Author describes trading city life for the farm
by Clarke Davis
June Hilbert was a city girl with no farm background. But she was wooed by a farmer and has spent almost 30 years chasing after cows that were on the wrong side of the fence or having trouble birthing a calf.
Those experiences have led to a book, which she will autograph in Valley Falls Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Delaware Township Library during Grasshopper Falls Day activities.
The book’s title describes her life, “From High Heels to Gumboots.” Its subtitle “One cow pie at a time” defines her sense of humor as she good-naturedly goes through life learning new lessons in rural Kansas.
June grew up in Burlingame, a small rural town, and she had two sets of grandparents still on the farm. However, her only experience with farm animals was accompanying one grandmother out to the chicken house to gather eggs.
After attendng Emporia State and Kansas State universities, she landed a job at Capitol Federal’s home office in Topeka and went about living her life void of cows and calves and cow manure.
That would end in 1985 with her marriage to Bill Hilbert, an entomologist employed by the state Department of Agriculture. He lived west of Valley Falls and always ran a few head of cattle on 10 acres. They began their married life there, but soon moved to new quarters northeast of Grantville where the acres and cattle numbers have greatly increased.
The couple met through their mutual interests in physical fitness. June was a runner and Bill was an early organizer of the Topeka Tinman Triathlon. A friend told Bill to check June out: “She’s got great legs!” he said.
Bill did check her out, got her phone number, and before long had arranged a date.
“What are you doing?” she asked him.
“I’m blanching cauliflower and broccoli,” he replied.
Being the romantic guy he was, Bill presented his date with a bouquet of broccoli when he picked her up.
“The head on the broccoli was as big as dinner plate,” she said.
The other women in her office told her, “He’s a keeper.”
Her Capitol Federal family had a sense of humor as well. She called her boss one morning and said she would be late. She was chasing cows that had gotten out and could not possibly be to work on time.
After she got to her desk, the elevator on her floor opened and a corporate choir came out and sang, “Home on the Range.”
The author began writing about episodes in her life in 2009 and these soon became chapters for a book. The book is about life, a rural life that begins every day with new experiences. It might be pulling a tractor to get it started or baling hay — in July — instead of celebrating your anniversary or taming a wild, fence-jumping cow from Oklahoma with feed cubes.
How do you get an orphaned calf to be accepted by a mother cow? How does one come to grips with the fact that on a farm the work is never done? Which is better, restaurant beef or the steak you are raising?
She answers these questions and doesn’t disappoint the readers who want a dose of sex. One chapter is titled “Bovine Dating and Mating Habits.”
Hilbert will conduct book signings from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Art Walk in North Topeka and from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Grantville Community Center.
Short URL: http://www.jeffcountynews.com/?p=14676