Saturday, March 31, 2012

New Ulm Public Library

For Nancy and me, the best greeting after driving an hour and a half is a warm smile and a hearty handshake, which is exactly what Katy Kudela, the Children's Librarian at the New Ulm Public Library gave us. Her enthusiasm lifted our spirits and made us feel really welcome.
Katy gave me a short introduction that called for the audience to give me a 
warm welcome, which they did by applauding. 
The audience was a mixed group, ranging in age from 2 years or younger to young adult, middle age, and old-timers, like myself. To appeal to this range of people, I tried to mix nostalgia, humor, sentiment, with stories about animals for the little ones. It's a tough challenge, but I have to admit I love the audience with the mixed ages.
Katy laid out the rugs and that helped focus the little ones. With the rest of the audience, I felt that I was preachin' to the choir again. It was clear to me by the head-nods and the grins that these folks had farming in their background and their blood.

You can see by the above photos that after the program the children and their parents were open, warm, and willing to tell their stories as they visited with Nancy and me and Katy while I signed the books they purchased.

Nancy and I had a particularly great time at the New Ulm Public Library, and we want to thank everyone who attended, especially those who took the time to visit and to buy books. A special thanks to Katy Kudela, the Children's Librarian, who arranged our visit and who clearly deserves a great deal of credit for hosting a "Family Night" program that successfully encourages families to attend. 
Hey, Katy, you have a good thing going here!

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Friday, March 30, 2012

Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce Community Showcase

On Saturday, March 24, Nancy and I drove up to Cold Spring for their annual Chamber of Commerce Community Showcase, an event held in the high school gym and commons area and featuring many booths representing the services of the local businesses.
 Last year, Roberta Nathe, who is Secretary-Treasurer of the Cold Spring Area Historical Society, invited me to do a Farm Heritage Program for their History series on November 16, 2011. Rita Hennen, Showcase Coordinator, saw the program and thought my books would be a good fit for the spring showcase so she invited me to do a couple short seminars and offered us a booth to sell our books.
Volunteers serving breakfast as we walked in the door of the high school at about 7:30 AM on Saturday.

Our booth at the Cold Spring Chamber of Commerce Showcase.

Nancy and I enjoyed talking to farmers of all ages and genders, but especially fun was the time we spent swapping stories about growing up on the farm with the two sisters pictured below. 
Sisters Lisa, left, and Cindy, right, attending their booth for Jennings Distinct Images, which focuses on Lifestyle photography and is owned by Cindy.
Cindy Goerger photographing a customer.
Standing in front of the Cold Spring Area Historical Society's booth are Tony Nathe (left), his wife Roberta Nathe, their daughter Meridith and son-in-law Jay Borst. Meridith is holding their eight-month-old daughter Aurora, who is now the proud owner of A Farm Country Halloween.
Me doing my seminar on Farm Heritage.

Pictured above is Matthew Willenbring, who owns and operates a farm that offers the opportunity to "Adopt a Hen,"which is a program  that assures participants of a dependable source of farm-fresh eggs "from chickens raised with care and compassion for the conscientious-minded consumer." His brochure details his feeding program and the benefits, and advertises that answers to questions are just a phone call away. 320-250-1624. Obviously, distance may be an issue, but if you live close to Cold Spring, you may want to check it out.

Nancy and I thank all the folks who stopped to visit and buy books.We especially thank Rita Hennen, who organized the event and invited us to participate.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Thursday, March 29, 2012

KOWZ Home and Recreation Show, Owatonna

KOWZ, a radio station based in Owatonna, sponsored a Home and Recreation Show at the Four Seasons Arena in Owatonna last weekend. The event ran Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and featured many displays for the home and recreational items, including boats.

A special feature in the show was Lee Sackett, who owns Lee. J. Sackett, Inc., assembling a 1949 8N Ford that he and his workers restored over the past few months. The tractor was purchased and donated by KOWZ to be given away  at a free registration drawing at Farmfest 2012 at the Gilfillan Estates near Redwood Falls this summer. Lee donated his time to the project and local vendors donated the parts.
The 1949 Ford 8N restored by Lee Sackett and awaiting assembly on Friday, March 23, 2012
Some of the parts that will be installed are laid out in an organized fashion. 
Many more parts are in containers and will be laid out as needed.
It was fun watching Lee and Gordy, who both worked restoring my 8N, attach the parts.

 I talk to a customer by my book display and my newly restored 8N as Lee and Gordy work on assembling the 1949 8N behind me. Note the camera on tripod which is on the table by the Allis-Chalmers tractor. Lee videotapes the assembly and plays fast at shows he attends.
The lineup of tractors Lee has restored and displayed at the show

Gary is one of Lee's men who worked on the restoration of my tractor and he posed with me for a photograph in front of the my 8N. 
Tammy Barnes, a teacher who had arranged for me to visit St. Mary's School at Owatonna last December, recognized us and stopped to chat. Pictured above from left to right are Tammy's husband John, Ian, Colin, Tammy, and me. It's always a thrill for Nancy and me to meet students and teachers who remember our visit.
Lee Sackett's wife Shannon and their three daughters came to visit and help Lee with the assembly.
Their eldest daughter, Karrin, immediately selected my book, A Farm Country Halloween, from our display and began to read.
Lee and Shannon's six-year-old daughter Karrin settling in to read a story.

Several of the vendors nearby commented on how great it was to see the whole Sackett family working together on the tractors, and a couple mentioned that the children were the best-behaved they'd ever seen.
Although I suppose I have to give most of the credit to the parents, I mentioned that maybe the books and tractors had a positive influence.

The tractor as we left it on Friday (above),
and the tractor when we returned on Sunday (below).

On Saturday we attended a show at Cold Spring, which will be in my next blog, but when we returned to the Owatonna show on Sunday, the assembly of the 8N was completed. All that remained was the final touch of painting the "Ford" script on the side. This is a project Lee usually does himself and he saves it for last.
Lee very carefully follows the embossed script with his brush. This is tricky business, especially when people stop to watch, but Lee seems to stay focused on the project regardless. In fact, he actually seemed to welcome conversation with people who stopped by to chat as he painted.
 I talk to a customer (above) while Lee works on the other side of the tractor (below).

The Sackett Family. From left to right, Kenna on Shannon's shoulders, Karrin, and Lee holding Kelly.

Nancy and I thank KOWZ radio for sponsoring the event and Lee Sackett for displaying our 8N and having us display our books at his booth. We also thank all the people who stopped by to talk tractors and books, especially those who purchased one or more of our keepsake Collector Series, which I hope helps them pass their Farm Heritage on to the next generation with pride and love.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nativity of Mary School, Bloomington, MN

About 8:20 AM last Tuesday, Nancy and I entered the office of Nativity of Mary School in Bloomington. "You must be the author," the lady behind the desk said. "I'm Wanda." She kindly offered us a cup of coffee and a seat as she picked up the phone to call Jim, the janitor, who would show us where I would be doing three performances of my Farm Heritage Program for students ranging from preschool through grade eight. "Jim said he will be about five minutes," Wanda said as she put down the phone.

I used the time to look at pictures on the wall of past eighth-grade graduates of Nativity of Mary School. The graduates looked good. They looked accomplished. I could see the pride in their faces. I had a feeling the students in the school would make a receptive audience.

As we were setting up, several teachers stopped to say hello and Mrs. Meyer, the school librarian who invited me to the school, came over to introduce herself and chat.

The students lived up to my expectations. They proved to be an alert, curious, and warm audience.
The first group of sixth, seventh and eighth grade students was the second-largest group, with 95 students and 7 teachers.
Students in grades 6, 7, and 8 watching my Farm Heritage Program, which included 
the story of how I got started, why I do what I do, and my story, A Farm Country Picnic. 

Grades three and four made the smallest group, with 53 students and 5 teachers, but they were a lively and fun group and had some good questions after the show.
Students in Grades 3 and 4 watching my Farm Heritage Program, 
which included my story, A Farm Country Picnic.

The last group was the largest group, with 98 students and 8 adults, ranging in age from preschool through grade 2. This group was very responsive and had lots of questions after the show. I had fun listening to their stories of their farm experiences.
Students in preschool through grade 2 watching my Farm Heritage Program, 
which included my story If I Were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure.
I was a little concerned the students might not see from way in the back, 
but they seemed to easily follow the whole show. 

Note all the hands up to participate in Q & A after the program in the picture below.

Performing at schools where I get to see a range of ages always inspires me to do my best and never fails to give a huge boost to my faith in young people. Nancy and I will not forget our experience performing at Nativity of Mary School. The staff was friendly and generous with their comments. The students were enthusiastic and fun. We had a good time and we hope they did too.

Nancy and I wish to thank Tina Meyer for inviting us to the school and arranging the visit. Thanks to Jim the janitor for helping us out and giving us what we needed. (Pulling those high shades at the last minute was like magic.) Thanks to all the staff and students for their kind comments and for being a warm and enthusiastic audience. Everyone made us feel welcome.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Goodhue Area Historical Society, Goodhue, MN

For historical societies to flourish they need lots of local support. It appears that local support is exactly what has made Goodhue Area Historical Society successful up to the present, and there is every indication the support will continue into the future.
They've outgrown the new building they built in 2004 (above) and are in the planning process of  adding on to the structure.
Ardy Henrichs, who contacted me to arrange for my doing a program at the society's March meeting, also arranged to open the museum early so Nancy and I would have time to visit the museum and view photographs of harvest on farms and to look for pictures we might use in our upcoming book, A Farm Country Harvest. We found many interesting pictures that the members generously let us copy.
Pictured above from left to right are President Roy Buck, Director Ray McNamara, Dorothy Buck, and Secretary Ardy Henrichs. The fact that they all came to open up the museum and greet us made us feel especially welcome.
In addition to checking out the pictures, Nancy and I viewed the variety of tractors, horse-drawn implements, hand tools, household tools of all types, and many other pieces in the museum. One thing that caught my eye was the terracing plow, which has an auger powered by the tractor's PTO. Roy explained that the plow works by having the auger throw the dirt, which will pile up and create a terrace on the field to prevent soil erosion. He said it was used by the WPA as well as a number of farmers in the area. 
Terracing plow owned by the Goodhue Area Historical Society

Needs of farmers vary from region to region, which is why I always enjoy visiting museums in different parts of Minnesota and other states. I do not claim to have "seen it all," but much of what I see in museums are tools I've either seen before or I've seen something like it before. This seed separator shown below stopped me in my tracks because I had never seen one like this. The museum had several like it, where the seed is dumped into a hopper and guided into rolling screens. I would love to see one of these work. Only the good seed makes it all the way through the screened tubes.

Examples of seed separators with rolling screens in the pictures above and below.

After the museum tour we followed Ardy with our truck to St. Peter's Lutheran Church, where we unloaded and set up our equipment in the basement. There was a good turnout for the meeting, which lasted less than an hour, as the members set up committees and discussed projects, including a new addition to the museum, a display of rural schools, and an oral history project.

My Farm Heritage Program (above) lasted about 50 minutes and afterwards while eating lunch the members visited with each other and with Nancy and me, and many of them purchased some of our Collector series of Farm Heritage Books. We were delighted with all the time people were willing to share with us telling their stories about their experiences farming.

We thank all the members for being such a fun audience and for their kind words about my Farm Heritage Program. Among the many members we talked to were David and Kay Betcher, who shared their dairy farming stories with us, and R. Duane Aaland from the Zumbrota  News Record, who shared some of his interesting background stories with me.

We thank Roy, Ray, Dorothy, and Ardy for greeting us at the museum and Treasurer Karleen Franklin for delivering to me the member's generous donation for our travel expenses.

And, Ardy, thanks so much for arranging for me to speak at the Goodhue Area Historical Society. Nancy and I had fun and we hope your members did too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Augustana Care Center

On Friday noon we had to leave the North American Farm Power Show at Owatonna to do a Farm Heritage Program at Augustana Care Center in Apple Valley.
The audience at Augustana Care Center was made up of people with farm and non-farm backgrounds, but they all seemed to relate to my story of 1950s farming. Several residents came early, and I had the opportunity to chat with them and learn of their farm background. Others stayed after the show to pick up order forms, visit, or comment on my program, which included my story, A Farm Country Picnic.

After the show, we were delighted to discover that Glee Hubbard from Apple Valley had driven over to the Care Center especially to see my program. Glee is one of the many great people who have taken the time to send us farm photographs for my new book A Farm Country Harvest, which we hope to complete in 2013.

Nancy and I had a good time doing the show and visiting with residence, and we'd like to thank them for being such a great audience. Also, we'd like to thank Jeff Strunk, Activities Director at Augustana Care Center, for arranging our visit.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

North American Farm and Power Show at Owatonna

I like tractors, especially the ones I grew up driving on the farm when I was a kid. Clearly, I am not alone in this. When Lee J. Sackett displayed our 8N Ford that he restored at the North American Farm Show at Owatonna this last weekend, men and women stopped by to tell us their 8N stories. Others stopped by to compliment Lee on his fine restoration of the 8N, but explained that even though they grew up driving Allis-Chalmers or IH or John Deere or Case or MM or some other color, they enjoy the sight of an expertly restored vintage tractor of any color.  So let me say it now at the beginning of my small tribute to the show, that Lee J. Sackett and his crew do a meticulous job restoring tractors and cars. If you talk to Lee, you will readily understand that he clearly loves the process of restoration, and one has to love the process to turn out a product of great quality. If you want expertise and perfection, Lee and his crew will get you as close as humanly possible.
8N Ford, Lee Sackett, and me (Lee is the tall, good-looking one)

Lee generously allowed Nancy and me to share his booth as the owners of the 8N, and he insisted we display our books and offer them for sale during the show.  You can see them in the display in front of the 8N. It turned out to be a good fit. The 8N was not only a kid magnet, as you see in the pictures below, but also a draw for adults who find themselves drawn to farm heritage, which is the focus of all of our books. Consequently, Nancy and I were treated to discussions with lots of men and women who had stories to tell and history to share. It was a fun weekend for us, and I got to sign some books too. Let me say the rest with photos:

A young lady, who clearly looked 10 years too young to be a grandmother, appeared with two of her grandchildren and she proclaimed, "My grandchildren love books!"
I replied, "This is something about which to be very proud." Look at these children!
This young child grabs one of my books off the rack, sits down, and pages through it with a reverence  that reflects a real love for books. Sure, I'm proud that he seems to like my books, but I'm more humbled at his learned behavior. When I was his age I was probably chewing on books, not carefully paging through them. The parents and grandparents of this lad should be proud because this is learned behavior. They taught him well.
With the help of his grandma, the young man and his older sister climb onto the 8N for a photo opp.
I think the older sister will have great fun reading stories to little brother. Think of how this reading relationship will accelerate their learning in school!! Grandma's efforts here, will pay off in huge dividends for the rest of the children's lives. And she seems to have so much fun doing it.
Looking at If I were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure.

During the three-day show, Nancy and I had quite a bit of time to talk to Lee, and we enjoyed "hanging out" with him. Even though we were "old guys," he seemed to enjoy it as well. Also, he was generous and bought a set of our books for his three daughters. When we delivered the books to him on Friday, his eldest daughter Karrin was with him and started reading the books. Seriously, the below picture is not posed, but could it be any cuter?
Karrin Sackett, Lee and Shannon's oldest daughter.
She changed positions a couple of times.
Exchanging stories with an experienced farmer

New position and different book for Karrin
Me posing with Gordy Spinler, one of Lee's men who worked on the 8N.
Sure, he got paid, but it was more than money that drove him to produce the fine result.

We met Cory Pumper at Farmfest in 2010 where he bought his daughter Emily If I were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure. When they visited the show on Thursday, Emily picked out another story, If I Were a Farmer: Tommy's Adventure. She seems pretty happy about it as she poses with me in the photo above.

Another young person who recognized us remembered me from a show I did at Sherburn Elementary School in 2010 when he was in  the fourth grade. Pictured with me above, Tristan Rabbe, who is now a 12-year-old sixth grader, stopped by to talk for a few minutes. Tristan says he likes antiques, but his favorite items to collect are coins. Thanks for stopping by to visit, Tristan! A visit from a young person
always makes my day.

Chad, another of Lee's guys who worked on my 8N, stopped to say hello. 
Gary was there the first day but we didn't get a photo (sorry Gary) and we met Lee's parents and brother who visited with us too.

Tom Broadbent, a very talented writer and composer we met last year at the MEMO Conference in St. Cloud, recognized us and stopped to visit. His new work Deal! The Musical will be running at the Ritz Theater in Minneapolis from April 20 through May 6, 2012. Since this is a world premier, Nancy and I plan to see it for sure. The show traces the ups and downs of a farm family as they play their monthly poker game with each other. The events in the play are based on his relatives. Sounds fascinating.

I feel privileged to sign books for people of all ages who are interested in Farm Heritage and passing it on the the next generation.

Nancy and I pose for a photo at Lee's booth

Thanks again to Lee Sackett for doing such a fine job restoring our 8N Ford and for inviting us to share his booth. 
Next weekend at the Home and Garden Show (Friday 3-8PM, Saturday 9AM-5PM, Sunday 11AM-4PM), Lee will have a booth at the same building, the Four Seasons Center in Owatonna, where he and his workers will actually be assembling an 8N during the show. Sounds like a real draw!
Our 8N will be displayed too, and Nancy and I will be there to sell and sign books, as well. Hope to see you there.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson