Here is this week’s Rural Refelctions Radio program, Letter to Dave September 2012
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Burley
A great dusty cloud of man and machine arrived one day. These were
untamed, gray men unhindered by the conventions of the rules of the
road or of soap and washcloth. These were the riders of the Great
Pembina Trail ride. (Pembina Trail runs along the Agassiz Interbeach area about 10 miles west of Thief River Falls. It goes north to south for many miles)
Lisa and I heard their rumble a few years ago, at that time they were
a small group of friends and relatives who rode their all-terrain
vehicles across road and through gravel pit. Their eventual goal was
the beer garden at the Pennington County Fair. They included our two
nephews, Derek and Cody, and our buddy Lee Rolland plus a group of
road-warriors some of whom were connected by blood others by no more
than a deep, abiding belief in the curative powers of beer.
The boys were back recently and made their usual stop at our farm. I
noticed Casey Skjerven had dedicated all available storage to
high-quality sustenance-like blister packs of cheese and crackers.
Casey apparently has a deep and abiding belief in the curative powers
of partially-hydrogenated oil. However his willingness to share and
his good character were evidenced by the expectation of occasional
calls from fellow riders of “hey Casey, throw me a lunchable.”
I laughed over a cold one as I surveyed the scene in our front yard
that day. Dirty machines and dirtier drivers all drying in the
sunshine after a visit to the last mud hole in Pennington County-they
appeared as the cast of the classic post-apocalyptic movie, “Mad Max,
the Road Warrior.” Lisa and I talked to as many as we could and I
even drove Cody’s new wheeler. This brief test drive gave me the
fever for a new atv- quickly cured by the price tag.
We wondered if next year we should have a sprinkler system set up to
cool these guys off or maybe get some corporate sponsorship and book
“Molly Hatchet” or “Lynyrd Skynyrd” to play an open air concert for
these guys. Lee suggested we set-up a “car wash” for the driver’s to
pass through on the way into the yard. It’s really not a bad idea,
although the hot water wash cycle might cause a few injuries.
I believe we had 22 wheelers and riders that day, an awesome sight.
They came in two groups, those who create the dust and those who
drive through it. Some of the drivers had goggles for protection
while others sported only a protective layer of dust or wildly
overgrown facial hair. I am a big believer in comfort which caused
me to admire our visitors who were dressed in such a way that
entering an establishment with a “no shoes, no shirt, no service”
policy would have been an act of war.
Like Santa, they left without cue but with perfect disorganized
purpose. The fast ones, the side by sides, the slow ones and finally
the sweeper atv which is responsible for picking up survivors. We
watched all 22 leave in a moveable cloud of dust into the sun and
against the wind.
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Gone Fishin’
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, Letter to Dave
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio program, King of the Road
We got our rain after your fields took what they needed, plus a
little extra. It seems whatever rain crosses Carrington, North Dakota
ends up here, Dave. We’ve had a about two and a quarter inches of
rain since I wrote you a month ago. A little rain really changes your
perspective, it just makes things seems more lively. There is a lot
of corn around here this year and it seems to grow noticeably even
overnight. I also believe we will see a fair amount of combines the
middle of July or so harvesting the rapidly maturing small grains.
This has been the best of my last 17 years in residency for the
sighting of birds. I counted probably 15 gold finches just the other
night. We’ve also had a flicker, with the black bib and red poll,
hanging around recently. We have a good variety of birds and there’s
nothing like sitting on the porch and nursing a cup of coffee in the
morning or cold beer at night while birds of all variety act out
their lives. I think the high population has a lot to do with Lisa’s
flower selection and consistent bird food and water. We started
feeding a sunflower seed mix this summer from Fleet and I think it
made a difference; so many mixes rely on millet which the birds seem
to waste. Our bird waterer is ingenious in manufacture It serves to
both water the birds and provide a bath, plus stores its own supply
of water. I have included a picture for you and those who might want
to purchase one for themselves. (here’s a link if you’re interested) http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/prod_display.cfm?pcatid=21965&cmpid=10csegb&ref=3312&subref=AA .
I work pretty hard to keep mosquitoes and flies at bay, Dave. We use
fly predators, a Manitoba fly trap, fly zapper and mosquito vacuum to
keep things nice. However, we recently have seen an insect that is
welcome, at least on an intellectual level. One night, Jeanette had
stopped by to join Lisa and I on the porch. We believed we were
watching a hummingbird in flight when we realized it just didn’t look
right. It actually looked a bit creepy. A quick online search
revealed it to be a moth, the Hummingbird Moth. It looked a like a
hummingbird but didn’t flap it wings nearly as fast and didn’t have
the crisp body outlines like actual hummingbirds. I kept telling Lisa
it was in her hair which creeped her out and kept me entertained.
I read a recent story about the decrease in area steak houses. Do you
remember the Hi-By, Dave? The Hi-By was so named because it was “By”
“Hi”ghway 59 in what is now the Twice but Nice building here in town.
I loved to play video games after we ate there and look at the
animated Hamms beer signs. Lisa and I both remembered how good the
vegetable tray was at a steakhouse, particularly the Third Base in
Brooks. The tray included pickled peppers, little ears of corn, a
variety of crackers and was a nice offering by itself. The steakhouse
occupied a time of dinner jackets for dad, white gloves for mom and a
Shirley Temple for the kids. Unfortunately they’re few and distant
I am going to spread some fescue and clover on one cattle paddock
after which I’ll let the beeves in to “hoof” the seed into the
ground. I hope it works as seed is a little spendy. Anyway, I better
let you go.
You’re little bro’
Here is this week’s Rural Reflections Radio, Living in the Country
Abandoned farm yards have long sat and waited for life, a break from
the boredom of loneliness. It seems to me more and more of these
lovely sites now have construction or even completed homes. It is
good that these places find purpose but their new inhabitants should
ready themselves for country living.
Moving to the countryside is much like moving to another country, if
you’ve been lived there before-you should be fine. If this is your
first visit, then please learn the customs. It will make a difference
in your enjoyment of this experience and your new neighbor’s
enjoyment of this experience.
First off, the country is not the great pet reserve of which it is
rumored. You need to keep your pets at home or your will be the new
pariah in the township. It is rare to find leash laws out in the
countryside however you will find people have little or no interest
in feeding and housing your dog, cat, horse, marmoset, whatever. If
you keep a pet to teach your child something, then let it be
responsibility. Feed, water and care for your pet on your property;
it is that simple.
In the country, you are basically your own utility company.
Electricity and phone are provided for a fee, however you need to be
able to remove your snow, provide your own water (unless you have
rural water) and dispose of your own waste. You also need to be able
to fix these systems and equipment, at least until professional help
arrives, or your stay in the country will last longer than your
enjoyment of rural life. If I fail to shovel my sidewalk clear of
snow I do not receive a letter from the city; I instead slip, fall
and am unable to care for my cattle. The cause and effect of personal
action or inaction is more immediate in the country.
I think city dwellers can enjoy the mentality that most problems are
cured with a phone call. In the country, you will find more problems
are fixed with a shovel or hammer than the convenience of the
telephone. Rural folks pay less in taxes but that is because we
demand fewer services or provide for ourselves. If the cell phone is
your only skill, stay in town.
If you still feel like a move to the country, please find a mentor
from the pool of people who are already in the country. An event that
may cause you massive concern may be just regular life to us simple
country folk. You may find a crp fire an excellent reason to panic,
wet down pillow cases and fight it “Little house on the
Prairie”-style; however to us most crp fires are just land
management. Also if you see a truck with a tank on it spreading the
contents of a recently-pumped septic tank into a field, it is not
cause to call the Environmental Protection Agency, it is just
If you move to the country you will need some tools. You’ll need a
set of flat wrenches, a socket set, a pry bar, lots of hammers (lots
of hammers,) an air compressor and a couple of crescent wrenches to
start. Another essential in the rural tool kit is patience; without
it you will act without thinking and engage in physical battles you
can only win with your mind. If the only tool you have is a cell
phone then please use it to have someone come rescue you and bring
you back to the relative safety of your nearest municipality.
If my words sound harsh it is only because I speak the truth and wish
to do you the favor of true words without the fat of soft, cushioning
phrases which would dull my message. I have observed today’s homeowner
and find that a percentage of them should stay in town where they can
more easily avail themselves of a higher degree of services or only
venture out as far as the most-recently annexed city lot. Perhaps
some should just skip a few steps and find residence at an
advanced-care facility where they will have to neither clean, cook,
repair or change light bulbs for themselves. There exists a
possibility at that same facility they will find a resourceful old
man or old woman who once did it all and can tell stories of what it
is to live in the country.
Here is this week’s Letter to Dave.