A Spontaneous Black Hills Adventure

Once upon a time, the Olsons thought it would be fun to go on a family vacation.  The fieldwork was at a good place to leave for a few days, and there were four days all summer when Jonathan and Carolyn were free.  But Laura (daughter #3) couldn’t get off of work for that many days in a row, and she had already made plans to go to Omaha and hang out with a bestie of hers.  Christina (daughter #2) was working in Custer State Park at the Black Hills Playhouse, so we’d go there.  Anna (me, aka daughter #1) was home for the summer and it turned out that the four days Jonathan and Carolyn (the ‘rents) were looking at for the proposed vacation were free for her, too.  So they went on vacation.  Anna kept a log of the vacation, but it is eight pages long so I won’t bore you with it.  Speaking in third person is a bit odd, maybe.  But whatever—Anna thinks it’s fun, therefore so do I.

Badlands National ParkHighlights:

-Seeing Laura and talking with her for an hour and a half before we hit I-90.  She handed Jonathan a bag from PacSun and said, “This is for you.  To give to Christina.”  She’s a gem.

-The corn palace and Wall Drug, neither of which is as impressive as when you’re eight, so Anna learned.  She also learned that when you’re taking a lot of pictures of a building, you are labeled a tourist, even if home is a mere few hours away.  We were such cliché tourists.  Except we didn’t buy any souvenirs the whole trip.  So, only mostly cliché.

-Seeing people from our hometown when we were staying at a hotel in Wall, SD.  Can’t go anywhere, seriously.  We were at Badlands National Park, and Carolyn’s like, “Quick, they have Minnesota plates.  We might know them and start talking!”  We didn’t, but that was close.  We knew other people that were headed to the Black Hills that week.  Somehow, we find each other.

-Changing time zones after six hours on the road (who knew you could go six hours west and change, but you’d have to drive for days before it switches going east).  That certainly threw things off.  It was like daylight savings, but we were so busy and doing things that you didn’t notice the “extra hour”.  You used it for other things.  And then after we get home, everyone’s asleep by 9:30pm Mountain Time, even though I had seen 2:30am Central Time on the trip a few times.  Is that confusing?  Probably.

IMG_0158-Mount Rushmore.  During the day and the night lighting ceremony, which Carolyn (“Mom” as I call her) talks about in a blog here.  I’d never really understood why Roosevelt was there, but each of the four presidents stand for something in the original vision of America.  Have we strayed from what our country is supposed to stand for?  Who knows.  Also learned a bunch about Borglum, the sculptor, who died before it was finished, when we went to his museum in Keystone, where we stayed.  Not at his museum, ‘cuz that would be creepy.  In Keystone.

-Crazy Horse.  We went to the visitor center this time.  It’s super big and the stories behind it are pretty cool.  Did you know they’ve been working on it for, like, 60 years?  And the four faces of Rushmore could fit in CH’s head.  Whoa! IMG_0189

-Seeing Christina.  She came to the hotel we were at twice and didn’t leave until after midnight, but it was fun to talk to her.  We took her out for supper one day and we went to the Black Hills Playhouse and saw “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” which was excellent.  She’s a tech intern there this summer, and her bio in the play bill made her sound real cool (‘cuz she pretty much is).

Is it just me, or does this bear look like it’s peein’ a stream?

-Bear Country, USA, nowhere else will never see more bears together even if you’re born with them and they don’t kill you but accept you as one of their own.  There was a slight hold up because bears ahead were playing with other and climbing on things and someone was breaking the rules and had their window open and were eating Lays Potato Chips and the bear wanted them.  Or he was just climbing on a pole and cute from a distance.

Anyhoo, all of us—I mean, Jonathan, Carolyn, and Anna—are still real tired but moving ahead, ‘cuz we’re starting barley harvest today.  And Anna’s giving lessons today.  All of the previously mentioned people have a lot to do this week is what I’m basically saying in too many words.  Vacation was fun and the hills were pretty, but I really missed the flat prairie I grew up in.  Until the next blog Anna writes not in third person,


Century Farm Appreciation Party Sum-Up

So, it was a while ago, but I thought it was time to talk about it.  The Century Farm Appreciation Party—smiley face.  My mother, who wrote this summary of it through her eyes, had been posting other posts about the history of the farm previously, like the fact that green tractors have always graced this farm (seriously, when I was little, a blue tractor pulled in the yard and my mom was all like, “Who the heck is that?” …we’ve since become friends with people who prefer red tractors for some unknown reason), telling about Grandma’s diary from her time at the U of M, and the history of the seed business here.  She’s a big agriculture advocate, and many of her posts are about the topic. 

Anyway, it was a hustle to get everything ready.  The nasty weather the Friday before so didn’t help anything, and some things just didn’t get done.  My mom poked her head in my room as I was contemplating getting up.  “Good morning, honey.  Here’s the stuff I picked up for you yesterday.  By the way, Pam is here.”  I nodded, but I was super confused.  Pam lives in the cities.  She got here this morning?  It was like, seven.  What time did she have to get up?  So I got up, and there was Pam, already helping out over in the shop (where the party would be).  I got dressed, put on my brace, and my brace wouldn’t work.  It was weird.  This hadn’t happened since last summer.  I looked at where it was flashing “error” (on the flashy noisy thing on my…”necklace”)—between the heel sensor and the brace.  Hmm.  Battery?  As much as I’ve had to deal with the crap put out by this thing, I am much better at finding out what’s wrong.  But why today?  I sent up a plea to the Lord, adding a complaint that this had to happen today.  But then I dealt.  Dad had to pick up fruit in town, and he had to stop a few other places.  At the hardware store, he looked for a battery.  Too bad it was a specialty battery that we couldn’t find anywhere.  So, mom started calling places to see if they carried the battery.  I was ready to make do and compensate all day.  I took over the calling when Mom had to do something else.  Finally, I called Radio Shack.  They had the battery!  “I’ve been looking everywhere,” I said in relief that it was actually somewhere in Marshall.  “Yeah, we’re the only place that carries them.”  (I got that, thank you.  I called everyone else already.)  So, when Dad had to go back to Marshall for something else, I told them that they had the battery at Radio Shack, and he picked one (more like three) up for me!   

People were showing up, and I was helping out where I could, too.  I helped to put signs up for the “Ag Olympics” we had in another shed.  Events included Bale Stacking (nine square bales), Bale Toss, Tire Flipping (a TRACTOR tire, that’s fun), Feed the Pigs (running two 5-gallon-buckets of pig feed through an obstacle course as quickly as possible), Water the Chickens (bringing water over by sponge only).  I wandered over there in the middle of the happenings and watched two farmers, friends of my parents, competing. Who knew that that farmers in their mid-40’s were so competitive?  Did I just say something about “their age?”  Of course not.  In yet a different shed, we filled a kiddie pool with wheat for kids to play in (you bet they did), a petting zoo of farm animals run by Marshall’s FFA (Lakeview’s FFA did the Ag Olympics stuff), and we had a 5-gallon pail filled with soybeans in which 5 tools or things were lost in it to find.  Really, it was like a farming experience, all the stuff we had.  (And we’re a crop farm—lots of equipment and seed stuff, and therefore a lot of sheds.)

Anyway, back to the before-hand.  Dad had gotten our family polos that said “Olson Organics, Cottonwood, Minnesota, 1913-2013” on them.  With his impressive Olson Organics logo, of course.  We might alter it to say “Olson Organics at Fairview Farm, Cottonwood, Minnesota”.  They can’t decide how it should be worded.  My friend Marissa came early, because she needed to head out home before any other bad weather hit.  I gave her a tour and she helped set up lawn golf kind of.  Two of my awesome aunts, Pam and Heidi, made another set of golf balls—you know, the kind where there’s a rope that goes through them, then there’s a golf ball on each end—they did a fabulous job.  The power point I had made was set up and playing on a wall, and the party soon began. 

The Dinner Club that Mom and Dad are part of took care of the serving food, and soon, everything was taken care of.  It was like a well-oiled machine.  Mom and Dad were engaged in conversation until I went to bed that night, and I talked to random people, as well.  There were seed buyers, seed dealers, equipment-people, people who have done construction on a shed of ours, neighbors, family, people from church, guys from the elevator and the co-op.  Basically, Mom and Dad created a list and tried to include everyone who was impacted by our farm, as well as everyone that impacted our farm.  Pretty sure she’ll write a blog about that, too.  🙂  Only about a third of those people could make it, but it was hoppin!  (Am I allowed to use that term?)  I myself drank like, three bottles of water and was super warm.  BUT, I talked to a lot of people—some of them I recognized, but seriously needed a hint when it came to their names, others I met for the first time, and yet more I knew pretty well.  It was awesome that my grandpa Kenny, his sister Fern, and Shi, part of that generation and married to Bob, could just sit at a table and people came up to talk with them.  History is great, and I loved that the three of them could be there for most of it! 

We joke that, “Oh, you couldn’t make it to this one?  That’s okay, maybe you’ll make it to the next one, in 3013.”  But seriously, I love the history of this farm.  In doing research and stuff for it, I have learned so much!  I’m even on a genealogy kick, and was elated to see on ancestory.com that my mom has traced the Olson side to southern Norway before coming to the U.S.  I can’t wait until someday my great-grandchildren may go through the same process as I did.  Remember, everyone, LABEL YOUR PHOTOS! 



P.S: My mom has a ton of pics on her posts, but they aren’t on my computer, so go ahead an wander over to hers if you want to check out some awesome pics from the day.  Also, be sure to check out this post of mine that I wrote about this farm, as well.

Saturday Smiley: The Olson Farm

Daniel and family (his sons and brother) in the corn crib at the Minnesota farm
Daniel and family (his sons and brother) by the corn crib at the Minnesota farm

Once upon a time, a man named Daniel moved with his wife and four children from Iowa to Minnesota.  In Minnesota, he bought a farm.  One of his brothers was already living in the town near the farm he bought.  After they had grown, his children moved all over, except one of his sons, Nuel, who took over the home farm.

Fast forward one hundred years from the date that Daniel moved.  TODAY!  Yes, that’s right.  Our farm becomes a century farm this year!  And while Daniel signed the deed in February, we are honoring the event this summer.  Nuel’s son Kenny took over the farm from him, and his other son, Bob, moved to a farm nearby.  Kenny’s son Jonathan took over the farm from him, and that’s my dad, so it is currently a four generation farm!  It’s really exciting.  And, because I’m home this summer, I’m helping to scan and organize old pictures in a slideshow and generally help when needed for the century farm party we’ll be having in a couple weeks.  Let me share some things I’ve learned:

Nuel's Sign

–          This farm actually has a name.  Daniel paid 50 cents for it, and technically, it still has that name.

–          Nuel began growing certified seed in the ‘30s.  That tradition stands to this day.

–          Daniel had an impressive ‘stash.  That’s a family trait, as well, as my dad and Bob’s sons all have great mustaches.  (Bob being Kenny’s brother, Nuel’s other son.)

–          Nuel and his wife, Myrtle, both went to the Ag School at the University of Minnesota in the 20s (currently the Twin Cities campus).  Kenny, Bob, and both of their wives went to an Ag School that later became the University of Minnesota Morris.

–          This farm has changed a lot since Daniel bought it.  Only two of the buildings that were here when he moved here still stand today.  Another, we tore down about a month ago. (The two buildings being the old corn crib and the house.)


– When you take a picture, label it so that future generations know the what and who and when of a picture. (Seriously, this stuff is important!)

– Basically, my family has been awesome for generations.  I so have proof.

I love family history, and I appreciate this farm so much more now knowing all of the history behind it.  I never completely understood why we didn’t have animals on our farm, but the rich tradition of growing certified seed is so worth much more!  My mom has been talking about all this awesome history on her blog, too, so be sure to check it out.  It has been SO MUCH FUN learning everything I have so far!  We’re having a Century Farm Party in a couple weeks, like I said, and we invited people that have impacted or are impacted by this farm in some way.  The list is quite long, but our farm has expanded over the last century, so there’s room for everyone.


This farm and all its history is the reason for my smiley today!  — Anna Olson (Great-great granddaughter of Daniel Olson)