Punching the Poo out of Cows Down on the Farm

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Being a farmer is brutal.  Doing all that manual labor, growing crops, smacking around the livestock, and shoveling poo must be rough.  Dealing with the poop is probably the thing that really makes me appreciate farmers.  They can handle that smell of hay mixed with manure.  It’s so brutal.  I know you probably get used to it after a while, but the smell of animal feces can really singe my nose hairs.  Have you ever smelt a pig farm before?  Dear Lord!  That scent is so indescribably awful.

Is there poo on my pitchfork?

Is there poo on my pitchfork?

I’m not much of a fan of farms, but I visited one last weekend.  For months and months, my five year old son, Ivan, has been asking to visit a farm because his 4K class went on a field trip to one.  We went there on Saturday to buy pumpkins, but we took in a lot of the other activities too.  We enjoyed a tractor ride, the kids all rode on a horse, and the most fun was catching chickens.  Did you know that you can walk up behind a chicken, and snatch them up.  They flap their wings a little sometimes, but mostly, they just sit in your hands.

The strangest part was when our whole family went into a small barn with a milking cow.  This old lady was by the cow, and she let each one of our kids have a turn milking it.  The cow, we’ll call her Bessie, because I call every cow that name, was a cranky beast.  After my kids milked the cow, the old lady did too.  The only problem was Ol’ Bessie tried to kick the lady.  The lady got really mad, stood up, and punched the cow in the ribs.  The cow appropriately responded to the attack by taking a huge dump.  My kids laughed and laughed as the lady grabbed a pitchfork to clean up after Bessie.  The stench of manure was so powerful, my eyes were burning when we evacuated the barn.

I don’t know if punching cows is a normal, nor do know if cows poop in protest when they are punched, but thank goodness I don’t have to clean the poo.

P.S. Farmers, if you’re out there.  Is it normal to punch the livestock?  I’ve only been out there with the cattle a few times and on two occasions, with two separate farmers, they punched the cows.


Rub Some Dirt on It – A Sledding Story Time

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Whenever I got hurt as a kid, my father would always say the same thing, “Get up, Dave.  You’re not hurt.  Rub some dirt on it.”

The phrase, rub some dirt on it, is a baseball colloquialism.  Dad’s a big baseball fan, and his infectious love for the game rubbed off on his two sons, myself, and my older brother Steve.  If we got hit by a pitch, fell down on our bike, or ran into a snow fence when sledding, the message was the same.

“Rub some dirt on it.”

Most of the time, he was right.  Now, I wouldn’t literally rub dirt on a bruise or cut, but I would get up, dust myself off, and then get back out there. After a while, we started to give my father the same advice whenever he got banged up.

At Nagawaukee Golf Course, off of Maple Drive, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, there is a fantastic sledding hill.  My father, brother, and I would go there multiple times each winter when I was in middle school.

Now on one particular winter weekend, the conditions at the park were magnificent.  The day before, we were hit with a few inches of wintry mix, meaning some snow, sleet and rain.  Right after the precipitation stopped, the temperature dropped.  Snow and sleet covered the ground and froze solid.  The slippery surface provided barely enough traction to walk up the hill.

My brother and I brought our red plastic sleds, and my father brought an inner-tube.  The three of us marched to the summit of Mount Nagawaukee, hopped in our rides, and sailed down the icy terrain.

Dad sailed ahead of Steve and I, and at about the halfway point of the hill, his inner-tube started to turn.  He was going down backwards for a little bit, and near the end of the hill, he wisely bailed out.  Dad tumbled out of the tube, and Steve and I intentionally crashed our sleds right behind him.

Even though the hill flattened out, we all had to force ourselves to stop because our momentum never slowed down on the glare ice.  If we didn’t intentionally bail out, we would have catapulted over a ditch and into the road.   Also, at the bottom of the hill right in front of the ditch, only about a foot off the ground was a thick steel cable.  Running parallel to the road,  the cable was an inch in diameter, and it looped between short wooden posts, signifying the edge of the golf course.

Don't sled past me

Don’t sled past me

“That was lame.  I shouldn’t have bailed out so soon.  There was still some hill left,” Dad said as we walked back up the hill.  Steve and I shrugged our shoulders.

The second run started just like the first.  Dad quickly took the lead.  The combination of pumped up plastic inner-tube on a steep decline of glare ice allowed my father to travel at incredible speeds.  Halfway down, he accidentally spun backwards and headed down the hill blind.  Steve and I followed close behind, and shouted as he approached the end of the run, “BAIL OUT!  BAIL OUT!”

There goes the Snow Tube.

There goes the Snow Tube.


The inner-tube exploded as Dad slammed sideways into the steel cable wire.  It wasn’t quite a clothesline because Dad hit the wire just below his armpit, but he still was whipsawed to the ground, making him crash onto his shoulder.  The weight of my father collapsing onto the ice blew a hole into the side of the tube and sent it squealing through the air like a deflating balloon.  It finally landed on the other side of the road.

Steve and I skidded to a stop right in front of him.  We didn’t know if we should laugh or not, so for a moment, we said nothing at all.

I think Steve broke the silence.  He said, “Dad.  That was… AWESOME!  But I think you broke the tube.  It flew across the road.”

Dad responded with some groans.

“Get up Dad.  You’re not hurt,” I said.

He continued to grimace in pain.

“Rub some dirt on it,” I added.

Dad managed to sit back up.  He muttered a few words, “We’ve got to go back to the car.”

Reluctantly, Steve and I agreed.  Apparently, rubbing dirt on it wasn’t going to work for Dad.  I grabbed the sleds, and Steve retrieved the flattened inner-tube.  Dad stood up and we walked a half mile back to the car.

When Dad crashed, he cracked two ribs.  I don’t remember how long it took his ribs to heel, but he didn’t move very quickly for a month or two.

Any time we retell the sledding story, Dad always says the same thing, “But it was a great ride. It was a great ride.”

This is how Story Time with David Tiefenthaler Got Started

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This is how I got the idea for writing my book.


I told this story to my middle school students, and they loved it.  I figured, I could turn this into a video, and I did.  I actually made several stories and turned them into videos and posted them on YouTube.  I still have a YouTube channel, called “tiefsa”, but making videos like the one above was extremely time consuming.  It was more fun writing the story.

Then I figured, why not use the story of being the new kid at a school and then write a fictional tale about it.

I hope to be able to share that story with you soon…

The Fastest Way to a Woman’s Heart is with a New Toilet Seat

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One annoying thing about toddlers is that you have to strap a “potty seat” to your toilet when they transition from diapers to going pee and poop on the potty.  For the uninitiated, let me quickly explain a potty seat.  It’s a smaller toilet seat that snaps onto the regular sized toilet seat.  The hole, for lack of a better term, is much smaller on the potty seat so your toddler doesn’t fall into the toilet when they are doing their doody.

There is a little less than a four year gap between our oldest and youngest child, so for several years, we had a potty seat that was contantly being snapped on and popped off of the toilet.  This put an excessive amount of wear and tear on the white seat we had.  After years of putting the seat on and pulling it off, four brown spots developed on the toilet seat.  All that happened was the white paint wore off, exposing some sort of wooden composite material.  A less technical explanation would be the potty seat made it look like there were permanent poop stains on the toilet seat.

Those aren't poop stains

Those aren’t poop stains

My wife hated it.  She constantly bugged me to replace the toilet seat.  There was nothing wrong with it.  No one was getting splinters in their butt cheeks on the rubbed down spots, so I didn’t see this as a pressing issue.  This weekend, my wife ramped up the intensity of her nagging.  It was quite impressive.  Some of her best lines were, “I’m embarrassed to even have my mother over,” and “Bacteria is growing on the seat.”  She’s dead on about the bacteria growing on the seat.  The two boys spraying urine everywhere except into the toilet bowl makes sure of this.  Seeing that the nagging was getting her nowhere, my wife appealed to a stronger urge.  My wife said, “If you go to get a new toilet seat, we can stop and pick up some bagels on the way.”

After I agreed to get a new toilet seat, I realized this meant I had to remove the old one.  This was the real reason I was dragging my heels on switching the toilet seat.  I knew this would be a brutal job.  With my oldest son, Bob the Builder, serving as a plumber’s assistant, it was time to get down and dirty.

There are two flaps at the base of the toilet seat that I had to lift up to expose the screws.  Underneath that flap was a pile of crystalized urine.  I was able to get the screws loose, but there were two wing-nuts underneath the toilet lid.  Like an idiot, I reached underneath to hold them in place while I unscrewed the bolt.  My bare hands came in contact with a greenish yellow gooey substance.  The urine was somehow melting the metal.  GROSS!

Once the seat was removed, two amber colored crystalized urine spots where the lid was attached were exposed.  I had to use the flat head screwdriver to scrape this stain off because industrial strength cleaners didn’t work.  After the base of the toilet was finally cleaned off, I took the old seat and made my way to the hardware store.  My oldest son, Bob the Builder, assisted me on this journey.

I felt a little awkward carrying around the old toilet seat in the hardware store, but Bob the Builder strutted through the aisles with purpose.  He was a little man on a mission.  We located the toilet section and quickly matched our old toilet seat with a new, pristine seat exactly the same size.

When Bob the Builder and I returned home, my wife made sure we reported immediately to the bathroom.  Quickly, Bob and I installed the new seat.  My wife was beside herself with joy.  With the exception of the birth of our three children, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her happier.  The whole day she bounded around the house talking about the new magnificent toilet seat.  She celebrated as each child broke the seat in.  My daughter took the first poop on the seat.  My youngest son was the first one to lift up the seat and pee into the toilet.  My oldest son, Bob the Builder, was held in high regard because he was the one who picked out the magnificent, glowing white toilet seat.

The Sparkling Throne

The Sparkling Throne

Maybe in a new relationship, flowers, chocolate, or diamonds are the way to impress a woman.  After ten years of marriage, the fastest way to a woman’s heart is with a new toilet seat.

Cleaning Behind a Car Seat is Disturbing

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My children are disgusting.  I suppose I am partly to blame for what I recently discovered in the van, but I was reminded once again that all the food that we give to our children while we’re driving doesn’t end up going in their mouths.

My little helper

My little helper

On one car seat, the clasp broke.  I had to remove the defective car seat and put in a new one.  When I crawled into the back seat of the family van, I was horrified by the things I saw.  I lifted out the old car seat, and there were tons of crumbs and other partially eaten remnants smooched into the folds of the van.  Buried in every crack and crevice were goldfish crackers, half melted fruit snacks, blackened banana peels, apple cores, Golden Graham shrapnel, and countless Honey Nut Cheerios.

I retreated to the house for some high powered artillery:  an extension cord, and my Dyson DC41 Animal Vacuum.  My four year old son, Ivan the Terrible, came outside to help.  I plugged the vacuum in an sucked up all the debris.  Ivan joined me in the van and “helped out” by honking the horn repeatedly as I worked.  It took me quite a while to get in every nook and cranny, but I thought I cleaned up everything.  Ivan got on his belly and crawled into the back seat to inspect my work.  He squirmed out from under the back seat and held up one last Honey Nut Cherrio.  I asked him to give it to me, but he ate it instead.

Once, I Was A Zombie – Wisdom Teeth Story Time

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I know what it takes to turn a human into a zombie.  I’m speaking from experience because I was dangerously close to being “patient zero.”  All it takes is a mix of laughing gas, novocaine, and getting your wisdom teeth drilled out of your jaw, and you’ll be drooling blood in a Walgreens parking lot in no time!

Patient Zero

Patient Zero

Way back in ’93, when I was in high school, my stupid wisdom teeth decided to impact themselves under my current molars.  When this happens, there really is only one option for a dentist.  They have to drill into your mouth under or above your current teeth to break apart the wisdom teeth, and then pull the shards out of the holes that were just drilled.

My mother, a former teacher, made sure that this appointment occurred during winter break, so I didn’t miss any school.  She’s a thoughtful one.  I strolled into the dentist’s office on New Year’s Eve because I shouldn’t miss school when I can miss out on festive celebrations.

We arrived at the office and for the only time in my life, I was whisked into the dentist’s office immediately.  There was no wait once I sat in the dreaded dentist’s chair either.  First, they hit me with the laughing gas.  Dazed, but not totally disorientated, they went ahead with the novocaine injections into all four sides of the back of my mouth.  After my mouth was sufficiently numb, it was time to work.

I don’t really remember that much of the surgery except for the fact that I could feel warm blood pooling in the back of my throat.  In my drug induced state I also thought I smelled something burning when they drilled into my teeth.  That could be wrong.  Maybe the dentist or dental hygienist was on a smoke break before it was time to work on me.  I know the laughing gas had some effect on my cognitive abilities.  I had my eyes closed during the procedure and to keep my mind occupied, I tried to count how many people were in the room by the tone of their voice.  I got up to three when I had a revelation. Hey, I have eyes.  I can open them and see how many people are in here.

After who knows how much time, they stuffed some cotton balls in my mouth and sent me on my way.  My only instructions were to keep biting down on the cotton balls, and don’t spit.  I know there’s plenty of salty jokes I could work in this story right about now, but I’ll just move on…

On the way back home, my mother stopped at Walgreens to pick up some pain killers.   I was glad she decided to stop right away, because the novocaine was wearing off.   As I sat in the car, waiting for my mother to return, I could feel my pulse in my jaw, but what was even worse was, the cotton balls were saturated with blood and saliva.  The blood started to leak into my mouth.  I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to spit, but swallowing the pool of blood that was rising above my tongue was not an ideal solution.

I was left with only one option to rid myself of the rising tide of bloody saliva.  I stepped out of the car, walked between two mini vans, to give myself some cover, and scanned the area for any pedestrians.  Then, I leaned my head over and let the blood and spit drool out of my mouth.  The deep red viscous substance oozed onto the frozen concrete.  It took so long for all the blood to fall out that I didn’t notice a couple approach.  Before I could shut my mouth and turn away, they saw me.

Pale white face, glazed eyes, hunched over body, with a stream of blood pouring out of my mouth, I looked like the undead.  Thankfully, they didn’t scream.

Story Time – My First Home Run

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This summer, I started playing baseball in league for washed up players who can’t let go.  Of course, I want to hit a home run, but I doubt I will.  Playing again did remind me of my first ever collegiate home run.  When most baseball players hit their first high school or collegiate home run, it’s memorable for good reasons.  My first over the fence home run didn’t quite end up that way.

Look at that serious home run face!

Look at that serious home run face!

During my freshman year of college, I tried out for the baseball team at UW-Oshkosh.  The best part about tryouts was all we did was play games.  The coaches would make teams, and all fall we just played against our teammates.

I knew my chances at making the team were thin, just like me.  Back then, I wasn’t that big of a guy.  I was about six foot one, but I probably only weighed 30 pounds.  Another factor against me was I was what they call a “walk-on”.  This means I wasn’t recruited by the coaches to play baseball.  Thankfully, I made it through the first week of cuts.  The coaches must have seen something in me, because they started working one on one with me.  The hitting coach made me change my batting stance, and how I held the bat.

The next game after I had my one on one coaching session, I was penciled in as the starting left fielder and hit seventh in the order.  The pitcher we faced was a sidearmer.  His fastball was pretty nasty.  It tailed like crazy as it came darting in towards the plate.  The first two innings, he mowed down all of the batters he faced in order.

Right before I was to lead off the third inning, the pitcher from our team, Tom Petri, told us to start getting some hits.  Petri was a great collegiate pitcher, and actually played in the minor leagues after college for two years.  I don’t remember how he knew me back then since he was a Senior and I was a Freshman, but Tom talked to me right before my at bat.  “Tief,” he said.  “Get a hit.”

I trotted up to the batters box and got myself mentally ready.  I wanted to get a better read on the sidearmer’s fastball, so I took the first pitch.  The catcher called balls and strikes since this was a practice game.  The first pitch was way outside, but the catcher called it a strike.  What a load of crap, that call was, I thought to myself.  Well, at least I knew one thing.  I’d better be swinging up here.

The pitcher wound up for the next pitch, unfurled his body and hurled a low and inside tailing fastball.  I swung hard, whipping the bat down at the pitch and totally crushed the ball high and deep down the left field line.  Normally, when I pull the ball, it tails way foul, so I stood in the batters box after I hit the ball.

My majestic blast hung right on the line and was so high it went over the top of the foul pole.  The catcher didn’t say fair or foul, so I just stood in the batter’s box like an idiot.  Finally, the head coach broke the silence,  “Start running!  Who do you think you are?  Barry Bonds?”

It was fair.  I just hit a home run.  I sprinted around the bases and then headed back into the dugout. Petri was laughing, along with the rest of the players.  “What were you doing out there?” he asked.  I just shrugged my shoulders.  They all laughed some more.

– David Tiefenthaler

Story Time – We Have That Kid

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My wife is a very patient and caring mother, but a recent event with Ivan the Terrible pushed her to the edge.  She now refers to our youngest son as That Kid.

Oh, you're the parent of That Kid.

Oh, you’re the parent of That Kid.

Ivan is four years old, and if there is any window of opportunity for him to wreak havoc, he will break through that window, and then torch the whole building for good measure.

Across the street from our house is a huge empty lot where dump trucks unload piles of dirt.  We’ve had plenty of rain the past few weeks, and some of the water has pooled in between the mounds of dirt.

My oldest son, Bob the Builder, ran into our garage and took scrap lumber over to the empty lot.  He put the lumber down an created a bridge that crossed the wide muddy pit.

Ivan the Terrible didn’t think of these wooden planks over the soggy mud puddle as a bridge.  He called it a diving board.  Ivan walked on the planks into the center of the mud puddle and did a cannonball.  Mud flew everywhere.  Ivan then stood up in the middle of the mud, grabbed mud from the edge of puddle, and threw it at any kid that came near.

Bob ran back to our house and ratted out Ivan.  “Mom, Dad!  Ivan is jumping all over like a crazy person in the mud and he’s throwing it at everyone.”  We walked across the street to extract Ivan from the mud pit.

The only way I could hold Ivan and not get muddy was to extend my arms out as far as possible.  I walked back home holding my mud covered child like I would carry a stinky, poop filled diaper.

That’s when my wife lost it.  “Just look at you, Ivan!” she shouted.  “You’re a hot mess.  Why do you have to be That Kid?  Now we’ve got to hose you down.”

I stripped off Ivan’s mud soaked clothes.  Lisa turned on the hose and blasted him with it, head to toe.  Ivan shouted, “Its too cold!” and made a break for it.  He ran butt naked across the front yard.  I chased the streaking Ivan down, snatched him and brought him back to the hose.  After he was relatively clean, we took That Kid in the house for a bath.

When I was sitting in the bathroom as Ivan took a bath, I asked him, “Why’d you jump in the mud, Ivan?”

He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and said, “I had my water shoes on.”

– Dave

Story Time – Don’t Take Your Kids to Fancy Restaurants

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You know what’s worse than sticking a fork into your own eyeball?  Taking three kids, ages four, six, and seven to a sit down restaurant.

We recently went  on a mini-vacation.  When we arrived at the hotel, my immediate thought was, hooray, we get to eat out for dinner.   There was a Taco Bell right next to our hotel, but we thought we should take the kids out to a nicer restaurant.  Right across the street was the Olive Garden.  My wife, Lisa, and I thought that the kids would love it there.  Salad, breadsticks, pasta.  These are all things that the kids think are delicious.

I don't think they like their food.

I don’t think they like their food.

Unfortunately, our three children were not impressed.  First, they didn’t like the salad.  Included in an Olive Garden salad is a peperoncini, which is a pickled hot pepper.  My four year old, Ivan the Terrible, bit into a peperoncini.  He obviously didn’t expect it to be hot because immediately after the juice hit his tongue he started howling in pain.

Yet another reason why my children were irritated with our choice of restaurant was we had to wait for the food to come out.  The salad and breadsticks didn’t do much for them, so they proceeded to whine about having no food.  The seven year old, Bob the Builder, kept repeating, “They’re way faster at McDonalds.”

Finally, the food arrived, but yet again, our children were disappointed.  We gave them all some calamari, and they didn’t take to it as much as we thought they would.   Lisa then made the mistake of telling our kids that calamari is actually squid.  “Eew, gross,” my six year old daughter, The Flower Child, complained.  The Flower Child hated her lasagna too.  She told my wife, “It’s not good like the lasagna you make, Mommy.”

I loved the food.  Since the kids didn’t eat that much, I was plowed through my plate and then theirs too.  Everything was great in my book until I got the bill.  That’s when I decided that taking the kids out to a nicer restaurant was a bad idea.  Food for five at the Olive Garden is a heck of a lot more expensive than eating fast food.

– Dave

What about your experiences taking kids out to eat at a nice place.  Did it go well?  Any horror stories?  Please share!

Tough Mudder Chicago

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Hey everyone!  I just finished the Tough Mudder Chicago this weekend.  For Christmas, my wife bought me this really cool camera called the GoPro 3.  You can wear it on your body and tape you doing stupid things like running an 11 mile race with 22 obstacles and tons of mud.

You can watch my experience right here.

– Dave