A Week of Tetris: And Yes, It’s Gonna Fit!

Reader Contribution by Laura Berlage and North Star Homestead Farms

The load of cleaned and carded wool from the mill that somehow all managed to pack into the Prius. 

Why oh why oh why is there never, ever enough room for things on the farm!?  At least that seems to eternally be the case on our 103-year old homestead.  Even with the best of intentions and careful backing up, the machinery never seems to all fit into the machine shed and something (usually the latest broken-down something) ends up spilling over into the garage, kicking the truck out to sit in the snow for the winter.

I think that, even if three more sheds somehow magically appeared on the farm, we could still manage to fill them!  But what to do in the meantime?  Tetris.

Remember that game?  Hours of agony as a child, trying to figure out how all these pieces could possibly fit together to make the desired shape.  I also remember feeling so frustrated, until I spent some time with the answers part of the book and noticed some common combinations that appeared to be the secret code to the process.  If you could learn the trick in overlaying the right shapes, the rest of the pieces came together.

Tetris is a good description of how the myriad of equipment fits into the shed, with the rake sidling in first, followed by the haybine, then the two hay wagons with the chicken tractors perched on top.  But now that Kara successfully sold the rake and haybine, the tractor can move back out to the shed from the garage.  Whew, a little breather room!  Such are the perks of offloading making hay to Groeschl Ag Services.  At least there can be a bit more sanity in the old shed, but that’s just one of the Tetris places on the farm.

I was out in the garden (weeding, most likely), while the rest of the crew was bringing in the 225 round bales of first crop hay.  Mom and Steve in both the Jeep and truck were pulling hay wagons loaded with the bales, while Kara unloaded them with the skid-steer into tidy North-South oriented rows for winter’s feeding.  As they headed back out to the field for another round and the sound of engines disappeared behind all the trees, I heard a faint, distant tone.

Beep…beep…beep.

At first, I thought it was a piece of large equipment backing up, perhaps at the Metcalf farm or the road grader on Fullington, but no, the sound persisted.  It persisted to the point beyond which any backing up could possibly be logical.  And then I remembered that the sensor alarms we had installed on the freezers in the garage that was up the hill from the garden made such a beeping sound.  Could it be one of them?  If so, it was time to investigate.

And sure enough, the big three-door reach-in freezer was warming, though the internal temperature was still at 18 degrees.  There was no other option but to empty out all the meat and blueberries from that unit and troubleshoot its problem.  But what a monstrous pile of boxes!  Where to put them all!  Freezer Tetris, and the game was on before anything started thawing.  Sore backs on top of a long day working on the farm ensued, but we did manage to get everything to fit into the walk-in and chest freezers.

I’ll spare you the details, but four long-haul trips, two parts attempts, two repair personnel visits, and three freezers later, we are back to a manageable state in the freezer department.  Seriously, think of all the gardening time we could have had, if that three-door hadn’t thrown in the monkey wrench mid-summer!

And then there was wool Tetris on Wednesday.  Yes, you read that right.  While lighter than farm machinery and more malleable than boxes of frozen lamb chops, even the wool had an adventure.  In preparation for the Fiber Fest we’re hosting at the farm on Saturday, August 4th, we were getting fresh product ready for display and sale.  Ewetopia Fiber Mill in Viroqua had called, saying most of our washed wool and roving was ready to be shipped—perfect timing for Fiber Fest.  But shipping wool can be pricy since it’s high in volume though low in weight.

Mom and Steve were making at trip to Platteville, so we decided it would be a perfect time to swing by on the way and pick up the order.  Remember, this is the wool we delivered earlier this spring in the back of the pickup truck.  Maybe we forgot that part when Mom and Steve decided to head off in the Prius—gets great gas mileage, right?  And it wasn’t the full order of wool…so…

When they pulled up to Ewetopia, Kathryn the owner was ready for them, with her SUV packed full of our product.  “Where is your vehicle?” she asked, opening the hatch.

“Right here,” Mom replied, pointing to the Prius while eyeing the cadre of garbage bags willed with fluff.  “Is it going to fit?”

“Uh, nope” was Kathryn measured reply.

But it did.  Wool Tetris.  Kathryn wanted a picture when they were done, and I wish I had a copy of it.  Later that afternoon, I’d called to see how the pickup had gone, only to learn the saga and hear that Steve finally had a full head rest in that tiny car!  Guess they would have to skip picking up more jam jars on that trip.

Do you have any Tetris moments?  Fitting everything into the moving van?  Packing the whole garage band into the Volkswagen Bug?  See if you can’t pull one out of the hat for a good laugh.  Pulling that wool out of the Prius was like some kind of clown car routine!  Time to get back to prepping for Fiber Fest.  See you down on the farm sometime.

Laura Berlage is a co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms, LLC and Farmstead Creamery & Café. 715-462-3453 www.northstarhomestead.com


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