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Loving the snow and cold early in early November and looking forward to having folks come to the farm for a horse drawn hay ride. We are taking reservations by phone 218-966-1354 call or text or email. email@example.com. Some people have tried to contact us through Facebook but I’m sorry to say, I frequently have trouble retrieving or responding messages.
A holiday visit to the farm includes a horse drawn ride through the woods on a sleigh or wagon depending on the snow conditions. I have three different size sleds. The smallest one holds 12-15 people depending on your size and ability to snuggle. My largest sled holds 20-30 depending on the total poundage of passengers. I use three horses rather than two to make it easier on the horses and to avoid getting stuck. I use my wagon ,which can hold about 25, when there is not enough snow to run the sleds. For larger groups, I simply do additional rides.
I have a network of trails through the woods, across the swamp and over the fields. The ride can be as short as 15 minutes and as long as 45. This is often determined by how cold it is and the wind chill. Sometimes I turn around and ask do you want the full trip or are you ready for a short cut. It works especially if the little ones are getting uncomfortable.
Most groups like to tour the barnyard after the ride. This usually involves feeding and petting the animals.
The Welcome Center is heated by a wood pellet stove. We have tables and chairs, outlets for crockpots and toys for the little ones to play with. If requested, I can have a campfire going next to the Welcome Center for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.You bring the food and beverages. We have sticks for roasting. We just ask that your group have responsible adults supervising the fire.
Our admission is $5 per person, two and under are free. If you are paying as a group we can issue wrist bands to people as they arrive. We don’t require a deposit with the reservation and don’t get upset if people cancel because of the cold or illness. I do get upset if people don’t show up and don’t call because I worry about them and wonder if they are ok.
Christmas has always been a special time with my family. Being able to offer the farm as a place where families can do something together is important to us. We have a number of grandparents who book a ride as a gift to their families. They pick up the tab with only one condition, no cell phones.
Our reservations are first come first serve. If you have a date in mind please let me know ASAP. Happy Holidays. Ed and Gayle
Birthdays are something everyone has but everyone is unique. As we get older many of us are less eager to draw attention to the fact that time is not on our side. That seems to change when folks hit 80 or thereabouts. Then everyday is cause for a celebration.
Recently a young girl, Audrey, came to Mr. Ed’s Farm to celebrate the big 06 . Surrounded by friends, cousins, classmates, parents and grand parents, Audrey beamed with being the center of attention on her special day. The girlish giggles, the heartfelt laughter and genuine enthusiasm were proof that a lifelong memories was being made.
Parents enjoy watching their children have fun. However organizing a birthday party can be stressful. There are so many choices. Should we go bowling? Go for pizza? Go to a movie? How do we do the presents? Who should we invite? What can we do different than last year or from what we did for a sibling?
Audrey,’s family visited the Farm in December for a sleigh ride. Audrey let her parents know that it was her preferred place for her sixth birthday party. The rest was easy. Mom called to reserve the date and time. We usually recommend at least two hours. The day arrived. Mom, dad and grandma brought hot dogs, wild rice soup, sloppy joes, chips and a beautiful birthday cake. They finished decorating as the guests arrived. Audrey, in her lovely birthday attire, greeted her friends at the door and showed them where to put the presents.
When all the guests had gathered I pulled the horses up to the door and everyone followed the birthday girl onto the wagon. Off we went for one of the bumpiest rides of the year. The girls squeals and giggles drown out the ooh’s and uff-das of grand parents. Apparently how much we enjoy bumps is an age thing.
Returning pretty much intact to the farm yard, we began the barn tour. The dogs, chickens, sheep, pigs and assorted other critters did their part to make Audrey feel special. Memorable moments include surrounding and attempting to catch a huge black rooster that magically escaped between my legs, holding a bunny, cuddling a day old lamb and feeding hungry sheep and calves. Playing Happy birthday on the “piganio” drew laughter and applause from the party goers.
The time came to return to the Welcome Center, sanitize the hands, and dig in. Following the food and blowing out the candles, presents were opened and gifts exchanged. Adults visited and the children played as dusk settled over the farm. Turning six only happens once in our lives. I think Audrey will remember this day for a long time. I know I will.
Looking for a family activity? Visit a farm, Mr. Ed’s Farm Is a great place to learn about animals, chores and farm life. Call or email to schedule a visit. A typical visit includes a barn tour. Children love feeding the chickens and sheep. The new born lambs are delightful to watch. If you have never cuddled a lamb or bunny in your arms, you are in for a special treat. A horse drawn ride is included with the admission.
The cost for a sleigh ride is $5 per person, children 2 and under are free. Rides are reserved by the hour. Let me know your preferred time and date and we will work from there. Ride length is between 15 and about 45 minutes depending on the weather. The trails are through the woods and across some meadows and pastures. Groups of a dozen or more can reserve the Welcome Center for an additional hour. Visitors are welcome to visit the animals after their ride. Dress for the weather. The horses don’t care about the temperature. The only thing that would cause a cancelation on our end would be icy conditions. We have four different sleighs. Two of the four have hay bale seating. The largest should accommodate a group of 25 depending on the size of the riders. You are welcome to bring your own food and beverages. Call 218-966- 1354 or email mredsfarmLLC@gmail.com with questions and to reserve a time. Ed
Tonight was special. Many children, accompanied by their parents, grand parents, aunts, uncles, siblings and Cub Scout brothers visited the farm. They met the animals. They went for a hay ride. They sang along with the marvelous Casey Aro. And we made ropes.
How I came to learn the art of rope making is told in an earlier blog. “People you meet and things you get roped into.”
Rope making is magical in more than one way. Each child gets to choose their colors. I have twelve different ones. The company I get the twine from has 32 in all. The ropes we make are twelve strands each, enabling the designer to chose up to six colors. Each rope is different. Each one unique. Each one is beautiful.
Once the machine is strung, the magic begins. The designer turns the crank that turns the hooks that twists the strands together. As the strands tighten, the tension increases. When the proper tension is reached a weight suspended on a rope and pulley system begins to rise. It is at this precise moment that I begin working the rope with what I call my magician wand. As I move it back and forth, the three strand merge into one rope. Depending on the speed the rope maker is turning the crank, the rope forms in a matter of seconds. When the twist reaches the machine I ask the cranker to hold it while I secure it with a simple little hog ring. Once secured, I cut it free from the hooks. I fire up my propane torch and melt the ends. The new rope owner makes a wish and blows out the flame. I hand the rope to the child. The deal is done.
The whole process takes less than five minutes. During that brief interval we talk. Who is the rope for? What is the dogs name? If it’s for grandpa’s dog, what’s his name where does he live? Children chose colors for their own reasons. Bystanders praise them for their choices. “Wow, that’s a beautiful
rope. You are really strong to turn that crank. Jessie (or whatever the dogs name is) is going to love what you made”
Life is a series of short encounters when you really think about it. I may never see these children again. But for a brief five minutes it’s just me and them, sharing what’s important, creating a bond. Then occasionally I run into children in the
L & M. Store. “Remember me Mr. Ed? You made a rope for my dog.” We take a brief moment to catch up on the news about them, about the dog, about grandpa and grandma etc.
Thank you Willard Pearson for sharing this gift with me. I wish I could share all the children’s joy and amazement with you.
Old McDonald must have had quite a life. All those animals, all that singing. A baa baa here, a baa baa there. A Moo moo here a moo moo there… You know how it goes. What you probably don’t know is baa baa and moo moo means feed me, I’m hungry. Get out here and do your chores. To which McDonald replied E-I-E-I-OOO which means don’t get your wool in a knot, I’m coming.
Which reminds me, tomorrow night old Mr. Ed needs some help doing chores plus it’s more fun when you have help. Chores start at 5:30. After the animals have their supper we will rest, relax and sing along with Brian McCauley.
By the first week of July, summer is in full swing. School has been out so long you have forgotten about it. Haying is the undisputed priority. Cut in the morning when the dew is still on, start raking around 11. Listening to the melodic sound the baler makes as it gobbles up huge windrows of aromatic smelling hay. Wiping the sweat off your brow as you wait for the next bale to come up the slide. Stacking the bales as tight and high as you can on a undulating hayrack. Getting a combined feeling of satisfaction, pride and exhaustion as hayrack after hayrack gets filled and dropped on the field. Eating a late supper of sausages, fried potatoes, fresh bread and pie. Dropping off to an exhaustion driven sound nights sleep. Then waking
up to loads of hay bales to be elevated into the hay mow or stacked in the hay shed.
Unless you baled hay on the 3rd of July, the Fourth was truly a holiday you looked forward to. It was a day us kids looked forward to and got really excited about. Family reunions, neighborhood parties and hometown parades.
I have many fond Independence Day memories. A favorite is the Nelson Family reunion at my Aunt Lila and Uncle Al’s farm. Lila was my Dad’s sister. He came from a big family of fun loving Swedes. He and his sisters used to play tricks on each other. More than one pigtail got exchanged at a birthday gathering.
The Stuckmeyer farm was just outside of Lastrup. It was a picturesque place sitting in a lower area, white barn, house and a white fence along the driveway. I remember Lila had beautiful flower beds. All the aunts and uncles and cousins would gather for tons of potluck food, softball and exploring the barn and outbuildings.
Something I’ll never forget was seeing where the pigs lived. Al and his brother Arnie had build a framework of posts and wire. Every fall they would blow oats straw onto it. There were narrow tunnels, dark musty passage ways and pitch black alcoves from where unseen pigs grunted their displeasure at us unwelcome Intruders. My cousin Lavonne had ponies, dogs, goats. There were clucking bantam hens with their broods of baby chicks. My cousin Denny, who was a little older than the kids my age, had firecrackers. We loved watching him light and throw them into the empty cement silo. For us little kids it was simultaneously exciting and scary. We were well programmed not play with matches in a barn or anywhere else. We hoped he wouldn’t blow his fingers off like our parents said would happen if we had fireworks.
Several of our family’s July 4th’s were spent at Mickey Lodermeirs, a neighborhood family bigger than ours. It was a potluck affair, lots of food, all the hot dogs you could eat and Shasta pop. We rarely had pop at home maybe because it was too expensive, maybe because water was better for us. Never more than one can. At Mickey’s’ the pop was in a stock tank filled with ice. You had many flavors to choose from. You had to reach down into the cold icy water to see what was there. And you didn’t have to ask because the adults were too busy visiting. I remember softball games where you got to borrow someone’s glove when you were in the field. I remember they had ponies and riding horses. They even had a team of welch ponies that pulled us around in a wagon. These parties went all afternoon and into the darkness of dusk when Micky shot off some fireworks. It was a magical time for little kids.
In my later years on the farm we had teams of oxen. The first team, John and Thor were big white Holsteins. Dad would find someone to haul the oxen and we would load the wooden wheel wagon we restored onto an old trailer and head to Genola for the parade. After finishing that parade we would go to Pierz or Harding. It was great fun. Dad seemed to know everyone and delighted in the cajoling that happened all along the route. I remember Harding particularly well because of its short Main Street. We did the parade one way then turned around and went back through town the other direction. Another parade I remember was Pierz when we had four oxen on a manure spreader. Made the ox pie scooping very convenient!
July 4th was truly the high water mark for the summer. Yeah, there was still a lot of haying, grain shocking and threshing to do but nothing really to look forward to. (We tried not to think about the inevitable back to school thing).
On the 4th we should pause on this national day of independence to reflect on patriotism, country, freedom from colonial tyranny. We should remember to thank our forefathers for declaring independence, establishing a bill of rights and writing a constitution. We should recognize the countless generations of American veterans have fought to preserve this United States of America. If I see a flag waving, I wave back.
For me it is that special day that only comes once a year. It signals that summer is half over. It’s still a good reason to take a day off from baling hay. It’s a good reason to spend time with the cousins, to watch a parade with friends and neighbors. To feel the WOW of the rockets red glare as the bombs burst in the air.
P.s. Besides If not for Independence Day I might be sipping tea instead of coffee and I’m just not a tea guy.
I am sixty years old. I was born on a farm. I spent my first 18 years immersed in farm life. What a gift, I realize now . I think. it laid the foundation for what was to come. My feeling is everyone needs to be grounded in something. I am grounded in living the farm life. Rationally it makes no sense. I get up in the morning and do chores. Chores are a series of actions you do on a ridged structured schedule based on a feeling of irrevocable responsibility. A farmer willingly acquires other living creatures, farm animals, that depend on you for their lives, with the intention of increasing personal wealth. You don’t meet too many rich farmers. Farming is a commitment. Getting into it is a serious decision, getting out of it is even harder.
I am a farmer by choice, driven by passion implanted during my youth. I can’t explain why I take on all the responsibilities of a farmer. They are sometimes overwhelming. They are sometimes irrational. Sometimes I think I could be fishing. I could be riding an ATV on a trail, I could be on vacation. Instead I am plowing with horses, worming the sheep, thawing out a frozen water pipes, nursing a sick animal.
Farming to me is a vocation. Something I do that fulfills a visceral need. When the hour of death comes maybe I can look back and say i made a difference. Anyway this blog is about why I do it.
Mr. Ed’s Farm is a working farm that invites people to visit to see what farm life is like. It is a real farm, not an amusement park seeking to make a buck at the expense of integrity and reality. I t is not a playground. It’s the real thing.
I opened the farm to outside visitors to give them an opportunity to immerse themselves in a real farm environment. I present a positive message but I don’t pull any punches. The conversations are open ended. Children are presented with situations. Their ideas and opinions are listened to and respected. If you are going to be a farmer you need to be well grounded in information and thought processes. We will always need good farmers because they take care of the soil and animals that provide food for all of humanity.
The vast majority of children who visit Mr. Ed’s Farm have no connection to agriculture or horticulture at all. Many do have a compassion or at least a strong interest in animals. It is not their fault they are a generation or two removed from the farm.
“Mr Ed can I chase a chicken”? “Mr. Ed, will that sheep bite me”? “Mr Ed, how fast can your horses run”? These are only a few of the wonderful questions I have an opportunity to respond to. “Yes you can chase a chicken but how do you think the chicken feels with a big scary predator chasing it? Did you know sheep don’t have front top teeth? These horses can really run fast but we don’t want to find out. Want to hear a scary story about the time my horses ran away?”
Children love stories and I love it when they request one. Stories pique their imaginations and curiosity. I can get them to picture themselves in a situation and think about what they would do. I can pause, ask them if they are scared, what would they do, what they think happened next. Children remember what they are a part of.
All, or should it say most, of the trials and tribulations of farming have a purpose when I find a way to share them with interested people. My stories trigger their stories. I love listening to children’s stories no matter how simple they may seem. The provide a little window into what they are thinking, their frame of reference. It helps us connect. When we connect, we become friends. It is a sign of respect. Everyone likes to be appreciated and respected.
My friend Duane is a great story teller. He comes by it naturally. He got it from being a curious little kid who hung around older people, listening to their stories. When he works with children he emphasizes how important it is to have respect for others, for things around you. I have witnessed him talking with disruptive children about having and receiving respect. It works much better for him than scolding or threatening. It’s a core thing that children should and need to understand and feel.
Will farming make me rich? Probably not in the conventional way of a large bank account. I asked Duane one day about what he would do if he won the lottery and became instantly rich? His response: “I am rich. I have lived an interesting life. I have a great family. I have many friends that I have shared stories with. I’m in pretty good shape for my age and I get to work with children and with horses at Mr. Ed’s Farm. Winning a lottery wouldn’t buy any of that.”
Mr Ed’s Farm is more than a business. It’s a place where friendships are made, where stories can be told, where respect can be learned. It’s a place to learn a few of life’s lessons. Sometimes you step in a pile of poop. When it happens you have choices. You can curse it. You can laugh or you can take off your shoes and wiggle your toes in it.
Duane, my friend and co-conspirator on a number of interesting endeavors, aka “projects” fancies himself to be something of a carpenter. I on the other hand see myself as a farmer. Essentially we have diverse opinions on how to proceed on projects. He says my farmer approach is going to drive him crazy. I don’t think that’s possible because I’m not a very good driver when it comes to things like that. The best I can do is to suggest some shortcuts.
The subject for this blog started on Tuesday. Let’s call it ” The new door project”. First a little pre-project history. What was formally known as the old garage (which never really served as a garage but as a repository for stuff I, a farmer, might use sometime in the future, became the Welcome Center. A carpenter would have simply categorized it all as junk and ordered a dumpster. I, being a farmer, chose the sort and pile method of disposal. Granted this did slow down the process a bit and resulted in things be relocated to other localities . However I can sleep at night knowing I have it if I need it providing I don’t forget where I hid it.
Anyway, Mrs Ed and Duane, who doesn’t care for sheet rocking, suggested we hire a real carpenter. Feebly protesting that carpenters cost money, I gave in, I guess sheet rocking can get a little technical if you can’t live with a few rough spots and cracks. Farmers can, carpenters can’t. I will concede the job got done on time and looks pretty good but I think I could have saved money through a sweat equity strategy but as we farmers say, “what is done is done”!
The door project was the last piece of the puzzle. The problem needing to be addressed was a too narrow entry door to allow the comfortable passage of wheel chairs. Squeezing the chair shut with the person still in it isn’t an ADA approved method. Neither is taking a run at it. At this point the project was about to catapult into the “major” category.
Now you need to understand Mrs Ed doesn’t mind if I take on the minor projects using my farmer skills. Actually they usually get done under the radar. “Just do it ” I say. Saves me a lot of time thinking of rational answers to questions she might have like to “are you sure you know what your doing”? “how much will it cost or isn’t that a little crooked” ? I am a firm believer in trim and paint to deal with the minor imperfections. Besides custom farmer built projects have unique charm sometimes referred to on TV reality shows as rustic folk art. I believe perfection is secondary to functionality and is generally over rated.
I know a projects “gone major ” when I announce I am going to tackle it myself and a concerned looking Mrs Ed ‘s immediate response is “I think you better call Duane”. That’s fine if that’s what it takes to get her approval however the project instantly gets much more complex.
Let me explain the differences between carpenters and farmers. Carpenters spend a lot of time thinking about a project ahead of time. Time conscience farmers wait until the situation really becomes a problem before springing into action. Take for example the gate to the cow pasture is starting to sag. A carpenter would say I think you should fix that before the cows get out. A farmer would round up the cows before fixing the gate to make sure it served its total life.
A carpenter studies a project, makes a material list, goes to the lumber yard, consults with a professional lumber guy, before ordering the material and having it delivered to the job site sometimes days in advance of when the project actually starts. A farmer on the other hand sees a project and leaps into action. He makes a list of stuff he might need and heads for the lumber yard. He buys what is on the list plus a few extra pieces just in case he runs short. If he should run short he can always jump in his truck and head to town. He had to go in anyway because he needed to pick up stuff on his updated list.
A carpenter uses a pneumatically powered nail gun with specifically sized and strategically placed nails. A farmer uses a claw hammer unless he can’t remember where he used it last. In that case he uses a ball peen hammer unless the handle is still cracked from the time before last when it broke fixing some stubborn piece of machinery. In a pinch he can use the flat side of a hatchet or in an extreme emergency, the flat side of a left handed monkey wrench.
The size of the nails doesn’t matter as much as using what you have left over from the last job. Strength is measured in numbers. The bigger the penny size and the more nails you use, the stronger it will be. If you really want it to hold up you can spend the extra money on pole nails.
A carpenter relies on a blue print prepared by an architect. He claims it enables him to do things sequentially, in the right order. A farmer saves time by bypassing this cumbersome bureaucracy of experts by simply transferring ideas directly from his brain to the project.
The carpenter waits for the inspector to confirm the quality of his work. A farmers test for success is to look at the nearest person and ask “well how does she look”? Or “looks pretty good, don’t you think”?
A carpenter assume that because the inspector approved it that it will istand the test of time. A farmer waits for the next time there is a big wind storm to see if she made it.
A carpenter strives for perfection by maintaining high industry standards. A farmer always leaves the option of lowering the standards open just in case.
Back to the new door project. Farmer: We need a bigger door” Carpenter: How big does it need to be? F: At least 32 inches. C: Inside or outside dimensions? F: Big enough to get a wheel chair through. C: Must be inside dimensions. F: Ok then, let get the chain saw and cut that hole. C: Where’s the door. F: Don’t have it yet. C: Why not? F:don’t know how big it needs to be till we get the hole cut. C: Did you know doors come in standard sizes? F: Really? When did they start doing that? Do they charge by the door or how big the opening is? C: Maybe you better go to Menards to see what they have in stock. F: Those guys don’t know what a Welcome Center is. If I go there and tell them I got a hole for a door 33 by 81 and a quarter they will know what I’m looking for. C: Just go get a door and we will cut a hole to fit it. And don’t forget to get some shims. F: What do we need shims for? C: To fill in the spaces around the door. F: I thought you said we would cut the hole to fit the door? C: The shims are to level it. F: You mean it’s got to be level too? I don’t remember where I left the level. C: And tell them you need a left hand door. F: But I’m right handed. Now I know you’re pulling my leg. Next thing you will want me to do is find my sky hook so we can lower it into place. C: What’s a sky hook? F: Do I have to explain everything to you?
Carpenters, they think I’m driving them crazy ! Maybe I’m the one heading for crazyville!
Post script. I bought a door from Menards and got it installed.
Text messages between Mrs Ed and I. Ed: Got the door In. Mrs E: Did you call Duane? Ed: Yup, he’s here and brought his grandson. Mrs E: What’s he like? Ed: He has worked construction. Mrs E: Sounds good. What are you doing? Ed: They told me to go find the level.