November 2008 Southwest Angle Columns

Incredulous RobHere are the columns from November, 2008. Snow is blowing and the stuff in the yard needs to be put away. Visions of Sno-Cat rides are now close to reality. Some of the beans are still in the fields, puddles between the rows. The deer are heading for the deep woods with the shots of the -06's and 30-30's ringing through the air. I'll have to drag the Meyers plow out of the weeds and hook it up so the Ford 4x4 can rule Trapper's yard when the big one hits...

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November 7, 2008

I’m glad the political season is over. They may be making plans for 2010 somewhere, but not here. Hunting season is upon us, Thanksgiving is within weeks and hopefully there’s enough snow in the forecast to crank up the Pol-Cat for a ride or three with Trapper and the Little Girls before Christmas.

Trapper is making regular trips to an undisclosed Beltrami Forest location to check his traps. The beaver seem to have rebounded so he has skinned a few of those. Ms Toyota’s skunk collection grows by the day and she’s caught a fox or two.  


Speaking of Trapper, the other day he was telling me how he keeps uninvited guests from coming over. The way he tells the story, it happened to someone else but he’s not fooling anyone. It seems he had one visitor that would come over right at mealtime and it was beginning to be a problem. Trapper, being the devious person that he is, devised a plan. The next time the guy came over, he served up the meal as usual, but upon completion of the meal, he put the guy’s plate on the floor and let the dog lick it clean. After the dog finished the task, he took the plate over to the cupboard and put it with the clean plates.

The mealtime guest never returned.



It’s a case of one good bit deserves another, the “bit” being a short comedy routine. Here goes. A while ago, Management had a birthday, the 10th of October, to be exact. I waited until after she left the household morning whirlwind to call KQ-92 to let the professionals there broadcast it to everyone in the vicinity of the Lake of the Woods.  Judy answered the phone and I gave her Management’s given name, but when she asked the age, I just told her the year Management was born. Giving out her age is, well, a little tough since I occasionally need a favor, you know what I mean.

TerryI was sure to listen to the pair shortly after 7:50 when Terry played one of his funky “Happy Birthday” songs to transition into the birthday segment of the show. The pair wished “Happy Birthday” to a couple of lucky people and then Terry got to Management’s name. He read it off and asked Judy the age. She said, “They wouldn’t give the age, just the year!”

Terry read off the year, 1960, and attempted to calculate the age. He Judystarted with square roots and advanced to some decimal calculations. His next attempt sounded like a quadratic equation. That didn’t work so I figured he would start on a logarithm but, I think, Judy must have held up a piece of paper with “48” written on it to end the misery for the Math Whiz. He somehow managed to cough out the age to end the segment. 

I love to hear a professional at work.



The garden finally stopped giving some time ago. It was fun while it lasted. I was counting on harvesting a bushel or so of sunflower seed to help recoup my losses but I was too late. The birds discovered them and cleaned them out before I had a chance to make the big bucks. We have several pretty ears of Indian corn drying on top of the microwave and also some ears of Japanese popcorn in the same location. The broccoli kept on producing little heads well after the frost, not enough for meals but good gardener snack material. I cut down the cornstalks and sunflower stalks but didn’t have time to burn them before the recent monsoons. We ended up with one rather sizeable pumpkin but it spoiled before the little girls could make it into a jack-o-lantern.  

Now it’s just a long wait for the Gurneys catalog to come in the mail to help plan next year’s gardening enterprise.

Speaking of gardening, I have an Aunt Betty back home in Grand Rapids that’s a great gardener. At the County Fair, she’s a regular blue ribbon winner with a variety of vegetables, fruits, canned goods and pickles. A few years back, I stopped to visit her and Uncle Arnold. Their residence is a veritable park with its large lawn, neat buildings and a variety of trees, many of them fruit trees. I guess I must have commented that I’d like to have some fruit trees so the next spring I received a summons from Betty to come over and pick up my fruit trees.

I stopped by and she had six saplings ready for me with explicit instruction on how to plant them. I took them home and somehow managed to do it wrong. I guess I planted them too close together but the trees mostly survived. One died on its own and one didn’t survive being run over by the lawn mower.

Two of the trees flower red in the spring and the other two have white flowers. The two with red flowers produce tiny apples that the birds harvest. One of the whites has produced crab apples for a few years but the other didn’t grow very tall and didn’t seem to produce anything, until this year. During one of our infrequent phone conversations, my neighbor told me that the tree had apples on it this year, larger than crabs. On a trip back home we picked the apples. There weren’t too many since the deer had taken the ones within reach. They weren’t large but were very sweet. Needless to say, they were all eaten before the weekend was over.


November 7, 2008

I’ve purchased my deer license but haven’t had the opportunity to hunt yet. We had to go back to Hill City over the weekend to sort and pack some of our remaining stuff so I spent Saturday morning getting the various outdoor toys, big and little, strewn over our Roseau yard under cover before the “big one” hits. We drove south in the afternoon and evening. Sunday morning, I got up and looked out the window over the hayfield. All I saw was orange. The new owner of the south 40 had set up a couple of stands to overlook my hayfield. Since it appeared that I’d likely be a target if I set foot in the field, I decided that deer hunting was something for another day.   


On the subject of deer, I’ve some sad news to report about Dick’s old Buick. The other morning, Management left for work in the in the car only to be back a few minutes later to ask me to check out some damage on the old Buick. She’d had another altercation with a deer.

I think some of the local deer must be members of an Al Qaeda sleeper cell because they seem to have a propensity to try to commit suicide on Management’s vehicles. The one that tried it last year totaled Management’s Crown Victoria en route to its death.

The recent attempt wasn’t quite so successful. The deer leaped into the road on its fateful task, however Management was driving too fast for it so it only creamed the rear door on the driver’s side. She said that she heard a thump but didn’t see anything so figured the deer must have survived. I think further investigation is warranted into this obvious conspiracy.

The damaged door won’t open so the Little Girls have to get in from the passenger side door. Since they were used to that with the old Rolling Playhouse, they must think it pretty normal so haven’t complained.     



Last year, when David Johnson took me up to introduce me to the Northwest Angle, he drove me by a large log house near the Angle Inlet School. He explained to me that the owner of the house was a log home builder, Bill Knight, and that Bill’s wife drove into Roseau each day to work at Polaris.

The log house was beautiful though it wasn’t quite complete yet. I promptly forgot the name since I didn’t write it down. We had earlier visited Tom Kastle, the school Marm’s husband. Tom had talked some about the projects he’d worked on with the log home builder, one of them being a log house for David’s daughter. He said that they’d fitted the logs together up at the Angle, dissembled them, hauled them to St. Cloud and erected the house there.

Some time later I started working at Polaris and at some point became aware that a brother and sister that lived at the Angle drove down each day to work the second shift in the welding department. I worked with the brother often; his name is Tim Prothero.

You all know that I kept in close contact with the crusty old Norwegian, Orlin Ostby, and his Ox Pum on their trek to the State Fair, calling him every other day or so. One day Orlin asked me to give a message to Tim’s sister Linda Knight from the Angle about a neighbor of hers he’d met on the trek. That night I figured out just who she was and passed the message along. I visited with her a few times later but still wasn’t smart enough to figure out that she was the gal David Johnson was talking about.

I’d been looking for a person to write about happenings on the Northwest Angle and one night asked Linda if she’d write something for me to put in the newspaper. Somehow or other the fog cleared and I asked her if she lived in a log house. She answered in the affirmative and also mentioned the house her husband and Tom had built for David’s daughter. She said that her mother used to write for the Pioneer and then agreed to write a column for me. The next day she handed me the manuscript. Hopefully you all read it in last week’s newspaper. We hope to hear from her often. 

See you next week!

November 19, 2008

I’ll admit it. I’m not a very good newspaper reporter. I have in my mind’s eye a fellow running around, asking crisp questions, writing everything down in a well organized official reporter’s notebook in shorthand, snapping pictures and recording the names, also in the well organized, official reporter’s notebook.

For me, it usually goes awry right at the start. I don’t know what questions to ask, the official reporter’s notebook is whatever I’ve found at Dollar Savers, if I remember to bring it, and I don’t know shorthand. I usually remember the camera, but the notebook is laying back on the computer table so the names for the pictures are written on whatever scrap of paper I find in my pocket or on the seat of the little Ranger SuperCab. By the time I sit down to write the articles, my notebook is starting to lose its pages and I may or may not find the proper scrap of paper for the picture I want to use. I often can’t read my own writing so things get real interesting when I’m doing my two-finger typing bit ten  minutes before deadline. Pictures are good. At least someone knows who’s in the picture even if it isn’t me.



I was intending that the Warroad Baptist Hunter’s Supper would be a proper newspaper article, but the heavy election schedule prevented a write-up. We were only able to insert a couple of pictures but the event deserves much more. Management and I headed over, but since we didn’t have any baby sitter available, we took the Little Girls along, not really knowing what to expect. We fit right in since it was definitely an event geared towards the whole family.

quiltFor starters, Kathy Marvin did a bang up job of decorating. Outdoor themed quilts, hand-made quilts by Norma Lundeen and Ruth Ortmann were hung on the walls. A tastefully arranged center-piece was comprised largely of deer horns and brush with a forest fire of candles in the center was in the front of the sanctuary. Todd Taves was the emcee.

We sat with Management’s co-worker Paul King. The meal consisted of your choice of buffalo meat loaf or pork, both were very good. For some unknown reason, ours was the first table to get sent to the serving window. I didn’t complain about that.

After the meal, Mark Keiser gave a great talk. He told of some of the memorable times he’s had with his brothers and sons while on hunting trips. Mark finished up by imploring the assembled to also hone their “hunting for souls” skills.

Mark KeiserThen it was time for Wayne Tweeten and Norm Ortmann to shine. Wayne really gets into giving away the prizes and Norm is a good foil for him. The prize table was stacked with neat things. The top prizes were two guided fishing trips and a hunting rifle.

They drew the names for the big prizes but didn’t announce them. Wayne and Norm started working their way through the numerous other things on the table. Since I didn’t get any smaller prizes, I figured my name must be on one of the big ones, but, alas, my name didn’t get called then, either. Julio Marenco won the gun, Carol Otto and Reuh Hjermstad won the fishing trips.


 We’ve been cleaning up the residual things in our Hill City homestead over the past couple of weekends. It is always interesting to go through old papers. Also time consuming. We figured that one weekend would do it but it will take a couple weekends more…

It was interesting coming back to Roseau County from the lower north this last Sunday. I was driving the old F-250 SuperCab pulling a trailer and Management was behind with Dick’s old Buick. Just north of Squaw Lake, we ran into a blizzard. We had to slow down substantially. The snow was coming down so hard at times I had a hard time seeing the sides of the road.  We drove out of it before Northome and figured we’d seen the last of it.

The roads were still pretty good and we made the regular stop at Kelliher. Things looked good as we cruised north through Washkish. As we were going through the big bog, I looked for the familiar landmark; the Coast Guard tower south of Baudette. It wasn’t visible. Hmmm, must be something in between, maybe a snowstorm? Yep, after we made the jog in the road and crossed the line into Lake of the Woods County, the storm hit. This one was just as bad and lasted longer. The roads were covered with a couple of inches of fluffy by the time we drove out of it at the Rapid River. It gets one in the winter mindset in a hurry.

Management notes that she saw seven or eight Yellow Rose trucks heading south so figures her job is safe for at least another week.

 Welcome to winter 08-09, see you next week!

 November 26, 2008

I had an interesting weekend. My brother Farrell came up to visit, his first trip to the area in about 30 years. Our family used to come to Warroad to attend meetings put on by Henry Theissen and his family many years ago and that was the last time he had been up here. He did recognize a few things, but not many.

Anyway, to combine work with leisure, I managed to con Trapper into giving us a tour of the Beltrami area. The work part was to take some deer camp pictures and the leisure part was to bring the rifle along in case a deer happened along. Farrell’s son Kyle came along as did my daughter Alyssa.

cole clanWe toured down around Bemis Hill to show off our tiny bit of mountainous area to my brother. I’m not sure he was very impressed because the hill his house is built on is nearly as steep. We went down around the Winner silo, then east to Axel Olson’s corner where stopped to talk to some of the Cole gang walking along the road. Matt, Jason, Byron and Nathan Cole along with Rhett Warmsbecker were reconnoitering the area that morning. They said that had just completed a drive; hunting from stands hadn’t been too productive lately but they were doing well driving the deer out. They were nearly at the 100% deer kill ratio.

They told Trapper to show us their Deer Camp. He drove us in and it was an eye-full. It looked more like a lodge. It had a Great Room with a fireplace, still under construction. The bunk house, which the neighbors claim sleeps 27, is upstairs. A room off to the south has a sign that says minors aren’t allowed, you fill in the blanks. The chow table is about 20 feet long.

Trapper says that, due to the rate at which the Coles reproduce males, the Cole name will be around a long time. After the visit, I believe it.

meekerWe then wended our way to an undisclosed location in the area to another camp where we found Dave Moyer and Freddie Meeker in their Deer Camp. This one is not quite as pretentious since they only erect it once a year for part of grouse season and all of deer season. Panel walls and a blue tarp roof, it serves them well. They were pretty mum on how successful they had been, “got a couple.” They did have an 8 pointer on the ground outside so one assumes the couple was considerably more. While we were visiting, one of the party still out hunting shot several times. Dave predicted we’d hear seven shots, which we did. He’d given the kid only seven shells, must be a little bit of a tightwad…

They were waiting for the rest of the crew to get there to dismantle the hut. I figured Vince Buck would show, but he didn’t. I was waiting for a sample of their camp coffee but it must not have been coffee time there. Maybe next time. 

olson clanThe last stop was at Ronnie Olson’s camp on the way out of the undisclosed location. He was there with son Pat and Brennon Wagge. They had a little shack on wheels that they’ve been using a century or so. It was painted up to look pretty nice. Not too many deer for them this year, but they were pretty happy to be out hunting. No coffee here, either. So much for Trapper’s regular coffee customers returning the favor…

Trapper brought us back home, coming up County 5 and back west on County 2 to home. No deer were dumb enough to present themselves to us, so the gun stayed in the case.

Management had taken the other little girls into Roseau for basketball and a trip to the Blue Star Experience Center for Terri, Farrell’s wife. The rest of us decided that the Experience Center was a good idea also we so traveled in to Roseau. Farrell enjoyed experiencing Blue Star history and I re-acquainted myself with some of the artifacts while the two kids stationed themselves in front of the computer games.

pum and kinThe gals picked up the other Little Girls from the practice and met us there; after a little bit, we headed to the Pizza Ranch for lunch. After the buffet, we all headed south to the crusty old Norwegian’s place. You probably know him as Pum’s owner, Orlin Ostby. Orlin’s son Christopher showed us the great Ox and his teammate Kin in the corral. We also looked at the new additions to the ranch, Chloe and Zoe. These are a pair of six month old Pinto Percherons that Orlin’s daughter Catherine is raising and will train to drive. Dad will be building a Vis-à-vis for the horses to pull and Catherine plans on doings weddings and special events with the horses and rig.  

            Orlin tried to show us the elk and deer on a tour of the area but we had the same results as we did in the morning tour of Beltrami. It was still a great day, seeing many of the neat things one can see in Northwest MN.

            Sunday morning it was church at Bethel Covenant, soon to be renamed Hope Community Church.

Lunch was at the Lakeside, where we experienced Erica. This one is a candidate for the Warroad Waitress Hall of Fame. The eight of us went in and picked an area, but the table arrangement wasn’t suitable for this whirlwind of a waitress. She literally threw the chairs around, slid the right amount of tables into the exact location she wanted and seated us, admonishing us in the meantime to keep track of the number of chairs that hit the floor. If you want a real dining experience in Warroad, this is the place to go, at least when Erica is working.

jammingThe afternoon was spent first at the Yellow Rose Experience Center and then it was over to the library where Babs Larson was hosting a Bob and Pam Wenzel jam session. Normally, one would expect quiet at a library, but this was anything but quiet. The Wenzels had numerous of their students strumming and singing for the assembled. It was one of the events where truly one could say a good time was had by all…

See you next week!