Greg Koelker

Koelker

As far as I remember the first time I heard the expression, “Many hands make light work,” Ellen’s dad was encouraging me and Ellen’s younger siblings to come help get in some firewood — El never needed encouragement to get out and do something. If memory serves me, I believe there was already a snow cover and a pressing need to fill up the woodshed for, well, you know. We caught a ride out to the woodlot listening to the tire chains on the old tractor jingle away. Walt pulled a trailer made from an old manure spreader I think. We passed through a gate in the pasture and the chugging of the engine echoing down the hollow had hardly gone silent when the roar of a McCullogh chainsaw sliced through the frosty morning and announced that it was time to get something done. That meant, cutting, splitting, loading, hauling, stacking wood, and doing it all over again. Then hauling a load of dry wood into the back yard and tossing it down the wood door into the basement of the old farm house.

Someone asked me the other day, “Where does the time go?” Not sure it goes anywhere; I think we just float along some days and gal-lump along others and race when necessary and I guess we often pause long enough to reflect — what just happened? May, June, July 2019 were just our future full of promise and plans. Now they are history — crazy. Ellen and I moved here to the place we call Grouse Hollow in 1977. I do the math but it sure doesn’t seem that long ago. I often tell young people with toddlers to enjoy every moment with them because it will seem like just two months ago when they call from Colorado for money. Just kidding my own kids, uh, men now that is.

Speaking of old, we plan to use our new-in-1901 tobacco shed as part of the venue for mountain man Ben and Christine’s wedding here at Grouse Hollow in September. The “many hands” memory came to mind this last week was when The Sister Squad came to visit us with an eye to helping ready the shed or whatever we needed help with. Ellen’s sisters Barb, Kathy and Lori showed up with gloves. We all went up to the tobacco shed to pick up, rake up, and haul away the detritus of over 100 years of farming, hung and taken down tobacco, stored machinery and livestock, hay, fire wood, wind blown leaves, rotten plywood, perforated political signs and boxes turned targets, stored boards with nails sticking out at all angles, cement blocks, old shingles, fence posts, barbed wire, and so on. While the girls got to work, I pretty much did what I do best, got out of the way and drove load after load of bark and burnables out in the bucket of the John Deere. The squad also brought lunch! After that break, they went out front and helped El finish up weeding one of her bigger flower beds. To top it all off, they warned us they’d be back. Thanks, ladies.

Last week, El and I attended a Hauk family picnic held in the air conditioned comfort of the Burton Town Hall. It was a really nice day outside, but using the town hall was a great idea. Anyway, Ellen got to see many of her cousins. She got to talk with her Uncle Jerome who turned 102 on July 20! Get this — it is alleged that he still drives. Ellen’s cousin Pat Donovan was there, too. Pat calls Ellen and her sisters her “little sisters.” We have not been able to have enough time with these people. Anyway, the food — including a couple roasters of catfish—was good too. We really enjoyed the family time.

Until next time, get out — due to the heat and humidity in the afternoon, I thought that a memory of making firewood on a cold December morning in the snow might provide readers a moment to smile about and cool off at the tail end of a hot, hot July and an August morning early in the usually hottest month.

Ma Nature has given Proksch Coulee a respite from hard rain for a few days. Despite the heat in the afternoon, the early mornings have mostly been cool and quiet here. The rhythm of our days starts with making coffee and then releasing our kangaroo in the gorilla suit from his kennel and spending time stroking our 15-year-old resident serial killer. I sip my coffee and enjoy the quiet and/or then the birds. Enjoy.

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Contributor

Greg and his wife Ellen Koelker are retired and live on Grouse Hollow Farm near Stoddard.

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