Saturday, October 1, 2022

Small Town America

Barb and I have lived in some small towns in our lives. Communities as small as a couple thousand residents. But we have never experienced a community as small as the ones here in northcentral North Dakota. Douglas is the smallest town in the area at just over 100 people. No schools, no stores, one bar, and one church. Max is the next biggest, about 10 miles away, with a population of ~300. No grocery store, one gas station, two bars and a couple other businesses and churches. If you want groceries, you need to go to Garrison with a population of a whopping 1,700 but you will have to drive about 20 minutes to get there. There are definitely pluses and minuses to living in a smaller community. The pluses are too many to list, like always pulling together in times of need. The downside is everybody always knows what you are up.

My graduating class back in the day was about 300. Small by today’s standards but huge compared to the classes at Max where Chris and Holly’s kids go to. When I asked Holly how many kids were in Gavin’s 3rd grade class, instead of giving me a number, she named each of the kids. I think it totaled 10 or so. Then there are the class reunions. All of the Finken kids graduated from Max high school; 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2015.

Bob graduated from Max as well (DeAnne graduated from Garrison). It would be impolite for me to mention when they graduated but I am pretty sure Bob graduated shortly after the wheel was invented. They do not have class reunions by years here, they have “All Class” reunions, meaning all graduating classes have their reunions together on the same day. Chris and Holly’s oldest son Gavin is now 8 so when he graduates in 2033, there will be three generations of Finken’s at the same class reunion!

On Sunday, Bob, DeAnne and I went to a chicken supper with neighbors (10 miles away) Tim and Linda. We drove to the Catholic Church in Underwood 40 miles away and even there they knew everyone. They even had people coming up to them asking who the “new guy” (me) was!

Days here start at sunrise getting the equipment ready for the day. I took this picture while fueling the equipment for the day.

When I last left you I was harrowing wheat fields getting them ready for next year. Well, not a lot of harrowing has been done in the past week as I broke it. I went to fold up the harrow to move to the next field about a week ago and only ½ of it folded up. Upon closer inspection the problem was obvious. The joint on the right wing was totally broken.  

No, it is not supposed to be cracked like that!
It looked like a bugger to fix. A pin, approximately 2” x 10”, had partially fallen out causing a portion of the joint to crack and bend. Fixing this would require heating, pounding, grinding, cutting and eventually welding everything back into place in a precise position so the pin fits back into place through both pieces.

But if anyone could do it, Farmer Bob could so he set out to tackle the task! Several hours, (more like 5 hours) Bob had it all lined up so the pin slid in and out of place and he welded it back together.

The next day we hauled the harrow back out to the field, got it all lined up to the section we left out in the field, lined it up and pounded the pin back in to place. The big test will be to see if the weld holds. Time will tell on that one!

If there is a bright side, it broke right before it rained so we did not lose any time out of the field. I spent the next few days finishing up the tree rows and working on the combines. This time I was replacing the skids on the bottom of the headers. These skids help protect the header from the ground and rocks as the combine goes down the field. You can see there are two skids missing from the header in the picture below. 

I replaced 20 or so on the first combine and 16 on the next.

Just in time as well as the next day we were in the field harvesting soybeans for a neighbor. With most of their crops in, the guys have been getting calls from surrounding farmers asking for some help. We spent two days harvesting beans for a neighbor. Once that was done, we moved over to their last remaining fields and got that done over the next two days.

Bob and Chris coming across the field

View from the Combine

I carted and hauled it back to the farm. Carting is when you drive next to the combine “on the go” and they dump the soybeans into the cart I am pulling.  The combines have flashing lights on top of them that light up when they are full. I then drive up next to the combine with the cart. You have to match their speed, get within 2-4’ away from the header of the combine and line the cart up with the auger of the combine and drive next to them for a minute or so while they dump.

               Approaching the combine from behind                Dylan dumping into the cart

I then take the cart over to the semi and dump into the semi. Then take the semi to the farm and dump into the grain bin! The combine holds about 15,000 pounds of beans, the cart up to 70,000 pounds and the semi about 54,000 or so. The semi will actually hold more but it gets too heavy. So, if you are driving down the road and see a combine in the field with a light flashing on top you now know they are full and need to dump their grain!

Friday was homecoming day in Max. I did not go to any of the festivities but Bob and DeAnne did partake in the parade. Bob drove his '51 Farmall Super C and DeAnne drove the latest addition to the family, her ’66 VW Bug!

Bob on his C

Calvin waving to Gramma D

Meanwhile back in South Dakota Barb has not slowed down at all. After finishing the bed project, she set her eyes on the kitchen/living room area. She bought a couple of end tables for the living room. These cool whiskey barrel tables fit our d├ęcor perfectly!

Then one day I was scrolling through Facebook Marketplace and came across these stools for sale. I thought “those look like the stools we have in our kitchen”. It was then I noticed those are the stools we have in are kitchen. Or should I say were as she sold them the next day. Apparently, she has a different idea for stools.

She ended up selling them to a woman who responded to the add that lived about 1/2 mile down our road!

Another day she got a message from a friend of ours back in Minnesota who was going to be in the Custer area with her brother. We have not seen Kay in over 10 years. They stopped by the house for an hour or so. I just wish I was there to see them as well!

But alas, I am still here for another 10 days or so slaving away while Barb is back there spending money like a drunken sailor. But as I write this at 5:00am on Saturday morning I am anxiously awaiting sunrise. Today the duck opener here in North Dakota and we are headed out in an hour or so!

Our thoughts go out to those impacted the hurricanes in Florida and Prince Edward Island. My sister Judy owns a place in Fort Myers a few miles up from Fort Myers Beach. Although they are well off the beach the surge reached their house resulting in over 2' of water flooding their house as well as a couple of palms falling on their lanai.

Palm trees on their lanai
Then there was Fiona that hit PEI and New Brunswick. Many of you will remember this sea stack in Thunder Cove on Prince Edward Island named the Teacup that we saw a couple months ago. Well, I guess it is no more.

You can read Marie's blog to learn more about the impact from Fiona.

Last but not least, here is a picture for Pam in Arizona (opps, I've been corrected, Pam lives in Nevada and I knew that!!!) who give me heck every time I post a blog without the dogs in it!

33 comments:

  1. LOL about the bar stools! Good for Barb for updating things and finding a market for the old :) I've attended churches bigger than the towns you guys have lived in, lol. I prefer anonymity so I'm sure I could never live in a small town, but it is neat with the closeness of it with everyone knowing everyone and I'm sure available to help out as needed. It is refreshing to read that such places still exist in America.

    Cute picture of the dogs :)

    betty

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    1. Speaking of churches, I drove by the church in Douglas last Sunday and saw about 6 vehicles out front. Two of them were from this farm!

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  2. I’m surprised you didn’t try to buy the stools. Lol. It’s interesting that only the machines you are using seem to be the “faulty” ones but Farmer spends a lot of time fixing them. There must be an interesting conversation around the dinner table with that thought in mind. Lol. Those towns seem big to me, but the class reunion thing is interesting. Keep working hard, no slacking, everyone’s watching. Lol

    Deb

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    1. Oh, things are always breaking when one is farming. The ground is really hard on equipment, I just protect the other guilty parties.

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  3. Sorry about your sister and especially all those who have it way worse than her. Up here in Tarpon Springs / Holiday area we had nothing. Hard to find a tree limb that fell, let along a tree...yet 2 days before landfall it was up in our area that it was going to hit! It is AMAZING what the water surge will do, what the winds will do...I feel for the folk down south of us. Hard to look at the pictures without thinking, "What if that was Tarpon Springs...."

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    1. You are right, so many houses were completely destroyed down there. Some entire areas were totally wiped out.

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  4. It’s Gay…a HUGE thank you Jim for helping and farming with your friends Bob and his friends who help feed the world. I have passed by many farms in our ravels and marveled at their beauty. The carting pictures and explanation are/is so awesome…thank you for sharing! I an see you are in for a few surprises when you get home. The bar stool story is too funny and I really like the new tables. The devastation from Ian is horrible…so sorry to read about your sister’s home. And thank you Pam…I love puppy photos too!

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    1. I am continuously amazed at the amount of work that goes into farming. It is truly is in their blood as they work harder than any other profession I know of.

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  5. I have learned so much about harvesting and planting from your ND adventures. I'm sure your help is so appreciated...most of the time! That is when equipment is working at the end of a project...haha! You may not recognize the furniture when you return home!! Thanks for an adorable puppy photo. Dakota is really smiling:) Just a gentle reminder that everyone we know settled in AZ, but we are the only ones to retire in Nevada:) Enjoy your last days.

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    1. Duh, I knew that! You are so close to one of our favorite donut stores.

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  6. Yup .... I figured YOU bought the bar stools. Wouldn't Barb be surprised!! When the cat's away, the mice will play, and Barb seems to be having a really good time. good for her!! LOVE LOVE all that heavy equipment.

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    1. I better get home soon, otherwise who knows what kind of trouble she could get in. As it is, I have 10 more days to worry!

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  7. It’s a good thing you guys did your maritime visit before the hurricane destruction! Sorry to hear your sister experienced hurricane damage. Take care!
    Colibaba’s

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    1. I know, both of those areas were just devastated. Hopefully the recovery is quick for both but it often takes years.

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  8. Love to watch the farming from inside my cozy rig. The new tables are cute. How was the duck hunting?

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    1. The tractor are pretty comfy as well. Air conditioning, air ride seats, Bluetooth radio....life is pretty rough. So far so good on the duck hunting, you'll have to wait until next week for final results!

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  9. I enjoyed your description of collecting the grain from the combine. My husband was often involved in making maize silage, but they would drive the truck alongside the combine to collect the crop as it was being harvested. I loved being a passenger when I had the chance to go out with him :)

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    1. For the most part farmers have a silage wagon or a truck behind their silage choppers here.

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  10. We have camped in Fort Myers Beach at the Red Coconut. I imagine it isn’t there anymore after Ian. Glad you got to see your barstools one last time!

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    1. There are several RV and mobile home parks that were totally wiped out. Some areas will never be the same.

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  11. Maybe I am better off that you don't help me out. I get the feeling you would just break everything. Farming would not be for me but I am glad and thankful that people do it. Thanks Farmer Bob and family.

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    1. Things break here because of hard use and they plain wear out. In your case it would be because of your bottom shelf buying habits.

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  12. I kinda love Barb! Whenever I am passing through a small town I wonder about small town life. I have never lived in one. Does it ever get boring?

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    1. Not a lot different than big city life as far as the daily routines of working or running a household. The biggest difference is what people do in their downtime. In the country a lot of that is spent outdoors camping, fishing, gardening. You can still go to the theater and other entertainment but it might be an hour or so away.

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  13. I graduated in a class of 500+ people, but our sons' graduating classes were half of that.... we loved living in our small town in VT. When we moved there, there were more cows than people, 1700 people. We had a small store that if they didn't have it, you didn't need it. Sorry to hear your sisters house sustained damage in Ian.

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  14. i live in a very large town, the town i grew up in, yep, i am still here!! there were 1,000 kids in my graduating class. i love where i live. leaving my neighborhood, if i turn left, that road takes me to the ocean. if i turn left, i end up in farm country. i love your new tables and i really like your wood floors. i follow maries blog, i really enjoy it!!

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    1. Sounds like you have the best of both worlds. City living, close to the ocean and minutes from the country. Does it get any better than that?!?

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  15. I didn't realize there was so much fixing involved with farm equipment and as a farmer you gotta be handy and have many talents, I guess. The churches in tiny villages double as gathering places, to socialize and to ask for help if needed. Love your telling of everyday farming, very interesting.

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    1. There is always something to do and things that need maintenance/repair. Benno would make a great farmer, it seems he can figure pretty much anything out!

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  16. For what was supposedly such a "quiet" hurricane season, the destruction of these few storms has been awful. That rock formation in Nova Scotia was so cool and it's so sad to know it's gone forever. And the damage in Florida is just breathtaking. Fingers crossed that the rest of the Fall will pass with few storms.

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    1. My sister just got to her Florida house and saw it for the first time today. She said the damage to her house and the surrounding area was much more extensive than she thought.

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  17. Bill and I both had less than 50 in our graduating classes while our kids had between 200 and 1200! We're back in small townville for the winter with 20 mile drives to "town" for the closest groceries :-) Looks like lots of long days and hard work in the fields, but has to be satisfying to see it all get done. Fun to have a little hometown break in between!

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    1. Given a choice I will take small town living. If I am in a bigger city for any length of time I start to get anxious and need to find a nice quiet place.

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