Hired hand is farm’s right-hand man

posted July 24, 2017 10:28 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Hoyt Heinemann, Sheboygan (Sheboygan County)

When we first started farming, I drove a school bus to supplement our income. My wife and I discussed the possibility of hiring a young boy to lighten our load. There was a young boy on my bus whose parents were divorced who I thought might work out.

I thought it in our best interest to approach his mom before asking Kevin. A phone call to her and a brief discussion cleared the way. The next night when I dropped Kevin off at his home, I put the question to him. He was all smiles the next morning getting on the bus.

“Mom OK’d it!”

We started slowly, and he sort of became part of the family. I recall one day my 5-year-old daughter invited us for a tea party at her sandbox, and for 5 years old, it wasn’t going too well. Her pretend muffins kept falling apart, and our pet dog managed to stand in her sandbox, upsetting her even more. She was complaining about everything when Kevin pipes up, “You’re young. You’ll adjust.”

The summer we decided to replace our old, tired porch we also scheduled to have a local carpenter come and reroof part of our barn with sheet panels. We specifically told him to call a couple days in advance so we could plan ahead to help him.

The first Friday in August, we were scheduled to have our local card club meet at our house. At breakfast the Wednesday before, we decided to replace the porch with a new one. Kevin got a tractor and tow chain and dragged the old porch off to our burn pile.

One hour later, our carpenter shows up unannounced and tells us he’s there to put steel on our barn roof.

Kevin looks at me and says, “I’ll help the carpenter. Can you manage the porch?”

“It’ll be a struggle,” I answered.

At dinner on Friday, my wife was getting excited, because our porch was far from finished, and guests were due in about seven hours.

Kevin looked at her and said, “Don’t worry, Ma, we’ll get it done.”

At 6:55, the last deck board went down, and three minutes later our first guest arrived. My wife was hurrying to the house to change and looked approvingly at her new porch.

Kevin moved on with his life but stopped in on a fateful December day four days before Christmas to drop off a small Christmas gift. He was excited, because he was on his way up to the Superior area to spend Christmas with his dad.

He was absolutely floored when we told him the news that my dad had passed away earlier that day.

Earlier that summer, we had installed a bigger bulk milk tank. I had planned to get at the replacement wall but never got around to it. The weather forecast for the next few days was for lows to be near minus-15 to minus-20 degrees. I mentioned to Kevin that I had to get going so I could get at fixing the hole in the milkhouse wall.

He was looking at a long drive yet that evening, but he said, “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it.”

And he did.

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