Category Archives: 2022

Lobbying for a Hobby?

This is the last State Fair update, I swear.  Until next year anyway.

On opening day of the fair, I always go by myself.  I go where I want, do what I want and don’t have to give a moment’s thought.  This way I can spend as much time in the Fine Arts Building and the Education Building as I like.  Over the years I’ve discovered that most everyone else does not have enough  tolerance for how much time I can spend looking at dioramas made by 2nd graders, woodworking projects by junior high kids and robots built by high schoolers. 

I also spend a lot of time looking at the quilting projects.  I love looking at quilting – it is just fascinating to me.  Taking all those smaller pieces of fabric and imagining a bigger piece of art.  A little bit like crop art, now that I stop and think about it.  Every year I walk slowly through the entire quilting section; I particularly like the “Quilt on a Stick”.

Quilt on a Stick

Then I always spend the next hour thinking about taking up quilting as a hobby.  Where I could take some beginner classes, where I would put the frame, what kind of cabinet for fabric.  It takes about an hour before I shake it off.  I always have more than one time and space-swallowing hobby!  My paper crafting takes up an entire room my of house.  The number of kitchen toys I own (fancy-dancy pans, fondue pots, ramekins, apple peelers, salad spinners) necessitated a huge shelf in the basement.  My gardening stuff takes up the back wall of my garage.  I really do NOT need another hobby. 

Unfortunately this year YA wanted to do the Education Building on one of the days we went together, so I got to see the quilts twice.

Then I needed to talk myself off the ledge.  Again!

Any hobbies you’ve toyed with starting?

Is It Fall Already?

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

The days are clearly getting shorter. It’s a little discouraging it’s already dark by 8PM. The barn swallows have moved on and the hummingbirds seem to be gone. Maybe the RedWing Blackbirds too. I do enjoy fall. I really like the change of seasons and fall and spring are my favorites. I enjoy the fieldwork and planting crops in the spring, and then fall and the harvest and doing that fieldwork and completing the cycle for another year. Not everyone in the house appreciates the earlier darkness and cooler temps. It’s all good.

Healthwise I’m improving. After feeling like I plateaued a few weeks ago, I can tell a difference again. Got the kidney stone removed a couple weeks ago. Got the stent they placed after that removed the other day (Lots of new experiences!) I can stand on one foot for a few seconds. Left knee will hurt until I get it replaced, but I’m walking better and driving and even climbed up on a box to reach something the other day. I even went to the car with both hands full one morning! AND I stepped over the dog in the kitchen! Getting there!

The sandhill cranes were out in the pasture this past Thursday. It was really nice to see them. Thanks to Steve for sending them our way…

Header photo is neighbor Dave’s cows. Kelly took a walk one night and was talking to them.

Chickens and big ducks are doing well. I went out to do chores and they came running.

We’re having a tough time with the ducklings. Down to two.

The one with the bad leg didn’t make it. And one day I let three out, and an hour later, one of them was dead. I don’t know. Fingers crossed for these two.

Crops are looking good. Corn stalks are starting to dry out and the kernels are dented. There’s still milk in the kernels, but it is coming along.

Multiply the rows around (16) and kernels in the length (36) = 576 kernels on this ear. Then we count the number of ears in 17.5’ (remember we counted the plants this spring. That’s 1/1000th of an acre) and it will vary, but roughly 30 ears per 17.5’, x 1000 = 30,000 x 576 = 17,280,000 kernels / acre divided by 80,000 kernels / bushel and that gives us 216 bushels / acre. Which is way too high for my farm on average. Factor in the deer damage, corn on the edges that the trees impact, ears that aren’t so good, hope for a late freeze, and well, we’ll see at harvest. But it does look like a decent crop this year.

Who were your neighbors when you were growing up?

Midnight Flight

One of my colleagues was excited last week for the arrival of her mother for a visit from Washington State. She was flying from Spokane to Bismarck via Minneapolis, arriving in Bismarck on the midnight Delta flight.

There are very few commercial airports in ND, and very few commercial carriers that come into the State. I knew exactly what the midnight flight into Bismarck is like. The airport terminal is almost dark, nothing is open, and all the airline counters are closed. There are a couple of lighted offices, and one or two rental car desks whose occupants look exhausted. The long term parking kiosk is closed, so you better have exact change for your parking bill, or else a debit/credit card.

It is sort of comforting, sort of odd to live in such a remote place and know the details of these things so well. I wonder what it will be like to move back to Luverne when I retire, and what new things I will learn, and what old things are still there.

What communities are you the most familiar with? How have they changed for better or worse over the years? What are some of the more interesting airports you have been in?

Mysteries of Life

When I was visiting my mom mid-August, we talked about the State Fair – more than once.  She wanted to know about all the things that I like to do, which is funny since Nonny would hate the State Fair.  In fact, it would be a toss-up as to which of my parents would hate the State Fair the most.  Probably my dad.  I’m not sure where my genetic pre-disposition to loving the fair came from… certainly not from either Nonny or JB.

The food, the things for sale, the animal barns and the pet pavilion are easy to explain.  Crop art was harder to explain and when I got around to the Butterheads, I was really at a loss.  I’m not sure it ever made sense to Nonny.  Truly when you think about it, how could it make sense to anyone who hasn’t seen it.

Dairy Princess and her court having their heads carved into huge chunks of butter over the course of the fair?  Sounds clear enough, typed out like this, but it wasn’t that easy to explain to my mother.  I did send her the above photo a few days ago but she hasn’t responded yet.  She’s probably still shaking her head over how I “turned out” after she so carefully raised me!

What’s the latest mystery you’ve read?

Corn Fed

I remember the first time I saw someone take a picture of their food about 20 years ago.  It was dinner with a client at Swan Court, at the Hyatt in Maui.  It was a lovely evening and we were seated outside along the lagoon when we noticed a young couple sitting close to us taking photos of their plates before tucking in.  The client and I were too polite to laugh out loud, but we did roll our eyes and we talked about it more than once over the next two days. 

Little did we know that we were witnessing the beginning of a worldwide trend.  These days social media is filled with pictures of people’s snacks, meals, drinks…. any edible will do.  For this trend, YA is all in; we can’t ever eat anywhere without the obligatory photo before she begins to eat.  And often I have to move my plate or my glass or my coffee cup so it doesn’t mess up her photo.

State Fair is about the only time I join in the food photo frenzy.  Cheese curds and cookies subtitled “Breakfast of Champions” got texted to several friends.  My pretty Margarita lemonade made the cut as well as the French Toast Bites but most of my comestibles went undocumented.  YA took photos of everything, including her roasted corn in the photo above. 

Considering how common food photos are these days, I was really surprised when a woman standing near YA said in a loud voice “Oh it’s just food.  Eat it already!”  YA just ignored her; as the aggrieved mother, I was mustering up a zinger for this woman but she had already disappeared into the crowd.  I was really stunned by this, first because YA wasn’t obstructing any traffic at all and second because taking pictures of food is so very common these days.  I can only surmise that this poor woman had been driven to distraction by her kids that day at the fair, keeping her from all her first bites of fair food by taking photo after photo!

Tell me one of your favorite corn recipes!

Fair Eats

My stomach was a little unsettled yesterday.  Not actual distress… just feeling a little sensitive.  I suppose after five days of fair food, it’s only to be expected.  Especially Sunday.  In looking back, except for the cookies and the Hawaiian shave ice, every single thing I ate was fried.  Yikes.

I’m blaming a lot of this on YA and the State Fair marketing types.  For years YA and I have gotten our coupon booklets ahead of time; we used to go through them on the bus on the way to the fair but last year and this year, YA went through a week in advance and put post-it notes on the foods she was interested in.  Then the marketing types sent us an email listing all the new foods for 2022.  YA perused this seriously and then made a list.  Yep, she’s my daughter, isn’t she?!

A few items got listed after I took the photo and what you also don’t see is that each night that we got home from the fair, she highlighted any of the foods we’d eaten during the day.  Truly the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

It will be much easier to tell you what we DIDN’T get to.  We passed the vegan corn dog trailer more than once but it never seemed the right moment.  I’ll try harder next year if they come back.  We did want to try the sweet potato poutine but you have to really want it to stand in the lines at The Blue Barn in the afternoon.  We stopped at the global market for arepas and moletes but neither of them looked that good so we tried something else.  And even though YA put the tirokroketes on the list, she was never in the mood when we passed Dino’s.  She also decided against the cotton candy float.

Some of the items got multiple tastings (cookies and Hawaiian Shave Ice are daily staples) and cheese curds, of course.  We hit the fried blueberry pie more than once – it was a new food and it was terrific.  Cheesy Siracha Funnel Cake Bites (way better than you’re imagining), Fried Pickles and Roasted Corn are favorites.  We got the pickle pizza on the first Saturday before it went viral; the lines were blocks long in both directions on Sunday.  It was fun but again not worth standing in line that long.  In fact, I always buy my cookies in the first hour and put most of them in a Tupperware that I raid as the day goes on, because I can’t do the afternoon lines. 

Just reading through all of this had made me realize that as much as I love the fair, it’s probably a good thing it only happens once a year.  It might take my stomach until next year to recover!

When was the last time you got carried away with anything?

Crop Art Budgers

One of the things that Steve and I had in common was our love of crop art.  I’m not dissin’ other kinds of art, but crop art is just amazing.  Seeing how crop artists can blend grains and seeds to make beautiful works wows me every year.

Normally I visit the crop art on one of my alone days at the Fair but this year YA consented to go with me.  For those of you who haven’t seen the crop art at the Minnesota State Fair, the exhibit is along the far wall of the farm crop room in the Agriculture building.  Because everyone likes to look at every piece of art on the wall and table, there is almost always a line.  If you squeeze through, you can stand behind everyone else as they peruse the art.  Unfortunately most of the folks who squeeze through then push their way to the front which makes the wait for those in line even longer.  Why people will stand in line politely (more or less) for a slice of pickle pizza or a pronto pup, but they can’t bring themselves to wait for crop art, I don’t know.  Maybe if we called is crop art on a stick…

I’ve waited in line every year and experienced this phenomena over and over again.  I don’t like it, but I can’t see that it’s something I can fix.  YA had no such compunction.  When she noticed people trying to bypass the line, she stepped next to me (instead of in front of me), blocking the bypass.  Then she turned her back to the oncoming traffic  – two folks actually tried to get around her – she was immovable.  I was considering that she was taking Minnesota passive/aggressive to new heights when she said, in a voice just loud enough “crop art budgers”.   I think she may have just taken the title “Queen of Passive/Aggressive” from my mom!  From now on whenever I see somebody cut in line, I’ll be thinking “crop art budger”!

Anyway, the header photo is a red ribbon winner this year but I know that Steve would think the same as I do… it’s a blue ribbon winner in our eyes.

Did you ever glue macaroni to construction paper as a kid?

Not Much Happening

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Really not much happening this week. I’ve been at ‘work’ work. Young Padawan started school so he hasn’t been out. We haven’t even got the grass cut in the last couple weeks, but it really needs it and one of us will have to get on that.

I haven’t even taken any pictures of anything farm related this week.

The adult ducks are still well and chickens are all fine. Our duckling number is down to 4. Not sure what’s happen to the others. Plus, mom abandoned them last week. She just flew the coop and joined the other older ducks. One of the four ducklings has a bad leg. Not sure what happen too it, but one leg is bent up over its back so it struggles around on one leg and it’s belly. Been doing that for at least the last two weeks and somehow still managing.

It seems to be a tough time for pets lately. I’ve got a friend whose cat is having health issues and another who just had to put their dog down. The dog people accepted what they had to do even while they cried about it. The cat person doesn’t want to let go and is just angry about everything. It’s hard that we love our pets so much that losing them hurts so much.

I got a call last week to be the ‘Certified Lift Operator’ for an install at the college sports center. The public school district had a ‘welcome back’ meeting last Monday (Public Schools in Rochester start Tuesday the 6th) So a local production company that I work with was hanging a video screen and needed someone to drive the college lift so they could hang the video screen. Back when I was working as a stagehand, there was one old guy that just ran the forklift. I felt like him; I can’t do the harder physical work at the moment, but I can drive the lift! Went back the next day to drive the lift as they took it back down. LED Video screens were just becoming a thing when I quit being a stagehand, so it was really interesting to see how it all assembled (24 – 18”x 18” LED panels that all clip together and then they daisy chain cables for power in and out of each one and another cable for data in and out to each one.) And these screens have become so bright they only run it at about 10% intensity. Full intensity could light up an entire stadium and burn out your eyeballs. 

On the farm I think about how thing have changed. My dad went from horses to tractors. In the winter he put a ‘heat houser’ on the tractor. There was a bit of a metal frame around the seat area, and then heavy canvas wrapped around the engine to sort of funnel the heat back to the seat area. Of course, the back was wide open, but still, it warmed you up as it blew by. There was a plastic windshield too. I remember using that and it was certainly better than nothing. 

We added a cab to one of our tractors when I was maybe 15 yrs old. It didn’t have heat or AC but at least you were out of the elements. In the summer we took the doors and back window off so that was the AC. And I guess technically it had a heater and somehow the hoses connected to the engine, but it never worked. It didn’t blow any air, hot or cold.

When I bought my first tractor in 1986 it had a cab with actual working heat and AC. But dad hated AC and he’d drive with the doors and windows open anyway. Which really made the inside of the cab dusty. He said AC gave him a cold. These days there is so much electronics in the cab, you wouldn’t dare drive with the doors open like that.

The header photo is a group of neighborhood men. I got this photo from a neighbor who knows a few of the men. We’re not really sure what year it was taken or who most of them are.

The drill we use for oats. As a kid I remember an old wooden drill that Dad used. It had big wood wheels and cranks on the back and I think he said it used to be a horse drawn implement and he had rebuilt the hitch to pull it with a tractor. Eventually he bought a different drill. Neither one of them held much seed and he would load the truck with seed and park it at the end of the field, walk back home for the tractor and drill, drive to the field and make about 3 rounds and fill up the drill again. Then move to a different field and go get the truck again.  I remember riding in the truck and moving it up the edge of the field as he needed seed. When I took over, I’d put a bicycle in the back of the truck so at least I could ride that back home for the tractor. (See, I didn’t like walking even then! Huh.) Later on, I traded that drill for a bigger one and it held maybe 15 bags of seed, so I could fill it at home and plant enough that I would just run home again to refill. And a few years later I traded that in for the drill I currently have, and it holds about 22 bags of seed. Again, easier to just run home. Plus, now I have the cameras on it so there’s that.

Our crop timeline here in SE MN is later than farmers to our South of course. Different timelines and different weather. Some farmers are already chopping corn silage or finishing up 3rd or 4th crop hay. Guys are prepping machinery as they could get started on soybeans by the end of the month. Soybeans respond to the length of daylight, so even though they were planted later this spring than last spring, they’ll still ripen about the same time. I’ve seen a few beans starting to turn yellow. Some varieties will ripen sooner than others, but it won’t take long now. Within a couple weeks the leaves will all fall off and the beans will start drying down.  

2427 GDU’s to date. 127 over normal they say. I really have a hard time believing that as cool as it’s been the last month. I’m not sure the online meteorology class I’m taking will cover that. Haven’t read about it yet.

I got a call from the farm co-op saying the price of urea fertilizer is going up and did I want to prepay some now for 2023. Wow. I haven’t thought much about next year’s crop yet. I decided not to prepay yet. If I figure an extra few months of interest against the cost savings, how much would I really save? And it’s possible the price might come down by December. Not likely, but possible.

I learned a new word: “Defenestration” – The action of throwing someone out a window. Seems to be a problem in the USSR.

I did finally get some grass cut. The last few years I’ve been mowing more and more areas out behind the sheds and such. Easier to do that than let it all go to ragweed and wild parsnip. Way off in the boonies I found a garden hose all coiled up and mostly buried in the dirt. Luckily the mower didn’t cut it, just grazed it. Why is there a hose there?? All I can think is, 40 some years ago mom and Dad planted a bunch of trees up there and I remember them watering them the first year or two. Must have coiled the hose up and left it there. It’s a nice rubber hose. The ends still look good and I think it will still hold water! Boy, that’s a good hose!

WHAT DO YOU SEE OUT YOUR WINDOW? TALK ABOUT A RONCO PRODUCT.

Suiting Up

It’s amazing to see what folks wear to the State Fair.

In addition to just walking around, YA and I have two times every day at the fair to just sit and watch the fair world go by: while waiting for the dog dock diving show and the parade.  For both of these, you really need to score a good seat about 30 minutes ahead of time.

The basic uniform for the fair is shorts and a shirt.  Of course, shorts covers a lot of ground: khakis, cut-offs, lycra/spandex.  Long, short, shorter and really short.  All kinds of colors.   Men tend to t-shirts – lots of sports logos and graphic tees, although not very many political slogans this year.  Women wear a bigger variety of shirts – some graphic tees but more casual print tops.  From very loose to painted on.

An overwhelming number of woman wear sandals, some high heels, some tennis shoes.  Men are almost all about tennies.  A few sandals but not many.

Of course, there are lots of other outfits – joggers, yoga pants, jeans, the occasional dress or skirt.  Some folks are strutting their stuff, others are pretty well covered up. If you can imagine it, somebody is probably wearing it at the fair.

Me and YA?  We’re right in line with the majority of fairgoers.  I’m khaki shorts, print top, birkenstocks.  YA is black shorts, solid color top, birkenstocks.  Every now and then I might wear a t-shirt, but not so far this year!

Have you ever had to wear a uniform?

Aaaaahhhhh

You all know that Irish Setters are the first dogs in my heart.  But the last Wednesday of every August, Golden Retriever Day at the Fair is one of my favorite days of the year.  There is just something about a whole bunch of Golden Retrievers together, all fluffy and happy, wanting nothing more than to be petted and loved on by an adoring public.

This year I counted 29, although there might have been a couple more.  There was an agility demonstration, an obedience demonstration, field retrievals and flyball.  And more than just about any other breed, these Goldens are amazingly happy to strut their stuff.  Most dog groups do their demonstrations and then bring the dogs over to the fence for the audience to meet and greet.  On Golden Retriever Day, they START at the fence, then do demos, then come BACK to the fence.  Because there is no such thing as too much attention for a Golden.

We probably spent close to an hour up at the Pet Pavilion and I have to admit that as we walked away, I felt a wonderful sense of release and peace wash over me; therapy dogs without any vests.   I think I could have stayed all day.

Anybody know the names of the very first two Golden Retrievers (from 1889)?  What name do you think is good for a dog?