Farming in Transition

Hay stacking 1939 at Lake Poinsett.jpg


This picture depicts the transition of the Midwestern United States farmer. This picture was taken in 1938, at that time everything was done on the farm with manual labor, forks, shovels and the help of a couple oxen and later a team of horses.

This is my grandfather stacking wild hay on the still virgin prairie. The seeds on that hay were like little arrows with a three inch shaft. You could throw them like darts. When they got wet they turned into a cork screw and turned them selves into the earth. The horse is operating the hay stacking machine with a big rope. My dad was on top of the stack leveling the hay and making a uniform stack that will shed the snow and rain. My mother and brother might have been bringing lunch.

This was an era about to end, as the farmers started to acquire their first farm tractors. The farmer at that time was barely able to produced enough to sustain his own family and livestock, with some grain left over to sell on the market.

Fast forward to the year 2015. Farming with modern equipment, modern farming methods, new types of seed and fertilizer, they are producing huge quantities of food. One farmer feeding 155 people!

Justin Wan/The Gazette Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks at Englert Theater in Iowa City on May 15. of food.Reynolds says “one Iowa farmer feeds 155 people worldwide.”


My Two Cities Helsinki and Bangkok



The Rock Church in Helsinki



The Prompt: A Tale of Two Cities––If you could split your time between any two cities in the world, what two cities would those be?

My two cities would be Helsinki and Bangkok.

I would spend the summer months in Helsinki and call it my home base, from there I would travel to different countries in the region where my ancestors came from. Helsinki is a very beautiful town and the capital of Finland, it is located on the Gulf of Finland not far from the Baltic Sea. The population is around 1.5 million people. I would visit everything there is to see  there first and enjoy all the local cuisine.

My first side trip would no doubt be to Lapland, reindeer country, the land of the Sami people or reindeer herders. That is where my paternal grandmother Minnie Virtinen came from. They are a very hardy and proud people. I would love to spend some time there and get acquainted with people who are related to my grandmother. Taking a ride on a sled pulled by reindeer, and would surly have to milk a reindeer. When a reindeer was killed, it is said,”The liver was quickly removed and eaten raw.” I might pass on that one.

My next side trip would be Kaafjord Norway where my paternal great-grandfather Ole Hoel came from, our family history there goes back several hundred years. They were fishermen miners, blacksmiths and no doubt some of them were Vikings at one time back in history. I would eat all of the salted herring available while there. My great-grandfather and his two brothers came to America in 1868, they had four sisters who remained in Norway. There would no doubt be many cousins to visit while I was there. My great-grandmother died on the trip to America or shortly after they arrived.

My third side trip would be right in the country of Finland to my maternal grandfather’s town. Oulu Finland. His name was Kalle Vayrynen. He came to America with a couple brothers and sisters in around 1870. The Vayrynen family history in that region goes back to the time the first records were kept. While there a steaming hot sauna, followed by a naked plunge into the lake would have to be on the agenda.

My fourth trip for the summer would be to Sweden to my maternal grandmother’s home town Ruskola, Overtornea, Sweden.
By the time I get there I should be ready to sit down and visit with my blonde haired and blue eyed cousins. Or maybe white haired and cataract covered eyed cousins. It will be a fun time.

November has arrived and I want to get an early start for Bangkok. This might be a shock and awe experience. I hope to fly into Don Muang International Airport just for old times sake. I spent two months there in 1961, as a member of the Able Mable Reconnaissance Task Force. The long  cab ride into Bangkok will bring back memories of many trips to the city.

If they still have the three wheeled cabs in Bangkok, I might walk. Two of us rode a three wheel scooter cab once, the driver weighed about three hundred pounds. Sixty miles an hour in bumper to bumper traffic, very exciting! It will be great to take pictures with a modern camera that does justice to the subjects or objects. The Golden Buddha never looked right in black and white. I should check to see if the Nippa Hut is still open, what the heck I have all winter.

Yum Yum


Daily Prompt–The Power of Touch: Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you?

The texture of homemade bread must be just right.
Knead it with love, let it rise, don’t make it a fight.
While still warm, cover with butter, until runny.
It is now ready for peanut butter and honey.

The Size Of Family Homes In America


The size of homes in the United States proves that keeping up with the Joneses can drive a housing market. The eleventh commandment, ‘don’t covet thy neighbors house-build a bigger one! ‘When you travel around in this country today you will see huge, multi level homes everywhere. Those homes are the barometer, that forecasted the storm, that almost blew our economy away. The housing boom that busted and almost took the United States back to the 1929 Wall Street Crash. The government had to call on the taxpayers to bail out almost all of the big banks because they made ‘poor judgment’ in the real estate markets. Many people feel it was a get richer, quicker scheme planned well in advance of the housing market crash. Why nobody went to the slammer is the 64 trillion dollar question?

The new homes all over the country have been getting larger for more than 20 years. The size of the homes being built today is ridiculous, completely nonsensical. The average size of the American home balloned from 983 square feet in 1950 to 2453 square feet in 2014.
The cost to buy and maintain a home must not even be taken into consideration by the modern home buyer. It is the new American way, buy for show, and don’t consider the dough. We make the drunken sailor look like a Sunday school teacher. If it makes you feel good do it, go for it! The cost of heating and cooling means very little today, just add it to the other time payment debt.

Modern homes are not growing too large in China or any other country. The largest growth is proably in Dubai or other places where American CEOs go to build retirement villas. People in China might consider square inches of space when buying a home. The average income in China is just ovver $2000 per year. Those people are saving money, while their communist government invests in U.S.Treasury Bonds.

Four new homes were built side-by-side at a lake near a few years ago. As each one was built it was constructed larger than the previous one. When the last house was finally finished, it looked like a big old apartment house or a hotel, compared to the others. Each one of those single family homes probably have two people living in them 99% of the time. This type of building boom is very hard to understand. What is the need for all of that space?

We see retired couples all over the country building huge homes for the two of them to live in during the golden years. Their kids are buying their own big-box houses with triple car garages. The unnecessary increased demand for gas and electricity that these monstrosities require is the biggest waste of resources in history. A large percent of Americans live pay check to paycheck. We are setting an example for the rest of the world to follow? Some people around the globe look at our waste, they could loose respect for us or even not wish us well.

These large homes being built in the United States today will be monuments for future generations to look back at. This era will probably be viewed as America’s version of the great pyramids. Future generations will have to live more frugally after we burn up all the natural recources. They will certainly question why such large homes were ever built, and why so much national debt was created and left for them to pay off.

The Red Thread

I like to imagine
love can pull your essence like red thread
through the cold needle of my life now
without you.
From “Did You See The Sky” by Rachel Jamison Webster

He was laying on the roadside 20 miles from nowhere, He could barely move. He thought to himself I’m going to die here like a road killed rabbit. It was the middle of the night and raining hard. A voice started going through his mind, ‘I will never forsake you, I will never leave you.’

It seemed like hours before a car rolled to a stop right next to him. Someone in the car was saying there is a body here on the roadside. The woman in the car was a nurse, she wrapped him in a blanket to keep him warm. That nurse held him for a long time in the rain while her husband drove to get help. The ambulance crew finally arrived, someone said, “this fellow can’t move.” They got him loaded and sped off toward the nearest hospital.  It was a very limited small town hospital.

The doctor there did a bunch of x-rays, then he called a larger hospital. He said, “we’ve got a young fella out here with a broken back, T-12 L-1 what should we do for him?” The specialist replied, “raise the center of the bed with the patient on his back for three days, that should put the spine back in place.” If he can tolerate that, in three days move him to a larger facility. He heard the doctor’s phone conversation and the nurse say,”he’s getting shocky,” The Doctor shouts, “GET him out of here, take him to a room.” Once more he hears, ‘I will never forsake you I will never leave you.’ Three days later they moved him to a larger hospital.

There were many dedicated people on staff to take care of him at the larger hospital. He started physical therapy almost immediately. He walked out of that hospital after three months. With so many people helping him to survive, ‘why’ kept popping up, why am I still alive, why are they doing all this? That calming voice kept going through his mind. ‘I love you, I will never forsake you, I will never leave you.’ This young man encountered many more people during his lifetime who helped him in some way. There was always the question why? We all have a purpose to fulfill while we live in this world, yet we continue to wonder why?

I know this person well, we are connected by a red thread, body and soul.

Norwegian Vikings

Rune Temte as Ubba, the most senior-ranking Dane, in BBC AMERICA’s ‘The Last Kingdom.’ (Photo: BBC AMERICA)
“When you think of the Vikings, do you envision savage brutes wielding swords and shields while wearing helmets with pointy horns? Well, part of that is true. To celebrate this Saturday’s Viking invasion of BBC AMERICA with the epic new drama The Last Kingdom, we separate the truth from mere myth. Who were the Vikings really?”

In response to The Daily Post’ “Ripped from the Headlines!.”

My latest experience with Vikings has been with a football team from Minnesota, or reading joke books full of Ole and Lena stories. I must not forget the famous Norwegian Lutefisk Suppers! When we hear the word Viking, raping, pillaging and plundering come to mind from their past adventures. I would imagine a bit of that went on after a menacing looking Viking boat landed at some villages on the North Sea. From the history books it sounds like those Vikings were not welcome at all ports. Sailors still have a reputation of getting a little rowdy. Huge Viking men were depicted as a hardy lot, they no doubt could put away large quantities of rum and tables full of food at one sitting. The oarsmen no doubt had extremely large muscles, similar to the Viking football players, a very hairy, heavy, hardy, hungry, muscular group.

My ancestors were Norwegian Vikings. Maybe something was wrong with our Viking genes? All of them that I heard about were a very easy going and quiet, a very reserved group of people. They were hardy pioneers coming to America in 1868 with everything they owned in a few steamer trunks and bed rolls. After leaving Ellis Island they made their way west where they worked in the copper mines in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. After working under the lake for a time they moved further west to the iron mines of Northern Minnesota.

After a few years working in the open pit mines they moved west to South Dakota to begin farming. Turning the virgin sod with an ox and a plow. They learned to live off the land when they had to. The life would have been considered more than just hard. It must have been almost unbearable. Blistering hot summers and freezing cold winters, living in a sod house. The family oxen were brought into the old sod shanty for their own good and for the heat from their body’s during a blizzard.

Part of our family stayed in South Dakota, others moved to Alberta Canada. Their pioneer spirit finally found them settled at Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. A beautiful place on the east slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. They started clearing small areas of forested low ground and turning it into farmland. My great-grandfather and his brother were in their sixties at that time. A rather advanced age for someone to start a new life! A large family grew up there, many returned to become American citizens.

My Vikings are sure a disappointment when it comes to the revelry, raping and pillaging, but that is on the don’t do list in these modern days anyhow. Some did square dance until they were a 100 years old. There is a lesson here, hard work never hurt anyone. In my mind, I think I would have been a happy young Viking touring all the countries bordering the North seas. All the LUTEFISK I could eat too! Yeah right?

Beach Trip Cat

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “An Odd Trio.”Today, you can write about whatever you what — but your post must include, in whatever role you see fit, a cat, a bowl of soup, and a beach towel.

Our beach trip that led to a cat.
The ball of fur on the road, wasn’t flat.
We had no idea where it might roam.
Rolled in a beach towel we took him home.
My wife cleaned the cat out on the stoop.
I went in the house to heat us a bowl of soup.
The now fluffy kitten continually cried.
I thought it would stop after being dried.
No crying, if held right under your chin.
The kitten that became rotten as sin.
It seems as though some cats never get ill.
Nine lives for sure, this one is with us still.