Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 11th


#65=Elliott on Little Lady with Morton Holstad, 1963
Elliott is aboard “Little Lady”, in 1963 (9 years old).  The former owner of the farm, Morten Holstad stands behind the pony holding the bridle.

The 1892 birth certificate said, “Not a peep from this one!”.  Well, that’s what the record should have said, because Morten Ingvald Holstad was about the quietest baby to be born in Iowa State that year.  Even being as young as I was, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s,  I was able to discern that Morten was the most word-conservative man I’ve ever known.  Pleasant in his ways, and with nary a spoken decibel, Morten went about farming the rich soil his wife inherited, northwest of Kiester, Minnesota, until he heard of a young family looking for a chance to work a farm of their own.

#966 Genevieve and Wally Mutschler..our 3rd grandparents
Wally and Genevieve Mutschler were Elliott’s dear neighbors who were like ‘extra’ grandparents.

Around the year 1945, Morten was now 53 years old and looking to slow down and and take a rest from the rigorous life of farming.   I’m told, he, along with his wife (Tina), hoped to find a more relaxed change of pace from the strenuous ways of farm life and “retire to town” in Kiester.   Our sweet parents, Russell and Clarice, had been working as “hired hands” for our “other grandparents”, Wally and Genevieve Mutschler.  The Mutschler’s beautiful farm lay just to the north of the Holstad acreage.  Unaware of the availability of the Holstad farm, just down the gravel road, our parents left the employ of the Mutschlers and moved just south of the Iowa State Line to an area known as Vinje, Iowa to rent and work a farm in that area.  Mom and Dad named that property, “Cocklebur Hill” for the extensive, football-shaped prickly weed that grew in that area.

It so happened, that while our father, Russell, had gone uptown to Kiester, Minnesota for some shopping,  he “ran into” Morten Holstad and had a nice visit.  Morten then informed Dad that he heard from Wally Mutschler that our parents were looking for a long-term farm to rent.  If he had known earlier, our parents could’ve moved a full year earlier to HIS place, less than a mile from the Mutschlers, without having to have made the move down into Iowa.  Dad and Mom gladly accepted Morten and Tina’s offer to rent their farm and another move was made “back home” to the dear acreage that became the Noorlun farm from 1946 until 1967 when Dad sold the farm to move to Washington State.

Kiester HS 1952 - Darrel Mutschler BB

From here, I relate a true story (shared to me) that transpired in our barn sometime before I came on the world’s scene in 1954.

#668.1 Aerial of Kiester farm 001
Between the Silo (left) and the Barn (right) was the little connecting Silage Room.

Some of you may have heard the term of a “mouse in the house”?  Well, get ready for a twist of that phrase.  In later years, our parents actually signed papers to begin purchasing the farm from the Holstads, but for now, even being semi-retired, we often had Morten and Tina (as landlords) stop by for visits and helping on our farm.  Our dear neighbors, the Mutschlers, were also frequent visitors to our farm.  It was on one of those occasions that one of their handsome young sons, Darrel, came along with his daddy, Wally.

NFS 10.11f
Energy to burn!

Like any lil’ whippersnapper, Darrel had the energy of a fireball and to occupy his time, this little guy had come across a mouse and was in hot pursuit of that tiny creature who was literally running for his minuscule life!  As a reference point for the location of this adventure; between the very tall, cement silo (which stored our chopped green corn called silage) and the main barn, there was a small, connecting building we called the Silage Room.   Our kind-hearted, quiet, friendly farmer landlord, Morten, was in the Silage Room doing some sort of work to help our father, Russell.   In the meantime, bearing down on his furry victim, Darrel had raced down the center manger aisle of the barn and burst into the Silage Room where very quiet Morten was.   Breathlessly, and as he darted his eyes back and forth, Darrel asked Morten, “Mr. Holstad, did you see my mouse?  I chased him in here!!!”.  

NFS 10.11b
“Is this the one you’re looking for?”

Without so much as a stir of emotion, dear old Morten stealthily reached down inside his bib overalls, grabbed for a wild, tiny creature and then pulled out the mouse that had just ran up his leg under his overall pants.  That terrified mouse had clawed his way up Morten’s leg to “get up in the world!!!”  With wiggling prize in hand, Morten asks little Darrel, “Is this the one you’re looking for?”.

NFS 10.11e
Little Darrel’s eyes about popped out of their sockets!

With saucer-wide eyes, the little tiker was amazed how relaxed this old, friendly farmer was after having his “privates” invaded by a scratching, clawing and frantic furry friend seeking sanctuary.  Darrel accepted Morten’s flailing “gift” and went off amazed at what had just occurred.  There was just no way that a mini, marauding, mouse’s meanderings would ruffle the feathers of Morten Ingvald Holstad in the barn of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

NFS 10.11j


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s