Archived Southwest Angle Columns

Incredulous RobFebruary was a great month for the intrepid reporter/columnist. After reporting from long range on the Old Rocket's winter bike  ultra-marathon and tasting long milk for the firs time, the highlight of the month was a snowmobile trip to the real Angle, the Northwest Angle. David Johnson, Polaris co-founder, invited Trapper and I to snowmobile to  the Angle for an overnight stay. The Fishing Derby was a short few days later. A great Winter here in the Southwest Angle.

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It has been a busy week. On Tuesday, Trapper and I made a trip to Grygla for the bovine TB meeting. We picked up Layton Oslund and son Dave on our way down. The calving season is just starting, Trapper and Layton discussed some of the finer points of that as we drove. The big eagles' nest in Layton's pasture was a concern since eagles might think a newborn calf reasonable prey, a thought definitely not appreciated by the cattlemen.

It is always interesting to see the behavior of people at these events. The featured speakers at the events, usually divers sorts of government employees, are constrained by the rules of good conduct and present generally clear, concise arguments. Most attendees grygla mtgabide by the same rules, however there is usually someone who disregards the ground rules and pursues a personal agenda. This meeting was no exception. At one point, a fellow in the bleachers interrupted the moderator, inferred that the DNR was untrustworthy and asked for a show of hands of those who didn't trust the DNR. Unfortunately, many fell for the power play by the guy and raised their hand. He finished off his little side show by essentially propositioning the good looking gal that was representing the DNR at the meeting. He was an embarrassment.

In the interests of full disclosure, I'll have to tell you that I started work at Polaris last week as a welder.  I'm currently working afternoons but will continue writing articles for the Pioneer.

Trapper, Abby the dog and I made a trip into Warroad last Friday.  Trapper said I rode along because I like to ride in his Chevy pickup but I said it was because I needed to get a pair of bifocal safety glasses at the Home Center. Abby does like to ride in the Chevy, but she likes to ride in anything.  

 Anyway, we did some errands, Trapper introduced me to his friend Curt at Johnson's Electric. The two talked about bovine TB, Curt raises cattle also. We ended up at the Black Bear for lunch. It's a nice place; I like the interior decor.  The burgers were good, man sized and tasty. Take your appetite with you if you go there.

Trapper's Chevy made it back home OK. I cruised into Polaris for my first actual shift in the Rolling Playhouse Friday evening and survived the shift.  You might be thinking, "What in tarnation (or some other inserted word) is the Rolling Playhouse?"  Well, it's like Rolling Playhousethis. Management had a little incident with her vehicle, an old Ford conversion van, last February. The vehicle wasn't hurt that bad, but since it wasn't worth much, it was totaled. I parked it in the yard and the little girls adopted it as their playhouse, even staying overnight in it a few times. We brought it along to Roseen's Corner when we came here where it sat until Management had some more vehicle problems. Necessity being the mother of invention, I was able to resurrect it by fixing the heater housing using duct tape, epoxy and construction foam, the handyman's best friends. I beat out the dents in the fender a little and put a cardboard winter cover on the front to make it look better. Driving it is like moving a little house down the road and the little girls just love the space so I call it the Rolling Playhouse, RP for short. Honest.  

Saturday morning we headed the RP to lower northern Minnesota for a couple of bridal showers for daughter Erin. She's getting married in April and the pre-wedding activities are going at full bore. One Saturday and one Sunday, those who've been there before know the drill. Management made up a neat quiz for the Sunday shower. Here's the best quiz question:

How did the marriage proposal happen?

a. Kyle drove Erin up to her favorite mine pit and proposed.

b. Kyle put the ring in a Cracker Jack box and gave it to Erin.

c. Erin was driving them in her Mustang, put the pedal to the metal and said, "So, what do you think about 'til death do us part?"

d. They were slow dancing and Kyle put the ring on Erin's finger.

While the correct answer was (a), I like (c) better. The RP got us back home through the usual 2" snowstorm so we're ready for another week in the great north.


Congratulations to the Warroad boy's hockey team for their strong showing at the State Hockey Tournament. They are the latest in the fine tradition of Hockeytown, USA.

Congratulations also to both the Roseau girl's and boy's hockey teams for their showings at the State tournaments. The area wrestlers that made it to State are also to be commended. Any team or individual that makes it to the state tournament is among the elite. The best to all area teams that make the trip.

On to other things. It is pretty tough for me to change dentists. After a few bad experiences with dentists growing up, I stopped going for a while until the pain of an infected wisdom tooth overcame my revulsion for dentists. I tended to pass out when someone waved a needle past my face on the way to shooting me in the gum, a fact not appreciated by the old dentist. I ended up finding a good one in my home town.  A bit more modern, he'd take me in, lay me down on a comfortable reclining chair, gas me a little, give me the shot and go to work. Most times, I'd almost fall asleep while he was working. I can take a lot lying down.

The worst part of going to the dentist became the lecture by the oral hygienist about my deficient brushing techniques. She was a high school acquaintance, one of the cute cheerleaders. I refrained from telling her it was my brushing techniques that helped keep her employed.  

I kept going to the same dentist for nearly 3 decades, even when we moved to Duluth for some time. With the move to Roseau, commuting for a dental appointment has become unworkable so Management set up an appointment for me with Dr. Falk who has an office a bit northeast of Salol. My first visit was a week or so ago. It was a bit of a change to drive out to an old dairy farm for a dental appointment. I figured as I strolled up the walk, not surprising a farmer would need another occupation to help pay the bills with the situation dairy and beef farmers are seeing today.

Hygienist Heidi was nice. We visited a bit, after poking, prying and scrubbing, she said the cleaning part was done. Her lecture wasn't too bad. The doctor came in for the exam and we chatted a little. I found out he was one of the beef farmers who'd lost a herd to bovine TB. He's rebuilding, I'd noticed a bunch of cows in the pens when I drove up. He gave my mouth a thorough appraisal. Rather noticeable was molar with a missing top. He said I'll need a crown and some other work done. His estimate of cost was very reasonable. Looks like I'll be spending some time in the chair soon.

I talked to Clayton Skoien the other night. He took Buck and Buster on their annual trip to the Valley City Show to do some horse pulling. The team of Percherons did well, placing mid pack against all the high dollar teams. Clayton took the Best Teamster award, his first. Good job, Clayton, Buck and Buster.

orlinI met another interesting character the other night. I'd heard a little bit about Orlin Ostby from Trapper and Clayton, he's another one of the horse guys. He's also got a team of oxen and is planning on using one of the oxen, a 2500 lb Holstein steer, to pull an oxcart on the old Red River Trail next summer. The trail ran from Pembina, ND to St. Paul, MN in the early days, the carts were used to transport furs to St. Paul and other needed supplies back to the north country. Expect to hear more about this one.

two fordsWe were away for the weekend, another event in the south pertaining to the upcoming wedding. Lost a couple of nice snow-catting days but will make that up this weekend, promise. I did manage to increase the number of Fords in the yard by 2 for Trapper, driving one and hauling another back from Grand Rapids. Management calls it my eye candy. Maybe some day I'll get another one running...

Calving on the farm here is in full swing. Two sets of twins so far and no deaths even though the weather hasn't been particularly cooperative. Trapper wants to talk to Al Gore about the lack of Global Warming in the area.

I've been keeping Abby the dog away from the calving area for obvious reasons. She shows no ill effects of her encounter with the protective mama cow, although her bodily functions seemed to be out of whack for a few days.


It was a pretty tough week here at Roseen's Corner. As most of you know, tragedy often strikes without warning. Trapper's daughter Val, one of the cooks at the Warroad Eagles Club, called her sister Terri from work Monday last saying she didn't feel very well. Terri took her to the Emergency Room in Roseau. Val was admitted with a severe case of pneumonia.  Within a short time, she became unresponsive and was airlifted to Grand Forks. The family took turns staying there with her, however she never regained consciousness, dying on Wednesday afternoon. She was 46.

As Trapper says, you don't expect to bury your children. The later part of his family's week was spent notifying friends and relatives, preparing for a Saturday morning funeral as well as keeping up with the flow of new calves popping in the calving pens.

My own week wasn't going too well, soon to get worse. My nose started acting like a flowing well and I started feeling somewhat fatigued. I work afternoons and the Friday shift was somewhat difficult to finish off, but I made it. Dragged myself home, into bed, upchucked supper during the night. Getting out of bed Saturday morning was a near impossibility. 

Management was finally able to get me dressed, bundled into the van and into the Emergency Room. I thought I had strep, but tests proved otherwise. Managed to upchuck on the ER floor. Dr. Stephens eventually told me I had type B influenza, said it'd take a week to get over it. Congratulated me on being the sickest one so far and asked if I was related to Russell... No. 

It was apparent we wouldn't be able to make it to the funeral. I didn't think I need to spread Type B influenza to the mourners and Management didn't feel like carrying me into the church. We stopped off at a pharmacy, picked up some Tamiflu the doc had prescribed and headed home.

Trapper came by sometime after the funeral to see me and later commented to Management that I looked like I was ready for the bait pile. It was a pretty accurate assessment of how I felt.

The next day, Trapper came over and I was feeling slightly better. He told us that the funeral was a good one. Pastor Joe Elick did the funeral wearing a Harley cap and leather vest in honor of Val's affinity for Harley's. Joe, his wife and Val had made a trip to California on motorcycles several years ago so he knew her well. Joe recited a poem he'd written for the funeral and Val's cousin Dale Pearson sang a song he'd written for the occasion. Trapper was thankful for the many people who came to show their regard for Val. She will be missed.

Missed work again on Monday since my day was spent primarily in the horizontal position. The bodily functions are slowly resuming more or less predictable timing and on Tuesday finally ate a couple of pieces of toast for breakfast after a liquid diet for 3 days. I don't want to try this one again. I'm going to be a lot more receptive to having a flu shot next year when it becomes available. 


Another interesting week in the great north. I've pretty much recovered from the flu. Been back to work at the Blue Star since Tuesday and resumed much of my normal activities. Still get tired easily, the doc said it would take about a week to recover and he was right.

Trapper took me over to Badger the other morning. Actually, he took logging partner Earl Johnson and Earl's wife Carol over to Badger for the annual Farmer's Breakfast and I rode along. It was a pretty nice affair. The Border State Bank and CHS Inc. put on an eggs and ham breakfast for 25 cents a person. As bank president Christine Modahl says, "The 25 cents represents the farmer's share of the breakfast based on the commodity prices of the past years." As of 8:30 when we were there, they had served 180 people at the Badger Community Center.badger breakfast

I was a big spender and bought all our breakfasts for the princely sum of one dollar. Just about right for a newspaper writer's budget. The eggs and ham were good and the coffee pot kept making the rounds. I didn't know too many people but my companions knew a good share of the people in the room. A big day for Badger.

Warroad just escaped a nuclear meltdown on Friday. I decided to do something different so I took the little girls into town in the Rolling Playhouse and had lunch with Management at the Dairy Queen. As we dropped her off at the Yellow Rose after lunch, she sweetly asked me to, "Just stop at Doug's for a few minutes and pick up some fruits and veggies?" Unsuspecting like I said, "Sure."

The list was a hodgepodge of stuff, in and out of season, mostly out it seemed. Red onions, yellow onions, spinach, yellow Delicious apples, raspberries, cranberries, no amounts listed. As I cruised the aisles looking for the stuff, trying to figure out appropriate amounts, sometimes succeeding in keeping 3 less than cooperative girls in line, I thought I could feel smoke starting to come out my ears.

The store help steered me to most of the stuff on the list but cranberries was a non-starter. I finally ended up seeing Steve Haggen and asked him if he had any. The 2 G Man was stumped, he checked and found there was none in the store. Scratch cranberries. After getting most of the stuff, I mollified myself somewhat by picking up some real staples; Tombstone Pizza and Cookies N' Cream Ice Cream.

After a stop at the Home Center and the Auto parts store for some guy's supplies, I herded the RP home and spent the afternoon on easter eggsother stuff. I found out that Management had decided to do natural coloring of Easter eggs this year, thus the weird shopping list. After supper that evening, Management and the girls colored eggs naturally. The operation was a success, most of the colors came out the way they were supposed to. I actually wasn't there when it happened, went to bed right after supper. The eggs looked good the next morning when they showed them to me.

Easter, or Resurrection morning, was good.  We went to church and the last song of the morning was "Christ Arose." Easter is never complete for me until I've sung that song.

Spring brings some interesting situations to the farm. Abby the dog found out how dangerous a cow with calf can be and most farmers are pretty careful when dealing with partly wild cows, however things still happen. The other night Trapper came into the house somewhat bloodied on the hand and face and asked for my help. He'd had a cow that was showing a water bag and he'd gone over to her to see if the calf's feet were sticking out. As he came to her back end, she jumped up, whirled, knocked him down and butted him up against the wall of the shed. He was shaken up pretty good, he'd never had that happen to him before. Fortunately, she backed away after a bit and he was able to get out of the pen.

We armed ourselves with a bat and carefully herded the cow into the barn. For obvious reasons, that cow calved alone. The calf was either stillborn or died after birth and the local butcher has been scheduled to permanently solve the dangerous cow problem.  

The farm geese have started to lay eggs. Monday morning breakfast for the girls and I was scrambled geese eggs, 4 of 'em with ham bits. Good stuff.