Kalona Cooks: Downhill augers and pigeons in the pipe - a typical day in the Marek household

Posted 7/15/99

Another week is over and I feel at least three weeks older. As usual, it was a busy week at work,…

By Mary Marek

Another week is over and I feel at least three weeks older. As usual, it was a …

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Kalona Cooks: Downhill augers and pigeons in the pipe - a typical day in the Marek household


Another week is over and I feel at least three weeks older. As usual, it was a busy week at work,…

By Mary Marek

Another week is over and I feel at least three weeks older. As usual, it was a busy week at work, and in my “spare” time, I spent a few hours helping Jim.

As often happens when I’m helping Jim, a simple task turned into something much more complicated.

He asked me if I’d have time to move the auger for him Wednesday evening. Moving the auger isn’t nearly as much “fun” as moving the grain vac, and I figured I could handle it. I should have been suspicious when he told me to be careful hooking up. He never tells me to be careful. I don’t know if that’s because he trusts me to know what I’m doing or if he figures it wouldn’t do any good. I also don’t know why he shouldn’t trust my abilities. I’m not the one who recently fell out of a tree while trimming branches and grabbed the saw blade to stop the fall, cutting two fingers to the bone in the process.

Now, I’ve told you how much I “love” trying to hook up to the grain vac by myself. It weighs a zillion pounds and there’s no way I can move it, so I have to get the pickup backed up to just the right spot, which can be a real challenge when I’m all alone. The auger, though, is much lighter and I can pick it up at the hitch end and move it around, as long as I don’t have to pull it uphill and there aren’t any deep ruts in the way. So, why did he tell me to be careful?

On my over to Strums, which is where Jim had left the auger (at least he knew where it was – there have been times it’s moved around so much, he can’t remember where he left it last – once he and his cousin, John, spent a couple of hours driving from farm to farm looking for it), all the various reasons why I might have to be careful went through my mind.

Maybe he had left the hitch off. I hate it when he does that. I have to lift the end of the auger and hold it up with my knee while I put the hitch on. I don’t enjoy it, but I can do it, so that probably wasn’t why he was warning me.

Maybe there were electric wires overhead and he hadn’t cranked the auger down, so I’d have to be careful not to electrocute myself.

Maybe it was parked heading uphill and I’d have trouble because of that. Maybe he left it in a corner or someplace where I’d have to back it up before I could pull out with it. He knows I can’t back the dang thing up.

When I got to Strums I checked out the situation and couldn’t see any problems hooking up. The hitch was on and the auger was cranked down. There weren’t any electric lines near it and it was parked out in the open where I could back right up to it and pull straight around the bins and out the driveway – no backing up needed.

So, I pulled in front of the auger and backed up to it. I got out and saw I was still too far away, so I got back in the pickup and backed up a little more. I was still about 6 feet away, but I figured I could pull the auger that far.

It was as I grabbed the handle on top of the auger that I got my first nasty surprise. The handle was full of black icky grease. Oh, well. A little grease never hurt me and maybe it would soften my skin. So, I grabbed the handle and lifted the auger, all ready to pull it to the pickup. Whoa, Nelly!!!

I had a split second of wondering why it was pulling so easily before I realized it was parked on a downhill slope. I didn’t have to pull it to the pickup; I had to stop it from ramming into it.

I dug my heels into the grass and hung on. Unfortunately, I was wearing my Keds and the heels were not meant for digging. The auger drug me a couple of feet, but I got it stopped before it hit the pickup. I set the hitch back down on the ground and took a deep breath.

Okay, what do I do now? Have you ever noticed that nothing I do is ever simple? Just once, I’d like to have a task turn out to be as simple as it sounds.

Anyway, I picked the auger back up and let it push me a couple more feet and set it down again. I repeated this process until I was close enough to the pickup to set it down on the bumper. Then I had to figure out how to push it back up the slope just enough to get the hitch pin in the hole. How did I do it? Suffice it to say, it wasn’t a pretty sight, but I got the job done.

Of course, hitching it up was just the beginning. I took it to Jim, who beat me to his next loading spot by just a few seconds. I helped him set it up and thought I’d hang around and visit with him while the truck was loading.

The loading plan was simple. Jim dug a hole next to the bin auger’s outlet to set the end of the auger in. The hole works as a hopper, catching the grain as it comes out of the bin. He parked the truck under the auger spout and we were ready to load.

He started both augers – ours and the bin’s – and things were looking pretty good. At first the corn just trickled out of the bin. A few seconds later, a stream of corn was coming out, then it started to gush into the hole. Alright!! The faster it comes out of the bin, the faster the truck is loaded.

Just as I was thinking Jim would be home early for a change, the belt on the bin auger motor started slipping. Jim shut it off and turned it back on. Still slipping.

To make a long story short, it took more than three hours to load the truck. What was the problem? Well, it seems a pigeon had decided to build a nest in the bin auger and it was clogging it up. How do I know it was a pigeon? Because after much pulling, pushing, poking and sweating, it and its nest came shooting out of the auger. I’m sorry to say the pigeon did not survive the experience. And, had the bin’s owner been around that evening, he might not have been in much better shape.

This week’s recipes

I had a request for zucchini recipes. Since I don’t allow zucchini in my house ever since the year it tried to take over my life, I had to do a little searching to find these. Hope you enjoy them.

Marinated Vegetables

Makes 6 servings

Refrigerating the vegetables in the dressing creates a wonderful flavor!

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

3 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings

1/2 cup Italian dressing

6 tablespoons bacon flavor bits or chips

Mix all ingredients except bacon flavor bits in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, spoon vegetable mixture onto 6 salad plates, using slotted spoon. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon bacon flavor bits.

Incredibly Easy Zucchini Pie

PREP: 15 min; BAKE: 35 min; COOL: 10 min

Makes 6 to 8 servings

So many new and different frozen vegetable combinations are available. Try a new one the next time you make this pie. Leftover vegetables will work, too.

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped tomato

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2/3 cup Bisquick® Reduced Fat baking mix

3/4 cup skim milk

2 eggs or 1/2 cup fat-free cholesterol-free egg product

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Heat oven to 400°. Lightly grease bottom and side of glass pie plate, 9x1 1/4 inches. Sprinkle zucchini, tomato, onion and cheese evenly in pie plate. Stir together remaining ingredients with fork until blended. Pour evenly into pie plate. Bake about 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool at least 10 minutes.

Zucchini Bars

PREP: 10 min; BAKE: 30 min

Makes 24 bars

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup stick margarine or butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium), drained

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Spice Frosting (below)

Heat oven to 350°. Grease bottom and sides of square pan, 9x9x2 or 8x8x2 inches. Mix brown sugar, margarine, vanilla and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. Stir in zucchini and nuts. Spread in pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; cool completely. Frost with Spice Frosting. Cut into 2 1/4x1 1/2-inch bars.

Spice Frosting

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon stick margarine or butter, softened

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

3 to 4 teaspoons milk

Mix all ingredients until smooth and spreadable.

Rosemary Fisher spent part of last weekend at Bock’s Berry Farm picking blueberries. She brought me a sample Monday morning and it made me wish I had to time to go pick some. Rosemary commented that the Bock family makes you feel right at home. She said blueberries are a “standing-up” crop to pick and when the berries are as big as your thumb, it doesn’t take long to pick your fill.

Rosemary also brought me Diane Bock’s blueberry pie recipe. I may have to go pick some berries so I can try out the recipe.

So-Easy Blueberry Pie

1 baked 9” pie shell (spread with cream cheese, if desired)

4 cups blueberries


2/3 c. water

1 c. sugar

3 heaping tablespoons corn starch

1 c. blueberries

Place 4 cups blueberries in pie shell; set aside. In saucepan, combine next 4 ingredients for glaze. Cook until thick and clear, stirring frequently, approximately 10-12 minutes. Pour over berries in pie crust. Cool and refrigerate.

Serve with whipped cream and a few berries on top.

Note: Other berries, such as strawberries, raspberries or peaches may be substituted.