All posts by Lance Stockbrugger

They are making more of it

This past week, Feb 1, 2016 has been a very interesting week with a lot of first time experiences and a lot of miles driving in northern Alberta.  I flew into High Level which my mother tells me is only 750km from the NWT border.
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They had a fair bit of snow but the locals told me it was nothing compared to what they usually get. From there I drove an hr south east to La Crete which was a neat little Mennonite community. It was amazing how much farmland there is that far north but talking with the farmers they have a similar growing season as ours in central SK.  The long daylight hours in June make a big difference for them. At the presentation there were hone baked cinnamon buns for snacks and home made pizza and Mennonite borscht  (excellent), I got spoiled. Sucession is a big issue for them as they typically have large families and land is a bit of a rare commodity.  The old saying “their not making anymore of it” when referring to farmland, they are in fact making more up there. It was not unusual to see qtr sections of rowed trees and the land is being cleared for farmland production. So of the locals said they estimate there are approx 750,000 ac that need to be broke and would be suitable for agriculture.  This would help with the growing community as one individual told me last year there were 226 babies born in the local hospital and the town has a population of just over 600.  Obviously a large rural population exist as well.
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From LA Crete I headed south 3.5 hrs to arrive at Peace River, but not before stopping to see the local Dr to get some antibiotics for my head cold and ear infection. Not a fun condition to have when you are scheduled to speak at 7 events in a week and have several flights. On my drive I had to cross the Peace River which the ferry was not operational,obviously so it was an ice crossing. I got my opportunity to be an “ice road trucker” well sort of in my Dodge Journey. That day they had just raised the legal limit in the ice to carry total loads of 25mt from the previous 20mt. There was a semi sitting on the other side waiting to cross so I felt pretty safe but it was a bit unnerving when you see the ice chucks all pushed up alongside the road. Needless to say my mom wasn’t impressed when I told her I did that but my boys thought it was cool.
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From Peace River I drove an hour to Fairview and presented on management skills to make your operation more profitable. The event was well received with lots of participants wanting to follow me to Dawson Creek the next day to hear me speak on succession.  Unfortunately the event was full already but a couple did manage to sneak in to a crowd of standing room only. The group was a lot of fun with good discussion and questions which meant unfortunately I was a bit rushed at the end to get through all the topics but the group didn’t seem to mind lunch was 15 mins late.  A gentleman walked in with a Humboldt Broncos hat on and it turned out his grandson is playing there so he knew exactly where I was from. 

The drive over to Dawson Creek BC was incredible.  I crossed the Peace again but this time open water meant I had to use the Dunvegan bridge which was massive in size given where I was geographically.
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Greenhouses situated in the valley provide fresh produce to local residents up there and I found out later the family that owes them were at my presentation in Fairview. The vastness and openness up there was truly awe inspiring, makes me realize how someone that went there couldn’t leave and ended up settling.  It is not without challenges but what an incredible lifestyle.   From Dawson I drove to Grande Prairie and dropped off my rental car and boarded a flight to Edmonton. So far I’d driven almost 900 km’s in 3 days and did 3 presentation, and don’t forget a Dr visit as well. 

From Edmonton I drove south an hour and half on highway 2 to Red Deer.  Highway 2 reminds me of the 401 in Ontario just a little smaller scale. It’s like a race track out there and your best to just keep with the flow. On Thursday I presented to a dealership in Red Deer and then drove over to Camrose and did another dealership presentation explaining lease vs buying from a tax perspective. Friday had me speaking in Vermillion so I headed off to there that night so I was ready for the morning.   A brand new Pomeroy hotel had just opened so I stayed there  I think I was the first one to sleep in that bed.  A beautiful hotel for rural Alberta if your travels take you there.

Two presentations in Vermillion, one to a dealerships customers and another to their sales group and my long week of presentations was over.  It was not a week I needed a cold but all in all it went very well and I appreciated the work I could accomplish in a week. I drove back to Edmonton to drop off the car and stay overnight to catch my plane home in the morning. With another 700km’s on that vehicle I certainly got my share of driving this week but got to see a lot of country that I otherwise would never likely see. I had a great week meeting hundreds of great people and as the week draws to a close I wouldn’t change a thing, I absolutely love what I do… just miss my family is all, but I will try and make up for that this up coming week.

What happened to January…

Hard to believe that January is almost gone, even harder when we have had rain and plus temperatures melting what little snow that we had. Marie and I left home on the 5th of January for Ontario. I spoke in Cayuga Ontario on the 6th and on the 7th we boarded a plane and headed for Cuba. It was our first visit to Cuba and we enjoyed it a lot. We had great weather with sun every day except the day we were leaving, which made it easier to say good bye. I got kind of used to the lifestyle.
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We returned just 5 short days later with Marie continuing on home while I stayed in Ontario for two more events. I came home 2 days later after nearly missing my flight due to an accident on highway 401. 3 days later I returned to the airport to fly back to Ontario for 3 days of presentation on succession. Once that was done I then continued my trek eastward where I flew to New Brunswick and presented at both the NB Ag Alliance AGM and the NB Young Farmers Forum, some great groups that made me feel very welcome. I stayed a couple extra days to allow me to visit Matt and Kayla Beal who had recently moved “back home” from Regina. Kayla works at FCC and Matt is now working on his families farm near Sackville NB. You might remember Matt was the mechanic who came to the farm and helped us get our combines ready for the harvest season, we will certainly miss him and hope we can convince him to come out for a visit…
Had a great view from my hotel in Fredericton over looking the St John River.
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From Fredericton I was able to travel with my good friend Cedric MacLeod who was also speaking at the KAP Young Farmer Conference in Winnipeg. It was a great event talking about farmland with young producers that feel the same about the value of farmland across Canada, it won’t be going down anytime soon. Eager to get home after 9 days away I left Winnipeg in a heavy snowstorm to arrive into Saskatoon where nearly 1/2 inch of rain had fallen the night before. Sun was out and plus temperatures meant my truck got pretty dirty, oh well I guess it is washable.

Gotta run as I leave in 2 days for Northern AB to speak on succession and buy vs leasing equipment in the Edmonton area. Travel is going to slow down next month, so more time to focus back on the farm work that has been patiently waiting for me to return.

Back to wheat

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A beautiful Sept day came about on the 12 th of September. A SW wind brought temps near 30 degrees which meant we finished up the gravel pits quarter of canola and started on one at home but by 3 ‎we switched to our standing wheat which was then dry. Was disappointed to find out that the header that we borrowed from a neighbor was not going to work so I’m back to swathing in front of Marie combining and Lane using our St cut header on his combine. 

CPS a local Ag Inputs retailer brought out a wonderful chicken supper lastnight to the field. It turned out to be a gorgeous evening for supper in the field. A big thanks to Bryan and Brenda for a great night. But it was short lived and soon the hum of the equipment was back at it into the night. ‎

Oh Yeah forgot to mention this is the ruts after Marie got stuck two nights ago no bad at all really

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A weeks Rain Delay but we are back

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A weeks delay but we are back to‎ combining. Canola is dry so we will spend a day on it then hope to be back to our standing wheat. With all the recent rains our fields are wet so the cart will be taking small loads across 2 water crossings and 3/4 mile on the road to semis parked on the side of the road. It will be slow but we are going.
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Knocking on 1/3 done so we need to keep the hammer down.
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Harvest 15 has started, first up, Peas

It has been a busy couple of weeks after sadly leaving the our lake property for the last ‎time of the year on August 9, harvest was fast approaching. We had already preharvested (sprayed to cause uniform dry down to allow for straight cutting) some peas by the time we had left for the lake but it takes a couple of weeks before harvesting can begin. The combines were out of the shed and we were doing some final checks and maintenance on them to ensure they were ready when the crops were. Marie and I attended a local New Holland dealers “combine clinic” where they had a session on maintenance tips (Marie snuck away and got grocery shopping done), then a presenter from Prairie Agriculture Machinery Institute (PAMI) presenting on setting your combine for maximum efficiency to reduce losses and finally a presentation on using your monitors in the combine to their fullest potential. Overall the day was ok but it turned out to be not such a “free” event as during the maintenance presentation there were some tips that I thought would be additions to our combines so ended up taking on in to get some service work done on it.  

August 13th was the day this year harvest 2015 started for LDS Farms. I had a Board meeting that day ‎at CMI (local grain Terminal) which I was hoping to be done by noon and then Landon and I were heading to Winkler MB to pick up our new grain trailers that had just rolled off the assembly line. Well the meeting turned into a 3pm adjournment and it was blistering hot out. I thought maybe we should try those peas. Marie and Logan we in outlook helping her mom after a surgery so it was just Landon and I. He had stayed at a friend’s while I was at my meeting. I raced to pick him up and said let’s go try those peas. He anxiously agreed because he could wait to get back into the grain cart tractor for another season. We called up our trusty “go for” Harold and asked can you give us a ride, we are going to try the peas. For sure was his response so I headed off with the combine and header and Landon right behind in the 7140 and grain cart.

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While this was all happening I was texting with a good friend of mine, Mike who was trying his peas as well and they were dry so I was excited that ours might be as well. It turns out they were 15.8% moisture and 16% is considered dry so it was go time. We took a semi out to the field and before we knew what was happening #harvest15 (twitter hastag) was started. Landon quickly remembered all that was involved and we managed to get 1200 bushels harvested by 7:30 pm that night when it became too tough to harvest due to the onset of the evening dew. Peas stay dry but the pods and stem get real rubbery and stringy. We went home and made ourselves some supper (Landon was head chef) and showered and went to bed anxious for the next full day when we could really get some production done. 

Landon and I checked the combine over and got everything set for the day including getting the auger hooked up to the tractor and servicing it. Then we raced to humboldt as our second combine was ready after getting the service work done to it. We drove the combine home and out in our shed and then headed up to the field. Uncle Kenny was called into action as CMI who we had signed up a contract to sell some of our peas to were able to take delivery right from the field. He hauled them in and Landon and I harvested more while he was away. He made two loads by 3 pm and then Lane was able to be home from his SK Canola Board meeting. I can only imagine his anxiousness to get home and see the combine rolling and start hauling.  ‎It is an awesome feeling not to mention a big relief to be hauling straight to the terminal with the peas never getting angered into a bin and then augered back out again.  It saves so much time and costs, part of the reason we like to grow peas and have a portion contracted for fall delivery. Elevators typically have space and anxious to buy grain to get it filled so they can get some early shipping.  Lane was able to get two more loads in before they closed at 6 for the weekend. He pulled under the probe at 5:59 literally but they dumped him with a smile and closed the gate behind him. We filled the truck again and finished 80 ac that day. Having hauled all the production in we checked out accuracy of the grain cart scale which was within 99.5% so we’re happy with that. That 80 ac piece yielded 57.8 bushels per acre which put a smile on our faces. Compared to last year when our peas yielded 15 bu/ac this is a bumper crop.
These are our two trucks unloading at CMI
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Landon has really matured and doing an excellent job on the grain cart for being 11 years old. He came across the field the other day and the way he was driving I was sure it was Lane and surprises when Landon pulled under the spout like an old pro. At the end of the days he is sure to park the unit in a safe spot, he locks up the cab, takes out the ipad(used for scales), rolls the tarp and puts out the auger, just in case it rains. Lane even commented on the radio the other day at how nice and clean he keeps his cab. All of this makes a father so proud.

Rain delayed us on Saturday so Landon and I took the opportunity to go get the trailers. We left at 3 pm Sunday afternoon and drove through to Portage la Prairie arriving there at 10:30 pm. Found a quiet place to park and crashed in the bunk. Landon was right at home in there as it reminded him of tenting but with hard walls. We got up at 6, grabbed a coffee and juice and hit the road again for Winkler and 1.5 hours south. We got there hooked up and then did a factory tour. It was impressive to see how quickly it moves through the line and gets prepped for delivery. With the sun shining we headed for home, but not before finding a roadside stand selling fresh sweet corn, we had ourselves a back haul of 12 cobs of freshly picked corn. I almost cried when we hit rain just outside yorkton and my shinny trailers now were dull. This meant an early morning wash the next morning to get them polished up again. 

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Combining resumed that afternoon with Landon carting again and Logan ‎running me from one end of the field to the trucks on a quad so that I could dump the cart for Landon. It hurt dumping the first  load into those new trailers but that’s what we bought them for. More loads to the terminal but we are saving some for seed for next year so Lane set up the auger and we filled 2 bins to be used for the next couple years. Lane even got our picture on the Global news.

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2 loads go to Saskatoon so I left Thursday morning at 5am to make it back in hopes of combining again. On the way ran into rain again, so when I got home Lane had the pressure washer out and Marie helped me wash up the shine again, Logan saw this and said “boy this is going to be a long harvest if dad keeps washing his trailers.” The sun shone and by 1:30 we were back combining which turned into being a bonus day as the forecast had us getting rain but we managed to harvest a full day again. We are down to 60 acres left of peas but stopped again for a rain delay. The peas have gone flat to the ground so harvesting them is challenging and slow but very happy with the outcome. We will start swathing barley as soon as the rain stops and the fields are dry enough so with an excellent forecast for next week we will hopefully be in full swing with both combines and me back hauling grain and out of the combine. Another reason I enjoyed the peas as I get some combining time! 

1/2 inch of rain so far today. Let’s hope and pray that’s it. Got stuck once with combine already. Don’t need that again. ‎IMG_20150820_171521

Crop Scouting

2015 canola

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” tune keeps going through my head. Sorry for the delay in posting anything not sure where the summer has gone. After seeding we got a week before spraying started and soon our moisture concerns went from worries of too much to when will we get a little shower to help germinate all the seeds. We had ample moisture to get the crops started but always nice to have a rain to “freshen” things up. ‎ That rain didn’t come until well into June. 

Spraying was a treat this year, crops looked great and we have 4000 acres sprayed without a sprayer track. I can’t remember the last time this was the case. 2011 was the first year with a high clearance sprayer and it was every year since then and even before then that we had heavy June rains that drowned out sloughs and it was quicker/easier to just go through them than around so we had ruts over most of our land to fix up in the fall, not to mention bounce over during harvest. 

Despite the delayed rain our crops are looking amazing, hence my opening comment. Last night Marie and I were out scouting and I’m getting very excited for this year’s harvest. The weather conditions have been very favorable for crop development. A little late in the timing of the rains but with the abundance of soil moisture from the last years our crops were able to send roots down and utilize the moisture. 

2015 canary seed scouting for aphids

We have sprayed a bit of fungicides but very glad with the weather conditions we did not do every acre like some years. Peas are a must as they are very susceptible as is barley so those acres got sprayed. Our soft white wheat is also very disease prone so we sprayed it right at the heading stage to help protect the kernels. As a trial, we also sprayed one quarter (160ac) of hard red wheat and 80 ac of canola just to see if it makes a difference so we will know for next year. 

2015 peas

Our pea crop looks absolutely amazing. I’ve never seen a crop like this. They are waste high, which is very unusual for peas and loaded with pods that have up to 10 seeds in some. It will be like Christmas morning for a 6 year old when I finally get to put the header into that crop, fingers crossed nothing  ‎adversely happens between now and then.  

So far no insect problems have been detected. We were scouting for aphids in our canary seed and there are some but very few, nothing that would warrant spraying, so that is a relief. Canary seed is chest high and headed out very nice. Marie says she can already feel the itch from it, oh it’s not that bad I keep telling her.
2015 scouting canola

Our canola is up to my neck in most spots with a lot of pods. Logan and I went into our 46h75 Clearfield canola and it looks to have the best yield potential. We took some pods that looked longer than we are used to and they measured 3.5 inches long which is pretty impressive. We just might have a new variety to put in the mix in future years. 

I love this time of the year and could spend all my time driving around looking at the crops, especially when there is something to look at. I try and limit it to evenings when I’m tired from the hot day working on various projects like getting equipment ready for harvest, picking rocks and working spots that were left from the road builders and building some bins for us to store our crops in. 

Scouting with sunset
Updates will be more regular now I promise so make sure you check back regularly to see how 2015 is shaping up for us.

Bound to Happen

I heard the song “Papa Loves Momma” the other day and the verse “it was bound to happen, and when night it did…” kept going over in my mind after this mornings episode. I was just nicely getting going. Had set up yet another trial of a slow release product added to our fertilizer and was just documenting it in my book so I knew what side of the flag was what 4-5 months from now when the tractor started laboring and spinning. I looked up wasn’t a big deal just going through a little ditch that was probably wet a bit but the tractor would be on hard dry ground in no time. Looked back and the air cart wheel sunk away to the axle. I didn’t dare stop now just prayed it would “pop” back up. We’ll believe me it didn’t pop up but came up and then I though about my liquid caddy. It was quite full and had to come through there. The tractor now on hard dry ground is still snorting and spinning and getting worse. I figured the caddy was sunk so I clutched and stopped. 

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It was sunk but the air drill front castor was gone in the gumbo muck and the Packers full as well. It had fallen into the air cart holes and was not coming up. What do I do when I panic? I radio Lane, no answer. Call his cell, no answer. Luckily Marie was ‎home today and she answered my call of distress. Soon Lane was on the radio and headed home instead of spraying. They brought blocks, shovels and chains. Lane and I shoveled muck that would not fall off your spade while Marie dug with her hands around the Packers. We decided to bring the liquid trailer across the field and pumped out the caddy and still unhook it from the air drill. We put blocks under wheels and then slowly drove ahead. It came out rather easy which was a relief. Then pull out caddy separately and rehook it up. Then pump liquid back on. The whole ordeal took about 2 hrs which means it’s gonna be a late night for yours truly. That’s what you get for not taking it off Autosteer and steer around the ditch rather than running with a wheel right down the middle. Lesson learned and nothing got broke so that was good. But I’m more cautious now. 

Why those ‎lyrics are associated with getting stuck is because I have seeded nearly 12,000 acres (3yrs) with this drill and tractor and have yet to be stuck, until today, so “it was bound to happen and today it did…”

My morning sunrise 

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My sunset 

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Short Pants

What an incredible week we have had. Sunday started out rotten with my liquid fertilizer actually gelling because it was so cold. You couldn’t wear enough clothes to stay warm with the bone chillin’ wind. The week progressed and so did seeding. We finished up the wheat and went back to canola with the change of crops came a change of clothes. Lane traded in his toque for short pants (that’s what an old neighbor used to call shorts).  Yes I think this is the first spring ever I have seen him working in shorts. Actually to be fair this is the first year in a long time where the temperature warrants shorts, and even 3 days in a row. I’m sorry no picture as he has been running around too fast for me to catch a shot. Spraying, harrowing, delivering seed and fertilizer and then leveling ruts when he has time. So no time for him to stop for a pose. 

Seeding conditions really couldn’t be better. Top is dry, moisture down below and lots of heat to get things growing fast. Our preseeding spray will work well and give the crop a chance to get ahead of the weeds that always eventually come. Fingers (and toes) are crossed we don’t make a bunch of in crop sprayer ruts. Please please no more ruts! 

As Lane reported we got rid of a rock pile today,it not without their challenges of getting stuck twice with the rock truck. They came with a big heavy disc and cut up their ruts but left it all lumpy, so right after school Josh came out in “the oven” as Lane called the 1370 as the air conditioning never stays charged up because of the infrequent use of the tractor. He used our disc and cut up the clumps and I’m seeding over it and you would never know the mess was there just a few hours ago. It is very nice not having another obstacle in the field. I sent this picture to Marie and ‎said to show the boys that Parker Schnabel was here from the History Channel’s hit (in our house anyways) “Gold Rush ”
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We are nearing in on the end. 3 more qtrs of canola after tonight and 50 acres of barley.   Wrap up will be a little slower as we don’t want extra fertilizer or seed so seeding until running out and then go for more if needed. Will keep you posted on how it’s coming.‎
‎This is what my day started out with.
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This is the end of my day.
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FCC comes for a visit

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Last Thursday, David and Janelle from Farm Credit Canada came out to the farm to get some film and pictures of our operation ‎during seeding. They want to make an educational video to be used internally to show all their staff the hands on tasks of planting a crop. David and Janelle got the first taste of seeding with an early morning departure from Regina. They arrived at 7:30 so that means they left before 5:30 because they also had with them some Tim Horton treats for us. 

It worked out great because we were just moving to “Moores” and starting some barley so I was setting the drill and calibrating it which they were able to capture on video. As I was going through my setting routine and unexpected visit from Matt Beal occurred. He was “in the area” so thought he would stop by and see the operation in action. It was great to see him and make a round in the tractor that he found for us. We met Matt through his wife who works at FCC with Lane. He is a great resource for us to ask questions. You see he is a mechanic and what farm can’t use a mechanic on their speed dial. He worked at Markusson in Regina until last summer when he decided to take a promotion and became a territory service manager for Claas, still yellow just a different shade. He has for the past 4 or so years been coming out to the farm and helping us get our combines in tip top shape each year before harvest. We always look forward to spending a day in the shop with Matt, and hope he does too!  

Back to the video, David and Janelle were very accommodating and did not get in my way at all. I tried to explain things as I went and so not sure what they caught on tape . We all snuggled into the cab and did some footage “in action” so see how that turns out. Janelle got the worst seat having to sit on the tool box so was a little stiff I suspect when it came time to get out. Shortly after dinner they had enough and we’re ready to depart but there was no way I was letting able bodied help leave without giving me a hand filling the air tank. David graciously agreed and even pulled out a brand spanking new pair of gloves. For a farmer the site of new gloves is like putting a bowl of ice cream in front of them and tell them they can’t touch it. I suspect maybe someone tipped him off that if you are going to see Lance be prepared to be put to work. You see last time that FCC was out with a film crew it came to my attention that one of the assistants had his 1A licence so by the end of the day I had him taking one of the semi’s home for me. So maybe David was warned and therefore took the advice and came prepared.

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They left and I grabbed the Tim Bit box and went back to my day of putting in 300 acres of 2 row barley hopefully to make Malt quality so we can all enjoy a cold beer on a hot summer day!

1/2 way Mark

Filling up better

Well yesterday the 17th of May marked our 1/2 way mark, we have started the down slope. The previous night they were calling for snow so I was determined to go as long as I could stay awake but by 11 plans had changed. I had some plugged liquid fertilizer screens and I wasn’t about to start cleaning them on the dark, a 90kph north freezing wind and temp of about -5 so called it a night. Came out in the morning and cleaned the filters and that seemed to fix the liquid flow problem. Two rounds later my air tank quit seeding so went and looked and a bearing was gone in the drive shaft. Took the unit to the yard for tear down. Turned out to be a very standard bearing which we had on hand do were able to get it back together and running within a couple hours. 

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Wind was still crazy and really cold but we missed all the snow and rain that the south got so we’re thankful of that. Finished up the field at 6:30 pm and Marie ‎was making a turkey for supper as Carie and the kids (Lane’s family) were out for the weekend. We decided to stop for a wonderful supper and be thankful we are this far along at this time in May. The bonus of a turkey supper is turkey sandwiches for lunches this week.