May 2nd……..”AS A LITTLE BOY, ON YOUR FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA, DID YOU HAVE TO FEED PIGS AS PART OF YOUR CHORES? EVEN IN THE WINTER BLIZZARDS”?
A mordant blast of Winter’s fury shrieked past me and stole all the oxygen from my little boy lungs!!! Bundled up against the onslaught of this extreme weather, I had just stepped out from the back porch door of our farm home there near our hometown of Kiester, Minnesota. Even a second or two without that viable breath of life was too much for me!!! My longing lungs automatically gasped in a large replacement supply of life-giving oxygen. Now I could go on about my set chores for the day.
Having been born into the frigid similitude of another former January in 1954, I was acclimated to the normalcy of what a Minnesota winter was all about. My old seasonal adversary had just caught me by surprise, that’s all!!! 😉
When you’re knee-high to a grasshopper’s burp, anything and everything seems at least ten times larger than it really is. All things agrarian, in my farmer boy world, seemed larger, taller, heavier and farther in getting my chores accomplished each day. Layer on top of those conditions the trepidity of snow up to my “yoohooeee” and crusted over ice-melt divots from days when our local temperatures dared rise enough to get near 33 degrees and thawing. 😉
With my head tilted onto my shoulder, like a battering ram against the winds, I surged forward on the 50 yard diagonal trek that took me from our home to the Granary Building that sat just north of our massive Barn. My thumb-n-one finger mittens pinched the vertical edge of our Granary’s door as I pulled from left to right while the door’s upper rollers traversed the metal track above my head.
Making my ungainly entrance to the high flooring of the Granary, I relished the momentary respite from those howling winds that still circled this building reminiscent of the Sioux Indians circling a wagon train of old; waiting for the opportunity to attack.
Grabbing two, stout metal five gallon buckets, and with my breath vapors in the icy air, I stepped over to the wall of the Granary and slid up a vertical hatch door that, to me, was magical in itself. The pioneers (I seem to recall their last name was Santmaier or Sandmeyer) who constructed this Granary in the mid to late 1800’s, created an ingenious, inter-connecting, enclosed chute system that allowed grain from the second floor of this animal food edifice to gravity-flow down and out of that little vertical hatch door. All I had to do was slide up that hatch door and the golden goodness of hog feed filled up those two buckets in a lickety split!!
Lugging those two full buckets of grain over to the doorway, I hopped down to ground level once again and heave-hoed them suckers to the level of the snow surrounding me. Before I could grant those hogs a “happy, heapin’ helpin’ of my hospitality”, I had to carry those massive metal magnets all the way down to the Hog House which was easily 75 yards from our Granary doorway.
I teasingly called those metal buckets, full of grain, magnets for a couple reasons. #1. Gravity made those buckets heavier to tote with each tiring footstep. And, #2. When you add being a little guy, plus the length of my arms, plus the height of those grain buckets and their extended carrying bails………well, I could barely get those heavy grain buckets to clear an inch or so above ground level!!! 😉
So there I was, a midget farmer either breaking snow trail with my buckets or dragging them heavy things on the snowy ground itself, or experiencing a “slippity doo dah” of a farmer’s “Fred Astaire” dance on the icy areas. It was comical to say the least!!! 😉
With a blustery blast, those same winter winds blew me and my buckets into our Hog House that sat at the southeast corner of our farmyard right along the north/south gravel road that passed our family place.
It only took a couple pig calls of, “Sooo-ee, Sooo-ee” to get the attention of every porcine prince and princess in that grunting grungy abode of theirs. Over the fence and into their trough went the grain along with some water to make some yummy “slop” for them to rummage and root at with their super strong snouts and all was happy in that piggy palace……..both for the pigs AND for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son!!! 😉