Monday, November 28, 2011

Lubavitch Cheder Day School

Located on Ford Parkway in St.Paul, Lubavitch Cheder Day School is Pre-K-8 and provides an integrated curriculum of General and Jewish studies. Mrs. Armstrong, who teaches second grade at the school, met us at Dakota Village during the Dakota County Fair last summer and invited us to visit and do a show. I'm glad she did. the kids listened with great attention and responded with smiles as I read my stories If I Were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure  and  A Farm Country Picnic.

The students eagerly listened and participated as I demonstrated how to teach a newborn calf to drink from a pail and how to call cattle. After the program each of them took a turn at sticking his or her hand in the can of oats.

We thank Mrs. Armstrong for inviting us to the school.  Students seemed to enjoy the show and have fun. I know I did.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goldfinch Estates

On November 22, 2011, at Goldfinch Estates, I did a Farm Heritage Program, 
which included my story A Farm Country Thanksgiving.

Goldfinch Estates is a Senior Living Community located in Fairmont, MN, and Nancy and I love to be invited there to visit and do a Farm Heritage Program. This is our our fourth time at the facility and each time we have been greeted by Marilyn Oelke, the energetic and fun Community Life Director, who always has a farm story to tell.
Marilyn Oelke, Community Life Director at Goldfinch Estates, poses for a photo with me.

Marilyn also took a shot at appealing to the group to look for pictures of threshing for our newest book called  A Farm Country Harvest, which we hope to have out in 2013.

Residents at Goldfinch are always eager audience members and story tellers. They make a very responsive audience and Nancy and I love listening to their stories after the show. Several Residents stopped to chat and purchase books after the program.

We thank Executive Director, Erin Maidl, for having us at Goldfinch Estates again, and we thank Community Life Director, Marilyn Oelke for arranging our visit. We also thank all the residents who attend my programs year after year. We love your smiles and your stories.
We look forward to returning soon.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Redwood Falls Public Library

We arrive really early for our program at Redwood Falls, which gives us plenty of time to meet Robin and Angie, both of whom helped arrange our visit to the library. We set up our equipment and spend some time looking around.
The library is an attractive, modern structure with plenty of room for books, people, and decorations.

Nancy set up a table for our books in a large community room.
In the back of the room workers made ice cream which they served to everyone after my presentation.

Lonnie Leske visited with us before the program and after the program she introduced us to her son, Steven Leske, who has recently written and illustrated several children's books, including the one I purchased from him called Wind Turbines.  The book is a soft cover book that explains wind turbines and uses pictures to convey what they do. The book doesn't try to sort out every detail, but it makes the topic interesting and fun. It has a short glossary at the end.

After my show I get to sign some books and Nancy and I share some stories with people.

We thank Robin Osland for inviting us to do a program during their city's Christmas by Candlelight Celebration, and we thank Angie for helping to arrange the details.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Friday, November 25, 2011

Cold Spring Area Historical Society

The first part of February, 2011, Tony Nathe contacted me to do a program on Farm Heritage for Cold Spring Area Historical Society History Series, and we set the date for the morning of November 18, 2011.
In the same month, Robin Osland of the Redwood Falls Public Library contacted me to do a program at the their library in the late afternoon for their community-wide Christmas by Candlelight celebration scheduled for November 18.

After checking the map, we decided that although the cities of Cold Spring and Redwood Falls were over 90 miles apart, we would have plenty of time between shows. The big worry was the weather. Well, Friday, November 18 was beautiful, and we enjoyed a scenic drive through the farm countryside in the early morning as we avoided I-94 and took a more westerly route through the farmlands and small towns of Scott, Carver, McLeod, Meeker, and Stearns Counties.

After my show, which included my story A Farm Country Thanksgiving, members stayed to chat and buy some books. Nancy and I also appealed to the group to search for pictures to loan us for A Farm Country Harvest.

Ladies from Kimball stop to chat after the show.
And in the photos below, I get to sign some books.

Thanks to Tony Nathe for inviting me to speak about Farm Heritage at his organization's History Series. A special thanks to all the members of the society; for it is their curiosity and intellect that will help pass on accurate farm heritage.

Next, Nancy and I load up our equipment and begin another scenic drive through Stearns, Kandiyohi, Renville, and Redwood Counties to do a show at the Redwood Falls Library. More about that tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All Seasons Preschool & Inver Glen Senior Care

All Seasons Preschool and Inver Glen Senior Living are in the same building, and as one senior told me, "The children come to visit us every day." Other seniors around her nodded and smiled.

Many seniors arrived early at the large community room and visited with Nancy and me as we set up. Senior comments about the "children coming" were always accompanied with a smile of anticipation.

Teacher Amy Lemieux said that the key to daily visits is to have he Preschool and seniors in the same building. Otherwise, winter offers a special challenge of dressing up with coats and boots and headgear. Since the kids are in the same building, they just walk over to visit the seniors. "It's like a field trip for them," Amy said.

The seniors were all seated when the children, who are 3-5 years old, arrived and I could hear some greetings being exchanged. One child made the rounds of shaking hands with a number of his senior friends.

Performing for this mixed group was a joy for me. The children and the seniors were very responsive to everything in my show. Maybe visiting the seniors every day makes the kids more eager to hear stories. In any case, children came up with some of the best questions ever, and not just for their age-group but for almost any-age group.
Of course, I showed them how to teach a newborn calf how to drink out of a pail.
About ten minutes later, after the show, one child remembered that I had said we had to take the cow and calf back to the barn. She asked, "Why do you need to take the calf to the barn." Other questions included, "Why do people live on farms." These questions may sound basic, but understanding the answers are crucial to understanding anything about the food we eat. The audience listened intently to my answers.

Nancy and I had the distinct privilege to meet and chat with Kenneth Fritz, who has written three books and will soon see his fourth book published with Outskirts Press, Inc., Denver, Colorado. After the show Ken, his wife, and his friend stayed to chat with us for several minutes. Ken was a farmer, a soldier, an electrician, and a writer.
Ken holds a couple of my books and I hold three of his.

Nancy and I really enjoyed our visit to All Seasons Preschool and Inver Glen Senior Living, and we wish to thank Amy Lemieux of All Seasons and Sue Hastings, activities director at Inver Glen, for arranging our visit.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Skype to Salem Hills Elementary School

Yesterday morning I did my first Skype with a school, and it was fun because the fifty-five third-graders were enthusiastic and asked really good questions. They could see and hear me from their classroom, and I could see and hear them from the comfort of my computer chair.

The teacher, Mr. Melde, contacted me a few days ago requesting that I talk to the students because his students and Ms Gustafson's students would be doing a project that would require them to go through a process similar to writing a book. So instead of my doing my usual story program, I just signed into the Skype application on my computer and awaited his call, which came to my computer promptly at 9:00 AM.

For about half an hour I explained a bit about my background and showed samples from the various stages of writing, illustrating, and publishing my books. Then students with questions took turns walking up to the camera to ask a question.

It was easy, fun, and convenient. I spent no money on gas and did not have to leave the house.
I mailed the kids free stickers and order forms in case anyone wants to buy a book.

We did not, however, take any pictures, but you can visit Mr. Melde's blog at the address below, click on the YouTube link, and watch some of the program.

My thanks to Mr. Melde and Ms Gustafson for inviting me into their classroom.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Search for Harvest Pictures

On October 18, 20ll, I posted a blog about my search for pictures of harvesting grain in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Many kind and generous people responded and Nancy and I have looked at hundreds of photographs, but pictures of the mid-century vintage are really hard to find. Why?

 Pictures of threshing in the 1900s to 1930s on big farms with big crews are easy to find, but my story, A Farm Country Harvest, is a story about a farm family on a very small farm. Even though I will use some of those pictures of the big operations, I need pictures that reflect the small farm to tell my story.

Obviously, I don't know the whole answer to the question "Why are pictures of small farm families threshing grain around 1950 hard to find?", but I can explain what I've seen so far that allows me to list a few of reasons in no particular order:
1) Big Farms are what get recorded. The big gathering of workers, the big rigs, and the large fields all make appealing photos and meat for stories.

2) Photography in early part of century vs 1950. Photography in the early 1900s was a new phenomenon that caught on quickly. Professional photographers set up studios in small towns all over rural areas and getting pictures taken was a ritual and a sign of prosperity. Small farmers probably weren't that prosperous to get it recorded in a photo.
In the middle of the century, people had their own small cameras and pictures were no big deal. My mother had  Brownie that mostly stayed in the drawer except for special occasions when we were dressed up. We never thought of snapping a picture of everyday things like threshing or killing chickens.

3) 1950 is too recent–photos of 1950s farming may still in be in boxes stored in closets and will not make it to historical societies for another decade or two. I hope they are out there. If so, let me know.

4) Small farmers didn't have the time nor the money to take pictures. I remember the film and the development came from egg money, and there was a long list of things that came from egg money. Sometimes there weren't that many eggs.
When Mom finally did get some film developed, there would be pictures in the roll over a year old.

So the reason I write my stories about small farms is that history does a great job of telling the stories of the big-time operators, the rich, the famous, the wars, the outlaws, etc. Enron and Wall Street get coverage; but hard-working people who struggle from month to month to pay bills are not considered newsworthy or worthy of being in the central plot of a story. That is why I am compelled to write my stories about families on small farms to preserve the farm heritage of all the people who started with nothing and ended up with not a lot, but in the interim invented ways to make a living on their small piece of land and enjoyed their hard life.

Please let me know if you have photos that I can use for my Harvest story. I offer a free book to anyone whose photos I use.
Email me at

Marianne Mastenbrook, who works in the archives of the Winona County Historical Society, kindly answered my appeal when I sent it out last October. Yesterday, Nancy and drove down to Winona and visited the archives at the fabulous new Museum. We found many pictures to our liking and are very thankful we made the trip. Thanks for your help, Marianne.

Nancy snapped a photo of me looking through the collection of farm pictures at the Winona County Historical Society in the new Museum at Winona, Minnesota. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Village of Lonsdale

Village of Lonsdale has comfortable new facilities for seniors and a large room for events which is physically connected to the public library. We performed a show there last July and the audience members were great. When Activities Director Amanda Bartusek invited us to do a show which would include my book A Farm Country Thanksgiving  in November, I was delighted to return.

After the show, I was surprised to discover that Mary Malecha, one of the audience members, was 104 years old! I felt privileged to talk to her as she graciously took the time to explain a little about her life to me.

Audience members were very kind and stayed to chat and tell stories long after the show was over. The audience response made for a fun afternoon.

I wish to thank Activities Director Amanda Bartusek for arranging our visit and for making us feel welcome and at home.
Nancy and I especially thank the residents who attended the show and who stayed after to chat and tell us their stories. They were an amazing audience.
We had fun and we hope the staff and residence did too.

We hope to return again soon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Duluth Children's Museum First Fridays Event

On August 23, 2011, I posted a story about our visit to the Duluth Children's Museum and indicated how much I always enjoy visiting. Well, Emily Halbakken, Program Director, invited us back to be part of an event they call First Fridays. Since this event was to have a farm theme, Nancy and I were to display our props and books and talk to kids and adults about the farm.

Nancy behind the table of books

Me by our display of pictures of children doing farm work.
 Children like to put their fingers into the can of oats.
Parents and grandparents asked the children if they could identify the farm activity. Everyone could identify the kids milking cows.
Children enjoyed coloring the black and white pages of illustrations from our books.

And there was so much more to do!

View a seed demonstration and take home some bags of seed.

 Make butter and then eat it
 Play in the really cool permanent displays.

 Make a variety of crafts.
 Or explore some exciting stairs to view natural history.

The event lasted from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM and although the children showed signs of getting tired, none of them wanted to leave. I can understand why. The place is filled with fascinating displays and activities and volunteers and professional staff who work hard to make it fun and educational. 

Duluth Children's Museum was established in 1930 and is the fifth oldest in the nation. Go to their website at to learn about the attractions to visit and programs they offer.

I thank Emily for inviting us to be part of this event. Nancy and I greatly enjoyed talking to the kids and adults. Thanks to those customers who stopped to talk and especially to those who bought my children's books about farm heritage.
Also thanks to Mary Davis, Program Director, and all the kind staff members and volunteers who helped make our visit enjoyable.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holiday books for the holiday season

  The mother of the grandmother pictured below purchased my book, A Farm Country Halloween, last summer to give to her great grandchildren on Halloween.. 
She emailed me to tell me her great grandchildren loved it.
She said, "My darling city great grandkids were spellbound and listened to every word."
I freely admit that this made my day.

Just to warn you, this is a shameless plug for my books.
But here it is––the holiday season.
And sure enough, you are going to read books about Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
This is good, I think.

But why not read a stories about Halloween, Thanksgiving, 
or Christmas that actually display your farm heritage? 

Why only read the child some fantasy about Christmas in New York City or some made-up place?

Lydia, who was 100 yeas old, bought A Farm Country Halloween last year because she said it showed exactly what it was like when she went trick or treating as a kid. She wanted to pass that on to her descendants.
A customer who bought the A Farm Country Thanksgiving told me she loved the old-fashioned Thanksgiving that showed kids sledding and playing in the hay barn. No television in the house allowed people to visit, not argue about football or which parade to watch.
A Farm Country Christmas Eve shows a farm family being brought closer together by the simple things as they work together to finish chores on Christmas Eve.

My stories are based on actual events–things that farmers really do.
Kids love them.
Adults enjoy the nostalgia.
And I've been performing these stories 
for kids and adults for over 11 years.

I write these stories to try to pass on our farm heritage in an entertaining and accurate way,
but it only gets passed on if someone buys the books. Consider buying several for yourself or as gifts for others.

These are Collector quality books that can be passed on from generation to generation, just like the farm heritage they display.

Check out my website where you can see sample pages of my books before you order, or email me at to order books. Or just give me a call to ask questions.

By the way, shipping is free.

Happy Holidays!
Have a great Thanksgiving!
Merry Christmas!

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Trinity Preschool

On October 31, Nancy and I were in for a couple of real treats at Trinity Preschool at Watertown. First, we approached the town from the south, a route which took us through beautiful farm country in Carver County, and we always enjoy looking at the fields and forests.
Second, we were scheduled to perform last in a program that preschoolers were putting on for their parents, and we had the opportunity to see these lucky students perform. Their program was fun for everyone.

When we arrived, we were greeted at the door by Mrs. Bowyer, a friendly, energetic teacher who clearly enjoys working hard to teach students. As we set up, we watched Mrs. Essen rehearse with the children.
Nancy and I were amazed at their high performance level.
At the beginning of the program, each student was featured as he or she rode a home made horse onto the performance area and an announcer introduced the student and horse, urging the eager audience to applaud.

Then they sang songs as directed by Mrs. Essen, a teacher whose high energy and excitement makes the experience both successful and fun for the students.
Next, the students formed a circle with their parents to perform a square dance and the chicken dance.
Children and parents had their chicken dances down perfectly!

After the dancing, everyone moved to the tables and turned their attention to the stage, where I was set up to entertain the audience with  a brief talk about farm heritage, which included a performance of my story If I Were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure. 
Performing stories for an audience of parents with their preschool children is a special delight for me because the parents understand the nostalgia in my stories and the kids are always delighted to hear about Nancy's Adventures on a dairy farm.
They learned how to teach a calf how to drink out of a pail and about other chores on the farm.
They took turns feeling the oats in the coffee can.

And then I got to do something I love to do–Autograph books for children.

Thanks to Mrs. Bowyer for arranging my visit to Trinity Preschool, and thanks to her and Mrs. Essen for  showing Nancy and me their classroom and all the neat things they teach the students at Trinity.
Nancy and I were really impressed with the school, the students, and the degree of parental involvement.
We thank those parents who stopped to chat with us and comment on my show. Feedback from audiences means a lot to me.
Nancy and I had fun watching the students in their performances, and as always, we had fun meeting people and performing our show. 

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson