Category Archives: News

Officially Summer

Today’s post and farm update comes from Ben.

It’s hardly fair that down here in our valley, it’s colder in the winter AND hotter in the summer. It’s not even noon on Thursday and it’s 89°. Plus, we don’t always get the breeze. What a cruel, cruel world.

I just took the back off the chicken coop and turned on their fan. Supposed to get baby chicks next week. They won’t hardly need a heat lamp. 

The corn is growing, soybeans are just coming out, and the oats is looking a little rough in a few spots, but it’s coming along. We think the cold and rain right after planting affected the oats. Oats doesn’t like wet ground, plus there may have been enough rain to wash out some nutrients. We’ll have to see how it does. The co-op is getting ready to spray for weeds in the corn, and to spray the oats with fungicides and to prevent broadleaf weeds.

I’m officially done working at the college for the summer, but considering I wasn’t there last week when I was supposed to be, I have to go back and at least haul out garbage and put some things away and sit in the dark theater for a few minutes and have my talk with the room and just feel the energy. Yeah. I do that. All the people and activities that have come through the theater in the last 12 months, it’s good to take time and reflect on them.

Our neighbors who rent our pasture have brought cattle out.

The cows were really interested in my cutting grass right next to them the other night. I just didn’t have a camera on me.

The next show I’m lighting, ‘Raisin in the Sun’, has gotten through the first few tech rehearsals and it should be getting easier now. My friend Paul has been working night and day on the set. Three doors, a window, full vintage kitchen with working sink. And what a lot of props in this show! (It was funny to watch the cast try to figure out the record player).

The directors are from the Twin Cities.

You probably all know the plot or have seen the movies and know it’s about a black family. Finding actors of color in Rochester is difficult; in the community theaters, there may be a few. At the college, we might have two or three. So to find eight for this show, plus understudies, took a lot of community engagement before-hand. And there’s a lot of new people! I know one actor, who was at the college 13 years ago. It’s a good group of actors, and they’re doing great, and it should be a good production.

I keep saying my life is slowing down. Next week. I’ve rescheduled a massage for the third time. I’ve rescheduled a fire alarm inspection twice, and the dentist once. 

I had to stop at the Farm Service Agency on Thursday and do my crop certification. I tell them what I planted where and when and how many acres. That information is used to determine cropping history and eligibility for payments in the event of natural disasters or other government payments.

Their map acres don’t match my map acres and they map out all the waterways and I end up with 55 fields on their maps. I only have about 19 fields on my maps. The staff there is always great and I hand them my maps with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one is, and they figure it out. I come back later and sign it.

I started cleaning up machinery. Swept out the cab of the tractor and power washed the outside.

Started to wash the next tractor and the power washer made some terrible grinding sounds, and then it didn’t make any sounds anymore. Hmm.

I spent a few hours one day riding around in a big truck guiding the driver as he applied calcium chloride for dust control on the township gravel roads. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours.

Spotted 5 sandhill cranes a few different days. And we’re still hearing them call.

I got most of the soybean fields dragged to smooth them out. I’ve stopped now because the beans are too close to sprouting. It sure is dusty and dry, (see header photo) and every spring I’m reminded how much I rely on the ‘texture’ to find my path. It’s harder when it’s this dry and the ground didn’t work up well.

I also use a boating app that maps my route. That way I can at least tell if I skipped a spot somewhere. I use a free version, so I don’t get a map, I just get the path.

It is useful especially at night and trying to find where I left off in a field. I saw a drivers ed car: ‘St. Joseph Driving School’ with a Renaissance style image spread across the whole drivers side of St. Joseph. Considering ‘’ says Joseph is the patron saint of dying, maybe that’s not who I want for a driving instructor. But it seems like a great name, and it was a great image for the business!

Hauling my fertilizer wagon and some other small things to the auction in Plainview.

Next week, NEXT WEEK, I’ll start working on the shop!



Wee Willie

Sad news about Harry Belafonte last week.  Not quite so sad (to me anyway) about Jerry Springer’s passing.  As I was looking up Harry Belafonte, I also saw the Wee Willie Harris also died last week.  I had never actually heard of Wee Willie, but he caught my eye because on the list he came up as “Wee Willie Harris, 90, English rock and roll star”.  It was quite dismaying to think that a rock and roll star could be 90.  That makes me feel SO old.

Wee Willie was born Charles Williams Harris and he was popular on British tv during the 50s.  He was known as “Britain’s wild man of rock and roll”.

I found some fun clips.  Here is one song I like.

This one is a fun visual of the man himself. 

I can see why he got the wild man moniker!

Any other artists/musicians who seem to have been around forever?

Scrap Artist

I ran across this yesterday. This artist lives in Lemmon, SD, about 80 miles south of where we live. I have never heard of him before.

The Scrap documentary highlights people who have found uses for objects that are no longer needed. For eample, one of the stories involves a British man and his family who have restored more than 2000 British phone booths that have turned up in all sorts of locations in England. Another team of architects has turned abandoned ocean liners in a cafe and a church. I think it is great the documentary film maker also highlighted the sculptor in Lemmon.

Having been around farmsteads for much of my life, I can imagine that there is scrap metal galore to use for projects like this. I think about all the things that got thrown in the groves at my grandparents’ farms. You often see old corn pickers and threshing machines parked on top of hills out here as monuments to the past. I just think it is wonderful that he can do this in Lemmon.

Do you know any actively working artists? What are some ideas you would have for repurposing things we don’t use anymore, like telephone booths? Ever done much work with blow torches?

The Newest Tsar

The word on the streets of New York is that there is a new “rat mitigator”; the headlines are screaming “A NEW RAT CZAR”.  Her actual title is City Director of Rat Mitigation but it hasn’t taken long for the czar moniker to have grabbed ahold of everyone’s attention.

I know that czar gets added to a lot of titles – Bird Flu Czar, Climate Czar, Energy Czar.  My favorite is Elliott Abrams title of Democracy Czar during the GW Bush administration.  Czar and democracy seem like odd bed-fellows to me.

I feel a little sorry for the new Rat Czar; it can’t be an easy job and it’s hard to imagine that in a contest between rats and humans, that the rats don’t hold most of the cards.  But you never know!

What do YOU think we need a tsar of these days?


This is another tidbit of news from the Rock County Star Herald, the weekly newspaper from Luverne, MN.

After considerable discussion, angst, and protest, Luverne’s Board of Appeals and Adjustments approved the variance request for a 73-foot-tall nutcracker on South Highway 75.

The nutcracker motif is an attempt by a faction of some of the more forward thinkers at the Chamber of Commerce and supporters of the very elderly woman in charge of the Rock County Historical Society to capitalize on her donation to the museum of thousands of nutcrackers she used to keep in her home. She taught with my mother, so I am sure she is in her late 90’s.

The city wants a way to allure people to town to look at the nutcracker collection and spend money and move to Luverne. I suppose nutcrackers are interesting to some people. Hard to say how appealing this will be. It has been quite a city controversy.

What mascot or symbol would you like erect outside your town? What have been interesting controversies in your community?


I saw in the news that the creator of the game, Settlers of Catan, Klaus Teuber, died a few days ago.  If you don’t know of it, Settlers of Catan is a multi-player game; you settle and expand on the land using hexagonal tiles.  I’ve always assumed it was similar in play to Risk, but I could be wrong.  It was wildly popular right off the bat in the late 90s and while still played in boardgame fashion, it has also spun off into cyberspace so you can easily find Catan communities of players.

I have a friend, Laurie, who has played Dungeons and Dragons every Tuesday for decades.  This is a serious commitment for her; I’ve known her to turn down other invitations if they fall on Tuesday.  I’ve known her for 40 years and she’s never once invited me to join; non D&D folks just aren’t allowed.  That’ fair – all I know about D&D is what I’ve seen on Big Bang Theory!

But seeing the news about Klaus Teuber made me think of our blog about jigsaw puzzles the other day which led me to thinking about the games I’ve played in my life.  We didn’t have a lot of boardgames when I was a kid.  The obligatory Candyland, which I never cared for much.  My Nana had Chutes & Ladders at her house, which I adored.  I begged for the game Operation and never received it. It was just as well; a friend got one for Christmas and it was BORING.  Same with the Mousetrap game.

I played a lot of backgammon in college but hardly ever since.  I like trivia games, although I’m not very good at the ones that have a lot of current/trendy questions. We played one at Thanksgiving that had a lot of current sports questions and even a category about stock exchange abbreviations – I stunk.  When YA was little, we did Yahtzee and cribbage on vacation, but almost never at home.  I do play mahjong online but just with myself which isn’t anything like real mahjong.  I guess my favorite boardgame is still Aggravation, which I play exclusively with my mom.  We each play three colors and we’re a little cut-throat.  YA won’t play with me although when we were in St. Louis last summer she did play once, she and Nonny and I each fielding two colors.  She complained later that Nonny and I are mean.

Any favorite boardgames as a kid?  These days? 

It’s a Sign!

When I was in my junior year of college, I lived on the fourth floor of one of the original buildings.  Only two rooms (both triples) and no elevator.  I shared with two other women who had, like I had, lived in a single room our sophomore years.  Knowing we would probably get low numbers in the room choice lottery after having singles, we banded together to get a better room than if we struck out alone.

The other room on our floor was also a triple with 3 seniors.  They weren’t around all that much and we didn’t really socialize with them.  So we were surprised when they lugged a full sized Mobil Gas Pegasus sign up the steps and installed it in the hallway between the two rooms.  We spent the rest of the year explaining it to anyone brave enough to come up to the fourth floor!  Personally I never understood the appeal.

I moved to my current house about 30 years ago – about three blocks from the old Boulevard Theatre.  As the years went by, it deteriorated until it just couldn’t afford to stay open.  People were outrated and actually picketed in front of the theatre with it’s huge iconic sign.  Eventually the owners agreed to keep the sign although the theatre was no more.  It is still there, looking rattier and tattier by the year.

And now more signage in my neighborhood is in the news.  The Aqua City Motel and Metro Inn, a little farther down on Lyndale have their iconic signage up for sale.  Both properties actually belong to Hennepin County these days, having been purchased during pandemic when the county was using both motels for temporary housing.  Right now both properties are empty and awaiting renovation into affordable housing. 

I wasn’t crazy about the pegasus sign, I think the Boulevard sign is ridiculous looking and I can’t even imagine why anyone would want a Metro Inn or Aqua City sign but I’m sure that there is someone out there who will think they are purchasing a piece of history and will shell out way too much cash for it.  Takes all kinds.

Any iconic signs you remember from your childhood?  Have you ever acquired a sign?

Vanity Plates

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

I read a funny story online a couple of days ago.  Apparently the State of Maine has recalled 274 license plates because they were deemed inappropriate.  “How did they GET these inappropriate plates in the first place?” you may ask.  I certainly did.

Until the last few years Maine has been one of the few states that didn’t seriously police their vanity plate program.  In fact about 7 years back, they did away with the review process for vanity plates.  If you asked for it and it wasn’t taken (and you were willing to cough up the fee), it was yours.  As you can imagine, some very interesting plates were issued.  VERY interesting.

Maine decided it had gotten out of hand, so now they have re-instituted a review policy AND recalled 274 plates that crossed their new, arbitrary line.  Including the one in the photo above.  The family with the plate are vegan.  It’s hard to tell in the photo but there are other tofu- and vegan-related stickers on the car.  But because the word tofu ends in FU and the phrase is “suggestive”, Maine says they can’t drive around town with this plate on their car.  They appealed and lost their case.  In fact, no one who has appealed has gotten their questionable plates restored.  The next step is to file suit in the Maine Supreme Court but nobody has gone that far yet. 

Seems like a big kerfuffle for me after being a vegetarian for 50+ years, I would certainly read it correctly.  Part of me thinks so what if somebody has a blatantly foul license plate and part of me thinks I might not be too happy to stuck in traffic behind someone with a racist or outright pornographic plate.  Aah, the dilemmas of our modern age.

If you had to design your own license plates (no cost to you), what would you want on them?

Big Fish

The Bismarck Tribune had a fun story yesterday about a 34 year old oil worker from Minot who went fishing early in January in the open waters in the tailrace below the Garrison Dam Power plant on the Missouri River and caught a State Record setting 20 lb, 42 inch long Burbot on an 8 lb test line. Burbot are freshwater fish in the cod family. It was the only bite he got all night. Burbot are sometimes referred to as “poor man’s lobster. That was a huge fish.

I was really tickled by the fisherman’s plans to have the enormous fish “fully encased in a coffee table or display case ” in his living room. This guy is evidently not married, as he was out fishing at 11:30 at night when he caught the fish, and I don’t know many women who want something like that in the living room. It also made me think about what his heirs plan to do with the fish 50 years from now when he is gone and they have to figure out what do do with Grandpa’s fish coffee table.

What are some “interesting” family heirlooms you have had to contend with? What do you have that your heirs have will trouble finding a place for? What would you do with a stuffed and mounted 20 lb, 42 inch Burbot?

Good News

I have taken great delight, lately, in some news stories and headlines. Here are some that really caught my attention.

Woman gets Probation For Raccoon

Minnesota Family Turns Deer Stand into Lefse Drive-thru

2 year old Rescued After Being Swallowed By Hippo

And my recent favorite from the Fargo Forum about a young woman from Moorhead.

After Beating Cancer, Moorhead High Alum Achieved Life Long Dream of Becoming A Professional Wrestler

What are some notable news headlines you have noticed lately? What kind of reporter would you want to be? What stories would you like to cover?