Thursday, January 31, 2013

July Farmer Fred Award Runners Up

My only defense of this post is to say that if you can't be silly, there wouldn't be enough laughter to keep us going. This post made Farmer Fred laugh in the middle of serious work, not all of it pleasant.
The Second Runner Up for July:
Click on the link above the photo to read this post.

We strive to teach readers about farming in GriggsDakota. One of the ways we do that is working with AdFarm, an International Company that specializes in marketing agricultural products. They rent a piece of ground in GriggsDakota with the intention of learning more about farming. 
As we start the second half of the Farmer Fred Awards it is important to remember that this is a working farm. We like to show you the fun involved, but make no mistake about it. This is serious business. We use big machinery and work in short weather windows to raise a crop in our climate. As farmers everywhere can tell you, it is not a crop until it is harvested and delivered. There is always great rejoicing when harvest begins. 
The July Runner Up:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

June Farmer Fred Award: Lessons from an Old Cowboy

Although we call him Farmer Fred, he was raised with horses and his cowboy roots run deep. He comes from a ranching family.
 Farmer Fred wouldn't choose this post for a Farmer Fred Award because he is too prominently featured. 
His family presents the June Farmer Fred Award to none other than Farmer Fred, our old cowboy. He inspires and takes care of us all. 
We are proud of you and all the old cowboys who shaped you.
 With love from your outlaws, who never really learned to ride bareback very well.
The Farmer Fred Award for June is presented to:
"Lessons from an Old Cowboy"
On a day like today, it is good to be a cowboy. 
 Even if you were raised in a city.
 When that is the case, it is useful to have an old cowboy hanging around.
 Farmer Fred wants the world to be full of cowboys and well broke horses.
So he is willing to give a lesson or two. 
Learning to ride a horse does not require a saddle or a hat. 
A rope is handy when riding a horse. 
 Boots are not as important as a gentle horse, like Pearl.
Training a colt to lead can be done from a horse. 
Attention to detail is important when training a pony. 
Sometimes the lessons do not need to be taught to the cowboy. 
The lesson goes to the horse. 
The horse needs to go where the rider directs. 
And at the speed the rider chooses. 
Cowgirls take a turn on a well broke horse. 
When an old cowboy decides to give lessons, 
There's a long line of students in GriggsDakota.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Farmer Fred Awards June Runner Ups

June is the month that many residents wait for all year. There are residents who will not leave North Dakota for any reason during June. There are also thousands of people who have left North Dakota to reside somewhere else, but always are called back for a visit by June.
We have loved North Dakota for our whole lives. We loved North Dakota as it was and thought GriggsDakota to be the only place left in the world that was as wild as we are. Our family intends to love this place long into the future, 
but change is hard.
The Second Runner Up for June:
"Oil Development Changes Dakota"

Click on the link above the photo to visit the Second Runner Up Post.
When choosing the Awards, Farmer Fred keeps in mind that this is first and foremost a tool for teaching others about life on the farm in GriggsDakota. This post reminds us that there are many things that we cannot control. 
June's First Runner Up: 
You can visit this post by clicking on the link above the photo.

Monday, January 28, 2013

May Farmer Fred Award: Love is Something that We Do

If you avoid country music because you think it is too simplistic, you haven't listened to Clint Black. His lyrics weave stories that make even rugged old cowboys stop and think. That takes a special poet. When Clint Black sets his poetry to music, I hear genius despite the cowboy twang. The May winner contains lyrics by Clint Black and Skip Ewing,but their story is ours.
The May Farmer Fred Award is presented to:
"Love is Something that We Do"
 "It gives me heart remembering how
We started with a simple vow, 
There's so much to look back on now 
Still, it feels brand new. 
We're on a road 
That has no end 
And each day we begin again 
Love is 
Not just something that we're in 
It's something that we do."
text from "Something that we Do" by Skip Ewing and Clint Patrick Black

Friday, January 25, 2013

May Farmer Fred Award Runners Up

May is when we get the first taste of true Spring in GriggsDakota. Though often still cold and windy, May is when the stiffness of Winter moves out. It is a time of new beginnings.
We found a new beginning on this farmstead after a devastating flood in 1997. Thinking about our fresh start is what inspired me to look back and find the names of people who first began their farm on this ground.
The Second Runner Up for May:
Click on the link above the photo to visit this post.

I have done many posts through the years that deal with the domestic side of life on the farm. Farmer Fred does not choose them for awards. I think that we must credit input from the Farm Inspector and the Ag Analyst for this month's choice.
The First Runner Up for May:
Just click on the link above to find what is really the first of a three part series. There are links on the post to connect to them if you wish.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

April Farmer Fred Award: The Value of An Egg

We seem to be on a bit of a history theme, but this post leaps to the Matriarch's family. Grandma Esther was a whiz at making something from nothing. A doll from yarn or rags, a game from a button, add a string and she had a toy. She did everything with a fancy flair. She cared about every opinion.
The April Farmer Fred Award is presented to:
"The Value of an Egg" 
 Grandma married a handsome farmer and was very happy about her good fortune. Her brothers were not pleased to have her marry and leave their home. Their mother had died when she was ten and Grandma was well practiced as a homemaker long before she set up her own home. 
Click on Remember to get a glimpse into her girlhood.
Grandma worked hard and was proud of it. She was working on a better life for her family.
She raised chickens, and carefully squirreled away the money she earned selling eggs.
What is the value of an egg? Cheap and precious, eggs were sold for pennies, but provided nutrition that was an essential part of the GriggsDakota diet. Pregnant mothers were given extra egg yolks as a nutritional boost to their unborn baby. Hard boiled egg yolks were one of the first solid foods given to a young child. Whole boiled eggs were chopped finely and sprinkled onto a piece of old newspaper as the first food of hatching chicks.
Grandma saved money from selling eggs and invested it in beauty. Fostoria glassware was purchased and prized. 
She bought it at Ringstad's store. The store owner, Thor, called it "itched glass." 
After their family was grown and their hard work was paying off, Grandpa and Grandma built a new house. Modest by today's standards, it was Grandma's castle.
To her family, the sparkling beauty of the etched Fostoria was the sign of a special occasion.
She entertained us in that house and served her family for as long as she was able.
I think about those dishes and her love of beauty nearly every time that I boil an egg.
We watched her once strong body turn frail as she became a great great grandmother.
I saw the sun setting,
 but she saw the moon rising.
She moved to the nursing home, where she befriended young staff members. She listened to their stories and doled out advice on the subjects she knew best: home and family. She gave them small gifts and offered the egg yolks from her breakfast plate to anyone who was noticeably pregnant. Those women will never forget her.
And somewhere Grandma Esther is smiling.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

April Farmer Fred Award Runners Up

When horses pulled farm equipment, wagons, and sleds, the families grew to love their horses. Iris remembers listening to her parents decide if a much loved horse, who had died that day, should be skinned out. The decision was yes, and her father did the job. The skin was sent to Montgomery Ward where it was made into a warm robe to cover traveling passengers on cold winter rides in the bobsled. First the horse and then its robe served her family well. 
It is not the same as in the days of horses, but tractors develop a form of personality known best to those that drive them. We take good care of them and they last a long time, but unbeknownst to me at the time, this was the last day for our old favorite, the CaseIH 9170.
The April Second Runner Up:
Click on the link above to visit the post.

I have been told that I didn't respond quickly enough to the school lunch issues or the pink slime crisis in the beef industry. In today's world, speed is of the utmost importance. But these issues are ongoing and  continue to plague agriculture. Pink Slime is food with a disgusting name, but safe and nourishing none the less. School lunches are no longer under the control of local school boards and cooks. The reprieve on federal requirements is temporary. Hunter and many other students are still going hungry in school. It is especially devastating to children who do not go home to kitchens full of food on the weekends. Those students come back to school on Monday hungrier than ever. 
Shame on us.
The First Runner Up for April is:
Please click on the link to read the post.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

March Farmer Fred Award: The Artist was a Farmer

We're presenting Farmer Fred Awards in GriggsDakota. The March winner was written for the many people who loved my grandfather, but didn't get to stay at his house as much as I did.
The Farmer Fred Award for March is presented to:
"The Artist Was A Farmer"
 There is more to tell about my Grandpa Oscar. He was about 70 years old when I was born.
 These are memories:
 Grandpa smoked most of the time. His mother smoked a corn cob pipe and let him start smoking when he was three years old. He was very cute. Eventually he had a cancer spot cut out of his lip. That is when he gave up cigarettes and exclusively smoked a pipe. That way, the tobacco didn't touch his lip. 
When I was very young, he had his left leg amputated above the knee. He walked with a cane and an artificial leg. We never thought about it, except when he squeaked. He would go down to his basement shop, take off his leg and oil it. Sometimes he oiled it in the morning, before he put it on for the day. Seeing him without his leg attached always surprised me. He told me that he could still feel his toes and foot. They itched and he used Mentholatum to sooth the stump of his leg. 
He died when I was 15.
When I was a little girl we were in the living room of the GriggsDakota farmhouse. I was sitting in his lap. Ashes from his cigarette burned a hole in my dress. My mother was upset and Grandpa felt terrible. 
When I was about ten years old, I asked him to stop smoking. He told me it was impossible. I reminded him that my dad had quit. "Yes," he replied, "but he was jung (young) and has an awfully strict wife."
I grew up loving the smell of second hand smoke. Even now, a whiff of pipe tobacco brings me back.
Grandpa loved to go for a ride in a car. He thought it was a privilege and a luxury.  This is the earliest photo of him in a car. He liked invention, innovation and appreciated health care. He liked horehound candy, black licorice, and sugar lumps. I liked black licorice and sugar lumps. 
I took invention, innovation, and health care for granted.
Grandpa Oscar always had time for children and his friends. He is putting a new engine in the tractor above, but has his eye on his nieces and his son. 
He loved to watch things grow. 
He especially enjoyed stopping for coffee and lunch. Lunch on a farm is a ten o'clock in the morning and four o'clock in the afternoon ritual. Breakfast, Forenoon Lunch, Dinner, Afternoon Lunch, and Supper are the traditional meals in GriggsDakota. Evening lunch was served to company after a visit, just before they departed for home.
 He loved raising flowers and building gardens. 
He once told me that the hardest part of living a long life is watching your friends die. I am old enough to believe him.
Grandpa Oscar was a musician. He played the cornet in this band, but he also could play the violin. I know this because he bought one at an auction sale when I was a girl. He would play and sometimes sing along while Grandma and I danced. He sat by the table on a chair. We preferred to dance in the dining room, sometimes twirling into the kitchen. No one danced on the rug. 
 Grandpa appreciated a well dressed girl like these four who likely played some gigs with him. As my grandfather, he often noticed what I was wearing. He disapproved when I wore mini skirts in the winter during my "long legged girl in the short dress" days. He predicted that some day my bare knees would ache from the cold. Once in a while on a cold winter day, I recall his prediction.
Grandpa liked to make things out of wood, but he also made bookends and vases with paper mache. 
He was missing half a finger. I don't think it was because he was a poor carpenter. He used hand tools most of the time. I think his finger was cut off in a pump jack.
He saw faces in wood and carved them out. He even made funny faces out of leftover cement.  He saw beauty in rocks and GriggsDakota has lots of rocks. He built a rock garden. He welded stools for the shop out of old machinery seats and would make anything that my dad wanted. Sometimes he let me help him in the shop. He was frugal. Nothing went to waste.
 Grandpa made this cupboard for my Christmas present. He liked to wipe paint onto wood and then varnish over it. He thought it camouflaged the flaws in cheap wood. Over 50 years later, the Farm Inspector and the Ag Analyst play with this cupboard, still entirely original, well made.
Grandpa Oscar, Grandma Signa and whoever was around including me, made many other things such as the object above. It is a container that could be used as a waste basket. It is made from rolled magazine pages glued to a restaurant size ice cream carton. It is finished with two inch cuts of plastic clothes line. I use it to hold card games.
He thought it was foolish to put together a huge jig saw puzzle and then take it apart. So he glued the puzzle together when we finished, mounted it on a board, and hung it in the basement. 
Grandpa could draw his own pictures and then color them. He had beautiful hand writing and told me that I should work on mine. He preferred a blank piece of paper to a coloring book and so did I. When he wanted the yellow crayon, he asked for the "jellow" one. When he wanted me to pass the bowl of jiggly fruit dessert, he asked for the "yell-o," even if it was red or green. It has to do with being Norwegian. 
He liked soft foods, he had false teeth. I was surprised when he took his teeth out after a meal. He enjoyed my reaction and he laughed with Grandma. That occurred on several occasions. He would wipe them off or take out his pocket knife and scrape on  a spot that was bothering him. Years later I learned that Grandma had false teeth, too. I had never seen her without her teeth or noticed a container in which she cleaned them laying around. Women make secrets of things like that.
 When I was a girl Grandpa told me that a person should always carry matches and a pocket knife. I took that advice seriously and for years, carried both. Those two objects were always either in my pocket or in my purse. I lived through the candle and incense era of the late 1960's and 70's and always had a match. It never occurred to me that Grandpa thought matches were important because he smoked. I have never smoked a single cigarette. (Thanks to my dad's strict wife.) Farmer Fred, noting the contents of my purse years after Grandpa had passed away, pointed out that I had little need for matches. I'm not sure when I stopped carrying a pocket knife, but I know there have been many times when I've missed having it in my pocket. Maybe when I need dentures, I'll start carrying one again.
Grandpa Oscar loved to laugh and no one appreciated his family more than he did. He never seemed to notice any shortcomings in us.
He played games with us, Checkers when we were little and cards when we were older. Checkers with Grandpa was the most fun. Sometimes, when I had played myself into trouble, he would announce that it was time to turn the board. He would take over my trouble and usually won anyway. Sometimes, in mid-game he would announce that he was thirsty and that I should go and split a can of root beer into two glasses for us. When I returned, it was always his turn. After his move I would have a magic checkers moment when I could jump and claim all of his pieces. Game over, I won. Grandpa would laugh and we would drink our root beer.
He was insulted when my dad called him a capitalist and would argue against the "capitalistic system." I think that made him a conservative Democrat which seems an oxymoron today.
Grandpa Oscar  was an artist and a farmer. He lived with integrity. He bowed his head in prayer before he ate or slept. After I had prayed "Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest" and proclaimed "Amen," his head remain bowed, his hands folded for another moment or two. I asked him why he did that and he told me " I have more to pray about."
I don't remember hugging him often or ever saying that I loved him. He certainly never said those words to me. I had to figure that out for myself. It has to do with being Norwegian.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love." 
From The Bible - 1 Corinthians 13:13
And that's how I remember Grandpa Oscar in GriggsDakota.