Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, A Perfect World
I had planned on one more Christmas column this week but I found a
story that I want to tell today. Please have a nice time with your
family, take time to reflect on the true meaning of this holiday and
Lisa and I had a visitor this week. He was a beautiful striped tom
cat with an enthusiastic personality and an empty belly. Yeah, you
guessed it; we had another cat drop-off out our house. We fed him cat
food covered with chicken soup and set him up temporarily in the cat
house on our porch.
There exists a group of people who see pets as nothing more than
disposable toys. These folks think of pets as furry servants and fail
to realize the responsibility of pet ownership. Spaying, neutering
and proper housing are the basics of pet care. Those who fail the
basics of pet care are the same folks who cause most of our pet
overpopulation and strain the resources of local humane societies.
These are the same folks who I always encourage to either develop
some common sense or just stay on the sidelines of life and try to do
That nice little tom cat dropped at our place was the victim of this
sort of person. He was either dropped off or not connected enough to
his residence (i.e. no love or failure to spay/neuter) that he
wandered to our home. He was not the perpetrator of this trespass; he
was the victim of a lack of human responsibility.
I remember a recent time when people welcomed responsibility. They
used responsibility to define themselves. Have we now failed so much
as a culture that we not only no longer welcome responsibility but we
can’t even perform its most rudimentary aspects? If you place the
level of responsibility of a pet with the enjoyment of same on either
end of the beam of a scale then you will find them equal. What I am
saying is that the more responsible you are with the care of your
pet, the more you will enjoy your pet. You will also be a better
Here’s what happened with the lovely little tom cat that came to our
place. We have three cats and that is all for which we can
responsibly care. I was able to easily put the cat in a pet porter
and bring him to the pound/humane society. In placing him inside a
cage, I felt as though I had betrayed him however that betrayal
occurred well before he arrived at our little farm. He easily went
into a cage at the pound and sat there dejectedly.
There are many sweet discarded pets with short memories that await
new lives at the humane society. Please offer your generosity and
either adopt a pet or give to the Pennington County Humane Society.
The little animal left for us now needs a home and there are more
like him. Lisa and offered him temporary shelter and have now sent
enough money to the humane society to cover a portion of his stay.
Please include the Pennington County Humane Society in this year’s
Christmas gift-giving. After Christmas, please consider adopting one
or more new pets and bring them into your responsible care. For
donations or questions, please call the humane society at
218-681-8045 or go to pawstrf.org.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Christmas Radio program, Christmas Letter to Dave
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Christmas Radio program, the Advent Calendar
I have a need to mark time. I need to see tangible points that mark
the passage of time so that I don’t feel I have wasted my life. I
don’t waste my days during Christmas, I mark time with an Advent
The Advent Calendar does not follow the Christian season of Advent
exactly. Advent begins the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas where any
Advent Calendar I’ve ever seen begins the First and ends the 25th of
December. Most Advent calendars are just two pieces of heavy paper
place on top of each other. The top piece will have little pre-cut
doors to pull open with each passing day of December. The front piece
of paper usually is adorned with a scene from either the birth of
Jesus or something more secular. As it is in most cases, the reward
is not the door but rather what lies behind it.
I still have anticipation when I open each Advent Calendar door.
Some Advent Calendars are made of wood with substantial doors that
cover pockets large enough to store a small gift. Prior to its
opening the door, I can hope for anything. In one situation I could
find a stale piece of chocolate while another may find a verse that
gives the Holiday needed perspective.
We never had Advent Calendars around the house until recently. Lisa
and I both had them as kids but only recently did they appear on the
refrigerator. I wanted one for some time but wanted to build a rather
intricate and ornate version which always seemed beyond my skills. I
think there is a lesson in this experience. I alone separated myself
from the joy of an Advent Calendar through my own insistence of
adding complications. It is like this for many at Christmas time who
seem hijack what is a fairly simply birthday celebration and instead
create a multi-layered bacchanalia so complicated that there is no
time for quiet reflection on the meaning of Christmas. When there is
no meaning then the complicated traditions become the reason for the
holiday and these traditions alone are unfulfilling. They are like
eating cake only with no protein and complex carbohydrates to back
the sugar rush.
Okay, here is where the Advent Calendar really goes to work. While
some calendars hold only candy behind each door, others tell the true
story of Christmas. This is not the story of old Saint Nick on the
rooftop but rather the birth of Jesus Christ, you know- the story you
hear each year on the Charlie Brown Christmas special and read so
well by Sally’s boyfriend Linus. Any child’s birth holds the interest
of family and friends but this birth includes all mankind. It is a
story that provides drama, anticipation and draws you into a
Christmas that doesn’t depend on lay-away. Just as sure as Jesus was
born to save mankind, the story of Christmas will save you from a
hollowed-out holiday of no substance. The story is never told in a
more compelling fashion than in the piecemeal manner of the Advent
calendar. I highly suggest you find one.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Pre-holiday cleaning
I plan to celebrate Christmas with four columns as is my tradition.
Prior to those columns, I would like to empty the shelves of any
topics that might exceed their “use-by” date prior to the New Year.
This topic may go bad as the subject is already spoiled. I read this
week how A.J. Barker quit the Gopher football team because his coach
yelled at him. Coach Jerry Kill apparently gave his player a pep-
talk about his conduct which offended his sensibilities so that he
needed to not only quit but hold a press conference. Here’s the
thing, pep-talks are what coaches do-at least the successful ones.
If a young person is brought up to believe he is such a precious
flower that he can never be corrected by his boss then he is probably
too tender an individual to play football, or live life.
I am never sure what to do with Thanksgiving. If people only give
thanks one day out of the year they probably cannot perform the act
properly. I do know that people get stressed during the holiday so I
would suggest not to wash the floors until the company is gone and to
make sure you provide a good supply of boxed wine-keep your
expectations low. Myself, I work on Thanksgiving so my traditions
are pretty well established.
Whatever happened to the old profanity? It was more culturally
interesting and descriptive than today. Modern profanity seems
without genealogical descent and is much to homogenized. “Consarnit”
was a bit of my favorite profanity while “dad-rattit” may activate
childhood memories for others. Today’s profanity is too coarse and
unimaginative which sometimes leaves me hornswoggled.
When Black Friday comes
Okay, no interpretations on the lyrics to the Steely Dan song of the
same name-too much of a minefield. I just like the title. If you are
now indulging in or are attempting recovery after Black Friday then
you probably need a little consumer insulin. How about this, why not
stop for a few minutes and remember the reason for Christmas-and no
it is not the birth of Santa or Frosty the Snowman. Jesus was born
to save all mankind, not just so you could get thirty percent off.
The Christmas decorations are up in Thief River Falls. I noticed this
year that garland was strung across the street from one building
rooftop to another. I would like to use a source as precarious as my
own memory and state that this is the first year for cross-street
garland, and I really like it. It reminds me of the massive Christmas
centerpieces once strung over 3rd street and Main avenue that
featured garland streaming from all four corners which ended at a
huge Christmas tree. This beautiful display reigned over the
intersection through the holidays and gently blinked a powerful,
emotional message to my young mind. I’m sure that display has been
gone for at least a few decades but I like to visit the sweet corners
of my childhood and the decorations in town found that part of my
brain which stores all of those good times.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, A Good Mistake
I had to build one more thing before the ground froze. This is project crowding tub.
Truthfully, this wasn’t a spontaneous project created to greet winter. I started this last May and finished just this week. I am willing to spend my labor more than money and so do not pale at the scores of hours paid out to create something out of very little.
A crowding tub is a semi-circle of curved gates that cattle are allowed to enter. There is then a heavy gate, mounted on a center pivot, that is swung behind then and moves them through the tub and out the exit into a cattle chute where they organize themselves single file and are then loaded into a trailer.
Crowding tubs start at about four thousand dollars. I didn’t have four thousand for this project but I knew Larry Kruse had a grain bin. Larry finds himself involved in many of my projects but he always stays pretty patient with me. The grain bin would form the semi-circle of the crowding tub.
I believe in class five gravel and geotec fabric, almost as much as I believe God and country. The fabric is laid on leveled ground and the class five goes on top of the fabric. Geotec keeps the black dirt underneath from mixing with the gravel on top and makes a real nice project base. I measured the grain bin and then traced the outside dimensions onto the class five. I then dug a post four feet into the ground about every four feet along the perimeter. Jamie Marimontes and Nate Koland used a telehandler to lift the grain bin over the group of posts that formed the semi-circle and carefully let it down on top of all that class five and geotec. I then bolted the bin to the posts after which I removed the front 1/3 of the grain bin and used those sheets to double the thickness of the remaining sheets that form the crowding tub.
Bryan Steiger (he gets drafted into my crazed projects a lot also) made up the center post which was made of four inch pipe with half-inch sidewalls buried four feet deep into concrete after which I then filled the pipe with concrete. I am not an engineer so I overbuild everything, even deep frost could not move that pipe. I was unable to place a post in one position around the perimeter of the tub and so bent one inch treated boards to follow the curve of the bin and lag bolted each board end to a post.
I am proud of the header system I used across the opening of the bin and often use a flashlight to visit the whole project after Lisa has gone to bed.
I added some new pens, a sorting chute and Bryan built me a palpation cage too but those are all pretty standard so I didn’t mention these little additions. I am most proud of the crowding tub because it left me only about seven hundred dollars lighter and is probably more stout than most professionally-built models.
I like to use my creativity to enlist items forgotten by time to make something better than new. I am supposed to model my life after the example created by the Lord and if He can use the stone cast aside by the builders for a cornerstone then I can sure use a grain bin for a crowding tub.
Did you know last Sunday was Mother In-Law Day? I did not and thought
the name sounded a little like the sentence that comes before a punch
line. There’s always been a little running gag about mothers in-law
but the occasion made me think about my own.
Lisa was the reason for my original proposal years back, however I
knew I was also getting some great in-laws. The standard-bearer of
that little army of Walseths I married into was Jeanette Walseth, my
Now let’s get this out there; I love my mother in-law. I don’t
tolerate her, or humor her or anything less than love her. Anyone who
meets Jeanette always follows the occasion up by telling me “I love
Jeanette” or “I wish she was my mother in-law.”
We call Jeanette the “brave little toaster”, so named after the
children’s book of the same name. Jeanette got this moniker because
she will simply take on anything. She combines work ethic, courage
and loyalty into a carefully-aged ball of energy that can carry out
any task. Church, politics, benevolence of any kind-Jeanette
volunteers and works for the greater glory of all instead or her own
personal glory. I really respect this aspect of Jeanette’s
personality as some people do good acts not for the intrinsic quality
of the act as for public accolade.
I want to give you some Jeanette Walseth history. Jeanette owned the
St Hilaire Hartz Store that sold candy and produce. She ran her
accounts and her store in such a way that it was friendly and
businesslike-not always easy. Later in life she became a nurse and
over the next twenty years helped the sick and scared become neither.
She now works in the break room at Digi Key and at seventy four years
of age maintains her own high standards of work ethic.
Jeanette is a talented artist which she shares with her sister,
Joanne. Jeanette has for years presented everyone who passes the
corner of Markley and James with lovely, traditional Christmas
decorations. The manger scene plus Santa and his reindeer were all
hand made by Jeanette. Jeanette paints scenes onto saw blades and
canvas which are real treasures. Lisa and I have several and we
consider them family heirlooms.
Jeanette possesses the green thumb-although it is tiny like the rest
of her. Her flower garden is balanced, well planned and such a
peaceful place. My sister Debbie has remarked how good it makes her
feel each time she views Jeanette’s colorful corner and border. It is
a gift to any who view it.
Finally, Jeanette is simply a blast. She drinks the same beer as me
and often times even buys. We have had some of our best memories on
her deck and once, when Lisa was gone for the week-end, Jeanette and
I sat there, talked and turned full ones into empty ones. Jeanette
could teach a Master’s class in how to suck the marrow from life. She
is a joyful and cool.
Okay I didn’t get Jeanette anything for Mother In-Laws day, at least
until now. Even though this was a gift, of sorts, every word was true
and people should know it. Happy belated MIL day, Mother Walseth.