Friday, October 27, 2017

Rural Life

Wednesday evening I took a quick ride to Red Wing on the sidecar rig, knowing full well that it might be awhile (months??) before the weather and I could cooperate on Satisfying/Fun Conditions again.  It was a dinner ride, cool but wonderful.

As the day's temperatures get cooler and the hours of sunlight shorter, I've been spending more riding time closer to home.  These roads were not only the ones my brother and I started riding on 50 years ago, they were also the roads we drove farm machinery on, hauled hay over, accessed fields for crop work, etc.

As I've already mentioned to some of my riding friends, down at the far end of this distant cornfield there once stood a one room schoolhouse.  My mom attended that school through the 8th grade and once the small neighborhood schools consolidated (and buses appeared), the schools all closed.  In this neighborhood, that meant that everyone attended in Red Wing.

That building was moved to a neighboring farm, desks removed and soon thereafter used as a chicken coup.  During the summers that my brother and I helped mom's brothers on their farm, we helped the chicken coup neighbor clean the chicken manure out of the building that our mom attended school in.  Butch's guidance and stories made the work a lot more interesting and fun than it may seem to someone that wasn't there.

Besides this view which I thought was attractive in more than one way, a recent story that Eric had sent reminded me about the old school, the way the roads ran before being widened, straightened and leveled.  That story had to do with the Armistice Day Blizzard, the anniversary of which was recently remembered and talked about in the area press.  It was Monday, November 11, 1940, a blizzard that took too many by surprise.  The Flower Valley School was let out early, mom was 11 and the neighbor with the chicken's helped her get home.  Mom's shoe was lost on the way and most likely still out there somewhere.

The above photo was taken in Section 11, on the edge of the first "E" in Creek on this topo, looking north.  This USGS Topo map was downloaded from the government site and is the 1950 version.

This morning we woke to a new white coating on the ground; the white coming and going all day with blustery winds, warmer ground temperatures and fluctuating air temps.

I had some shopping to do and was anxious to get out into the weather (using the van) this morning early.  I drove up the Bullard Creek Valley and stopped, did a U-turn and pulled over in Section 10 near the "Y" in Hay to take this photo.  This is that valley, the white area adjacent to the "Y" on the map above.

It was still snowing albeit lightly;it had let up quite a bit when I stopped for this morning's photo.  Difficult to see, the sheep all have snow on their backs.  In late November, 1972, I was plowing this now-harvested soybean field beyond the row of trees.  It had been dark for hours, my goal obviously to finish the field that evening before heading back for our 10PM dinner during harvest time.  Late, maybe 9ish, it had started snowing.  I kept on plowing and even without a cab, actually stayed tough 17-year-old comfortable.  The amount of heat blowing back from the Minneapolis Moline's inline 6 cylinder plus the tremendous heat generated by the transmission and drivetrain mass directly below my feet kept me feeling less cold than you might imagine.  I finished and managed to get the tractor and plow home without running off the gravel roads.  Home, chilled and hungry but very proud and happy that I'd finished what I'd been sent to finish.

This is what I was piloting, my favorite tractor of any I've worked with.....

My view....

And what I was doing that corn stubble not unlike this YouTube gentleman, 'making it black.'  I didn't have a cab though.

Now 6PM and the current radar.....

For the official record, there was no riding done today, October 27, 2017.


  1. This really makes one realize how spoiled and how much we have come to rely on weather forecasts. As much as we complain they are wrong, we can get the hourly on our phones, tablets, and laptops. Wow.

    1. It really is something. I know I've become dependent on current radar, probably more so than the forecast. It's about the most real time look there is, where it's been and where it's going.

  2. TPT has an amazing documentary on the Armistice day Blizzard.

    Is that a Moleboard or a Moldboard plow? Don't see too many of those anymore with conservation tillage and all. - That's the extent of my rural knowledge but as a true Twincitian I've fished that purdy little creek more than a few times.

    Love the family history and seeing the old schools on the topo. Makes me think about all the teachers that worked there, one in every valley.

    1. Jason, I think I've seen that show though it's been awhile. Thanks for the link, I'll take a look.

      You scared me with Moleboard; thought maybe I'd misspelled it though didn't remember using it in the Post.

      That creek ran right through our family's pasture and cropland. A certain Yamaha 125 Enduro I knew well was even sideways in it once, though there were many successful crossings.

      Using old topo maps, I began plotting out each of their old locations with the intention of riding to and photographing each for no real reason other than to do it. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  3. My experience with rural life was limited to roughly four years from grades 3 through 6. We moved to the suburbs in the '60's and I attended a red brick 4 classroom schoolhouse along with all the local farm kids. Those years gave me a glimpse of farm life that is a treasure all these years later.

    Your post brought me back in time.

    1. David, I'm honored to have been a part of taking you back. I don't make an effort to live in the past though there are times when it would be all too easy.

      During the school year we were suburban kids, from the day school let out until it started again, we were farm kids. I feel fortunate to have been part of both and I hope that shows in the stories I attempt to share.