John Wetrosky, Columnist
It was a late spring planting season. Snow lay on the ground at the middle of April and planting machinery sat idle around the farmstead. Due to my growing up years on the farm, I tend to watch farm programming on our TV set. To some, viewing these ag-related programs may seem to be a bit boring when compared to the cop shows, comedy shows and reality shows, but I enjoy hearing about the things that are going on in the ag industry.
Mr. Lewis taught American history while sitting on the edge of his desk, legs crossed, staring at the ceiling. The class in front of him, including me, glared boringly at the aged history books that sat on their desk tops with our pages opened to the Civil War. There was not much life in that 1950s classroom. The class needed a bus trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
My wife, daughter and I carefully pounded the wood duck house together. It was a work of art, we all thought. Bird lovers everywhere are thinking about birdhouses this time of year. As the warm spring zephyrs wobble up from the Southland, birds are sure to follow. Trees that were recently inhabited by native birds are now filled with the trilling and singing of a new batch of feathered creatures. Humans who love birds are busy in their basements and garages constructing what they hope will attract a nesting bird of some type.
In the words of a popular movie, "And so it begins." Much like the Antarctic's march of the penguins, the lemmings going over the cliff or the monarch butterflies heading back north from Mexico, this time of the year sees our basement looking much like Fibber McGee's closet. (For most of whatever young readers I might have, "Fibber McGee and Molly" was a famous early radio show. Young folks probably never heard of them.)
It is that time of year again. A time of the year when the Minnesota Twins are about to return to the tundra with their sunburned skin and full of warm weather. They have escaped the cruel winter blows that we who reside up here have somehow suffered through. It is also the time of year when I do my annual Twins 2019 wins/losses forecast - looked forward to by many and doubted by many more. But, hey, I can't always be right all the time, like I've told my wife and daughter. I am human after all.
A friend of mine is going to be installed into the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame in the upcoming days at the Northwest Sport Show in Minneapolis. His name is Harry Van Doren. Harry passed away a number of years ago and there was some discussion about whether someone should be brought into that circle posthumously. Yes, Harry should be there.
March is moving month. Our farm family moved in March 48 years ago this week. March has always been known as a month folks move from one place to another. It was no different for my family when after selling our small Iowa farm in 1970, we pulled up stakes from that homesteaded piece of sod and headed for the northern boreal forests of northern Minnesota. Farm people never moved around much when I was a kid. Most of the farms in our area, and in many other areas, were homesteaded farms with the same families occupying them for more than a century.
The temperature hovered around 30 below zero that one Iowa farm February morning long ago. Water hydrants were frozen. The top of the cattle water tank held three inches of ice with only a small hole for the Holsteins to draw water from. Steam arose from the hog house where the pigs showed their brilliance by just staying bedded up until the feed wagon arrived. Kind of like me on those kind of mornings. In other words, it was one of the coldest mornings of that winter.
"I think I shall never see "More squirrels staring back at me. "Looking forlorn as they can be, "Waiting for another load of sunflower seeds!" Winter has entered the time when humans and animals tend to get a bit stressed. Deer are wading through the chest-deep drifts in search of a kernel of corn or a tree or flower bud. Grouse are picking at catkins at the tops of aspen trees and then diving under the snow during the night. Snowshoe rabbits are making trails through the woods with their huge, fuzzy back feet. Bears are snoozing in their dens.
There were things you didn't learn from books in my country school. I am about the last generation that had the experience of a true country school. My school was Lincoln Township #2 and sat right across the gravel road from George Muecke's farm in Plymouth County, Iowa. The school space is now occupied by a corn or soybean field. The schoolhouse was moved in the mid-1950s to the small town of Hinton, just six miles to the west and used as a house for a time.