October 11th…“TELL US A “YARN” FROM YOUR BARN IN YOUR YOUNG MINNESOTA DAYS. TRUE STORY, YA?”
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.
Around the year 1945, Morten was now 53 years old and already past middle age. I’m told, he, along with his wife (Tina), hoped to slow down in the rigors 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 Holstad farm, next door, 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, prickly, football-shaped weed that grew in that area. Back in the Kiester area, even though Morten’s wife, Tina, had inherited the farmstead from her pioneer family, they, as a couple, knew a time had come for a change in their life together. It so happened, that while our father, Russell, had gone up 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 farm to rent and, if he had known earlier, our parents could’ve moved a full year earlier to HIS place 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 1945 until 1967 when Dad sold the farm to move to Washington State.
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.
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.
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 I 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 with “Mr. Quiet”. 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!!!”.
Without as much as a stir of emotion, dear old Morten stealthily reached inside his bib overalls, grabbed and then pulled out the mouse that had just ran under his pants and had used his leg to “get up in the world!!!” With wiggling prize in hand, Morten asks little Darrel, “Is this the one you’re looking for?”.
With saucer-wide eyes, the tiker was amazed how relaxed this 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.