Dad Always Said No Hitchhikers..But I Couldn’t Resist

Friday I had to visit three farmers to get some paperwork signed and the last one I visited was Travis. He was out cutting alfalfa for hay so I met him at the field he was working in.


Alfalfa is a perennial legume that is in the pea family. It grows slowly, but after a few weeks forms a very thick ground cover. If a field is empty it can be planted to hold the ground in place to prevent erosion.



It does not grow very well in warm climate, so I had never seen any until I moved to South Dakota. It is primarily used for cattle feed and is great because of its high protein content. In the Dakotas you can cut it anywhere from 3-5 times a year, in climates in places like California it can be harvested up to 12 times. It is very thick and bushy like. When it is cut the roots and stubble remain and that is where it grows back.




I showed up and he was off the tractor with his hat in hand running around trying to pick up something. I walked out there and in his hand he had three ducks. While cutting he had came across a duck nest and we looked for the others, but were unable to find any others in the thick brush. I had a bucket in my truck so I put them in the bucket and off we went. They are probably the most harmless hitch hikers I could have picked up. They sat in their bucket in the back seat and I only heard a few peeps.




I called my boss who was a wildlife major in college and she suggested trying to put them where other ducks are and another duck might take them in. She said that ducks will often serve as surrogate mothers. So I decided to take them to a lake near my house where I had seen mother and baby ducks. First I stopped by and showed Mr. and Mrs. Hagen (the people I live with) the baby ducks.





They were so sweet and so cute, I was sad to leave them, but I am sure they are much happier by the lake with the other ducks. 
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Tis the Season for Farmer’s Markets

Summer is upon us which means that it is time for local fruits and vegetables! Farmers markets across the country are open and the first fruits and vegetables are coming in. Farmers markets can range in size and products. The little town I live near of Webster,SD (pop. ~1,950). Webster has a market each Tuesday, however the 2 weeks it has been open this season there has not been many vendors only 2 or 3. Today however I was in Aberdeen, SD (pop. ~26,000) and was able to stop by their market!

In the Dakotas there are not many fresh vegetables coming in right now. There were 2 vendors selling vegetables, but there were an abundance of other people selling goods they had made.
This gentleman was selling cheese his wife had made. It was very delicious!
The few people who had vegetables for sale had lines wrapping all around the 4 corners of the tent.

Honey, which is very good and sweet up here since it is from clover.
Lye soaps
breads..
and even a guitarist was a plucking away.
Elizabeth who is married to the preacher at the church I have been attending comes each week to sell some of her items and sweets. She is one of the craftiest people I know and has such cute things.
She hand paints little people and had on display today a super hero set, Disney princess set and a custom set of her family!
She also makes and sells dinosaur towels. Her little boy Isaac (who unfortunately was sick today) loves to parade around in it at the farmers market and at home after his bath. A little boy at the market modeled today.

She makes them in all kinds of colors for boys and girls. If you are interested in purchasing any of Elizabeth’s products she can be reached at elizabethopheim@gmail.com and is hoping to set up an Etsy shop soon!
Farmer’s markets are a great place to support local farmers and buy fresh produce. This is the time of the year to enjoy those fresh fruits and vegetables.
To find your local farmer’s market in Alabama you can go here: http://www.fma.alabama.gov/FMCounty.aspx 
To find farmer’s markets in other parts of the country use USDA’s market finder:

Seeing the Sights of the Black Hills

This last weekend a friend from Auburn was supposed to fly up to the Dakotas to visit and see the sights. Due to flight problems they were not able to come, but because I was already half way across the state I still decided to go on as planned. My first stop was in Wall, SD at Wall Drug Store. A fun, and free attraction as you get close to the Black Hills. They offer free ice water…why not stop?




I left wall and headed toward Mt. Rushmore. I had been previously with my Dad and Brady and loved it so much I wanted to go back. At dusk each day they have a lighting of the monument and a program explaining its importance and a little about the presidents on the mountain. It is definitely worth your time if you can be there at that time.



This particular Friday was also Flag Day. It was a beautiful evening and there were a lot of military men and women there and they were all recognized on stage.






Saturday I visited Wind Cave National Park. It is the 6th largest cave in the world, 3rd in the United States. It was very different from other caves I have been in. Not many stalactites and stalagmites. I am sure to spelunkers it was something to see. It looked like corrugated cardboard to me. It was very interesting and the $9 tour lasted an hour and a half. Definitely worth the money. And…you get to see buffalo! They are everywhere and if you aren’t careful you might just hit one at night.








After seeing Wind Cave I journeyed over into Wyoming and visited Devil’s Tower.





I was also able to drive over into Montana. The east side there is not much to see, but it was still pretty.



It turned out to be a great weekend trip. It was a wonderful weekend to be out and about seeing the sights of our beautiful country.




Wall Drug Store: You Have to Go Once

If you have ever traveled South of Montgomery, Alabama on US 231 I am sure you have seen one of the hundreds of Sikes and Kohn signs.



You see these signs for miles and if you aren’t familiar with the store your curiosity is peaked. I remember when I was in 7th grade we were coming back from Florida and I begged my parents to stop there. It wasn’t anything extremely special, especially the prices, but I was able to say I have been there. There is a similar marketing scheme in South Dakota used by Wall Drug Store in Wall, SD.

For miles you see their signs. I even saw one this weekend in Wyoming! The signs have many slogs and are all shapes and sizes.



Wall Drug store was started in Wall, SD at the edge of the Badlands back in 1931. At that time there was nothing to the town of Wall and the drug store struggled. Ted Hustead and his wife Dorthy were worried that they would not be able to stay in business. With Mt. Rushmore due to open in a few years they decided to stick it out. One hot night when Dorthy would not sleep she came up with the idea that they should offer free water to travelers. After all with it being so hot that was the one thing that people would want. The next few days Hustead and some local high school boys made signs to put along the road. Their idea worked, people started getting off the road to stop in Wall to get free ice water. They still offer “ice water” today. It is now more of a tourist trap, but one definitely worth seeing once if you are in the area.

The New York Times has described Wall Drug as “a sprawling tourist attraction of international renown and takes in more than $10 million a year and draws some two million annual visitors to a remote town.” The store is 76,000 square feet!

They actually do have a drug store. They also have a cafe, play area, and sell souvenirs, camping supplies, fudge, pottery, books, western art, clothes, etc. You name it they have it.
They still offer “free ice water” however they do not chip ice off a block like they used to. It comes from a water fountain and you drink it out of paper cone cups. However, it is not ice cold, a major disappointment (especially for a girl from the South who loves her ice water).
Wall Drug is a place you have to stop at least once, I have now been twice. Still a nice break from traveling and it is a free attraction! There are plenty of photo opps and room for the kids to run around and burn off some bottled energy. If you are on your way to the Black Hills definitely stop.

Celebrating Parents

In case you missed it today is Father’s Day. One day a year fathers and mothers are celebrated here in the United States. I feel like most people would agree that they should be celebrated more than once a year. After all growing up they fed us, changed many dirty diapers, nursed us back to health when we were sick, put up with us fussing with sibblings, endured whining, went to numerous ball games, recitals, and school programs.
I’m so thankful for my parents and I definitily do not express it enough. Not only did they care for me and my brothers growing up, but they taught me how to work hard and most importantly raised me in a home where God is put first as is commanded.
Proverbs 6:22: Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Deuteronomy 6:7 (in reference to God’s law): You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Ephesians 6:4: Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
So Happy Father’s Day to my father and all you other fathers out there. Let us remember to not only be nice to and thankful for our parents one day a year, but consistently throughout the year.

Mother’s Day 2013
In honor of Father’s Day my favorite picture with my dad.

Rainy Days Help You Appreciate Pretty Days

I do not exagerate when I say that today was probably the 3rd sunny day since I have been in South Dakota. I really wasn’t sure if it was possible for the sun to shine all day, but today it proved me wrong.  Like usual I spent most of my day in a corn field so it was such a nice change from what I have been experiencing the last 2 1/2 weeks. It has been an absolutely beautiful day today and I speak for the crops when I say it was much needed. The cows were enjoying it too!

There is a pretty young calf in the pasture. He gets out and roams around the yard ocassionally. Walk toward him, he runs back to his mother.

Otis the cat wasn’t too happy to be cooped up inside on a pretty day.

I Found a Gem in Rothsay, Minnesota

In the two weeks I have been in South Dakota I have put 2,250 miles on my truck and eaten my fair share of local eateries. The only problem with local places is you can never tell if it is a dump or if is a awesome place. Thankfully I have been riding around with my trainer Carrie and she has eaten at most of the local places in the 6 counties she covers and she usually warns me which ones to stay away from and which ones are good. (Thank you Carrie)
On Friday however I was out on my own over in Minnesota and I had been on the road for 4 hours and it was time for lunch and I did not have Carrie along to seek her counsel. I had just picked up 16 bags of seed from a dealer in Rothsay, Minnesota and was going to deliver them to a farmer over in North Dakota. According to my sometimes trusty Tom-Tom (see previous post Tom-Tom Knows Best if You Listen the First Time)  there was one restaurant in the town. I was a little worried that there might not be anything else so I decided to give it a try.
The town was absolutely dead, but I found the place with little problems. Ole and Lena’s was the name of the place, it seemed like a strange name for a restaurant in a small town. I pulled up and thought they were closed because there was no one there (not usually a good sign). Went in and I was the only one there, but it was a very tastefully decorated place, full of local memorabilia.
The menus were made to look like newspapers. The menu had a wide variety of choices. They even had some lunch specials like a hot pork sandwich, beef sandwich, salad etc. I was quickly taken care of by a waitress. She of course suggested a pizza.
The pizza choices were very interesting. I was kinda in a hurry so I just played it safe and ordered the Uffda pizza which is basically a meats pizza and some bread sticks. The bread sticks were amazing, in my opinion better than the pizza.
None of it tasted like frozen pizza neither the bread sticks nor the pizza.  The marinara sauce tasted like it was made out of freshly chopped tomatoes. Overall it was very good. It was a little pricier than I usually pay for lunch, but it was definitely worth it. If I am ever back in the area I will be stopping again. Not long after I got there the place filled up with customers and you can tell they have a lot of local clientele. I would have never guessed that I would have found this good of a pizza place in a tiny town like Rothsay (pop. 494) but you just never know!

Tom-Tom Knows Best (if you listen the first time)

I like to pride myself in being pretty directionally savy. Back home I can tell you pretty much where any road is until you get into subdivisoions. I will admit however I was a little worried about finding my way around in South Dakota. Afterall, most of their roadways are streets or avenues and they mostly are numbers and not actual names like O’Neal, Pepper etc. On the first day I was here I figured out a very helpful fact.
Avenues run North to South and Streets run East to West.
This doesn’t help me remember what road is which but I at least know what direction I am heading.
Another thing that helps is that most of the counties are on the grid system. Basically every mile there is a road. Not necessarily a travelable road, but a road.
Limestone County, AL (top) vs. Day County, SD (bottom)
My Tom-Tom which my brothers gave to me for a high school graduation gift, has been very helpful for the most part. No matter where you are the address numbers are not always right, but it usually gets you within close proximity of your destination.
Tuesday I was sent to Mitchell, South Dakota for a siminar. I left about 5:30am I made it without any issues and even had time to visit the Corn Palace.

When I left Mitchell I was to go to Conde, SD to pick up some leftoever seed from a grower. When I left the farm with their seed I typed in my Tom-Tom my home adderss. It said it was 80 miles! Let me assure you it was not 80 miles. How did I know this? These hills. Yep, those with the windmills.  

I see these hills every Sunday and Wednesday on my way to church. I knew that I was just on the other side from the main highway I needed to take me home and it would be quicker to go over them vs. around them. Seems logical right?
I told Tom-Tom I wanted the shortest, not quickest way and off I went. I am always leary of Tom-Tom when he tells me this:
However, in South Dakota practically every road is dirt! So if you hit avoid unpaved roads you will never get to wherever it is you are trying to go.
So here I go along the dirt roads trying to figure out how to get over the big hills to the otherside to take a “short cut”. I go down one road Tom-Tom told me to go down and I basically ended up in someone’s backyard. It might have been a road at one point, but not anymore. So I quickly turned around and left. This happened several more times. It would tell me to turn and I find this:
Or this… (which you can tell was a road, but now has a fence in front of it)
I finally got over the hills and all I could find was signs I take very seriously out here.

Long story shorts, many roads, many backups, turnarounds later. I had to give up and go back the way Tom-Tom suggested in the beginning. I could see where I needed to go, there was just no way for me to get there unless it inovlved me plowing through a farmers field, mud hole, or pasture. I saw some beautiful scenery and animals along the way, but it got later and later and I was ready to be home.

Tuesday was Mr. Glenn’s (I live with him and his wife) 80th birthday and I was planning to make him a peach cobbler. I finally found my way home and had time to make the cobbler. Moral of the story, just do what the Tom-Tom says the first time unless you want to take the scenic route.