Saturday, May 29, 2010


This weekend is Memorial Day and Americans are pausing to celebrate freedom and thank those who sacrificed to protect it. 
Many will also make pilgrimages to cemeteries and shed a few tears for those who have passed from this life. Love is unique with its power to make us so happy and so sad. 
In GriggsDakota lilacs draw my memory to homesteaders who brought me here. I am especially mindful of the sacrifice of the pioneering women. It seems to me that the sacrifices made by men are better documented and more often dramatically portrayed than those of women in America.
 Unsung heros, these women lived and worked alongside of their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons. 
I am enjoying lilac blossoms today that were  planted by pioneer women and their families. A pioneer woman lived a life of self-sacrifice. Her goal was a better life for her children and grandchildren.
She lived with purpose and faith.
 Like this woman, who planted lilacs, bore ten children, and died a week after giving birth for the final time. 
In this house where the lilacs still bloom.
 Like thousands of others, she sacrificed her life.
 Her daughter, my grandmother who told me the story only once, watched her mother die as the older girls went out to the field to fetch their father. There was nothing to be done, except to bury her, which they did after having her dressed in her wedding gown. 
They put their sorrow in their pocket and went on. Ten children and a father in a household held together with gritty determination. The older girls were assigned to the youngest ones. My grandmother became a ten year old mother to a not quite three year old boy.
I try to imagine their lives in this house with lilacs and love and chaos. There was no extra money and endless work to be done. All the children were held accountable for their work and responsible for one another. My life has been so blessed by their sacrifices that I cannot clearly see.
They made it work. The children became farmers, teachers, an engineer, a carpenter, the Superintendent of a Class A school in GreaterDakota. They were husband and wives, mothers and fathers. Their father is the proud man in the middle with eight of the ten children. My grandmother is on the lower left. 
Their father taught them that their most valuable inheritance was
 American Citizenship. 
My life is what they hoped for. It took sacrifice from thousands. Remember.
 Celebrate Memorial Day. Happy Summer!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Your Little House

                            Are you from the prairie? 
Is there a homestead in your family history? 
Did your grandparents, however many greats ago, come as immigrants? 
Was English their second language?
Do you know your family stories? 
Why did your family choose to come here?
Maybe you can find your own "Little House" or the spot where it stood. There are stories in every family. Perhaps Laura Ingalls Wilder can inspire you to learn more about your own story. 
Enjoy the journey. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wilder Philosophies

This book has snippets of philosophy taken from the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder. As usual, I was inspired by the similarities between her ideas and those in GriggsDakota.
On our trip to DeSmet we found Wilder's beautiful words etched in stone.
"The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes-it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies."
 In GriggsDakota we say:
"Get out of bed and join the living!"
Laura thinks we eat too much. In GriggsDakota we say:
"To waste or to waist? That is the question!"
Pioneer families had few possessions and many children. I was told that in the early days of GriggsDakota only the baby would get a Christmas present, usually a doll or toy, if the family could manage it. That way even the baby would have something of his own.
In GriggsDakota young women are and have always been instructed to get the best education that they can and see where it takes them.
In GriggsDakota we quote John Wooden on this topic who said:
"I will get ready, and then perhaps, my chance will come."
"The future is in our hands to make it what we will." Laura Ingalls Wilder
In GriggsDakota we have three pieces of advice that cover this Wilder quote:
"Just get going!" "Just do something!" "Just hurry up!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Where is Silver Lake?

Laura left Plum Creek and moved to the Shores of Silver Lake. GriggsDakota is on the shores of Pickeral Lake. 
In 1923 Silver Lake was drained and no longer exists. The historical society is very sad about that and hands out these copies of the news article announcing the project. 
In 1909 Pickeral Lake was drained, according to the Aneta Panorama, but it was only lowered and not eliminated. Because of erosion and general muck settled in this gravel bottom lake, the effort was made to keep it closer to its historic size and depth. During the dusty 1930's, it was nearly dry in some parts. In the flooding 1990's, it covered roads and spread into farmsteads.
Sweet Violets still grow nearby, just as Laura observed in her stories.
Pickeral Lake is a silver prairie lake. When the wind calms down in the evening, glassy water reflects sky and shimmers like treasure.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Laura Ingalls Wilder

While driving around in GreaterDakota, Farmer Fred took a side trip to DeSmet, where the Charles and Caroline Ingalls family lived. They had a homestead claim near this town. Notice the sign in the window, they were open and selling tickets for a tour. Laura Ingalls Wilder made this place famous in her Little House on the Prairie books. Click here for more information.
Buildings have been moved or rebuilt in a park like location in DeSmet. The cottonwood trees are still on the original homestead, but the buildings are gone. Above is the actual surveyors house in which the Ingalls family spent the winter. Photos were not allowed inside, but we were able to tour the house. It is much the way Laura described it in By the Shores of Silver Lake.
Nearby is a rebuilt school house similar to the one in which Laura taught.
As I stepped inside, I doubted the authenticity of the reconstruction. These thin wood walls would not have kept children warm enough during a South Dakota winter. There was no insulation on the walls or roof. The tour guide told us that they burned hay twists made of native grasses in the stove. It took four hay twists to heat a small kettle of water.
We followed our tour guide to the "house in town" Laura described in the book. Pa Ingalls built it and it remains on the original site. Seeing this house reminded me that the Little House books are our stories. This house is every frame house ever built on the plains. Her dugout on Plum Creek is my grandfather's dugout. Struggling, hopeful, courageous and heart breaking, these books are the stories of all the children who settled the plains. Laura Ingalls Wilder is reported to have said that she wasn't writing history, but telling stories from her childhood. She told them from the perspective of a child, charming and innocent. Inadvertently, she spoke for all of us on the American Plains. Her Little House books inspire us to look back and remember the independent, hard working people who settled the area. Be sure your children get a chance to read them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Planting Corn

The rocks are picked and the seed bed is ready for the Adfarm corn to hit the ground.
There is a truckload of corn seed standing by.
The seed has been treated with Jumpstart and Torque, which is a product from EMD Bioscience, plus a fungicide. 
Robbie, our corn planting ace, prepares to plant.
He is planting Pioneer double stacked (glyphosate tolerant and corn borer resistant) Pioneer 39D97 with the required 20% corn borer refuge. The refuge variety is 39D95. Notice the smooth, level seed bed on the photo above. This is important for the  even germination of the seed. This will impact the yield of the crop during harvest.
The planted corn acres received an inch of rain within 48 hours of  planting, to give it an optimum start. We have every reason to be optimistic about the AdFarm Corn for 2010!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Take Turns

On a quiet highway in GreaterDakota, we came upon these signs.
There was six inches of water across this highway and drivers definitely benefited from the caution advised by the signs. We think the world could benefit from thousands of signs just like these posted in stadiums and airports.
For today, this car was happy to pause for us as we took our turn.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fertilizing AdFarm Corn Acres

Farmer Fred is filling the Wilrich Drill with fertilizer to apply to the corn ground.
We are applying a blended fertilizer which is dumped from the truck box, so it can travel by auger up to the box on the Wilrich. The blend is nitrogen, phosphorous, sulpher, and zinc.
The box is soon full so the cover is flipped down and locked.
The ground is still wet and Farmer Fred nearly becomes stuck as he goes around the edge of the field.
The photo only hints at how muddy this ground is.
The soil is wet enough to hold a shape and suck the tires down into its ooze.
It sticks to this dead tree. Turn left, please.
The dust rising up as he drives by is misleading. It comes from the trash on the surface of the field.
The Wilrich improves the seedbed as it applies the fertilizer. It cultivates, then smoothes with harrow teeth.
Packer wheels are rolling on the rear of the implement.

It tills and kills the weeds as it passes.
The hoses need to stay open for the fertilizer to be properly applied.
Farmer Fred checks them and makes adjustment before resuming the work.
The planter will be arriving soon.