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the real deal

How often do you get to hear the words of a former ND governor put to original music? If you are like me, not that often. But a couple weekend’s back proved to be the exception when I went to: “Dakota Air: The Radio Show” here in Bismarck at the Belle Mehus Auditorium. The show was two hours of variety: music, humorous dialogues, singing, little-known facts about Bismarck and more. The show has been edited down into one hour and played a few times on public radio to hopefully get more bang out of the all the efforts it took to produce it.

Now most of the acts weren’t laugh-out-loud funny, extremely witty or performed flawlessly, but they were real (no chance for mulligans) and for the most part uniquely North Dakotan (jokes about Rick [Berg] and Earl [Pomeroy], learning how Gate City Bank got its name, or as I mentioned earlier hearing an original piece of music played by members of the Bismarck Mandan Symphony Orchestra with Clyde Bauman singing the words–opera-style yikes!–of the now classic ND Governor Link “When the Landscape is Quiet Again” speech).

Yeah I realize that these subjects might not appeal to a broad audience, but I appreciated the opportunity to  see locals doing their best to showcase their talents for others.


a tribute on father’s day

Was listening to the radio a couple of days back, and heard a song that really stood out to me. Now when you are driving down US Highway 85 near Grassy Butte you don’t necessarily have the greatest variety of radio stations, but even given ample choice I do choose to listen to country music every now and again and I heard this song.

Now i feel that i am a pretty open-minded individual. Sometimes I feel that i see the merits of both sides of an issue so clearly that I have a hard time having an firm opinion on much of anything-be it a little or large issue. But this song did evoke a strong opinion in me and made me question if I was hearing the words correctly.

So with all this anticipation now built up, and maybe you wondering if I titled this post correctly, let me tell you which song was playing. If you don’t do country music but want to read the lyrics click here. if you are up for listening to it, click here. The artist is Billy Currington and the song is titled “Pretty good at drinkin’ beer.” I’ll include a couple of exerpts:
A go getter maybe I’m not | I’m not known for doin’ a lot | … o hand me one more boys | That’s what I’m here for

Yes, maybe I’m overreacting, but give me a break, even if i put my tongue in my cheek, i can’t see past the words and find the humor. This being father’s day and all (ah yes, the title of my post now becomes more relevant), and thinking about my father, I see how blessed I am that he hasn’t used this song to model his life on. My dad he is a go getter, he is known for doin’ a lot (in service to others), if he says “hand me one more boys” he is probably talking to Titus and I and referring to a tool that he needs to service some machinery. He has served on church board and school board, he is faithful to his family and his word. He shows us the value of strong character and using resources wisely. He doesn’t do a lot of preaching but rather displays his beliefs through his everyday actions.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you and am grateful for you.

snot rocket

Not all of you know this, but I had the great opportunity of living on the same farmstead as both my parents and my paternal grandparents growing up for the first eighteen years of my life. We had many opportunties to spend time together and for me to learn lifelong skills.  I won’t go into details now, but one I feel compelled to share. 

When I was out fencing with grandpa or anywhere without easy access to a kleenex or hanky, but I needed to blow my nose, what does one do? Ah, the snot rocket. Hold one nostril closed, and blow, doing your best not to hit your clothes or body. It is a very useful lifelong skill, that i still have “in my back pocket” so to speak.

Why do I mention this skill? Well I was taken aback when I saw a calf engaging in this practice. I did not know they knew how to do this. He had mainly finished by the time I got my video capabilities set up, but here is what i got

when two isn’t better than one

So on Saturday morning, again I found a calf that seemed to have no mother. This calf was wandering from cow to cow trying to steal some milk but all the mothers either kicked or butted her away.  Dad and I decided to do our own investigation, and within minutes we found cow #174 that quickly became a lead suspect. This cow we knew hadn’t been recorded as having her calf yet, and she had some suspicious material hanging from her rear.  That said she was being very motherly to calf #24. Oh no. Cow #24 was around as well, and was acting pretty confused as to why her calf was being claimed by another cow. Dad stayed by #174 and the #24s, while i went to get the calf that we were nearly certain by now was the daughter of #174. Once we made it together, #174 took  quite a swipe at her own calf and tried to get calf #24 to run away with her. (This is beginning to sound like a daytime talk show, isn’t it–well maybe not but humor me anyway.)

After quickly convening to discuss our options, Dad and I decided that we would take calf #24 with us in the back of the pickup. I held on to it with the endgate open, so that both cow #174 and #24 could reach up to smell/claim it at will, and they followed us the mile or so back to the shed. We got those three locked in close to the shed, and then went out to fetch calf #174.  We brought her and put her right away into a pen in the shed, and then coaxed calf #24 into the shed which easily brought #174 into the shed.

Then we got cow #174 quickly locked into a pen by herself and let the true #24 pair out to live happily ever after as mother-son. Now the real social work begins. We got the cow locked in a shoot so that she really has no place to go, and we tied her foot back so that she cannot kick her calf away. In no time, the hungry calf goes in for her first suck wasting no time. But of course any cow will let any calf suck her when in this type of situation. Our task is to make this cow act and actually be a mother to this calf. The calf’s smell is the primary way (I think anyway) of how a cow identifies her calf. So some veterinarians or some other researchers have worked with that and developed this powder–called “O-No-More” that messes with the cows sense of smell so that she claims the calf that has this powder on.


Not sure if it is a case of correlation or causation, but it worked.


With the cow still locked in the shoot we sprinkled the powder onto the calf and brought the calf right in front of the cow. The cow decides she now likes the smell of the calf and starts becoming motherly towards it.  Before we knew it, the cow was even making motherly noises (as you can hear in the video “Early Riser” below).  This was going better than we expected.

cow 174 getting a smell of her calf, while being locked in a chute


We  are now on day three of them being together in the same pen becoming acquainted, and it is looking like it will be a success story. The real test comes tomorrow when we are going to let them out of the shed and start mixing with other cows and calves. Hopefully mom will still claim daughter and forget about the crazy ideas she had three days ago.

Early riser

Wanted to share a short video clip with you that I shot yesterday on my morning check of the cattle. This little guy was just born, and his mother is cleaning him up, as he tries to stand on his feet for the first time. If you listen closely, besides hearing the motherly sounds of the cow you will hear the state bird of ND, the Western Medowlark sing in the background.

ahh publicity

Oftentimes when meeting people for the first time when I was living in Washington DC, and after going through the formalities of name, workplace, education, etc, more often than not, I’d get: “I think you are the first person I have ever met from North Dakota.”  Some people thought it was unique and had questions of “oh wow, tell me more about ND,” others you could really tell in their response was a heartfelt “Oh, I’m sorry” like I had been born in a prisoner of war camp, while others quickly moved on to other topics or people to talk with. Whatever their response, it sometimes served as a conversation starter to talk about Mt Rushmore, Canada, the Black Hills, or the movies: Dances with Wolves, or Fargo (yes none of which are in or were shot in ND).  No blame intended, with approximately 9 people per square mile, famous North Dakotans like Lawrence Welk or John Burke, and publicity (thus far) that mainly focuses on the cold weather,  it is understandable that one can live a pretty unsheltered life and still not know a whole lot about the state or its people. That said, I ran with the questions and saw them as an opportunity to hopefully dispel some myths and misconceptions about the state.
Where am I going with this, you may ask? Well, this morning i read a NYT article about Williston ND (about 40 miles from where I grew up).   The article follows a few different people that have found themselves here for employment opportunities–mainly in the oil fields–and yet cannot find proper housing. The article describes in detail the conditions (horrible) that people coming here have seen, and yet the local government is fearful of over investing in housing options as it had been burned badly 20-30 years ago when the last oil boom went bust. The people and housing challenges that this article identifies definitely are here, and showcase a real problem that needs to continue to be heard and addressed. That said, when the media focus only on these types of stories about ND it reinforces some overgeneralized stereotypes, and is a little frustrating to those of us who feel that there is more to the state than just transient workers, mobile home parks and cold weather.


Due to my father’s networking at the bull sale he went to at Sitting Bull Auction yesterday up in Williston, he found a neighbor who wanted to buy our two motherless calves that we had been bottle-feeding (the one mentioned below in ‘deadbeat mama,’ as well as another one).  She stopped by this morning to pick them up. It was a little sad to see them go as I loaded them into the buyer’s livestock trailer, but it will mean probably about one hour less of chores (preparing bottles and feeding them three times a day) for us, and the woman who bought them is pretty excited about adding them to her collection of bottle-fed calves, so everyone was happy as we saw them off.