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Kimball, Minnesota
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April 9, 2009     Tri-County News
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Thursday, April 9, 2009 Community Page 7 Tri-County News * Kimball, MN Compiled by the Kimball Area Historical Society % Echoes down a half-century Part 6 - On the Farm Duane D. Stanley, 2009 "You can take the boy from the farm but you can't take the farm from the boy" certainly applied to Dad. No matter where we lived, Dad had at least a couple acres, a cow or two, and a whole gaggle of chickens. (Or is that for geese?) Now farming isn't transmitted in the genes; it comes with hands- on living. I don't claim that a year with some Kimball farm experi- ence put permanent dirt under my fingernailg, but I do look back fifty years with the fondest of memo- ries from the farm. Actually, two farms: Grandpa Lafe Stanley's and Uncle Merton Eaton's. There I grew in courage to reach under a clucking hen to steel her eggs. I firmly grasped the milk bottle with its massive nip- ple as abandoned lambs pushed and jerked on the substitute. Michael almost choked to death on a mouthful of powdered milk that Merton kept to mix for the calves. Sunday afternoon found us fishing for sunnies off the rotting dock at the pond. O.K., I was a kid: I also shot out 14 windows around Grandpa's farm with my B-B gun. (He complained about the repairs in one of the very fewletters he ever sent to us in Africa.) I even learned one of those safety lessons that sel- dom actually take. Merton scared me with stories of those who failed to learn: Never go under a belt run- ning off a power take off. So sharp is my memory of pluck- ing purple plums from behind the granary as juice streamed down our chins onto logo-less white T-shirts, that even today, when I bite into a plum and smell the sweet aroma, I am immediately transported back behind the gra- nary. We rose early (Why must farmers get up so early in the morning?) to pick gunny sacks full of sweet corn to deliver to the St. Cloud supermarket for same-day- fresh sale. Grandpa's farming emphasis changed over time, but it always included chickens. Chickens were upstairs in the barn where the air was barely breathable. (The B-B holes in the windows could only have helped the poor birds.) Lay- ing hens were in the hen house across the lawn. And a thousand free-ranging young pullets sur- rounded three army-surplus Quonset huts out beyond the plum trees. I liked them most, as I got to drive the tractor pulling a sled, or even the pickup, taking fresh water and feed to the huts, pref- erably without running over any feathered friends. We hauled the eggs in wire pails with wood handles back to the house, always in the side door, to the far end of the kitchen. There we placed them on the old wood- burning stove. The stove was a remnant, no longer used for cook- ing. I don't know if it remained for nostalgic reasons, or just from the thought of carrying the over- sized, overweight, cast iron mon- ster out. Between pails were two or three sanding blocks. As the day faded,'I would occasionally sit with Grandpa as we used the sanding blocks to strip away any dried droppings or clinging straw. Eggs found in the yard had to be checked for freshness by trying to float them in water. I recall watch- ing Grandpa demonstrate how to "candle" eggs, checking to see if a brood hen had been trying to incu bate them, though I confess I can't really recall the process. Fresh, clean eggs were then put into the large boxes kept in the cool base- ment. I believe each box held 40 dozen, two and half dozen to each layer on each side of the box. Every couple days someone arrived to carry off the filled boxes and leave empties in their place. Great memories surround my opportunity to drive, mainly the tractors, but also Grandpa's rusty old 1950 (or thereabouts) Stude- baker pickup. Grandpa first let me sit on his lap and steer, then let me work the long floor-mounted gear lever as he pushed in the clutch. Soon, I was driving around the farm yard, such as carting that feed to chickens at the Quonset huts. I really didn't need to change gears much for that, an advantage, as I really couldn't push down the clutch and look out of the wind- shield at the same time. (Mum refused to even listen to the sto- ries.) Grandpa had two ancientMin- neapolis Molines, with hand- clutches, just long steel bars that one .pulled on to engage and pushed forward to disengage. Merton, on the other hand, had a fairly new Allis-Chalmers, with a foot clutch, and a matching baler that kicked out round bales - not "Mystery Farm" aerial photos appeared as a contest each week in the Tri-County News from sometime in 1957 until into 1959. This is Grandpa Lafe Stanley's farm as the "Mystery Farm." the large kind popular today, but sixth annual Community and about the same size as the com- mon square ones. I was playing at driving in the machine shed one day when I was stung by a bumble bee. That kind of thing made me feel like a child. But my skills could also make me feel pretty grown up, as when Bryce Thiel asked me if I would come help him on his hobby farm one day in the summer. It would speed things up consider- ably if he could just walk along and hoist bales onto the wagon with- out mounting and dismounting the tractor to move it ahead each thirty feet. I quickly mastered the little blue and silver Ford. We were an efficient team, and at the end of the day when he dropped me off at home, he pulled out his wal- let and gave me a crisp five dollar bill. Though I hadn't expected to be paid, I was ecstatic to claim the first real money I really earned for real employment. (Dollars from dads and grandpas don't count.) I felt very'grown up indeed. Thank you for visiting our exhibit booth during Kimball's Business Expo March 28. And the door prize winners are Sue Gohman - keepsake trivet; Robyn Frank - keepsake cups; Shan- non Dahl - Maine Prairie History; Pete Axford - keepsake history map; Colleen Mackereth and Alice Scheeler - keepsake note cards; Chuck Sterling - membership; Liz Karvonen - crystal jar. Congratu- lations to you all. Mark your calendars: April 28 - The Greatest Generation- World War H with guest speaker Profes- sor Lloyd Petersen from the Uni- versity of Minnesota. More details with our April 23 column. This program has never been featured here. And more in June, August, September, October, and Novem- ber. Always check this column. The City Hall project of resto- ration continues. All of the above, is the heart- beat of what we do. loin us. Write or call the Kimball Area Histori- cal Society, Box 100, Kimball MN 55353; (320) 398-5743 or 398-5250. Treasure the history of you. At Meeker Memorial Hospital, we know your family's health needs change over time. So our team of expert physicians and caring nurses is here for them every step of the way, providing compassionate, personal care from pregnancy and childbirth to pediatrics and adult medicine. Keeping your kids out of mischief? Good luck with that. MEEKER MEMORIAL HOSPITAL 612 South Sibley Ave. / Litehfield, MN 55355 / (320) 693-4519 / meekermemorial.org