How much should a wife know?

‘Mrs. Jost? I represent Farm Journal magazine. We’re just updating our files and I was wondering if you would have time to answer some questions regarding your farming operation there in Hillsboro.”

The woman on the other end of the phone seemed pleasant enough. Her diction was precise, her tone mature and professional, yet not at all stuffy. She had pronounced “Jost” correctly and had been courteous enough to ask if I had the time to spare. So, I decided to give her a few minutes.

“Sure,” I replied.

“Hey, it’s Farm Journal, not the Wall Street Journal,” I thought. “I can probably handle this adequately enough.”

The first questions she asked were easy. I knew our address-we did have to take a little time to change our old rural route address to the current one with numbers and names-telephone number, and e-mail address.

A walk in the park.

Then she started with the farm questions.

“How many acres do you currently farm?”

OK, I had a pretty close estimate for that question.

“How much livestock?”

OK, there again, I think my guess was fairly accurate.

But then she began firing off questions such as, “How many acres are planted in wheat?” “How many in corn?” “Do you irrigate and if so, what types of irrigation do you use?” “Do you double crop any fields?” “Does your farming operation till or no till?”

How many acres are planted in wheat? Did she really expect me to know that? Am I supposed to know that?

Do you know what I answered?

“A lot.”

I don’t know how many acres we have planted to wheat. I don’t know how many acres will be planted in corn, milo or soybeans.

Every year it’s different and, depending on the weather, some fields can even change mid-stream. If you’re familiar with farming, you know that sometimes a crop can be seeded and then due to flood or drought, that crop can be destroyed so the field is quickly replanted to another crop. Usually late season milo. I think.

How many acres do we have planted. Well, who knows? Not me.

“OK,” she replied after getting my “a lot” answer. “Maybe we should just use the information that we got from your husband last year to complete this section of the questionnaire.”

I concurred.

“Let’s start with the dairy questions, now. About how many cows are currently in your milking herd?”

Ha. I knew the answer. Now we were back on track. But then she wanted to know about test weight and milk production and something about a rolling herd.

“That rolling herd thing. I’ve heard that term before but for the life of me I have no idea what that means.”

At least I was honest. For some reason, when I hear the term “rolling herd” I envision a cluster of black-and-white cows gleefully rolling down the side of a hill in a sunny, green meadow.

“Well,” she sighed. “Maybe we should use last year’s information to finish some of this section, too. Would you happen to know if you use artificial insemination?”

“Not personally.”

And then she laughed. We both did, loud and long.

“We do use A.I. on the farm, but we sometimes have a bull as well.”

“Thank you,” she replied. “I think I have enough information.”

“You know, I’ve only been married to a farmer for 21 years. Maybe I should pay more attention to what he’s doing.”

We ended our conversation with a few pleasantries and I left the house to meet a friend for lunch. That’s something I know all about.

Later that night, I was having trouble falling asleep and in my midnight thoughts, I started thinking about the farm and the farmer I had married. Should I be more aware of all the details of the farming operation? Maybe I should educate myself in the types of equipment, the varieties of seed, and the lactation cycles of milk cows. Do other farm wives talk about test weights and rolling herds with authority?

It was at that moment that I sensed a change in my sleeping husband’s breathing.

“Keith,” I whispered. “Are you awake?”

“Huhhh?” he groaned.

“Keith, what does the term “rolling herd” mean?”

“You woke me up to ask what “rolling herd” means? It has something to do with milk production. It’s nothing you really need to worry about in the middle of the night, believe me.”

Well, I tried. I guess I’ll leave the farming up to him.

* * *

All this talk about Farm Journal causes me to remember that I have a problem that maybe one of our readers might have the solution to. I have an interesting recipe for a sourdough white bread, first published in Farm Journal magazine. The problem is that it calls for “starter,” and I don’t know how to go about getting started, so to speak. Does anyone have any ideas? I would sure be interested in hearing from you.

If you have a cooking question or if you are looking for a long lost recipe, drop me a line or leave a message at the Free Press office.

Maybe we can find some solutions to your culinary problems.

* * *

Sweet and Sour…. When is the Chinese restaurant going to open? I can hardly wait. Sorry.

Sweet and Sour Beef

2 lbs. round steak cut in 1-inch cubes

2 tbs. vegetable oil

16 oz. tomato sauce

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. paprika

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup molasses

2 cups sliced carrots

1 green pepper, sliced

2 cups small white onions

Brown meat in oil and then put in slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients and mix. Cook six to seven hours on low or four hours on high. Serve over rice.

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