Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Yeah, it’s fall

Yeah, it’s fall

barnRecent overnights lows have reached the thirties in western North Dakota, people are making plans for a trip to the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers’ Reunion and mowing the lawn is no longer a twice-weekly chore. It is fall.

Don’t check your calendar; a calendar is just a grid with some dates and pictures of goats in trees or maybe a picture of an old tractor just above the grid. Calendars and seasons to me are suited more to geographical areas with less variety and less volatility in their weather. The greatest indicator of autumn is when the cats don’t want to adventure outdoors at night because it is too cold. I am sitting here now flanked by the cats and they want nothing to do with outside.

What does fall mean? It means you should finish your summer projects now or you will spend the winter with only Tyvek on your house because you ran out of time to side it. I am not sounding the alarm too soon as most projects take longer than planned and progress only slows when you have to wear gloves. Get on it now or else your summer of 2015 projects will become spring of 2016 projects.

My summer projects are done with the exception of a shop door installation. I ordered the door in June from one of the Grand Forks lumber yards and finally received it in late August. I never expect what I order to arrive the first time and if it does then it is typically the wrong item. The shop door did not disappoint. There’s a certain forced patience that is implied with any merchandise order of this kind.

You can see the desperation in the eyes of parents as they buy clothes for their child’s return to school. These are the final days of the three-day week-end. The three-day week-end was made for camping or a lake home and those times will soon be gone. No one spends an extra vacation day when it is cold outside, better to be at work where misery loves-lunch.

I need to get busy soon however I just noticed the instructions to door installation include three separate drill bits. I don’t know if I have all three separate bits however I do have one tool that makes all the other tools work-resourcefulness. A resourceful person knows that a 3/16 bit, a ¼ inch bit and 5/16 bit are all the same bit. You just use the 3/16 bit for each hole but “waller-out” the ¼ a bit more and “Waller” the 5/16 even more.

I could compare fall to an aging man’s life or get sentimental as I review a summer quickly fading. The truth is, I have concrete proof of fall. I just arrived home from the first day of the sugar beet harvest pre-pile. Since 1991, my fall has included the harvest, this one is no different. I came home a little dusty, kind of highway-friend and tired of my own sandwiches after one day. Yeah, it’s fall.


Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave

Letter to Dave

Dear Dave,

My, my my-what shall we talk about? I guess it is probably obvious to you and I but not everyone.

Viking Good Old Days was last week-end and it was fantastic. The highlight of the week-end was seeing you drive your restored IHC 450 Farmall tractor. It even made the “Times” with a nice picture and caption of how you restored the tractor in honor of our brother, Steve. I was really impressed by the parade and there were many nice floats and some really cherry tractors. I mean they were really impressive. There was even a restored manure spreader that looked better than new!

The Good Old Days program was also a lot of fun and featured great acts and a lot of shared memories. The theme this year was a “PTA Talent Show” and featured memories were of the Viking School, its teachers and support staff. It was one of those bright, shiny week-ends that create memories from which to draw in times when life isn’t so great. Everyone involved should be very proud. It was a tremendous week-end.
It was so nice to see people from Viking and many of my former teachers, Dave. Those teachers did so much for me and I can never forget it. I can trace many of my interests, my personal habits, job selection and philosophies right back to those people. I got to thank a few of them however many of them are now gone.

I must confess Dave; my favorite part of the week-end was watching the tail end of the Viking’s pre-season game together after the program in Viking. It was also nice to have breakfast together the next day. I hope your trip home, and your tractor’s trip, was pleasant.
Farming seems to be going well, Dave which was reflected in the USDA’s recent report. Some are done with combining while others have a fair amount left however it appears to be an excellent overall harvest. I am custom-grazing Peterson’s cow/calf pairs at our place and they look so nice. A pair of people were out here taking pictures of the cattle and my grazing system a few days ago. I recently saw the pictures and was amazed at the condition of the cattle. I think I am so used to seeing cattle in magazines that it is easier to judge cattle condition through a picture rather than face to face.

Finally, Dave I wanted to mention a letter I recently received. Betty Melgard took time from her day to reach out to me. She told me she had always read my column until a change in residence moved her from the Northern Watch coverage area. I sent her one of my books which she finished in one evening. Here’s the thing Dave, Betty is a fellow Bohemian. As Betty read my book, she noticed that our mother’s maiden name was Zavoral and she figured it out; we’re both Bohunks! I know a fellow Czech almost right away and Betty said something “struck a chord” when she and I spoke on the phone which was confirmed by the book.
Again, nice to see you and the family last week-end.
You’re little bro’

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflecitons Radio program, My rules of order

My rules of order

barnI recently had a question about how a meeting should be conducted. I checked with “Robert’s Rules of Order” and got my answer. I also found that many of “Robert’s” rules were not always being followed. One such rules demands that to speak you must be first to stand after the current speaker finishes. I suspect this taxes the legs in the same way long-winded diatribes tax the ears of listeners. You can find the rules of Robert online at You can find my rules right here.

Let’s deal with the blowhard, the person who finds no music sweeter than his or her own voice. The person who filibusters a whole meeting is displaying a not-so-subtle form of control. Not only do you hear only that person’s ideas but no one else gets to share their ideas. Even those who wish to speak begin to self-edit in an effort to save time and never fully speak. Some people may even simply say nothing because they worry this blowhard will then spin out of control verbally based on a new idea.

I believe talk at a meeting is important. Ideas are brought to light this way however many of those creative ideas should form prior to the meeting. On the boards I have sat on, you are sent the agenda and the pertinent information upon which agenda items will be decided. Much of the creative process should occur prior to the meeting, based upon information sent prior to the meeting. If everyone has to listen to the “magic” of a board member’s creative process as it is born, we may all still be sitting in our chairs when the creative process graduates college. I like to read the information sent to me and then consider it when I am working at home. I then can bring my thoughts to the meeting and communicate them quickly so that others may do the same.

Off-topic comments or even worse; off-topic soliloquys kill meetings as they dilute important topics with hot, flavored air. We all agree to an agenda at the beginning of a meeting and to occasionally go off-topic is not so bad but to intentionally spend large portions of precious meeting time off the topic kills-off the creativity which might have been shared had other board members had time to speak.

Some meetings will feature a person who treats the meeting like their own personal question and answer session. I will give an example. Let’s say you were on a school board meeting and one of your children’s teachers also sat on this board. Now instead of following the agenda and being professional, you decided to ask the teacher about your child’s failing grades. This subject is something that should be dealt with at a private meeting of parent and teacher-not board member to board member. It is unprofessional and very disrespectful to other board members. Personal questions and those questions made in the interest of voters should be presented at the proper time and should not invade time allotted for the other.

Come prepared to a meeting. When I attend a meeting, I assume people have paid for me to be there to listen and to share ideas I have considered beforehand. This is not coffee at the local café. Anyone can express an opinion; it takes a good board member to express an informed opinion. I always get a kick out of it when someone comes to a meeting totally unprepared and then expects some nice person to find them an agenda and whatever else they should have brought themselves.

If you are consistently late to meetings and are over the age of ten then please go cut yourself a switch and find someone to spank you. Oh yeah, and if you think your life is so busy that you are justified in your consistent tardiness, try explaining to the other members of your committee how arriving to a meeting on time means they have empty lives or don’t work as hard as you.

Cell phones are to be turned off or left in your vehicle. If you feel you must make a dramatic rush need to rush from the meeting room each time your cell phone rings then please keep rushing once you’ve left the room. If you have agreed to give time to a meeting then respect the others who have done the same. Make the meeting, the agenda topics and your fellow board people’s ideas a priority.

I think there are few more noble acts than spending your time in the service of the public office. However, good service means you are properly prepared, act in a courteous manner, communicate effectively and check your ego at the door. My rules; simple enough?

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections radio program, The Path Home

The Path Home

450 ihc 1A pathway is rarely established through careful planning; most treks follow a course made as a result of life experiences. Even when it comes to tractors, this is sometimes true.

My brother is Dave Nelson. He and I both like the red tractors quite a lot. We both used Farmall 300 tractors on our parents’ farm near Viking, Minnesota.

Dave wanted to participate in a 45 mile tractor tour about five years ago. About that time, a Farmall 450 was making its own path from a farm in South Dakota to Anamoose, North Dakota on the back of a truck. Dave happened to see the tractor parked at the truck stop in Carrington, North Dakota and thought the tractor was straight and clean and could probably drive the 45 mile tractor tour.

Dave purchased the tractor from Pete’s Tractor Salvage and went about patching it up so it could be road-worthy. I’m sure many full tractor restorations have begun as innocently as this, only to slowly drag their new owner deeper and deeper into ever greater detail.

After the sheet metal was removed, Dave was in deep enough that he decided to find out what was at the bottom. The tractor tour would have to wait-for the next five years.

As time and money allowed, Dave restored that Farmall 450 tractor. He replaced every gasket and seal, put new bearings into the transmission, split the tractor and installed a new torque amplifier, repaired the side bolts broken by a loader mount, repaired the hitch and seat frame, installed new gauges, wiring, tachometer and drive, soldered the radiator, rebuilt the power steering pump, replaced or repaired the hood tins, installed new tires and painted everything. The engine and transmission gears were solid and good so they needed nothing.

Dave is now the owner of a 1957 450 International Harvester Farmall 450 tractor, just out of the showroom. It has 12 different features unique to the 450 to include the automotive steering wheel and 21 gallon tank.

Dave wanted something very similar to those Farmall 300’s we drove back on the farm near Viking. Viking and Farmall’s play a big part in this story as Dave is bringing that fully-restored Farmall 450 to Viking for the Good Old Days parade on August 15th. That night I will emcee the evening program and I will still be flush from the fresh load of nostalgia Dave trailered home for all to see.

That Farmall 450 found Dave more than he found it. Life’s path for a Minnesota boy was changed that day by a South Dakota tractor sitting in a North Dakota truck stop. Five years later, their two paths have combined into a better one.

Dave occasionally posts nice sunset pictures from around Carrington on Facebook. I always thought he was just driving around in his pick-up after a day of work. I also felt a little bad that Dave never got to go on that tractor tour. Towards the end of our conversation, Dave told me that he and his 450 Farmall have logged right around 50 miles in the last few years. I suspect I now know what Dave was driving when he took those pictures and I also suspect he has finished that tractor tour plus some. Good job, Bro’.

Dave on his 450 IHC

This is the before picture with my brother using the 450 to plow pulling a Case 3-14 plow.

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Family Reunion

Family reunion

barnLife has been a little funny lately. I have a story I want to tell
you so I’m just going to tell it. I’m not going to edit it. I am
going to write it and send it to the paper.

I love animals. I don’t just appreciate animals for their beauty or
for their practical use; I plainly love animals.

Friday morning I noticed the some of the insulators were missing from
my interior fence. I stopped out to replace the insulators. I was
almost done when I saw the little calf lying in the grass.
I do not believe there is a good time to die. My father was 90 when
he died and he wasn’t ready to die. However, it is a little worse
seeing young things die.

The calf, lying in the grass, was dead. To say I felt sorry for the
calf would be untrue. I am a Christian and believe that calf was with
God as the Bible clearly says God “loves all things.” I just thought
how the calves’ mother now had no little one to nurse from her or for
which to care. I was crushed. I mean I was really crushed; not
crushed like Kim Kardashian is crushed when her favorite make-up is
gone. I felt ashamed and empty.

Life goes on which is nice sometimes but Friday wasn’t a nice day. I
had to move on and get back to my day. I always feel like the whole
day and the whole world should stop when tragedy reaches into my
world but that doesn’t happen.

I really wanted to work-out with my crew of friends that day but I
had spent the morning taking care of business with that little calf.
I called the calf’s owner, called Doctor Johnson for a post-mortem
and went back into town. I really wanted to see my friends from
cycling class but I was going to miss it.

I found a separate work-out machine to exercise by myself. I was
only a little way into the work-out when I heard a loud voice. It was
Chris. Chris is so energetic and full of life that he makes a room
start to vibrate. He came up and talked to me for about five minutes
and really popped me out of the little depression that the calf’s
death created for me. Later, I heard a little sweet, creaky alto
voice say my name. It was Jan. Jan came up beside me and listened to
me breath hard and talk about the calf. Finally, Katie came over from
teaching the class I missed and sat down on the machine closest to
me. We talked just made normal conversation but it made me feel so

I am a closed off person to most unless I trust you like family. A
lot of my family consists of animals and that little calf was
something which made my heart lift but now was dead. I needed
family. In that moment of need, pedaling on the exercise machine, I
needed family- to help me and maybe talk to me.

I needed a brother; Chris came to talk to me.
I needed a sister; Jan came and talked to me.
I needed a niece; Katie came and talked to me.

I felt like I lost family when that little calf died. However in that
moment of time, when I was meek and needed help, I gained a whole new