Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio
Finally, someone said it. I was listening to a talk show about weather when a caller made mention that the term “Northern Minnesota” is often used incorrectly. I’ve noticed it myself on statewide weather forecasts and in conversations with people who are not from northernMinnesotawho claim this heritage-kind of like the guy who buys a used Army jacket and claims to have once been a sergeant.
First off, I give my location based on distance fromNorth DakotaandCanadaand prefer to say I am from northwestMinnesota; it just seems a more accurate statement. Northern Minnesota could be anywhere from East Grand Forks toInternationalFallsand onto Grand Marais while northwestMinnesotais…us.
I almost get a little rush when people fromMinnesota’s more tropical areas claim the be northern Minnesotan. I’ve heard the joke that theMinnesotastate legislature regardsSt Cloudas the northern edge ofMinnesotabecause of our light representation due to lower population. We are a political area seen by some of the elected as southernManitobaor easternNorth Dakota. Being of northern descent, I’ve learned that you take the good with the bad based on climate. We seem to get more cold weather but have avoided the huge amounts of snow and rain that folks in theMoorhead,Alexandria, Breckenridge area receive. However, we also have fewer trees (higher-priced ag land is even eliminating shelter-belts) which means the wind blows harder at least until you get out more to the Grygla area. If I am going to own the pain of northernMinnesotawind chill then I don’t want others to claim their character has been forged by the same harsh climates that makes tough northerners. The reality is that they watch our battle from the warmer sidelines.
I would never want to create hard feelings or competition but I would break down northernMinnesotainto several micro-geographies. The Highway Two corridor ranges anywhere from the Pine to Prairie land out near Fosston and Lengby to the cold, barren snow-blindness-inducing tundra along Highway 75. Actually if you follow Highway two as far asDuluthyou are still in northernMinnesotabut into a subdivision of hockey and taconite pellets called “the Range.” If you follow Highway 59 too far south you’ll eventually exit true north in exchange for “Lakes area.” Here is where you should be on the look-out for lots of people who have recently retired from a job in the tech industry, decided to open an antique store, wear a fedora or golf hat and “find themselves” while engaging in meaningful discussions with the local coffee shop barista. Hallock,LakeBronson, Kennedy etc are “deep North” and protect us from invasion byCanada(unless they are here to spend money-then please invade away.)
Maybe my northern pride flared after the recent cold snap prior to impending winter. Kind of like a slap to the head before a football game that makes you believe the pain is normal and even constructive. Maybe I just like being from southernManitobaor easternNorth Dakotaor whatever this land is named. I know we will soon have a chance to earn our legend and pride again as the wind, cold and snow on the fourth season is right around the corner.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio
Here’s what happens when I clear out my mental pantry and serve it. GN
First off, we celebrated our anniversary this week. My mind was
otherwise occupied when I felt panic; had I missed our anniversary? I
realized the nine year milestone was the next day and ordered flowers
directly in proportion to my heightened emotions (anxiety mixed with
fear and love.) That night I casually mentioned to Lisa of our
impending anniversary and she immediately told me I didn’t have to
get her flowers this year. (Note to young men, that means get her
flowers) Anyway, I told her that I had already ordered flowers for
her but that if she wanted, I could keep the receipt and she could
reimburse me at her convenience. My black eye should soon heal.
We closed up the garden this week. Lisa does most of the gardening
however I helped her evacuate the remaining tomatoes and peppers
prior this week’s frost. We picked a lot and left the rest-some too
tiny to ripen or otherwise unusable. It reminded me of culling cattle
for shipping however I don’t have the emotional attachment with
habanera peppers that I do with heifers and steers. I feel like our
farm is a great place for cattle and I get a little guilty when I
send them away. Lisa can always tell something is bothering me after
the steers and I part company.
We did a little pre-pile of the sugar beet harvest this week. It was
nice to see the boys at R and R farms and eat cold, single-serving
beans while I wait in line. Now, I have written about the harvest for
about a decade so there are lots of my stories that exist on the
internet. I have now begun receiving emails from people angry at me
because-well I do know about what they are angry. One left me a
comment that I don’t realize how hard people in the MY sugar beet
processing facilities work-apparently I recently took ownership of
American Crystal Sugar. Considering I drive a pick-up worth about
$1000 and use most of my vacation time for the honor of participating
in the harvest, it is amazing that people perceive me to be an executive
at Crystal Sugar-I don’t even own a suit.
We started feeding and watering birds again this week. We purchased a
bird waterer this summer that is easy to maintain and clean. It is
basically an upside down bottle that feeds into four little troughs
that are kept about ½ inch full of water. You can hang it where you’d
normally hang a bird feeder and I’ve only cleaned it about four times
Finally, Lisa and I are on the marriage tour again this week-end. My
nephew, Derik Nelson will join with Nan Pietruszewski (man that made
my spell checker pop) in marriage. Lisa and I liked Nan from the
start and we tolerate Derik so they should make a nice couple. Truth
is I’ve never loved an insurance salesman as much I do Derik, he’s a
good man and a great nephew; he and Nan will be a happy couple.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio
A website that i find very handy is dailyflagstatus.com.
This website will show you when to bring your flag to half-staff. It also will give you a link to the directive (from the Governor or President) that allows the flag at half-staff. They also provide an automated email to your in box that tells you of any impending half-staff orders.
Also if you display your flag at night it must be lit.
I’ve never understood higher education. My high school teachers always told me I should go to college and get a degree. A degree? I wanted a life and a job that I enjoyed. I wanted to either be a mechanic or work in radio but was told to go to college, not for a reason or to further my aspirations or really any reason. It was like I was being told to “go west, young man” even thought they had no idea what I would do when I arrived “out west” nor did they care that I was happy were I was.
Education is a great thing; it’s always good to learn more about the world. The problem is that each credit is so expensive that formal education should have a goal-like a job to pay back the loan for those expensive credits. I think the days of wandering through paths bordered in ivy-covered fence and being a “student of the world” (that made my gag reflex activate) are gone. Days of being a professional student died somewhere in the early part of the last decade and education must be a tool for success, not just a vague journey that ends in some sort of state-certified and transferable “enlightenment.”
I always hear people use the phrase, “work smarter, not harder.” Well here’s the deal, you have to do both. Also there is no shame in working harder, it’s how the happy places in this world were built. There is some sort of mythical place were students are told they will arrive at post, post-secondary where they will always find a “living-wage” and never have to work harder. This is a falsehood. If you question this last sentence, please go talk to the person who earned a degree and now works on their feet somewhere they earn barely enough to cover their student loan and cares not for the fact they are a student of the world.
I believe tech schools are the best place for many students. I wish I’d gone straight to one myself after high school. In a recent article in Parade magazine, a reported 450,000 openings exists for skilled labor. Plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, cooks, mechanics, etc-jobs unfilled, at least in part, due to students who have skills more related to educational rather than vocational goals. I realize we live in a world that involves a lot of technology, however all of that technology lives within a world built by skills which have existed since the Romans. We still need skilled labor as it cannot be outsourced plus there is such a vacuum of it now-more nationally than locally but still very needed.
If you are in college right now congratulations, if you are there with a specific job in mind then CONGRATULATIONS! If your major is “unspecified” then I would cast aside every other consideration and decide what you’re good at or fires your passion and pursue it with intensity and focus. A college degree is a fantastic achievement. However, I would say that being in your mid to late twenties and being able to support yourself without constant, advanced life support from your parents is an even better one.
I’d like to express my feelings for what currently occupies the
recycle bin of my computer-current affairs that deserve to leave
nothing of themselves except a streak in the toilet bowl. First off
would be the people who complain when Hurricane warnings precede a
storm that isn’t as bad as initially thought. Any Hurricane is
something like the finger of God in strength. If that finger had a
little arthritis this time and was not as strong as predicted, then
be thankful: perhaps the next warning will save your life. Another
fantastic candidate for a good flush is the defense in a local murder
trial in which they allege fear of police is a mitigating factor in
shooting a police officer three times. People don’t fear the police;
they fear justice. It’s like when you’re a child-fear of parental
discipline is the road you walk until you arrive at a place where
you’ve matured and start doing right based on your own good
character. You don’t get to punch mom and dad for making you do right
and you can’t shoot cops who enforce the law that we create. If we
allow the criminal to decide how much justice he or she will accept
then justice will wither and die.
Enough of that, let’s talk weather, Dave. Your recent report is that
Carrington, North Dakota has received approximately 25 inches of
rain in August while other areas close by have right around that
amount. This excess has made your harvest very difficult as evidenced
by local farmers removing tires from their combines and replacing
them with tracks. You explained to me the reason for this is that
tracks exert about ¼ the force on muddy ground as do 20.8 x 42 duals.
Dave, I’m glad you and Erickson Implement were able to help farmers
in central North Dakota by being a major supplier of combine tracks.
The last statistics show you’ve sold 17 sets of tracks while others
suppliers in the area have a combined total of 38 tracks sold at a
price of 59,000 to 70,000. It’s just nice that commodity prices are
high enough to justify extreme harvesting. We are dealing with
water’s excess around here too. There is a large drainage project on
a half section near our farm right now. I have been riding the
‘wheeler down to watch construction but am following our dad’s law in
that I am not getting in the way.
I had a little company this week, Dave. Mark Hayek from NRCS and Tim
Szymanski stopped by for a pasture walk and some cattle talk. I often
feel like I am a Martian among Earthlings when I speak of “grass fed”
or “grass-finished” beef cattle. It was nice to have a couple of guys
visit who speak my brogue. The visit really lit a fire under me as
there are certain techniques such as bale grazing which I’ve wanted
to try and I just needed a little encouragement. The visit really
helped me decide to go for it; it’s sometimes like I already possess
the golden egg but just need a little boost to hatch it.
Anyway, we had three inches of rain here last night so I feel the
pain of rain. I hope your harvest wraps up successfully and you sell
lots of tracks.
Your little bro’