Tag Archives: Featured

Engines Of Destruction

Our puppy hates the electric floor sweeper and the Swiffer floor broom and attacks them at every opportunity. I guess they frighten him. He goes on the deck when I clean house. Members of the American Cesky Terrier Fanciers Association assure me their pups are just the same.

Our second Welsh Terrier hated our ironing board, as well as the brooms and mops we used. She became very alarmed whenever the ironing board was liberated from the closet and put up in the living room. I think she hated the sound it made when it was stood up for use. Maggie would circle while I ironed, waiting for any opportunity to attack if it moved. I bought several new ironing board covers since she lunged and ripped them as I put the ironing board back in the closet after I was done.

My mother told me that when I was small, she couldn’t vacuum unless my father was home to hold me. I don’t remember that. I don’t remember many engines of destruction growing up, although my uncles’ cows were somewhat alarming at close range when I was small. Oh, and my Aunt Norma’s Leghorns were mean and chased me. I suppose it wasn’t a good idea to try to catch them with the wire neck holder my uncle had .

What frightened you as a child? Did you ever get chased by animals when you were little? Do you Iron? What is your favorite chicken recipe?


Today’s post comes from Ben.

It’s been raining lately and we’ve got some heat too, things are really gonna grow now. We are at 722 GDU’s, pretty close to normal, and the forecast has us climbing fast this coming week. I found a new app to show growing degree days and it shows that day last week when it was nearly 90° accumulated 25 GDU’s. Two weeks before when it was so cool, we only got two or three degrees per day. Interesting how it all works. 

The chicks we got in April are about two months old now, they hop in and out of their pen at will. And they love being outside.

When I drive out in the fields to check on crops, the neighbors beef cows come right up to the fence to see me. Their cows have always been very calm and friendly.

We saw a stray cat around the barns the other day. Perhaps that’s where all the ducklings went?

One day Kelly and I were parked. We found a nice shady spot in town between appointments and had lunch, by a park. And another car pulled up and a family got out and showed us a turtle they had picked up in the street about a block away, brought him back to get him closer to water again. We joked he spent all day getting up to that road. But there’s nowhere to go up there, it’s all city. She’s better off down at the water. Kelly told the young boy he was a hero and he grinned ear to ear.

The co-op has been out and they have sprayed the oats with a fungicide to prevent rust and sprayed the corn for weeds. It’s a little frustrating as I work so hard to follow the contours of the hill to prevent water erosion, and the spray rig will run parallel to the waterways, basically up and downhill, because they need a border for the spray pattern. And then we got 2” of rain, and the water runs down their tire tracks. It’s just bad timing. A couple more weeks the corn would be big and well-established and enough roots to hold the soil. Or if it was drier, the sprayer wouldn’t of left tracks like it did, and if we hadn’t gotten 2” that hard and fast, it wouldn’t have been a problem. 

I ordered 100 bushels of cracked corn last week, it’s the corn I throw out for the chickens and the ducks. Last summer I took the bottom off this bulk bin and cleaned all the old, moldy corn out of it. It emptied completely and cleanly this time. I have corn stored at the elevator in what’s called “grain bank“. It’s just the volume of corn, it’s not my corn exactly, and when I need corn, they deducted it from my balance. A bushel of corn is 56 pounds, so 100 bushels is 5600 pounds. (Remember I’ve talked about test weights before; when sold, it’s all about the weight.) 
The co-op cracks the corn and delivers it and puts it in the bin and the chickens and ducks enjoy it. I ordered it Friday, and it was delivered about 6:30PM Monday night. A reminder it’s not only farmers that work late, but the support people too. We appreciate it. Here’s the bin and the box inside that I get the corn from.

Ducks and chickens are doing well. Daily egg production is dropping off a bit as the summer goes on. But they’re still averaging maybe 14 eggs / day. Tuesday it was 91°. Wednesday, I got 8 eggs. Thursday I got 22 eggs.



Retiring? Who Me?

Photo credit:  Aaron Burden

The announcement about my retirement has finally been made (took my boss and her boss about three weeks to try to talk me out of it).

One of my co-workers, in a very serious tone said “but what are you going to do with all your time”.  She wasn’t joking (although I had assumed she was).  How could she not know me after working in the same department for 20 years together.

Without even a thought I rattled off:

    • Reading
    • Gardening
    • Cooking/Baking
    • Crafting
    • Walking the dog
    • Volunteering
    • Home improvement projects
    • Travel
    • Hang with friends

I put an app on my phone that is counting down for me.  Kinda fun.  Right now as I’m typing it’s: 1 month, 18 days, 15 hours, 53 minutes and 32 seconds.

Anything I’m missing on my list?


Jury Duty

Well, it has happened again. It seems that every other year I am called for jury duty, and I received another letter from the Clerk of Court while I was in Minnesota, telling me I am yet again in the pool of potential jurors for the Southwest District Court for the month of July.

I have never actually been seated on a jury panel. I haven’t even had to go to the court house while they choose jurors for cases, as the cases seem to be settled before the date of the hearing. I also can’t imagine any attorney would want me on a jury, especially if it is a criminal case. It is really hard in a small community to serve on a jury if one is a health care professional. If asked if I know a defendant, I have to say “I am prohibited by State and Federal law from answering that question unless ordered to do so by the court” if I know the person from the work at my agency. That statement is, of course, a tip off that I know them from my work, and everyone in town knows where I work, but that is what our legal department has told us to say.

I expect the same thing will happen this July, and I will wait for a letter from the Clerk of Court telling me that, yet again, I won’t be called for a jury panel in July and that I am still in the pool of potential jurors for the next round of cases if my name is picked at random. That is another problem living in a sparsely populated area-there really is a limited number of people to do things, so the chances of being picked for these typed of things are high.

Would you want to be a judge, a defense attorney, or a prosecutor? What are your favorite movies or books involving court hearings or lawyers?


I drove home yesterday from Howard Lake, MN in seven hours. Google tells me it is 496 miles. The speed limit varied between 55-60 MPH on Highway 12 between Howard Lake and I-94 at Sauk Center, to 75 MPH once I got out of Fargo.

I tend to drive 5 MPH higher than the speed limit if I can. It isn’t so high that a Highway Patrol would care about me, but fast enough that I can make good time. I admit my MPH got up to 90 as I passed some slow coaches here and there, I haven’t had a speeding ticket in 30 years.

I was probably too tired to drive safely once I made it to Bismarck, but my, was I ready to get home. The temperature dropped to 62° as I entered western ND in early afternoon. I understand it is a little warmer in MN!

How many speeding tickets have you had? What is the fastest you have driven? How do you keep cool in heat waves?

Emergency 911

Daughter was at some friends’ apartment last Friday helping them get two kittens to the vet as the friends went to a grandmother’s funeral. Both the friends were stressed. One of the kittens had walked across a hot electric stove element and burned a paw. The other kitten had blood in its stool. Both needed medical care. Daughter was going to transport the cats to the vet as soon as the friends left for the funeral.

As the trio of humans and ailing cats tried to leave the seventh floor apartment, the knob on the apartment door jammed. No amount of jiggling the knob unlodged it. The male partner phoned his brother to get ideas how to remove the knob. The brother’s advice didn’t work, either. They had to phone 911.

Three firefighters arrived, and they, too, struggled to unjam the knob. They asked hopefully if Daughter and her friends were sure that the door wasn’t bolted at the top of the door. Well, of course it wasn’t. One of the firefighters eventually removed the whole doorknob, destroying it in the process. There is now a gaping hole in the door, and it probably needs to be replaced.

Daughter and the female friend decided that the male friend’s grandmother jammed the door because she didn’t like what he was wearing to her funeral. I am relieved they didn’t have to climb out of a seventh story window and be rescued by firetruck ladders.

When have you had to phone 911? Ever needed to be rescued? Every been in an Escape Room?

Reinforcement Schedule

The friend with whom I am staying in Howard Lake has a downstairs apartment. It reminds me of being in the lower level of a split level house. There are some nice, large windows in every room. Despite that, her cell phone reception is terrible, and she has no wifi. I rely on the unlimited data plan I have on my phone for it to function, but service is intermittent and I often have to go outside to get emails and phone calls.

Sometimes, in the morning as I sit in her living room, I have no difficulty sending and receiving texts and calls. Then, out of nowhere, I have to move really close to the windows for it to work. At other times, I have good reception between the sofa and the kitchen. Then, inexplicably, that area doesn’t work, either, but holding the phone high above my head helps, sometimes.

I realized the other day how silly I must look using my phone as I wave my arms and move around and outside the apartment, and it dawned on me that my phone has me on a variable-ratio reinforcement schedule, like BF Skinner demonstrated using pigeons in the 1960’s. Pigeons were taught to press a metal bar to get food pellets, and were then subjected to random reinforcement, in which food was delivered randomly, and there was no way for the birds to figure out what they had to do to get the food. They tried their hardest, though, developing odd behaviors they thought were associated with food delivery. Some developed odd head movements. Others turned around three times, because that is what they were doing when the food was delivered. Skinner used this research to explain the development of superstitious beliefs and behaviors, as well as gambling addiction.

I leave for home tomorrow, and there I know I can feel more in control than I do here. Besides, my shoulder is getting sore holding my phone above my head so much.

What motivates you? Do you have any superstitions or know anyone who is superstitious? Any technology horror stories?

The Rush Is Over

Today’s post comes from Ben.

The spring rush is over, at least on our farm. If you’ve got dairy cattle, it’s right into cutting hay and getting that first crop off. But here, we’re just cutting grass over and over again.

All the crops are out of the ground, they just need some heat to grow. Soybeans don’t grow quite as fast as corn, so even though I could see them coming, it takes a while to see the rows. That first field which had crusted and I finally dragged? It helped; they’re looking OK.

The last thing to plant was 2 acres of corn for a neighbor that he uses as a food plot so the deer are closer to his hunting stands. The next day my brother Ernie was out and we got extra seed cleaned out of the corn planter and got the power washer out and he washed the planter off and hosed off the back of my tractor and his tractor. The backs get very dirty; like your car back window, all the dust collects there. (Maybe that’s only us on gravel roads?) And the back is where the hydraulic hoses plug in, so it’s oily and attracts dust. I parked the planter back in the corner of the shed for next spring.

Next day we pulled the drill out, cleaned out the left-over seed, (We save extra seed for next year) and got the drill washed up and put away. I removed the cameras and cables and will work on getting them installed on the baler next.

We discovered that one tractor STILL has an oil leak. He fixed it last week; cost $1058. I’m hoping the repair guy just didn’t get something tight and it’s not a totally new issue.

And then I was cutting grass and the mower died. Just quit. No dash light, no hour meter, nothing. Well, that’s weird. I tried a few things (including the battery connections) and got nothing. Called John Deere and asked them to come and get the mower AND to come back for the tractor. The mower guy showed up; he changed a fuse and got it running, but it made noises. It made bad, expensive sounding noises. Sixteen years ago, when I was up for the college job, I had three goals if I got the job: New lawn mower, trade in grain drill, and there was a third thing I’ve forgotten, but I got them all.

We have a smaller, older mower and we got that out and running and I went back to cutting grass. Then I drove into a hole and got stuck. Harrumph. I was kinda fed up with the day by that point and I just went to the house and pouted.

Next day, I got a call my knee surgery has been postponed to August 1; need to get over all this other stuff first. (And I’m getting better. Kidney stone is gone, I’m almost walking unassisted again, cellulitis on my foot is cleared up, and PT is going well.) but we don’t want to risk any infections. I get that, but I’m still discouraged. Then I discovered one of the older tractors, a 2 cylinder John Deere 630, the crankcase is full of gas. Man ‘0 man; is there a black cloud over the house??

Sounds like just a shut off valve on the tank leaks, and the fuel leaks into the crankcase. Not the end of the tractor, just needs a fix.

I was pouty again. Went back to bed and figured I needed to just start this day over. Felt better after the nap.

Got the mower out of the hole and cut more grass. Next day made a deal on a different lawn mower.

The neighbors, Dave and Parm, have brought out some cattle.

The bulk oil truck came and refilled the oil containers. Still haven’t seen the price on that.

100 gallons engine oil on the left. 120 gallons trans / hydraulic oil on the right. Will last a couple years.

Kelly has been doing many of the chores while I deal with…. “all this”. 
I do chores because they need to be done; and I need to get through them in order to get on with something else. For Kelly, it’s a nice diversion from work and she enjoys being out there and spending time with the critters. My suggestions for more efficiency, “like I do it” are not always welcome. It’s nice we’ve figured out this difference and I wonder why it took 32 years of marriage to realize it.

Sadly, we’re out of the duckling business. It was quick. Friday morning there was 9 when we got them penned up. Saturday morning there was 8. Sunday morning there was 3 and we noticed them going outside the fence and wandering several feet from momma, who stayed inside the fence. We didn’t expect them to leave her so soon. And maybe she’s a first time Mom and didn’t have the hang of it all yet. Kelly created a smaller pen made of wire with smaller holes the duckling couldn’t get through. And Monday morning, they were all gone and the mom was out too. So, we’re thinking maybe owl? Never seen a hawk come down and the dogs wouldn’t have gone into the pen to get them. I’ve said, the real world is a cruel place. This was sure a learning opportunity.



Today’s post is from Clyde

I have been sketching from old photos, which has been interesting. Learned a few things, had some catharsis, wasted some time. Made me think about all the places I have lived.

1. Sebeka, in home my parents built, still standing, much changed. (44-45)

2. Superior National Forest, dozen miles north of Isabella, a shack torn down long long ago. (45-48)

3. Two Harbors, the farm. All buildings now gone. (48-63)

4. Chicago, dormitory. (63-64)

5. Chicago, apartment in old house. (64)

6. Minneapolis, apartment building very near U hospital, replaced by medical building. (65)

7. Minneapolis, apartment building, now I-35W. (65)

8. Minneapolis, apartment in old house, now I-35W. (65-66)

9. St. Paul, apartment building, Marshall Ave. east of Snelling. (66)

10. Minneapolis, Prospect Part, apartment in old house. (66-68)

11. Lindstrom, apartment in old house. (68-69)

12. Two Harbors, house on North Shore, header photo. (69-97)

13. North Mankato, century-old house, which we updated. (97-07)

14. Mankato. association home, worst place for us to live. (07-10)

15. Mankato, current apartment, from which I think I need to move.

Is 15 above the average for 77 years?

This is our house, or shack, over my shoulder, north of Isabella. I was an industrious thumb-sucker until age 4.5 when I announced I was done. And I was. My father and uncle, back from the war and a angry at the world, my uncle having spent more than two years in a stalag, took jobs in a logging camp. This was a trial for my mother, the bugs, the dirt, the cold in the winter. And her mother with twin teenage boys lived next door; my grandmother was my mother’s trial in life. It was a trial for me, but I have no memory of it. My uncle’s two daughters were nasty to me, have been nasty and miserable all their lives. I never crawled because they would not let me. Are they still alive? No idea.

This was the farmhouse, again behind me. It was not a promising place, but my father rebuilt, wired, plumbed, added on. Re-sided, with asbestos siding in fact. But it was at the upper reaches of poverty, which never seemed that way at all. There is a hint of the poverty and my mother’s frugality, if you look carefully.

How many places have you lived? Any stand out for you?


The other day, when we were talking about ads, I had the tv on for a bit in the afternoon and I looked up just in time to see a young woman sporting a pair of jeans that were definitely flared at the ankle.  I actually backed up the ad to confirm I had seen it correctly.  Not only were the jeans flared out but the word “flare” actually flashed across the screen.  After fifty years it was a little hard to believe that flare jeans have become retro.

I called YA to confirm that flare jeans are “in” but she was very quick (and very vehement) in pointing out that it’s just a little flare that is in, not the huge wide flare jeans that were popular back in the 70s.  I remember the outfit that I put together for the first day back of sophomore year in high school.  Wide faded flare jeans with a “Make Love Not War” sweatshirt and a watch with a huge white wristband.  I thought I was the cat’s meow.  During the time that flared jeans were popular, I altered a few of mine by slitting open the leg and expanding the flare with bright patterned material.  All the rage!

YA tried to get me to promise not to purchase any flare jeans for myself.  She said “just keep your seventies memories to yourself.”  I’m pretty sure I should be insulted but I can’t quite figure out how.

Anything you’d like to come around again?  Or not?