Category Archives: Seasons

The Annual Migration of the Timpani

I saw four enormous birds soaring over town in migration a couple of weeks ago . They were whooping cranes, probably on their way to Alberta.  I have only seen migrating whooping cranes one other time in all the years we have been here.  We also have had geese fly over, and the owls, hawks, meadowlarks, and vultures are back.

Yesterday Husband and I assisted in the migration of  two timpani from the college band room to our church in Husband’s pickup. They are needed for a piece  our bell choir is doing on Sunday with a brass quintet. (Our bell choir director failed to see how funny it was when she kept saying a few weeks ago that she was one trombone player short of a brass quintet. She didn’t get it when people replied to her that they had always thought that).

When I grew up in Luverne, we usually had timpani in my church on Easter. They came from the high school. All the high school band directors in my youth were Lutheran, and we always got the timpani for special church services. No one from the community ever complained about it as being unfair or a misuse of public property. Our bell choir director teaches at the college, and I guess that is why we have the timpani for Easter. Our church probably has the most music of all the churches in town, and not all of them have the space for such things even if they had the musicians.

I wondered yesterday just how many timpani in the US are migrating from schools to churches for Easter services.  I like to imagine that there are many in transit, and that it is a brief but yearly migration. I like to see cooperative use of such things. How many timpani does one small town need, after all?

What migratory birds have you seen lately? What percussion instruments would you like to play?  What are some successful public-private cooperative ventures you know about?

April Fool

One of my children is very adept at pranking me on April 1, usually with plausible texts about rash decisions or changes in career that I fall for every time. This year I turned the tables and it was satisfying, albeit subtle.

On Monday morning I sent the following text :

In honor of today I thought of sending you a text asking you to please not play an April Fools trick since my newly diagnosed heart condition couldn’t handle it, but I thought that would be a mean thing to do, so I didn’t.

I got the following response:


Then, after a few seconds I got the following text:

So, no heart condition I’m assuming?”

I assured the recipient (someone who is always concerned about  my health) that no, there was no heart condition, but thought to myself “Yes!! I got them!!!!”

Tell about neat tricks you played on someone or tricks someone played on you.

Good Stewards

Today’s post comes from tim.

i take my compost to the compost drop off spot by bush lake near my house.

i knew there was something special about this time of year and the woods but i didn’t put my finger on it until yesterday.

during the winter the woods are trees standing in a white floor that makes the woods feel like a vista of strategically placed trees in the word of white.

In the summer the undergrowth fills all the available space with things springing forth and only the path that is well worn is passable in the city scape.

up north where the canopy is so dense that the undergrowth can be filtered so effectively that the walk through the woods is a dream like crunch of leaves and twigs and a graveyard of fallen trees and broken branches left to figure out how to deal in a natural way with restoration.

from mid march til may 1 the woods are brown and gray with subtle shades of yellow rust and green that allow you to envision what could be if the buckthorns weren’t devouring the available light and space,choking out the wildflowers and ferns and grasses in their way.

i see a new creeper in the ditches that is slowly but surely covering the adjacent space with a vengeful lust. A 10 foot run three years ago turns to a 50 foot run and then an entire landscape with the nearby former plants buried by the blanket of the new invader

a while back i lived near bush lake and loved walking my dogs along the trails and paths that are there. I was aware of the problem with the invasive plants and the choking out of the native plants that comes along with it. The buckthorn issue is one i have heard about but it wasn’t until walking my dogs that i thought about it.

now i wish i could figure out a way to inspire people to work the area within a block of their house. maybe a grading system for a buckthorn collecting contest.

documented progress and maintenance reports. grading that makes the neighborhood aware of the invasion the solution and the progress realized and aspired to

i can do a 10×10 area of the woods. it feels like something that can be accomplished but a milllion acres feels like too much.

stewardship is such a admirable thing. maybe free park passes to minnesota state parks for picking up after the invasion? lions, church groups, neighborhood communities  and pta organizations taking responsibility for a chunk of the woods like they do picking up a mile of the freeway today would be a start.

if you could pick a little corner of the world to fix what might it be (take 2 they’re small)



Funny Clothes

It was always interesting to people watch in Winnipeg in early Spring, since people dressed so oddly.   We would see folks strolling in downtown Winnipeg wearing winter parkas, toques,  and shorts. It wasn’t quite winter, nor yet spring,  so they dressed for any eventuality.

I had the same experience the other day at work. I rode the elevator to the first floor to pick up a client from the waiting room.  I saw one man wearing a parka and a knitted, gaily colored Scandinavian stocking hat with ties and ear flaps. Next to him was a fellow with a top hat festooned with a feather. Standing by the receptionist desk was someone wearing a yarmulke.  I guess it was the day for special hats. We seldom have  such a variety of head gear. Caps and cowboy hats are the norm.

My wardrobe consists mainly of corduroy pants and sweaters.  I don’t wear hats since I think I look weird in them. I think it has something to do with the shape of my head.  I don’t like to draw attention to myself with my clothes. I wish I was brave enough to  wear a top hat to work, or maybe one of those Dutch lace caps with wings. I suppose, though, that people would say I dress “funny”.

Were you ever a flamboyant dresser? What do you wear that draws attention?  Did your mother used to dress you funny?

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?