Christmas on my mind

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.I was sick a few days this week which gave me time to ruminate on things. I thought about Christmas quite a bit.



Hard Candy Christmas


I can see the internet searches that bring people to the online version of my column. Many of the searches are for “meaning of hard candy Christmas.” I wrote a column with this title without ever answering what is a hard-candy Christmas. Based on simple context and my own sense, I would say it is a Christmas when there was only money enough for hard candy; as opposed to the more expensive chocolates. I think it has become a metaphor for any depression or disappointment during the Holiday season. I myself always prefer hard candy as there is no chance of picking chocolate-covered coconut truffles which are gross.


The Silver-haired elf


I know of no one more filled with Christmas spirit than my mother in-law, Jeanette Walseth. Jeanette brought us warm, caramel rolls at work just the other day. Later on that week, she stopped at the Thief River Falls, Minnesota fire hall and later the city depot with the identical caramel-flavored, aluminum broiler pans of love. She decorates her home with yard ornaments she made herself which pleases everyone and volunteers to perform any service she can get her hands on. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus. Jesus is about love. My mother in-law Jeanette has an amazing capacity to love and backs it up with action. She’s a good example to follow if ever you are interested in being a good person.


The presence of presents


I’ve written often of my own conflict of whether to give presents or not. When presents are given in celebration of the birth of Christ, they are awesome. When gifts become the reason for Christmas, they detract from the celebration of the fact of the historical event of Jesus’ birth. Lisa and I have worked this out. We have taken a portion of our gift-giving and donated it to the Pennington County Humane society. This is the most rewarding gift I give or receive.


You gotta fight, for you right (thanks Beastie Boys)


A recent PEW research poll found that seventy percent of our nation felt it was fine to have religious symbols of Christmas displayed in public places. The other thirty percent would not be purely atheists but would include a percentage of Christians who mistakenly believe that religious symbols somehow violate someone’s rights.


I am offended when someone burns a flag in a public display of anger against America. However , the supreme court has upheld this action under the 1st amendment. Why then, is a display of a religious symbol, which may offend a few, somehow a violation of civil rights? Lets get this straight, your civil rights do not include the right to never be offended.


I believe people of faith, all religions, cast our eyes on the same God; our perspectives are just from many different sides of the same mountain. We need to keep our faith, or all we will be allowed to worship is our own government. This is a false prophet and unworthy. There has been a movement to fight bullies on all fronts. Christians are now bullied by a small, vocal and organized group of people. It is time to worship openly and vocally as a means to prevent our future loss of this right and to say we will not be bullied. Merry Christmas.

Rural Reflections Christmas Radio

Rural Reflections Radio Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Christmas Radio program, Risky Christmas

Risky Christmas

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.It is the time of the year when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and the time leading up to this historic event. It is a time when those who do not believe like to make fun of us as they believe their words will hurt the most. They are like children who need our attention to validate their own beliefs. These people typically gather in small groups on the internet to congratulate themselves on their logic and superior intelligence. I do not disregard small groups however I do not hold much regard for the small minds behind this arrogance.


First off, if you want me to prove God’s love for you, I cannot do it with logic. Only you can feel God’s love through faith. It takes faith for this to work. Faith is a discipline no different from logic or any of the other skills it takes to understand abstract situations. I would say that faith is the highest discipline because our own ego wants us to believe we are God. We fight our faith because to admit to the presence of God is to admit we are not God. It is a childish arrogance and cannot exist in the presence of faith.


Some seek to disprove faith with logic. I don’t know whether you can disprove faith with logic however I would say you definitely cannot prove faith through logic. It is the wrong tool. I would never profess to solve math problems with my faith, I would solve them with logic. Why then, do some seek to force Christians to prove their faith with logic? It is the wrong tool. It is like asking me to fix a car engine using kitchen tools. Those who insist that logic is the only standard by which they will accept faith skew the playing field to favor disbelief. To have faith is to discover the  error of their ways. This is an arrogance we all have, who likes being wrong?


To me, faith is like the heat that rises from the earth. If you look at a frozen lake you will see that it freezes from the top down. Heat always radiates from the earth’s core, through the cold water, and is always a threat to make the ice disappear. Only the presence of constant cold can keep that top layer of water frozen. Some humans are like that; they must constantly try to disprove the presence of God to keep their souls frozen. They use logic instead of faith. If you let you guard down for even a bit, the truth which resides in our core, your own faith, will radiate out and thaw your soul.


I think you must possess an open mind to have faith. It takes a closed mind to adhere to a strict, consistent doctrine which never allows you to wonder about things you see around you. Logic can describe how our world works or even how it was created but cannot tell us who started whatever process brought us here. To wonder, to question and to explore is the path to faith. To hamper yourself with only earthly tools such as logic, is to embrace your own arrogance and to confine your mind to a size that makes you comfortable.


Finally, as we celebrate Christmas, this is a time when your faith should manifest itself in more that just good works, it must be a time when you do these things in God’s name; to give him the applause. In Matthew 10:33 it says; “But whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” You can celebrate the Holidays at your own discretion, but you should celebrate Christmas at your own risk.

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Hat Creek Cattle Company

The Hat Creek Cattle Company

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.In the 1970′s, I loved professional football. The guys that played the game weren’t that much bigger than adults I knew and they didn’t make much more money than adults I knew. They seemed like real people. Now the athletes are larger than I can imagine and better pay leaves them with little in common with me. I recently found a way to have more interest in professional football through a deeper involvement. It’s called fantasy football.


I spoke briefly of fantasy football during my first season. I guessed a lot the first year and did alright. I would like to say I now make decisions based my incredible knowledge however a more honest statement would be that I feel I now guess a bit more proficiently. I have found that a little research helps; particularly research into the strengths and weaknesses of the defenses which your fantasy players will face. I would rather have a decent player facing a poor defense rather than a fantastic player butting heads with a fantastic defense.


I am currently in fifth place. I have to reach fourth place after this week’s game or I cannot reach the play-offs. We use the last three games of the professional regular season for our own play-off so it’s put-up or shut-up time in the fantasy football league known as “Hat Creek Cattle Company.” The name of the league and most of its individual team names have deeper meaning but to explain the meaning cheapens the exclusivity of team ownership.


Team No Confidence” sits high atop the league with a commanding 10-3 record. If I somehow pound my way into fourth place, I would face the team leader. I think I would be performing a familial good as the current fourth-place team is “Gun? What Guns?” “Guns’” and “’Confidence” are brothers and for them to face-off against one-another is about as close as we care to come to a Greek tragedy out on the fantasy playing field. I need “Guns” to lose this week and I need to defeat “Red Lakers” for any of this to work so to paraphrase a Robert Frost poem, “I’ve got miles to go.”


It’s nice, you know? It’s nice to sit and pretend that you have gathered a team to compete under your banner while you watch each individual member play for real on the actual professional team which employs them. To have a reason to watch football after the Vikings have declared defeat well ahead of the fourth quarter is nice. To have a reason to enjoy a little online connection to a bunch of fellow plays who I like, even if it’s virtual, is nice. Even if “High On Purple” defeats me or I lose a squeaker to “Asphalt Monkeys,” it is all still real nice.


What will really be nice is the following. It will be nice if I get into the play-offs. We each pay $20 to get into the league and so to earn my money back, I must win the first play-off match-up. What would be even nicer would be to then defeat the other semi-finalist and claim the big prize. But, what would be even nicer, if after all the smoke has cleared and the reporters have gone home (all make-believe,) there is only one team still standing-for their can be only one-and that team will be…”Captain Nordic!” That might be putting the cart before the horse, let’s just see how this week goes.

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioHere is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, The Time Dial

The time dial

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.Everyone has little personal accessories. Women may have some
cosmetics while men may have a pocketknife and we all typically have
some sort of fob for our keys to keep our pants pocket busy. I want
you to imagine a different accessory, a time dial.

I started thinking about it the last few years. What if each person
had a little dial with all the years of their life inscribed around
the perimeter? You could use the dial to quickly move past painful
times in your life and or turn back the dial to times of personal
history that were pleasurable. The only caveat to this incredible
power would be, each time you turn the dial, you lose some time in
your life. You would still get the pleasurable experiences however
the period of time which you used your power to “fast forward” past would be gone forever. Would you be interested in control of your own

Here’s the thing, you are kind of in control of time. I’ve seen many
people “freeze-up” in times of sadness or incredible stress and
simply wish for time to pass. I’ve also seen folks locked in the
past, too afraid to explore the future or embrace the present. When
you do these things, you are “dialing away” your time and your life.

I think a better way to spend time is to try experience everything as
it occurs. I look back at my life and I typically remember the harder
times in my life more than the happy times. However, I remember the
good elements of these “hard times” more than the time in which they
occur. With this knowledge, I try to always find the sweetness in
even the worst periods of time as they occur, instead of waiting for
the perspective that comes with reflection. I try to enjoy the good
moments within the bad as they happen instead of as they appear upon
later reflection.

I really thought our cat, Magoo, was not going to make it when he was
diagnosed with diabetes. He was spending most of his time on the
laundry room floor in the dark. I decided that if this was my
situation then I had to find the sweetness right then instead of
waiting for reflection to reveal it years from now. I took a couple
of blankets and lay on the floor with Magoo and snuggled with him
until I fell asleep. Magoo got better but that time in the laundry
room will not only be a good memory someday in the future, it was
also a good experience as it occurred; in the present.

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.I like the past, especially country music. It is so tempting to
listen to the old stuff and nothing else. Truth is, even today’s
music has some worthwhile sentiment and even some wisdom. I need to
just find the nuggets as they occur instead waiting for reflection to
give me perspective. I will always like my country classics; however
I am alive now and need to deal with the situation as it exists.

We all have our accessories however I don’t think I will include a
“time dial” as one of mine. It is better to accept, learn and enjoy
what you have today as it occurs. If I need an accessory, perhaps I
could purchase a Swiss army knife to give my pocket something to do.

Rural Reflections Radio

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

Letter to Dave

Dear Dave,


I’ve heard the term “Novembruary” used to describe our current month. This works for me. This month has adopted the earmarks of February; it is bitterly cold and late afternoon brings about that icky, hopeless feeling as filtered, poorly-angled sun heads for the other side of the world.          

I see you are on Facebook, Dave. I made fun of Facebook users for years and now I am a faithful user. It’s nice to have you there to share pictures of hopelessly stuck tractors and animal pictures. I use Facebook mostly to view pictures of cats however it was a useful tool during our recent “Norwegian Spring” as we were able to keep our good politicians in Pennington County and show the rest the convenient exits located at each end of the room. I suspect it will be some time before folks crow about the “new Labree Avenue Mafia” after the voters showed them they are not made of Teflon.

On to farming, Dave; it’s our favorite subject. The Natural Resources Conservation Service was out here this summer and did a battery of tests on our pasture. The tests determine how much organic matter is in the soil and how fast it absorbs water, along with tests for minerals and fertilizer. We will perform these tests for five consecutive years.  Late this fall, NRCS installed units to log soil temperature throughout the winter. I want to do the best with what I have Dave and if I can’t be the biggest cattle farmer around, I want to be the most efficient and this study should help me.

I have been watching land sales, or their lack, Dave.  When commodity prices went crazy, farmers began putting marginal land under the plow. This was land that needed top commodity prices to be worthwhile. Unfortunately, farmers always believe next year will be better and plan accordingly. Some did not plan for current prices. The same stubbornness that makes a farmer so tough also makes him a little slow to make changes. Farmers will now hold on to their unproductive land and continue to invest seed, time and fertilizer into poor crop returns for even poorer prices.  They might even plan to re-sell this land when prices return to their historical highs. Problem is, at lot of fall is going to occur to land prices before they bounce back and most landowners will see these higher  prices from the rocking chair. I checked on some poorer land for pasture but prices are still high. Of course, each owner always reminds me that there are “mineral rights” that go with the land. Most of the “mineral rights” around my area are small spits of sand with a tiny group of orphaned rocks holding hands and hoping someone will mistake the whole mess for gravel. I think most of these landowners would be served well by a phrase I have often lived by: “your first loss is your best loss.”

Our house has never been warmer, Dave. Lisa and I saw something called “Airkrete” advertised as a sort of foam that could be sprayed in between the studs of standing homes. I hate being first to try something so I researched “Airkrete” the best I could then took the plunge. The stuff sprays in through a small hole on the outside wall and cures into something that resembles hardened cotton candy. Anyway, our house has always been chilly even after remodeling it and this year it has been lovely. I am currently wearing shorts and sweating and it’s nine degrees outside and windy.

Ryan was out here last week and picked up his snow blower. I met his brother in-law and we had a good quick talk. I hope the blower works out well for him and if nothing else, it will make swell scrap metal. Tell everyone hello.

You’re little bro’

Rural Reflections Radio

Rural Reflections RadioThis this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Freedom of speech