September 2012 Archives

Friday Night (No) Lights


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Home games at Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley school played in the afternoons on the unlit field

It's funny how you can't even imagine or guess the things in life that you will end up loving. That's happened to me a few times in life. Like when I was first introduced to the field of Soil Science. Dr. Terry Cooper, U of M Dept. of Soil, Water and Climate, taught a field soils science course where we went around the State and looked at soil cutouts (profiles) and I discovered a whole entire new world and universe. Holding a Munsel Color Chart up to a soil profile and working my eyes to make the perfect, delicate match R5/Y3. I fell head over heels in love with this new world filled of creativity and art and science. The thoughts I developed in those early days of learning Soil Science still drive part of what we are doing on this very farm. And then there's the shocking fact that my daughter got me hooked on country music by insisting that she would help put up the corn ONLY if we stopped listening to MPR and put on some toe tapping tunes. In defense of country music, I've found it hopeful, touching, and more importantly respectful of women.

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CGB Homecoming Parade

My most recent heartfelt attachment has been right under my nose for a few years. Not sure what it was that tipped me over the edge- but it happened at the homecoming football game. Maybe it was watching the children and contributing businesses and clubs on Main Street Graceville, MN for the Homecoming parade. (Though this was the 5th year I've taken in that parade) Perhaps it was being outside for a few hours on one of those few, absolutely perfect autumn afternoons. There are some autumn days in Minnesota so perfect that if you aren't are your knees giving thanks you should have tears in your eyes and bliss in your heart. Maybe it's the fact that my twin boys are now 8 years old and no longer need my 100% vigilant attention at games.
Whatever the combination, something clicked for me and I find myself thoroughly enjoying the world of 9-man high school football.

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There is something wholesome and right about an afternoon 9-man football game out on the prairie. On this particular night, the flag at half mast in remembrance of 9/11 and people were sincere as they, to the last person, held their hands on their hearts for the Star Spangled Banner- my daughter playing for the 1st time in the pep band. The corn fields were ripening and drying beside the field and guys watched from their back of their farmer father's truck. Maybe it's the feeling of being a part of this place--the friendly waves and Jimmy's rap on my shoulder. And the number of caring community members in the sports boosters who spent the game flipping burgers to raise money to keep the sports programs strong. And the game itself is more amazing to me as I watch those boys fly through the air and run with powerful abandon to the end zone. And I feel proud of this community I live in. These folks invest in the kids- the football players and parents spend Saturday mornings playing flag football with the kids as young as second grade.
And so on any given Friday night, you can find and witness some of what is right about rural places. Go Wolverines! #1 ranked 9-man team in Minnesota!

Scarcity and Abundance


There's been enough scarcity to go around these days. Remember those pictures of the lush corn crop in late June? And that story about The First Cutting of Hay? Well, it was the only cutting. The corn died and the hay crop didn't grow (but is still hunkering in!). No hay to sell and the corn yield will be well below the bill paying level, yet enough not to trigger crop insurance payments (maybe 50 bushels an acre).

Here's what a few hundred acres of dead corn looks like in August 2012.

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The soil is turning to dust and on our farm the clay soil cracks are so deep, you can't see the bottoms. I turned the camera flash on this crack- hoping to see how deep it went. The soils are losing all their structure and becoming fine dust. I suspect this is what they felt like going into the dust bowl years

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And not just farming is impacted by this long, dry spell we are having in our township. I say our township, because the weather has been spotty and erratic. Some farms 7-8 miles away had a crucial July rain that saved their crops. Hell- some of them are getting bumper crops just 15 miles away.

The wetlands are drying up. There is 50 feet of dry pond bottom at the place the kids and I used to put in the canoe. The picture below is the slough at the corner of our section. That pond is completely dried up- the duck nesting house standing in cracked mud.

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And we pretty much got skunked with the garden in 2012. Mike fell on April 13 and by the time he was on his feet it was too late to plant. And yet.... and yet. We are experiencing great abundance of produce thanks to good, caring and kind neighbors. I'm spending all day today putting up a cornucopia of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, squash, onions, green and yellow bean, peppers, this 12# head of cabbage. Deb, Bruce, Dorothy, Dianne, Simon and Jo and all of you who have dropped off veggies for us this year-- thank you for sharing your summer's labor with us. We hope to return the favor for years to come.

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And so in parting, this summer has seen a scarcity of rain and abundance of neighborliness and produce.

And it somehow fits with the goodness I saw in town yesterday. The Red Cross blood mobile spent a few short hours in our little town of 400 people yesterday afternoon. About 10% of the town's population showed up to give blood- the farmers, truckers, teacher, mom, post master, carpenter, and senior citizens. We've lost so many people from this town and county. And yet.... and yet- here they all are on a nice late summer day, giving back, giving generously, giving from the heart (and vein).

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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