It’s All Downhill From Here

The weekend farm report comes to us from Ben.

Our farm is in the “gently rolling hills” of SE MN. I have one field that is mostly flat and that’s on the low ground by Silver Creek and is in the Conservation Reserve program. The rest of the farm, the valleys, and the shape of our farm, is primarily the result of hundreds and thousands of years of water erosion. Its beginning was hundreds of millions of years ago and the seas that covered the area and created the limestone layers that eventually I played on as a kid. (Thank you Dr. John Tacinelli and the class MN Rocks and Waters for teaching me that). The topographical map in the header photo is part of our farm; the closer the lines, the steeper the slope. All those lines also mean our ground is considered highly erodible, which is why we use conservation tillage practices and crop rotation.

Also, when we get freezing rain, every step is treacherous. Everything seems to be downhill from wherever I am. Course then it’s all uphill back.

Those thousands of years of erosion are still happening… heavy rains or spring melt and there’s quite the stream coming down through our place. It’s impressive to think about the total area it might be draining; roughly 70 acres doing a quick Google Map distance check.

Last Saturday morning it was warm and the snow was melting and we’d had a little rain and I could hear the water rushing through the culvert under the field road down in the swamp.

Later in the day, the snow melt had grown in volume and was over the road.

The culvert is mostly frozen yet, so it didn’t take too much more to overload it. But since the ground was frozen it didn’t hurt anything. Later in the day the runoff slowed and it was back in place.  When I was a kid there wasn’t a road here, we had to go off through the pastures to get to those fields. And my siblings talk about skating on the pond down there. I think I even caught a crawdad down there once. Then dad put in some old culverts and made the road, and when that washed out, I had a better culvert put in.

Sometime last week we lost two more poufy ducks. Then the next day one was back! Pretty beat up, moving slow, and all bloody, but back. We started calling him Lazarus. He’d be gone one day and back the next. We couldn’t get too close, but we could see he had something wrong with his bill. One day I went to get corn for the ducks and when I came out of the feed room, he was right there. I gave him some corn and got him some water. He seemed like he wanted our help. To leave the other ducks, go off by himself, and come that close to us… the ducks don’t normally do that. He drank some water; I used the hose and ran some water near him and sprayed a little on him. He seemed to appreciate that. Then he let me pick him up and I could see he had a chunk tore off his bottom beak. I didn’t want to try cutting it off yet. I put him in the feedroom with food and water so he could just rest. Kelly went down at noon and checked on him and talked with him, and I went down after work and he’d died. Shucks. I wonder if he came to us for help, or as animals do, was he looking to go off on his own because he knew he was dying? We hate to lose one, but it’s worse when we’ve been helping and we get attached to them.

Township elections and the Annual Meeting was last Tuesday. The second Tuesday in March is ‘Township Day’ and all 1780 townships in MN have elections and annual meetings that day. A township is the rural equivalent of the city council. Townships provide or coordinate road maintenance, fire protection, law enforcement, and whatever other issues may arise. It might be property boundary issues or animals at large.  Usually, it’s a pretty low turn out and a pretty quiet meeting, which means we’re doing alright. When there’s a crowd, there’s usually a problem.

You’re up for election. What position did you win?

50 thoughts on “It’s All Downhill From Here”

  1. Proud to have remained elective-office-free since 1994, when I was the president of our homeowners’ association in Bloomington. Ugh! never again.

    Chris in Owatonna

    *BSP* Don’t forget, I’ll be at Sweet Reads Books in Austin today from 11-2. It’s a great day for a day trip if you live within an hour or two of Austin. Think of all the fun: books, the SPAM Museum, the Hormel House, Hormel Nature Preserve, Piggy Blues BBQ, the Coffee House on Main, walking trails all over town. Come on down. It’ll be fun! 🙂 *end BSP*

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’d like to be elected to attend all the rock concerts and hang out with the lighting crews.

    Or maybe elected as the vacation President and have to go see places. Really? Well, if you insist.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Without a doubt, I am running for Dogcatcher. If I lose that race I will toss my hat in the ring for Town Crier.

    Dogcatcher: I will take the animals home with me and become an animal hoarder.

    Town Crier: As a shrink I have learned to Never.Tell.Anything.To.Anyone. As Town Crier I will tell no one a word. Easiest job ever.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Interesting post Ben. The terrain of farms which appear flat to the eye, is generally quite uneven and varied especially when you are so close to it as a farmer becomes. I became aware of this at age 12 when my younger cousin and I drove out to the field with the afternoon “coffee” (actually, an entire meal) while the men were haying. My cousin, age 11, whose legs scarcely reached the pedals, drove the manual transmission car. I have related this story before to you, but it is an enduring memory that makes Ben’s point. The lane out to the hay field was filled with potholes and ridges, little hills and dales. The dairy cows also walked back to the barn for milking twice a day on this path. Their traffic left a low area that one side of the car drifted into. This trip was marked with great lurches and jerks, up and down over the 1/2 mile distance to the field. There we unloaded a thermos of coffee and Mel Mac cups, (they drank this in the heat), a basket of sandwiches, and an entire cake. Next came two urns of ice water and plastic picnic glasses that the men drank immediately. They wiped all this out quickly and we re-loaded the containers back into the trunk and lurched and jerked back to Grandma’s kitchen.

      There is no such thing as a flat field.

      Liked by 5 people

  4. One of my younger coworkers suggested last week that I run for the state legislature. I told her that would never happen. The Democrats are in sad disarray here, and the I can’t tolerate the Republicans.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Board member, or in one case, Pres. of the Board. And my predecessor told me “all you have to do is come up with each monthly meeting’s agenda”. Hummmppphhh. They don’t tell you about the personality clashes between members, and how anytime someone has any little thing on their mind about the organization, it’s you they ask.

    A lot of the job, in my mind, is figuring out who needs to know what, and when. I’ll wake up realizing “Oh, this person doesn’t know that thing yet.”

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I have been elected to our church council. I was appointed to the regulatory board by the governor, but the board members voted me to be president of the Board.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Responsible for the bananas? Sounds like a Baboon event. How long are you responsible? When they turn brown do you have to report it?

          Liked by 4 people

        2. Much as I’d hate to be in charge of the bananas, I think it would be worse to be in charge of the avocados. The window of opportunity for using them seems to be damn near impossible to pinpoint.

          Liked by 4 people

  7. No more elected offices for me either. I was on the steering committee, then the board of directors of the Cannon River Watershed Partnership back in the 1990s. I served as board secretary for seven years and was also on the executive committee. They have watered that organization down quite a bit from what we had originally visualized. I’m not even a member anymore. I think they re-named it too. Now it’s just River Partners or something similar. I did learn a lot about erosion, agricultural drain/pattern tiling, run-off and sedimentation of rivers, lakes and streams though.

    After leaving the board of the Cannon River Watershed Partnership, I jumped to the very freeform and much more entertaining board of Rock Bend Folk Festival. No rules of order were ever even mentioned and John G had been elected “president for life” long before I was ever even on the committee. There were no other officers, just happy hippies. And lots of pizza and beer. And music! Great music! Being on that board was a lot of fun, as well as a lot of work. I haven’t the energy anymore. I’ve lost a lot of computer skills so I can’t be a secretary anymore anyhow, and I wouldn’t make a good leader. So I guess that part of my life is over, and I’m okay with that!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, and for the musicians too! Most of the volunteers would eat anything but some of the musicians were really picky. They would write in their rider/contract specific dietary needs or wishes. Some items were simply add-ons such as batteries for guitar pick-ups or a bottle of bourbon, etc. But if we signed the contract, we had to provide all those things. We would usually red-line those little things out, explain that we were a nonprofit and didn’t charge a gate or ticket fee, then sign and mail back. Very rarely any kickback. But yes, I was responsible for all the food. Trudi took care of the beer and 1919 root beer kegs but I had to get the water. We were using a lot of shameful plastic bottles for water and finally decided to get Culligan water coolers for a week’s rent. When I finally put my foot down about the food, the committee hired the St Peter Food Co-op to cater all the food. It ended up being cheaper and much less work. Yay, Co-op! Nobody on that committee has to work that hard anymore. The new pavilion in the park includes a stage that is built in. There’s plenty of room in the pavilion to pull the bands and all the electrical stuff under the roof in case of rain, so no more stage building or canopy set up. They still set up the North Grove stage from our prebuilt stage forms as well as the Info Booth, but that is only about 1/4 of the work we used to do. It’s all a lot less physical work now, which is good since the committee is getting older. They’re trying to get younger people on board. There are three younger ones now. I loved doing it and it was honestly the most fun I think I’ve ever had in my life, but I’m glad not to do it anymore.

        Liked by 5 people

  8. Elected positions mean meetings. The trouble with formal meetings is that invariably there are people who enjoy them. It reminds me of the admonition against wrestling with a pig (you get dirty and the pig enjoys it).
    With any luck, I’ll never have to sit through another formal meeting.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. You must not have heard that we are having a Formal Baboon Meeting when I return to MN. YOU WERE ELECTED PRESIDENT and will be running the meeting!

      Liked by 5 people

    2. I have come to the conclusion after 45 years in corporate America that meetings are the worst idea that anyone ever thought of in business.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. Sorry, Ben, for the sad loss of two more pouffy ducks, especially the one that lingered on. That would be hard to watch.

    I’m too old and crotchety to be in any danger of anyone electing me to anything. That’s a good thing for everyone involved.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. I was thinking that if I were elected as princess of glitter but that would be good, but then someone would want me to make decisions about somebody else’s glitter use and then I’d have to hear about how someone thought that there should be more blue glitter than pink glitter and already I have a headache. No elections for me either.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. We have a real good townboard; and we all get along and pretty much see things realistically. Roads are our biggest concern and the residents have shown us they’re willing to pay more to be sure we keep the roads in good shape. (Most are gravel so it’s grading and dust control). There are blacktop roads in the subdivisions so the residents are directly assessed for them. However just in the last 2 years we’ve acquired about a mile of road that’s blacktop so I guess we’re all paying for maintenance of that now.

      When there’s trees down or trash in the ditch I know I can count on the other guys to help out. It might depend on time of day as a couple work days and a couple of us have pretty flexible schedules. The other day when John and I were out picking up some stuff (Me with one arm and John with a new hip. It’s a good thing one of the neighbors stopped to help) we laughed we need some new, younger, retired guys to get on the board.

      Liked by 5 people

  11. A friend of mine was elected town clerk of her township in rural Wisconsin a little over two years ago. After weathering a pandemic and the 2020 presidential election, she was immensely relieved to lay her burden down and have someone else pick it up.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. groucho marx summed it up
        i wouldn’t want to be involved in any organization who would have someone like me as a member

        i hate committees and am a terrible team member
        elect me to be overseer of committees and who’s on which and what they’ll do

        i can crack a whip and get it done
        if they don’t i’ll do it

        i built some houses and was the president of the homeowners association
        i sold the house and quit

        was on the board of my local dfl precinct until i was late for a meeting and got voted out
        best thing that could have happened

        i can’t believe what politicians and such have to put up with
        not for me

        never again

        elect me king

        i know what needs to be done just don’t want to argue with morons about it

        when i work people are always impressed with what gets done
        when they watch and want input it’s a problem

        Liked by 4 people

  12. A Deer’s Death in November

    By the time I saw him, he’d crawled
    onto the sharp black rocks buttressing the pier
    looming four feet above him. Just

    a yearling with two small prongs for antlers,
    he’d swum the frigid harbor for hours,
    seeking a foothold onto dry land. His body

    quaked in the throes of a cold – and perhaps
    a fear – so deep that the power to rise
    had drained away. I covered his flank

    in blankets and tried to urge him into one
    last effort. But, though his eyes remained
    bright and unclouded, he had no strength.

    Two hunters, more interested in saving him
    then adding to their bounty, half lifted, half
    dragged him high onto the pier until he stood.

    But his right rear hoof dangled
    like a spent rose, and he soon collapsed.
    We wound a strap around his forelegs

    and hauled him to land, rubbed him down
    to quicken his blood, begged him to lift himself.
    And his head did rise but sank again,

    as the silky dusk hovered in, and thick, moist
    flakes began to fall. In one final gesture,
    I placed a corner of the blanket under his nose

    that rested on the frozen ground. And then,
    we walked away, the hunters and I,
    to let him fall into that warm, gentle sleep,

    which was his desire now, which was his fate.
    As if there were a choice – whether to take
    the swift, true shot as he grazed on the last

    green blades in the field; or somehow, to lose
    his bearings and search hours – or a lifetime –
    to find a way, and then relinquish it all in the end.

    – Nancy Raeburn

    Liked by 3 people

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