Mud, Mud And More Mud!

Hoosier Perspectives

Orange mud, brown mud- you name it, we've got it!

Published on: May 9, 2011

Misery may not love company, even though the old saying says it does. At any rate, if you're tired of staring at mud in your barnlot, you're not alone. We've got more mud here on our tiny three acres than I thought we possibly could ever pile in one place. Purdue University's Gary Steinhardt could do soil compaction studies here from now until he retires.

The only good thing is that, as they say, and this one I do believe, 'this too shall pass.' Eventually it will dry up, most likely too much, and all the mud will become sun-baked, brick hard, clay ruts. Right now anything would be an improvement over rain and mud.

Let me share a story about myself that will lift your day, because you'll know there is someone other than you who is the stupidest person in any room he's in. This tale starts last August, when it was as dry and hard as it is wet and muddy now. Hmm, there's a pattern there I'm not sure I like.

At any rate, I love to coach soil judging, and with the school selling its backhoe, I hired a friend to come dig three holes on my little three-acre farm. They were so I could start teaching principles to about a dozen middle school kids who had never judged before. Having the holes here was convenient vs. transporting people somewhere else.

Well, the plan was my friend was supposed to come back and fill them in before it started raining. Unfortunately, that part of the deal never got done. I wasn't too concerned most of the winter. It was so dry that the holes were empty. My son even burnt sacks in the bottom of them, just because he could.

About early March, that all changed. Since then, they've been cesspools of water, full to the brim most of the time.

Now switch to a Thursday morning a couple weeks ago. I go out in the dark to feed the sheep and 4-H pigs. I happen upon the gilt lot, and the gate is as wide open as it can be. There are no gilts outside. My heart sank to the bottom, and then it started beating again. The only image I could conjure up was four dead gilts floating on top of one of those soil judging pits. There was one only about 75 feet from the gate.

Before I went into shock, I turned on the barn lights, and there they were, huddled up together in the straw inside the barn, like nothing ever happened. When I investigated however, I found they had been rooting less than 20 feet from a pit! That was it, mud or no mud, full of water or not, they had to be filled in.

So my friend and his girlfriend arrived Saturday afternoon with a skid-steer to fill them in. The first one went about like I expected. He filled in half the hole and rutted up so much grass I'll be two years getting it back in shape. And I thought I had mud before!

The one on the side of a hill was so slippery we ended up shoveling most of it in by hand! Even his girlfriend helped. But the best we saved for last- the one the pigs almost found. He got dirt over it, and water squished out, but he cut tracks that even Professor Steinhardt would be proud of. The pigs might get stuck in the mud, but they wouldn't drown.

Watching my turn at the shovel on the middle hole, Julie, his girlfriend, looked at me and smiled. I knew what she was thinking.

"I bet you don't dig any more holes here again," she said.

"You're right," I responded. "I'll dig them at your boyfriend's place, and I bet then he gets them filled in before it rains! Still shoveling away himself, he just smiled.

So don't get too depressed. All odds you're smarter than at least one other person in the room, especially if I happen to be visiting.