The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.



1-27-2010 Column

This was written 12 years ago.

As Super Bowl 44 is now set, I guess us Vikings fans only have to concentrate on the battle between advertisers with their latest commercials. My favorite TV commercial jingle is about a boy waiting for a blob of ketchup to land on his hamburger as you hear the song…”an-ti-ci-pa-a-a-a-tion is making me wait”.

Anticipation would be a great way to describe what is going on around our farm these days.

We caught a glimpse of spring with a wet, rainy week, only to have the door of winter slammed shut in our faces while our fingers were still in the door. What a reality shock! The yards are an icy obstacle course as people and cattle try to navigate across the lots while maintaining their balance and dignity. The “boot scoot shuffle” is the newest dance step as we try to keep the bottoms of our boots in contact with the ground and not our backsides. This is when a rough patch is considered a good thing is life. The rough patches give us “islands of traction” to utilize in our journey across the yard.

Probably the slickest spot is in front of the calf domes. Our domes sit on top of a ridge of sand. In the summer, we like to think we are capturing any wind currents through the “mountain effect”. As winds hit the bottom of the mountain they are directed upwards into the domes. In the winter time, the “mountain” creates a different kind of effect…downhill skiing without skis! I don’t know how Al and Katie can keep their balance while hauling milk out to the calves. Maybe the weight of the milk bottles is helping them to stay on top of the ridge while they make their deliveries.

The winter rains could not dissolve all of the snow in our yard. What remains is now encrusted with a clear coating of ice. It is like someone took clear fingernail polish and topped off the snow to reflect the beams of light illuminating from the golden glow of the security yard light. Even with the crystal clear beauty of the ice, Mark is concerned that the frozen snow may cause problems for the alfalfa fields this spring. Only time will tell the impact of this winter weather on the crops. Anticipation is making us wait.

The benefit of anticipation is creating your own scenario. I am a person who concentrates on the positives. Anticipating the arrival of a new heifer calf from an old cow that only throws bull calves. Waiting for the first sound of a robin signaling the arrival of spring and the end of bitterly cold winds. Focusing on a new baseball season, now that the football season is over. Of course the cow will probably have a bull. The winds will be cold in early spring and baseball season will not be long enough, but at least we can dream of what it could be like.

I would be remised if I didn’t mention something about the Vikings/Saints football game this past weekend too. We were able to catch the second half of the game by precise teamwork and coordination in the barn to keep the milking units moving. The boys did a great job of spotting what needed to be done without reminders and trying some new ways to keep things moving. I wish we could finish this early every night. It would be nice to make it to Jonathon’s home varsity basketball games before half-time.

I just wish the Vikings could move as efficiently as my crew did in the barn. I was kicked out of the living room by my children because I was “coaching” the team too loudly. I had to go to my room and listen to the game while I tried to complete a Sudoku puzzle. I have been anticipating another shot at the Super Bowl for my Vikings and thought maybe this was the year. Yes, I did grow up in Illinois, but my dad cheered for the Bears and we couldn’t cheer for the same team. I grew up watching Ahmad Rashad, Sammy White, Chuck Forman, Fran Tarkington and the “purple people eaters”. The names today are different from the old teams, but they are still lead by the same kind of players, a wily quarterback, amazing receivers, dominating power runners and a crushing defensive line. But like the team of old, they still can’t win! Oh well, we can only anticipate another long season next year, maybe with an extra game at the end.


As their four children pursue dairy careers off the farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota. (Natalie grew up in Stronghurst, the daughter of Becky and the late Larry Dowell.)