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of mice and tillers

It all started on Saturday afternoon when I was cleaning out our little chicken coop and a mouse/vole ran at me. One minute I was sweeping, and the next minute I was hopping around on my toes like a ballet dancer on point, stabbing at the critter with a broom.

I then did what all good millennials do: Text someone about it. 
So I wrote to my farmer: "A mouse just ran out of the grain bin. We're all going to die."

He said: "You want me to bring the turbo till up there?"

Me: "Probably. Or we may just have to burn the whole farm down."

Instead of that plan, which admittedly seems hasty and a bit drastic in retrospect, I called it quits on the coop, heated up a couple of burritos and some broccoli, and took Chris his supper while he paused for a minute from tilling up the bottom ground near our house to chip off some Missouri clay.

I continue to be amazed at the difference in Iowa and Missouri dirt. In fact, I'm finding it comes in pretty handy when I need an excuse as to why my garden is less than dynamic. Obviously, it's the soil type! It can't possibly be ME. I ask you: How can I expect my tomato plants to grow in the same kind of clay that could be molded into a piece of dinnerware and fired in a kiln?

Ok. I'm exaggerating. 

A little.

But there really is a difference. 

In Iowa, the fields look like they're covered in potting soil. And in Missouri, well, let's just say that when the ground is wet, I talk about going into the pottery business.

Strangely, Chris doesn't find that nearly as funny as I do. 

The top half of the picture shows ground that's been tilled. The bottom half hasn't. Once Chris went through the field a second time, the big clumps of soil broke down even more. It was almost starting to look like Iowa around here!

Soil has a tendency to compact and crust over, so prior to planting, farmers can till to break up the soil. If the ground is wet, tilling helps turn the soil up so that it can dry out, or if it's dry, it helps the soil soak up some water and sunshine and air.

And thanks to GPS and autosteer, farmers busy tilling their land can actually take a hand (or two) off the steering wheel long enough to eat and 

text while still tilling! 

While turning up the dirt, he can be on the phone with the guy chopping rye for silage, check in with his dad and look up the number of a cow who's about to give birth. 

Me? I was just lucky not to fall out of my seat as the tractor chugged its way across the field. 

When it's planting and silage season, farmers' wives find creative ways to get see their husbands, since the hours are so long. 

This time, I used a mouse as my excuse, and after a few turns around the field, a rosy sunset and listening to my husband talk about how much he loves the beauty of uncultivated land just as much as the beauty of tamed ground, I have to say . . . it worked out pretty well. 

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