Friday, December 31, 2010

An Update on Blizzard Conditions

Here is an update on what happened yesterday near Fargo, ND, courtesy of the Fargo InForum online newspaper, found at:

Published December 31 2010

Authorities continue to rescue stranded motorists overnight, still checking roads this morning

FARGO – After a night of dramatic rescues in a blinding blizzard, authorities in Cass and Clay counties took to the highways this morning to continue to check stranded cars for motorists. Visibility had improved, but temperatures dropped below zero as round two of the storm approached.
By: Mike Nowatzki, INFORUM 
     Interstate 94 remained closed this morning from Fargo to Jamestown, N.D., and from Moorhead to Alexandria, Minn. Interstate 29 was still closed from Grand Forks, N.D., to the South Dakota border.
Highway 10 between Moorhead and Detroit Lakes, Minn., also is closed until further notice.
     Cass County Chief Deputy Jim Thoreson said three motorists were rescued overnight from County     Road 10 west of West Fargo, which became the alternate route after I-94 closed following a pileup Thursday involving at least 25 vehicles.
     The last person to be rescued from County Road 10 was a semi driver who told authorities at midnight he wanted to stay with his truck but then called about 4 a.m. for authorities to come get him, Thoreson said.
     Deputies and state troopers following snowplows in four-wheel-drive vehicles were out this morning looking for stranded motorists.
     They rescued four people from two vehicles on I-29 near Argusville shortly after 5 a.m., Thoreson said.
     A family of four and a person in a separate vehicle were picked up on I-29 south of Fargo near the Kindred exit, he said, noting it took rescuers three hours to make the roughly 30-mile round trip.
     As of 7:30 a.m., the tactical operations center set up in Fargo for the storm wasn’t aware of any motorists still stranded, Thoreson said.
     “That’s our biggest worry is we haven’t heard from somebody who’s stranded,” he said.
     Thoreson said “dozens and dozens” of vehicles that have crashed or gotten stuck are being left on or along the roadways.
     “I don’t know that any of the major roadways will open today,” he said. “And once they do decide, it’s going to take a long time to clean these cars out before they can open up these roads again.”
     Since the blizzard hit, authorities in Cass County – with help Thursday night from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office on snowmobiles – have escorted about 30 people back to safety, Thoreson said.
     Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist also dispatched his deputies early today to start checking for stranded motorists as visibility improved and plows started to open up roads.
     Deputies weren’t called to rescue any stranded motorists overnight, but emergency personnel needed a snowplow to clear a path to a medical assist in Sabin, he said.
     Bergquist asked people to stay home until crews can clear the roads.
     With a second blizzard expected to start moving into the Fargo-Moorhead area mid-afternoon, Bergquist said he’s “a little nervous with it being New Year’s Eve.” Authorities are asking revelers to use common sense and forgo partying if it means having to travel, he said.
     “They’ll just have to celebrate another night,” he said.
     A blizzard warning is in effect from 6 p.m. today to noon Saturday. The National Weather Service says new snow accumulations of 6 to 9 inches can be expected, with the heaviest snowfall likely near a line from Fargo to Bemidji, Minn.
     So far, no life-threatening injuries or deaths related to the blizzard have been reported in Cass or Clay counties, officials said.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Weather Related Article

We are having some serious weather in the state.  Thankfully we didn't receive the 9 inches of snow that was predicted, but did end up with about three inches and lots of wind and blowing snow.   I walked down to the mailbox later in the afternoon and just about froze. 

Here is a story from the Fargo, ND online newspaper called the InForum, and can be found at

Published December 30, 2010

Full-blown rescue mode: 'Right now, we're just trying to get people out'

FARGO -- An emergency operation was under way Thursday night to rescue motorists stranded by a 100-vehicle chain-reaction accident on Interstate 94.
By: Wendy Reuer, INFORUM  
         FARGO -- An emergency operation was under way Thursday night to rescue motorists stranded by a 100-vehicle chain-reaction accident on Interstate 94.
         The accident, caused by high winds and snow resulting in zero-visibility conditions, was reported about noon Thursday 10 miles west of Fargo between Mapleton and Raymond.
         The rescue operation involved Cass County, the state Highway Patrol and the state Department of Transportation.
         Capt. Eldon Meher, with the North Dakota Highway Patrol, said the accident was a domino effect, with at least 25 vehicles crashing into each other. Dozens of other vehicles were left stranded for hours between wrecks blocking the highway.
         It reportedly began when a pickup ran into a jack-knifed semi and became stuck. A second semi then jack-knifed when it tried to avoid the first accident.
         Meher said motorists could not see in front of them and continued to drive into other vehicles or into the ditch.
         The accident scene was about a quarter-mile long, said state Highway Patrol Sgt. Dave Wolf.
         Angie Kamin was on her way back home to Kindred, N.D., from Fargo when she heard news of the accident on the radio.
         Although she and her husband weren’t driving more than 10 mph, she said they could barely see past the hood of their Jeep.
         They slowed down, knowing they would come upon the scene. When they did, Kamin said she was horrified by the number of vehicles involved.
         “It was horrible. I’m a North Dakota, Minnesota resident all my life – I’ve driven in everything – and I’ve never seen anything like that before,” she said.
         Near dark, officials still did not know how many motorists remained trapped in their vehicles.
         A tactical operations center was set up at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cass County Jail. A staging for snowmobile rescue operations was set up at the Cass County Highway Department building in West Fargo.
         By 7 p.m., Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney’s office and the Highway Patrol were in full rescue mode.
         “We’re just doing full blown rescue out of the vehicles,” Laney said. “Right now we’re just trying to get people out.”
         Two teams made of snowmobile patrols and snow plows were heading to the scene for rescue operations as of 8 p.m. Laney said he had no idea how many vehicles still had occupants left in them at the time, but the rescue would continue as needed.
         “The rescue operations will keep going all night until we feel comfortable everyone is out,” Laney said.
         Essentia Hospital representatives in Fargo said two people were brought in by ambulance from the accident and one walk-in injury was reported. One person was treated from injuries at Sanford Hospital also.
         Check back to for updates to this story.

    Sunday, December 26, 2010

    For Your Listening Pleasure ...

    While Jim, Jonathan and I were in Bismarck, the other boys decided to do a music video.  Andrew usually plays mandolin, but took up the upright bass and Peter is on guitar.  David was the camera man.  The title of the tune is "Angelina Baker."

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    In Jonathan's Own Words ...

    I want to update you on what will be happening this week in the Bartlett family.  Jonathan has shared some very personal things, and I would now like to share them with you.  Please check it out here.

    We certainly would covet your prayers.

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    How to Remove a Sparkplug the Hard Way

    I could never explain the saga of removing rusted sparkplugs as well as our son Andrew.  You can read all about it on his blog .  Farm life just seems to have a lot of these types of situations. 

    A friend who grew up on a farm told us one time that typically it takes at least half  your time looking for what you need, the other half actually getting the work done.   Around here it takes more than half your time just figuring out how to get the job done!

    Thursday, December 02, 2010

    An Early Morning Encounter

    About 4:00 this morning our dog Samson placed his front paws on our bed and wanted attention.  I scratched his ears and told him to get down.  He then proceeded to make some soft barking noises deep in his throat.  I was glad when he quit, because then I didn't have to get up to let him out.  It's been very cold at night and I've spoiled him by letting him stay inside on those types of nights.  Besides, the cats have taken over his dog house.  I wouldn't want to stick my head into a dog house filled with cats ready to scratch and bite, either.

    All of a sudden I heard the yipping of coyotes -- just on the other side of the wall!  I woke up Jim, who hadn't heard anything, and jumped out of bed.   At the same time, Jonathan came running out of the bedroom area with a gun in his hands.  By this time, everyone but Andrew was up.  I guess he too was awake, but his bed felt too cozy to climb out.

    Jonathan quickly threw on his boots and placed a head lamp on his head, and went outdoors to see what he could see.

    The next thing we heard was a shot.

    By then we were all anxiously waiting at the door to hear about what he saw.

    Jonathan came back in and explained that apparently Samson had dragged a deer hide by the side of the house and that was what the coyotes were feasting on.  As he walked out of the house the coyotes ran to a trail leading into the woods.  He managed to get off one shot but missed them as they took off.  Jonathan said he could see the glow from their eyes as they would turn to look back at him as they ran away. 

    We all went back to bed, but I never did go back to sleep.  Peter was up at his usual 5:15 to get ready to milk, and we all got up to do our usual chores.

    At daylight the guys checked the area and found coyote tracks all over the place in the snow -- near the pigs, by the barn, and even right in front of the door to the basement.  The cats must have been terrified, since the coyotes were also right by the dog house as well.  I suppose if I would have had Samson outside he could have deterred them from coming this close to the house, but I sure would have hated to have had him tangle with those mangy creatures. 

    I sure hope we don't have another visit tonight.

    Wednesday, December 01, 2010


    Maybe someone should really start an agrarian social networking system like this!

    Get it??

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Thanksgiving Gift

    On Wednesday I received a surprise box in the mail.  David helped me open it up, and we discovered beautifully decorated cookies from my cousin, Peggy.  She should start a business creating cookies, don't you think? 

    Thanks for blessing us, Peggy!

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Sundogs Explained

    I found this sketch of sundogs in today's Fargo Forum online newspaper.  Before reading the chart below, I didn't have a good explanation regarding what causes them. 

    In our area, sundogs seem to occur most often during the winter months, but we saw them as well just outside of Bismarck on a fall day the end of September.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010


    This was the view from my kitchen window yesterday morning. 

    This time of year the sundogs mean one thing:  It's going to be very cold.  And it was very cold.  And it's still very cold.  The windchill factor brought the temperature down to 20 degrees below zero. 

    And tonight it's snowing, with a prediction of approximately 6 inches of snow.  The local newspaper stated we've already had close to 30 inches, so winter is off to a roaring start.

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    How to Move Hay Bales: Improvising

    Our family has been living in the country for 6 years, but we still lack some equipment most farms consider essential for a successful operation. 

    Andrew includes a video of how we picked up our hay bales this week.  Check it out here

    For quite a while we didn't even have a truck, so we used our station wagon to pull a small utility trailer and took only a couple of bales at a time.  This proves you CAN make do if you have to. 

    It's certainly a good thing our neighbor's equipment creates the smaller round bales, or we might have had a problem.

    Samson loves it when the guys move bales ... Lunch is just underneath.  He loves mice.

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    Pushing On

    Looks like our guest cabin is hosting alfalfa bales ... 

    This past summer our neighbor was 6 weeks late in baling our hay, so the alfalfa was way past its prime.  Peter had to resort to purchasing alfalfa hay bales from someone in the area to supplement what is missing in our hay.  Hopefully it will help.  Sandy our milk cow dropped quite dramatically in her milk supply after Peter was forced to switch from having the cows grazing in the field to being in the barnyard eating our hay. 

    The guys didn't want to keep the bales in the barn since they would be easy prey to wandering goats.  Instead, they are being stored for the time being in the guest cabin. 
    Peter, Andrew and Jonathan have all had their hands in constructing this hay feeder which will go into the barnyard for the winter.  This one will keep the goats and anything else off the hay and reduce spillage.  They plan to get it down to the barnyard tomorrow.  It's heavy, and with the snow and mucky conditions it will have to be manually carried down there.

    Andrew took some end of the day photos, and you can see that in spite of the warm weather today we still have lots of snow to melt.

    Our friend Steve came over yesterday and used his Bobcat to dig us out.  The snow plow still hasn't come in to finish what he started the day after the storm, so this was a great blessing to us.  David has been busy trying to convince his older brothers to have a snowball fight.  The large piles of snow are great for hiding behind!

    Another beautiful sunset over the lake.

    I'm having all kinds of trouble with Blogger tonight, so I will post this before I lose it!

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Storm Photos

    This afternoon I stepped outside to take a few photos.  The wind was still blowing, but had calmed down a bit from what it had been doing. 

     Looks like the car won't be going anywhere for a while -- at least until the snowplow comes through.

     The hoop house area looks like a real mess.  I need to cut down the leftovers of my elecampane plants and also another bush.  We finally located a farmer who is willing to sell us straw bales.  It was much nicer when we could get them closer to home, but the weather was so rainy this spring that almost no one in the Turtle Mountains was able to plant any crops.  We need to cover our drain field area and my herb beds with straw before the real cold weather begins. 

    There's a big drift by our old van. 

    I saw the long range forecast, and supposedly a week from now we are to have temperatures in the 50's.  Maybe that will give us more time to get ready for winter.

    Jonathan needs to do his egg route tomorrow, and someone is supposed to pick up some other items, but nothing will happen until the snowplow comes through.  I'm thankful we never lost electricity; it's one item I'm very attached to.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    It's Here

    It seems strange that once the snow starts it's as if it never left. 

    By the end of the week we are supposed to have temperatures in the lower 40's, so it could melt again. 

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Winter's Coming

    It rained most of the day today, and by tomorrow our Indian Summer will be over ...  I've heard we could get as much as 4 to 6 inches of snow in the next couple of days.

    (Photo from March 2010)





    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    Last Week's Activities

     Last Monday Jim, Jonathan and I traveled to Bismarck for an appointment, and also visited with some new friends south of the city.  They did their first year of a CSA, and it went well for them. 

    The family just finished putting up a high tunnel, and it was quite the structure.  It was hot in there!  They had just planted carrots, and I can't remember what else they will grow in there over the winter.  Quite impressive.

     It's a good thing the sides roll up from the bottom.  On a warm winter day it could become quite toasty in there for the plants.

     The family also has smaller hoop structures, which will help to stretch the growing season for what was planted this spring.  I think they said there were 50 members involved in their summer CSA, and now they are doing a fall/winter one.  I didn't hear how many members they have so far.

     We believe in making do -- notice the balloons.  They are remnants from Jim's run for state senate!

     I turned 54 on Friday, and the boys make it quite a festive occasion.  I felt very loved.

     Finally each family has a King James Version Bible.  Mine happens to be a large print one!

    Jonathan's hoop structure for his laying hens is progressing nicely.  The door frames are also in place, and he's waiting for the company to send the felt needed to cushion the plastic resting on the pipes before installing the 2 layers.  Thankfully it was the company's mistake so Jonathan doesn't have to pay further postage.

     Zoro finally arrived yesterday, via the Stegman family.  He is quite the bruiser.   Hopefully next spring we'll have piglets from 2 of our sows.

    As soon as they got him into his pen, he touched the electric fence which is inside the panels.  After being shocked a couple of times they shut off the fence, in favor of allowing him to get used to his surroundings before using electricity to keep him in. 

     It's a bit hard to see, but Zoro made quite a dent in one of the panels.  That was the first order of business -- toughening up the walls.  Hopefully he will enjoy his pen and not make moves to get out.  I'm not sure how we would get him back in!
     Andrew and Jonathan working on the panels.

     Funny Face had 5 kittens over the summer.  We were so busy we really didn't take time to tame the kittens, so they are quite afraid of us.  I took one photo of this kitten, and then it zoomed away into the woods.  Hopefully we can get them fairly tame, since a friend in November wants to take 2 of them back to her home in Montana.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Coyotes in Action

    Andrew has a video of coyotes he heard a couple of mornings ago.  The one was very close, considering he could capture its voice on his camcorder.  You could check it out here .

    You might also be interested in another of his videos, of how we North Dakotans break the bead on a truck tire.  You can find that video here.   We do things in a very professional manner around here!

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Turkey Butchering

    We were supposed to have had a 60% chance of rain overnight. Nothing happened. And, the day dawned cloudless but with mist rising from the low areas of our farm. It was a good day for turkey butchering.

    It took a while for the mist to clear, but we all had chores to do, anyway.

    Cowboy David was just returning from feeding the pigs.

    Twenty of Jonathan's turkeys went from this:

    To this:

    We spent all morning doing turkeys, then the guys rushed to do something else all afternoon.  I'll have to report that activity tomorrow.

    And, we had a very nice sunset as well.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Turkey Day

    Tomorrow we are butchering Jonathan's 33 turkeys. I'm thankful the weather will be around 60 degrees, instead of the 50 degree weather we had the last time we butchered chickens.

    I've been concerned lately with how the coyotes have been acting around here. One night last week it sounded like there was at least one coyote near the laying hen and turkey pens (they are shut up for the night in enclosed pens, which are in turn surrounded by electrified poultry netting). Jim and Jonathan drove out there but it was gone before they arrived at the pens.
    Even in broad daylight the coyotes have been very active. I don't know if the beautiful Indian summer we are having has caused them to be so bold, but I'll be glad to have the turkeys in the freezer and the laying hens closer to home in a shelter Jonathan is constructing.

    Thursday, October 07, 2010

    Our Lake Will Never Be the Same

    Yesterday a friend of ours called to tell me to look out our front basement windows. There he was, talking to me with his cell phone in his speed boat on our lake! He had put his boat in at our neighbor's place. Our two families are the only homes on this lake.
    As far as we know, there has never been a motorized boat on the lake. We borrowed a canoe and used that one summer, the boys have used a little twelve foot wooden boat they built while we were still in the city, and two summers ago Andrew built a raft and that has been poled out to a deeper spot on the lake -- but no speed boats.

    You never know what's going to happen around here!

    Sunday, October 03, 2010

    A Successful Chicken Season

    A couple of weeks ago Jonathan announced to us we needed to butcher his last batch of chickens. So, we spent that day preparing for the big event. The biggest number we had butchered in one day was 104, and this time we would do a whole batch -- approximately 170 chickens -- all in one day.

    We started with a little bit of rain, and a high of 50 degrees. That is a bit chilly when you are placing your hands in cold water all day long. At least there were no problems with flies.

    This past summer we utilized 5 days for butchering Jonathan's broilers, as well as doing one day to take care of some older hens that were no longer laying eggs. We had some VERY LONG DAYS. I think this particular day we started about 9:30 a.m. and finished up the last of the packaging at 10:30 p.m. And then came the clean up.

    Peter looked pretty chipper, in spite of being cold.

    David was a bit on the cold side, but did a good job anyway.

    Jim was in charge of our newly constructed Whizbang Chicken Plucker. Doing 3 chickens at a time in approximately 20 seconds was a wonderful way to speed up the process. At least it sped up the outside work. Inside, we had our work cut out for us!
    Andrew and I were in the house working; Andrew would check the chickens over for pin feathers (he had the tweezers to pull them out), etc. and I finished them off by washing them one final time, drying, bagging, weighing and recording the weights. The Whizbang Chicken Plucker is so great at getting rid of the feathers that this time there were hardly any of the small black pin feathers to pull out.
    Andrew and I took turns getting more chickens from the outside barrels filled with very cold water and also bringing the finished chickens upstairs to the big freezers.

    I guess Andrew forgot to take a photo of Jonathan doing what he was doing over at the killing cones. But then, maybe that was good!

    Samson was very attentive, but stayed out of the chicken guts unless someone tossed something to him. I'm sure he was very full by the time were were done.

    Last Friday we were glad to see those chickens being driven away. I am very thankful to have my freezer available for the rest of our garden harvest.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    North Dakota's Best Kept Secret

    Today friends of ours came for a visit, flying over in their family's airplane. Jim, Andrew and David met them at the town airport, and Jim and David went up for a quick flight over our farm.

    This is what the Turtle Mountains of ND look like by air on a beautiful fall day.

    The bright green area in the middle is what we call our "big field." This is where Jonathan has his chickens and turkeys.

    The above photo is our farm.

    I never knew this area of ND existed until we started looking for land in the country.

    Thanks, Roberts, for a special day of fellowship and fun!