July 31st………“AS A YOUNG FARM BOY, ON YOUR FARM NEAR KIESTER, MINNESOTA, DID YOU SENSE A CLOSE BOND BETWEEN YOUR FATHER AND HIS FATHER? WHY”??
Fragrant Lilacs kissed the pre-dawn Minnesota breeze as Russ stepped out from the farm house and welcomed the gift of their aromatic blessings to his senses. These delicious blossoms, a relative of the olive family, compliment and harmonize with their green, heart-shaped leaves in being a harbinger of love and spirituality in many cultures of the world.
Whether our farmer father was cognizant of all that, we don’t know. But, what I did perceive, in my little boy heart, was that our indefatigable patriarch had a deep and abiding love for his own farmer father and following in the same life-calling of the career lifestyle of his predecessor. Within that loving framework, of father and son, there was an agricultural welding of hearts that resulted in a closely knit bond of Russell and his Norwegian progenitor. The marriage of Edwin Noorlun and Marie (Tollefson) Noorlun had been blessed with five sons (and three daughters), but, our family leader was the only son, out of those five boys, that followed his father’s love and heart into pursuing the down-to-earth agrarian lifestyle.
The shy morning sunrise had yet to find its confidence in peeking over the soybean fields that belonged to the Charlie Heitzeg family to our east. So, in the “O’Dark Thirty” of morning’s gentle peace, Russell snapped secure the last shoulder strap of his bib overalls as he sauntered beneath the single yard light and towards the double top/bottom “Dutch doors” of our family barn.
A new “moo perfume” greeted our dad as he propped open those barn doors and flipped on the electric lights of this “cow castle”. Our Holstein named “Angel”, and her 14 sisters, greeted their master caretaker with a rather strepitous trumpeting of their “Mooooos”!!, but Dad, in his love for those bovines, knew their language and, out of a caring heart, began meeting their feeding needs for this new day.
Our vastly large clowder of kitty cats came trotting from multiple directions that morning and towards the amber light that spilled from our barn’s open doorway and illuminated the early dawn darkness as they peered inside. They had been busy at work for us during the night in the granary building and corn cribs hunting rodents of large and small, now deceased, varieties. These fine, furry felines were well aware that their owner, working within those barn walls, was soon to reward them with a massive bowl of fresh milk each morning and night. All Dad had to do, when he had a “Surge” milker full, was yell, “HERE KITTY, KITTY, KITTY”!!! and a happy, manifold mass of fur bodies lined the circumference of that big bowl for a milky feast.
Memories of his own farming childhood must’ve floated through the musings in the mind of our hard-working farmer dad as he followed his morning (and evening) routines to lovingly take care of and milk this herd of Holstein cows. This particular breed of bovine was known in some circles as “The Farmer’s Cow” because of the large quantities of “white gold” that a Holstein-Friesian could yield twice a day. The more gallons gleaned meant more of a sellable commodity that brought income to our farm family.
In the earlier days of our milking operations, before a bulk milk tank was installed, Dad filled up numerous 10 gallon galvanized metal milk cans from the fecund udders of our black-n-white “ladies”. Those full, eighty pound milk cans were then transported over to a small building we called “The Pump House”. Each milk can was hefted up and into a large stock tank that was kept full of ice-cold water that kept the milk chilled overnight. The following morning, those milk cans were loaded into our dear old 1950 Ford pickup and taken into our village of Kiester and “sold” to The Kiester Co-op Creamery.
The quiet, reciprocal affection of our elder grandfather and his son was highlighted in the days when Grandfather Edwin was still able to drive his yellow 1949 Ford. That old golden chariot would roll into the south driveway and come to a gentle stop near the house. Our daddy’s visage brightened to see his dear father arrive to share some time with this son who loved the land as much as Edwin had in his own farming days of yore.
Together, these two Norwegian men strolled side by side around our farm enjoying a camaraderie that bordered on being more like brothers than father and son. Even as a child, I was keenly aware of the high respect and care that was bestowed upon the honored elder of the father of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.