itself. All this while Action Figure Pete very slowly backs up the tractor/mixer to the window. Which puts me in a bit of a precarious position. I find myself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. I am standing in a puddle of poo between tractor wheels and fence. I’m very mindful of the fact that should the tractor slip and slide, my exit options are few, and boot traction is minimal. So there are a few tense moments making this not one of my favorite procedures.
Thankfully, the chute easily aligns after a little bit of manuevering and down spills the corn into its storage facility. Oh, this is where the mystery of two numbers for one window are solved. Inside, there are two separate bins beneath that window. One to the right and one to the left. Thank god for reason.
This is getting corny.
After the bin was filled to its capacity, we once again maneuvered the chute out of the window without pulling the entire structure down. This is where I did my finest work. I saw the chute about to get caught on the window and pushed with all my minnie might! Clear! Procedure done. Good-bye Action Figure Pete, see you at the next procedure:
Once again this brings home to me how one farmer’s day-to-day activities are much more trickier than my average day at work sitting in front of a computer. What with the season of ice and snow upon us, I just want to say, stay safe to all of you farmers and your families.
Whitewashed, glass-tiled, cool in the summer, cold in the winter. That is the milkhouse that has become my studio where I hope to get back to my basic roots of drawing, painting, and at some point, printmaking.
And just in case you think this is all about my artwork, I'll be posting about daily life on a small, working farm as well. And since I didn't grow up on a farm, and have no idea what to do in many cases, you may find a few amusing anecdotes as I grow accustomed to life here.
This will be an evolving, and in all probability, ever-changing site as I figure things out. So stick around and let's see what happens!