A friend of mine is in the process of building a new house. The basics were pretty well in place last fall so he decided to do part of his landscaping.
Since considerable amount of dirt was moved over a large area, the biggest challenge was going to be the lawn. He wanted it sloped nicely over the hill toward the timber.
On a Saturday afternoon, several of us gathered with tractors, discs, gators and harrows to level out what would soon be a rather large expanse of grass. Having experienced living for 25 years with a bump here and a dip there on my lawn, I wanted to make sure this lawn did not have the same idiosyncrasies. The rest of the crew was equally diligent. In a couple of hours, we had the area smooth, perfect and ready for the seed.
The seed was purchased from the local farm supply store. They are reputable and knowledgeable about their products and services. They also have a bit of a sense of humor. My friend also has a sense of humor that has in the past been directed at the owner of the farm supply store.
The grass seed was put in a large spreader cart and mixed with winter wheat to serve as a cover crop. Fertilizer was mixed right in with the seed, so all a person had to do was hook the tractor on the cart and drive. The seeding and fertilizing was done in one pass. The lawn was a thing of beauty by the end of the day. All we needed was time for the wheat to sprout and the grass to grow. The wheat would protect the delicate grass until it became established and be cut off to let the carpet of grass flourish.
A couple of weeks after the great planting party, I stopped by to check on the progress. The entire area was flat and green. On closer inspection, I noticed some broad-leafed vegetation growing among the wheat and the blue grass. The proud owner of the new lawn had noticed them also. He wondered what they could be. They were so evenly spaced they almost looked like they had been planted. Every six to eight inches, there was a hardy little plant that looked an awful lot like a turnip.
During the summer, I had planted turnips in a food plot as winter forage for the deer. I knew they were turnips and knew exactly from where they came. One too many jokes had been pulled on the guys at the farm supply store. They had gotten even. It was funny, and not a major problem, only unsightly to have what appeared to be weeds in the lawn, but the first mowing would solve that problem. The turnips and wheat would die, leaving a lush green lawn.
The weather turned cool and the lawn did not grow enough to warrant a mowing before spring. Snow fell on the somewhat unconventional appearing lawn. All things would be corrected in the spring. In early December, I stopped by to check on the progress of the house. The one hill sloping off toward the timber looked like it had been plowed. Turkeys love winter wheat. With the lack of bugs and green grass to supplement their diet of acorns and hickory nuts, a large flock decided to live on the newly seeded wheat field.
Last night I got a call wondering if I had any deer tags left. Apparently turnips continue to grow well into the winter. The deer discovered a nice field where most of the snow had been raked off by turkeys exposing unlimited numbers of golf ball-sized turnips. A herd of 15 to 20 deer were digging them up and enjoying the best food plot they had ever seen.
By the time the turkeys get done scratching up the wheat and the deer finish off the last of the turnips, the new lawn may need to be re-leveled. The owner of the farm supply store will have gotten his well-deserved revenge and the wildlife will enjoy a winter with a constant supply of good food. The fruits of our labor are not wasted but provide a nice respite for the animals as well as a good laugh by all involved.
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.