Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Turkey as The National Symbol?

Soon it will be Thanksgiving, the day most of us will eat turkey. We have had wild turkey flocks in GriggsDakota, although predators like coyotes, bald eagles and owls, have caused their numbers to dwindle.  I wondered how it was that a brilliant man like Benjamin Franklin could have wanted the silly Turkey as the official symbol of America rather than the majestic Bald Eagle.  
How could it be that a man who left us with so many brilliant ideas and improvements, from bifocals to Daylight Saving Time, judge the turkey most worthy of this honor? 
After a bit of research it appears that he proposed this only once in a letter to his daughter dated January 26, 1784. The letter, written from France suggests he was primarily disgusted with the drawing of the eagle as the official symbol of America and commented that it looked more like a turkey. It seems the founding fathers accepted the eagle design of Charles Thomson on the day he submitted it. They clearly had bigger issues on their minds and decided that a bird in the hand was a fine symbol indeed. It was a year and a half later when writing to his daughter that Mr. Franklin lapsed into analyzing the moral character of the eagle which he judged to be poor. The eagle he claimed to be lousy and a thief. From there he suggested the turkey to be a much more worthy symbol. It seems these thoughts occurred to him after long consideration of the eagle sketch on the symbol for our nation.
"For the truth the turkey is in  comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America," Mr. Franklin wrote to his daughter.
So I now understand that the suggestion by Benjamin Franklin was in a humorous rambling written at a time when he wanted his beloved girl to know she was in his thoughts, without telling her too much of what he was actually up to. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hiring Signs in Western North Dakota

Every Monday we welcome our daughter Kirsti to blog from her home in Western North Dakota's oil patch. 

We see a lot of hiring signs in North Dakota. A booming economy does that.
But sometimes my husband and I come across a sign that's unique and interesting. Something that goes beyond the "Apply Inside."
Here are a couple of the signs we've noticed in our area.

Little Ceaser's Pizza. Home of the $5.00 hot-and-ready pizza. Also home of a $500 signing bonus, apparently.


I like the tactic this gas station is using asking for quality employees right off the bat. The photo is taken from further away but the sign reads:
 "Now Hiring
Dependable
Honest Clerks
$13 & Up"

If the sign's creator had another line I think he would write "Riffraff need not apply."

Have you seen any signs that make you stop and take a photo?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Recipe: Grandma's Cranberry Relish


I don't know who gets credit for today's Cranberry Relish Recipe. It could be either Grandma who first started making it. Possibly the recipe came through the Homemaker's Club. They were both in the club, as was my Mom. They are all included in the photo above that Grandpa took at a long ago meeting. Mom standing on the left, her Mom seated nearest her, and Grandma Signa standing on the right.
What I suspect to be most likely is that the recipe was printed on the cranberry bag. I can remember Grandma telling me to always read recipes on the package. If one looks good, give it a try. The recipe is there to sell the product, so these are usually good recipes, she reasoned.
Wherever this recipe originated, it is delicious. Cranberry Relish goes well with all kinds of meat and dishes made with meat. 
 When I was young, a bowl of cranberry relish was on the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We serve it more often now. I like to have some in the refrigerator so I can mix it with other fruit in a salad. I especially like to mix it with apples, pecans, miniature marshmallows and whipped cream. It tastes like happiness to me.
 The recipe has only three ingredients:
1 pound fresh cranberries
 Outer peel of one orange
and one cup of sugar. 
I use a peeler over the orange skin and grind it with the cranberries. I use the grinder attachment on my mixer. Grandma Nola uses her food processor to chop the cranberries and grates the orange on a box grater. We both spent years making this with a hand grinder fastened to the edge of the kitchen table. All methods work for us, but when grinding by hand, we ground the cranberries when they were slightly frozen to keep the juice from dripping. With electric means, use fresh cranberries.
I make large batches of this relish for Thanksgiving and Christmas, using several pounds of cranberries. Since our recipe was written down, the size of cranberry bags has changed. They are now sold in 12 ounce bags. So if you are going to make just a little relish from one 12 ounce bag of cranberries, you would add no more than 3/4 cup of sugar. 
This is one of those recipes that you can adjust to personal taste. I add a little less sugar than the recipe calls for, but it is delicious when fully sweetened. 
Stir the sugar in and let the mixture stand for a few hours or overnight before serving to let the flavors blend and the sugar fully melt into the fruit. Cranberry Relish keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks and freezes well. 
It feels festive in GriggsDakota when the cranberry relish is ready for the table. 
Grandma's Cranberry Relish
1 pound fresh cranberries
Zest from one orange
1 Cup Sugar
Grind the cranberries. Grate or grind the orange peel. Mix in one cup of sugar. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving. Freezes well.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Watching the Winter Wheat

 It is two months since we planted Winter Wheat in GriggsDakota. 
 Now it has established and has a light snow cover.
The sky was marshmallowy on the day I drove by the field and I had trouble focusing on the ground. 
 It has been cold, but we are hopeful that the Winter Wheat is fine in the warm soil under its light snow blanket.
 I daydream for a while, thinking of other times that I have checked this field. Winter Wheat was fascinating on the Summer day in the photo above. The Farm Inspector was just beginning her job of looking things over and checking everything out. 
 Winter Wheat sprouts in the Fall, then lives in a semi-dormant state through the Winter. In the Spring it will sprout and grow, if it is undamaged by the Winter Cold. We have had good success, but it is far from a sure thing that the Wheat will survive. As the temperature drops, it will need deeper snow cover to hold the soil heat in. Without snow cover, the roots of the Winter Wheat will freeze.
Winter Wheat is tough and it produces a tough straw and a husk that holds onto its kernel. That makes it the best choice for wheat weaving and crafting. 
The Winter wind and cold has been relentless in November, but so far so good in the Winter Wheat fields of GriggsDakota.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Clean Everything Out

When I first spotted something going on, I thought it had something to do with the cattle. 
 It didn't take long to realize that the guys were cleaning out the sprayer.
 Before this step takes place, let me assure you, the sprayer is properly cleaned out and flushed with fresh water.
 But in a climate where things won't thaw out until April, it is important to remove water from the pipes, hoses and nozzles of the sprayer and all equipment stored in the cold.
So they run the sprayer out of water, check it, dry things off, and run it again. 
After this is done, the equipment is ready for cold storage through the Winter in GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Finally Finishing the Corn

This is a cold November morning with the temperature just above zero Fahrenheit and the wind blowing relentlessly with gusts that nearly knock me over. This is the day we plan to actually finish the corn.
I told you a few weeks ago that we had finished combining the corn. In this cold country, combining corn is always a hurry as fast as you can activity. The change of season is upon us and we know any day could be the last nice day we have. We were lucky to finish the corn on the very last nice day of Fall this year.
We finished by putting corn that was not quite dry enough for long term storage into bins temporarily.  The corn is removed from the bin, taken to the dryer to remove the excess moisture. The grain is vacuumed from the bin by the grain vacuum, noisy machine powered by the Power Takeoff and Hydraulics of the tractor to which it is hitched.
The corn is deposited into the truck box and hauled to the dryer site. 
 On this cold windy day, the uninitiated could mistake this for a fire, but it is the excess moisture that causes steam to come off of the corn as it is dried.
When the corn is dried to a safe storage level of 14.5% moisture, it is carried by auger the waiting grain cart. In this operation the grain cart never moves. That way the drier never has to shut down. There is a constant flow of grain in and out during the drying process.

From the grain cart, the corn travels to the truck which will transport it back to the bin. 
When all the corn is dry and back in the bin, we are finally done with harvest for 2014 in GriggsDakota.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Just what's Down there Anyway?

In the Fall we begin to notice that animals are digging. 
They are building new homes for the Winter. 
Some find safer spots than others. On the road, where they are likely to be hit by a car and their home destroyed by passing machinery is not a wise choice. 
Young animals, going out on their own, have the instinct to dig holes for their homes. Gophers and badgers are usually the ones digging, secretly, perhaps in the night. Don't you just wonder what is going on down there?
 Maybe it's flashes of Wind in the Willows :  Ratty, Mole, Badger. 
Or it could be the knowledge that long ago my grandpa spent a winter in a dugout, which was really little more than a man sized gopher hole, but snug and warm. 
I don't know why I am fascinated with what is going on down there, in the holes in the ground.  
For the animals, I imagine waistcoats and dresses, afternoon tea and music. In Summer there are swimming parties and feasts in the fields.
Perhaps only above the ground they are rodents and pests. In the underground world there could be an array of niceties reserved for elite society.
Now that the weather has turned cold, I hope the residents of the ground dug very deeply into the warm earth and that they stored enough food for the entire holiday season. The season might continue on and on to include Easter in our cold climate. 
Walking upright through their tunnels from place to place in their finest clothing, the refined residents enjoy the peace and quiet of the ever connecting and perfectly appointed underground world.
The possibilities feed an overactive imagination on this cold November day in GriggsDakota.