Category Archives: Seasons

Rez Cars Explained

Last week was a very trying one for us, as Husband’s truck froze in the extreme cold up on the Indian reservation and wouldn’t start. It was -36  with -45 windchill Thursday  night.  He planned to come home Friday morning, but there was no way that truck would start in such cold.

Husband  works in the main town on the reservation, where Tribal headquarters and the biggest school and the  medical services are. There are two much larger towns, Minot and Williston, about 70 and 80 miles away respectively, which  are not on the reservation and offer all necessary services. Minot even has a  university.  There are also smaller,  non-reservation towns within 30-50 miles that also have a wide variety of services.

After unsuccessfully trying to get the truck started, and even putting in a new battery with the help of a friend who works in Tribal maintenance and who has a degree in car mechanics, Husband phoned the number for road side service affiliated with our car insurance.  The nice insurance person in Tennessee regretfully informed him that after phoning every tow service in the region, none would take the job.  No one wanted to drive to the reservation. There is no tow service in the reservation town.  There is no auto repair shop, either.

Our friend helped Husband get an electric magnetic heater, like a heating pad but really hot, to place under the hood.  They plugged it into an outside outlet where  Husband stays.  Husband got some nasty frostbite on his pointer fingers while getting it all set up. The heater sat on the engine block all day. I drove up to the reservation later in the afternoon on Friday. It was after I arrived that Husband and friend  discovered that the outlet on the outside of Husband’s place didn’t work, so the heater hadn’t heated up at all.  Once they switched it to another outlet it started working.

Since we weren’t sure that the heater would work and unfreeze the engine, and since it was evening, Husband and I drove the 90 miles back home through oil field traffic.   A few hours later our friend and his wife phoned to say the truck started. They drove it to their place and got up at intervals in the night to start it and their vehicles as well.  We drove back to the reservation on Saturday morning and retrieved the truck and drove home again, this time through snow.

I always wondered why the Native Americans  we know have so many vehicles in various states of disrepair.  Now I know. When you have no auto repair shop, you have to fix them yourself, and when you find one that works and is easy to fix, you keep driving it, no matter how junky it looks.  You also rely on friends and family to help with rides or loan you a vehicle that works. If you can’t fix your vehicles you leave them where they are since no one will come and tow them away.  We are eternally grateful to our maintenance friends, and offered to till their garden in the Spring with our big tiller.  They accepted the offer. It is all a part of helping each other out.

What have you learned about lately? What are some mysteries you would like solved?

Seeing Things

We had snow and ice fog on Saturday, and it stayed  foggy all night.  We came out of church Sunday morning to find the skies had cleared leaving a  thick coating of frost on the trees. Every branch and tree needle was outlined in white.  We take the same route home from church, past the college with its trees, past a pine tree covered butte that rises sharply a couple of  blocks from our house.  I  have seen these same trees for 30 years, but the frost and brilliant blue sky illuminated them to make it seem I was noticing them for the first time. In an hour the wind came and blew it all away.

What have you been noticing lately?

Long Range Planning

Today’s post comes from Ben.

I’ve been doing some long-range planning on building a shop. Or maybe it’s just a ‘garage’. Basically, I want a warm place to work on machinery. And things like grease guns and cans of liquid wrench or chain lube work better if they’re not 20 degrees. Even cordless tools are more fun to use when they’re not cold.

What do I think I want to work on? Does it need to be big enough to get my current biggest tractor in there? (Yes!) Or does it need to be big enough to get a combine in there? If I don’t actually build it for another 10 years, how much will I actually be farming? I don’t own a combine and I don’t expect to own one. My biggest implement (at the moment) opens up to about 26’ wide. Do I need / want enough room to pull that in attached to the tractor, AND unfold it to work on it? I have machine sheds now. But machinery is stored in there. There isn’t room to actually unfold an implement. Heck, sometimes there’s isn’t room to get the tractor and implement all in the shed.

Course during winter I put more stuff in the shed. This fall I spent a couple days moving stuff around so that I could get out either door with the tractor and snow blower. And still get to the rear blade if I needed that.

What started all this, aside from the deep seated, but dormant desire for a nice warm shop, is my grain drill. It’s 15’ wide. I bought it used a couple years ago and It needed a lot of work. Over the summer and early Spring I got it ready to plant. The next summer I fixed a few more things. But it needs one more thing and fixing that won’t be hard, it will just require taking a fair amount of stuff off to get that ‘cup’ out and a new one installed. Every summer I think I’m going to work on that.  But every summer other stuff happens, and I don’t get too it. Sort of like any of my home remodeling projects; ‘We can do it this summer!’ Famous last words. (And I’m still working on hardwood flooring and baseboard trim and closet doors).

Ok, so if I just want a shop big enough to work on the drill, I could get away with a two car garage. But then it doesn’t take too many things along the wall and pretty soon you have a one car garage.

watch some YouTube channels of other farmers; these big guys have the wonderful huge shops and sheds. All heated and well lit. I don’t need that.

Just the other day I got an email a farm magazine called ‘Successful Farming’ and their ‘top shops’ issue. Maybe I need a wash bay? What about a separate welding area? A lube rack?? Painting booth! And what about heating options?? Tool storage?? Water? OFFICE! Sleeping quarters!! ??

I’m still thinking.

And of course, WHERE will it go? Kelly asked me the other day what I was thinking about that. I have some ideas… still thinking.

And also nagging at the back of my mind is the question of ‘When do you really think you’ll have time to use this??’ I mean I can’t get my home remodeling projects done now. So, when do I think I’m going to have time to putter about in my nice warm shop…?

When I retire! But then… do I need to fit the big tractor in there then??

So many questions.

Anything nagging at your thoughts? What are your long range plans?





Walking to my car after running an errand, I passed a woman who was putting a huge stuffed unicorn toy into the back of her van. I asked her where in the house she could hide that so prying eyes wouldn’t see it.  She laughed and said that she hid all the gifts at this time of year at her next-door neighbors.   This triggered a memory so I told her about occasionally hiding gifts meant for my dad at our next-door neighbor’s home.

My dad could ferret out gifts for him practically anywhere. In my high school house there weren’t any locks on any of the bedrooms doors, so that was out.  He found things in the basement; he found things in the garage; he even found things hidden in the living room fireplace, which we never used.

When I was little I had inherited this trait. I dug into closets, under beds, any place I thought I might find a stash.  One year at the holidays, when I was about 8, I knew every single gift that I had received before I even opened it.  That was the last year I went looking.  It was no fun at all to open gifts that I already knew about and then having to feign surprise.

Ever since then I wait, letting the anticipation build. Sometimes this backfires. Once my folks brought me a gift from their travels in Russia, instructing me to wait until my birthday, a full 3 weeks away.  The gift sat on the piano bench for those 3 weeks and when I excitedly opened it, it was one of those big fur hats that are popular in Russia.  I can’t do fur, even if it’s a wonderful thought from someone who loves you, so I called my folks to tell them I couldn’t keep it.  Even though this time it turned out badly, I’m still committed to waiting until the right moment!

How do you keep from snooping? Or do you just go ahead and peek?

Disaster Averted

I got a family recipe from the wife of my German cousin Wilhelm. It is a traditional Christmas bread called Bremer Klaben. Petra speaks wonderful English, but her written recipe is, well, interesting.  It is ok that the ingredients like raisins and candied peel and flour are measured in grams. I have a scale that will do that for me. I really like cooking by weight, not volume.

The recipe calls for 60 grams of yeast.  I always assume a reference to yeast means granulated yeast. 60 grams of granulated yeast is about 1/3  of a cup. This only makes one medium-sized loaf of  bread, so I surmised that she was referring to cake yeast, not granulated yeast. The granulated equivalent of cake yeast is 4 1/2 teaspoons. Can you imagine what would have happened had I not made the proper conversion?  Disaster averted!

Tell about disasters you have averted (or not).


Rich Beyond Measure

I made broth last weekend.  It is the Brodo recipe from The Splendid Table with 9 lbs of turkey wings and 3 lbs of beef bones.  It simmers for 14 hours. It produces a couple of gallons of golden brown goodness. We use it all the time, so we try to always have some on hand.  We  consider ourselves rich as we put the broth containers in the freeze “This is wealth”, we say.  Who needs more things when you have broth?

We have much to be thankful for besides homemade broth.  We feel especially rich in good friends,  good coworkers,  and in our community as a whole.  In this season of rampant consumerism, I think it is good to consider all the things that contribute richness to our lives.

What makes your life a richer, more satisfying one?


Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a straight up-homage to the day. Not the turkey and football filled day, not the sweet potatoes and pilgrim hat day.  For those of us who don’t practice thankfulness as often as we should (including me), today is a day to help us do just that – practice thankfulness.

You’ve heard it before – what are you grateful for?