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Stoskopf Diaries

August 3, 1997

Julie was only back from band camp for a little over an hour before we headed to Manhattan, Kansas for a mini-vacation. Actually, Dean will be attending the summer meeting of the U.S. Wheat Associates while the rest of us relax. He worked extra hours trying to get as much done as he could before we left.

August 4, 1997

Dean attended meetings of the U.S. Wheat Associates all day. The U.S. Wheat Associates work all around the world to promote wheat grown by U.S. wheat farmers. Tonight, we attended a reception honoring the retiring Chairman of the Board who is from Kansas. The reception and dinner were held in the Columbian Theatre in Wamego, Kansas, which has just completed a 2 million dollar restoration project. The Columbian is a beautiful theatre which was built by a Wamego banker who visited the Chicago World's Fair, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the new world. At the close of the World's Fair, the banker brought paintings and other artifacts back to decorate his new theatre in Wamego.

It was one of those events which really made you proud to be from Kansas! The food was outstanding, the entertainment was superb, and the theatre was sparkling.

Many small towns in Kansas once had opera houses and several communities have restored, or are in the process of restoring, these historic buildings. As a community college student, I had the privilege of performing in the Brown Grande in Concordia, Kansas, both before and after it was restored. When it was built, the Brown Grande was said to be the finest opera house between Kansas City and Denver. Even my hometown of Jamestown, Kansas, had an opera house - even though the population was never more than 700 people.

August 5, 1997

After a breakfast meeting, Dean was ready to head for home. We were going to go to the Fort Riley Museum but missed a turn and ended up on a road on the north side of the fort - going thru Keats and up to Riley. Even though Dean and I both graduated from K-State (Kansas State University in Manhattan), neither of us ever remembered taking that particular road before. By the time we crossed Milford Lake and headed into Wakefield, Wayne had lost all patience with our adventuring on the back roads! Wayne really wanted to go the Fort Riley Museum but he was happy when we stopped in Abilene at the Eisenhower Center and spent a few hours touring the Eisenhower Family Home, the Eisenhower Museum, and the Place of Meditation, a small chapel where President and Mrs. Eisenhower are buried.

From Abilene, we went to Salina and stopped by to see Dean's brother and his wife. Since Lawrence was helping deliver a baby, we ended up eating pizza in the Doctor's Lounge at the hospital! Lawrence and JoAnn sent home our newest livestock project - 2 hermits crabs, which have been named Herbie and Willie (for Willie the Wildcat, K-State's mascot).

August 6, 1997

What a nice rainy day! It rained most of the night and most of the day - a nice gentle rain that soaked right into the ground. It's cooler, too, very cool for the first week of August. It was just right for the milo but we did have some alfalfa that didn't get baled before the rain. That's one disadvantage of having a diversified farming operation - when one crop needs rain, another one may not. The kind of rain we had today is welcome almost anytime. It will help the pastures and didn't rain hard enough to wash the topsoil or damage the milo.

It will make a mess out of the pipeline project, though. The extra traffic on the township roads was already concerning us, and now the roads are soft and muddy so the trucks and big equipment may damage the roads.

Kansas was planned and surveyed before it was opened to homesteaders. The land was divided into one mile square "sections" of 640 acres. From north to south and east to west, parallel roads were laid out one mile apart so that most sections had roads on all four sides. It makes it great to get around in Kansas. Directions are usually given using terms like "4 miles west and 2 miles south". From an airplane, Kansas looks a little like a checkerboard - squares of farmground and pastures with roads separating the squares. There are exceptions - usually where roads do not cross rivers at every mile line or in the hills and canyons of the Smoky Hills, Flint Hills, etc.

In a cross-country project, like this pipeline that is being taken out of the ground, the pipeline crosses a township or county road every time it leaves or enters a new section. It will be like that all the way across Kansas

August 7, 1997

The guys are taking advantage of the rainy days to work on equipment, getting everything ready to apply fertilizer the next time we work theground that will be planted to wheat. We will use the undercutter to put the fertilizer in the ground. The fertilizer is in tanks on wheels, attached to the back of the undercutter) which are hitched to the back of the tractor. The fertilizer moves thru rubber hoses and heavy plastic tubing and finally comes out underneath the point of the V in the big V-shaped steel blades that go down into the dirt. The fertilizer will be placed incorporated into the dirt in the root zone - where the roots of the new wheat plants will grow once the seed is planted in September and starts growing. Another reason for putting it in the soil is so that it won't wash away if it rains hard.

There are many different types of soil, even within the same fields. Since fertilizer is expensive, we work for a balance - using only the amount and kind of fertilizer that is needed for each specific crop in each individual field. For wheat, we use Nitrogen and Phosphorus. These are the same things people use to make their lawns look nice and green and keep their flowers blooming - just in different amounts and applied differently. Fertilizer can be compared to vitamins that people take - the purpose is to help the plant - or body - be healthy and strong.

August 8, 1997

Work on removing the natural gas pipeline is really going fast. All the trenches across our fields have been dug and they have taken quite a bit of the pipe out of the ground. They use 2 bulldozers - with special attachments - to reach under the big pipe, lift it out of the ground, and roll it off to the side. The bulldozers - one a few feet behind the other - just keep going until a pipe connection breaks or there's a cut in the pipe.

Another bulldozer has started pushing the rocks and lower soil layers back into the trench. In fact, they've already got the trench filled in on the first of our fields. Another crew goes along and cuts the pipe into 80 foot long lengths, which are loaded onto very long trucks. They're piling the pipe in a pasture the company has leased.

August 9, 1997

We went to Great Bend today to make Julie's state fair entries and check out the pet shop's supply of hermit crab cages, shells, etc. On the way home, we noticed the blackbirds are starting to feed on the milo. Cheyenne Bottoms, a "Wetlands of International Importance in the Western Hemisphere", has a resident population of several million blackbirds. Each year, the farmers in our area have extensive crop damage from the blackbirds. As the milo ripens, the blackbirds sit on the milo heads and eat the grain. We really don't mind feeding the ducks and geese that migrate thru the Central Flyway and stop at Cheyenne Bottoms. Usually they don't cause too much damage although the geese and sandhill cranes sometimes pull out the new wheat plants in the fall. Whooping cranes stop at Cheyenne Bottoms, which is a really important stop for migrating shorebirds. We usually note the changing seasons by the flight of birds either going north or south. Often, the birds move shortly before drastic weather changes so we try to keep an eye on the sky and listen for the ducks, geese, and cranes.

Dean and I had fun tonight. Friends who live and farm near Great Bend hosted a potluck get-together, complete with Frisbee golf, volleyball, and a dance (on the sand in front of their machine shed). Dean & I didn't try the Frisbee golf this year - even though they upped the limit to 10 tries per hole. Last year, it had rained before the get-together and Dean ended up with lots of mud on his boots after hunting his Frisbee out in the corn field. The golf holes are actually big old-fashioned-type tin wash tubs. You would think it would be easy to get a Frisbee to land inside the tub but it's really not. We just enjoyed the chance to sit back and relax and visit with our friends and laugh at the DJ's comments as he rode a four-wheeler around the "golf course" and talked to people with a microphone.