Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 18th


Prologue:  My hardworking father, Russell, was usually consumed with the rigors of farming and seeing that his family had food on the table each day.  Yet, there was a very special day when work was set aside for some cherished time with me.  We took a fishing trip up the gravel road to the north of our farm to a body of water known as Rice Lake.  Today’s poem describes that special time with my dad.

#18=Elliott(with Dad, June '56)
Elliott and his father, Russell Noorlun

POEM – “You’d Be Amazed”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

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Old-fashioned fishin’ fun

You’d be amazed, How a bamboo pole,

And time away, That we gladly stole,

From farming’s chores, That steal away,

Those happy day’s hours, That are meant for play.

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Father n son fun!

But on this day, My dad took time,

To spend with me, Which was sublime.

For often, I had, Done some wishin’,

Now here, this day, We’d do some fishin’.

1956 Chevy Bel Air
The bamboo pole was too long to put inside the car.

“Get the pole, my boy, Too long for the car”, 

“This fishing toy, Is long by far!”, 

“You’ll need to grip, That bamboo spar”,

“Outside the window, Of our car!”.

Rice Lake, where Bullheads “fly” 😉

So down the dusty, Road we flew,

Watch out fish!!, Here comes we two.

Arriving at a lake, That folk called, Rice,

We found a spot, We thought was nice.

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“Come and bite me, if you can!”

Skewered worm, Upon the hook,

Plastic bobber, Where I’d look,

To see if mighty, Bullhead would,

Bite that fish hook, Like he should.

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A Bullhead bit the hook and swallowed that worm!!!

Sure enough, When time was right,

That big ol’ Bullhead, Made his bite.

My dad yelled, “YANK!, And set the hook!”,

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“Got one on!!!”

I did and caused, My pole to crook!,

That bamboo bent, Near 90 degree,

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“DUCK, it’s a fish!!” 😉

Now fish outta water, Flying right at me!,

I ducked, It flew, Right o’er my head,

And hit the ground, But it t’weren’t dead.

It flopped and flipped, All o’er the place,

Till Dad smacked fish, Right in fish face.

Such fun adventures, With Dad that day,

When we ran from work, For a day of play! 😉

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Unlike these two, Elliott, and his farmer father were wearing classic striped bib overalls.  But it’s the joy of the moment that is captured well here in this artist’s rendition of a fun fishing father and son time together.

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 17th


POEM – “Of All The Things”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

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Mr. Silly One

Of all the things I’ve lost,

I miss my mind the most.

Especially when, I’m all undone,

My brains become milquetoast.

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Mr. Silly Two

From the very beginning ,

When the good Lord doled out brains,

I guess I didn’t hear Him from,

The back room playin’ trains.

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Mr. Silly Three

This gullible cuss, Won’t make a fuss,

I’ve learned to live life simple.

I just smile a bunch, Cause I’ve got a hunch,

Folks love to see a dimple!! 😉

Brains?  Which way did day go?

Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 16th


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The trains rolled right past Grandpa Noorlun’s home and garden on the hill.

The clangiteebang, clangiteebang of the slow, chugging freight train wheels, at the rail joints, sent a rumble up the small hillside and right into Grandpa Noorlun’s garden.   I’ll bet the vibration helped to shake loose the potatoes in the ground that he was beginning to harvest.  Grandpa Ed’s (short for Edwin) version of farming nowadays was in his small garden here on the outskirts of the town of Lake Mills, Iowa.  He, and our grandmother, Marie (Tollefson) Noorlun were now in the ” late autumn” of their years and had stepped down from the full scale farming they used to do with horses in years gone by.

#969...1948 Haying Lake Mills Iowa Ed on haystack Erv and Doren
Elliott’s Grandfather Edwin Noorlun on a load of hay with two of his five sons assisting.  Circa 1948 near Lake Mills, Iowa.

Our paternal grandparents were blessed with five sons and three lovely daughters.  With a crew of kids like that, it was time for a family rebellion………errrr, ummm, make that a family reUNION at Ed and Marie’s comfortable home there in Lake Mills.  😉

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From near and far they came.



It was a grand occasion to see uncles and aunties gathering to share the shade of the lovely elm trees on their parent’s property.   With each family’s arrival, more stories were shared about each other’s kin and life in the various parts of our United States from whence each family came for this celebratory event.

#130=Elliott at Levorson farm; July 1957
Torn tooth time 😉


Even though I was a tiny tyke of 5 or 6 years, at the time, I was mesmerized by the beauty of my father’s youngest sister, Lillian!  She, and her handsome husband, Gene Greenspun, resided in the giant “Big Apple” metropolis of New York, New York.  Lillian’s stunning beauty had garnered her a job in the fashion industry as a model.  Uncle Gene had made a name for himself, also, in New York, as a toy manufacturer.  Gene had even designed and marketed a silly bedtime slipper called, “Crazy Feet”.  His inspiration for creating those slippers came from a clay carving/molding he had done of an exaggerated prototype of Lillian’s own feet while they were playing cards with their friends one evening.

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Elliott’s gravity grabbing gallop!

Aunt Lillian’s arrival was kinda like the grand finale of this family time, since other brothers and sisters were already clustered under the cool shade trees and jabbering away.  As my gorgeous aunt and uncle’s little sports car wheeled its way into the wide yard, a holler was sent up the knoll to my grandparent’s house and announced, “Lillian and Gene are here!!!”.   Hearing that happy news, I zipped out of that paternal abode and commanded my little feet to FLY outta Grandpa Ed’s house and down that knoll to meet my lovely auntie for a hug!  Most of us have heard the saying, “Haste makes waste”.   Well, its mantra sure proved true in my case that day.  As I descended that knoll (albeit small as it was), gravity began to accelerate my flying feet.  My “command control center” (brain), radioed a message to the rest of me saying, “DANGER, DANGER!  TOO FAST! TOO FAST!”.   Sure enough, I was quickly losing my balance.  The widening eyes of Dad’s brothers and sisters confirmed to me my feelings as they saw I was about to crash.   And, so I did, with an abrupt face plant into the dirt right in front of my darling Aunt Lillian.  As she graciously picked me up, from grass level, and began to dust me off, she noticed (and I could feel) that my baby front tooth had been bludgeoned from it’s original place in my mouth.

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A gap in his smiler.



The remnant of my tooth was now hanging from its proverbial thread.  One little “toink” from my auntie and it was now a piece of dental history in my hand.  She even took a Polaroid picture of me holding that tooth.  As the photo developed before our eyes, it was evident that I held that tonsorial trophy up proudly as if I had been a big game hunter on safari in Africa.  From now on, when I smiled, I could feel and hear that wind blow through the cavern in the itty bitty mouth of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

#44=Aunt Lillian Noorlun(Russ Noorlun's youngest sister)
Elliott’s beautiful Aunt Lillian Noorlun Greenspun modeling the “Crazy Feet” slippers her husband had fashioned after her own feet one night while playing cards.




Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 15th


POEM – “Two Tiny”  by N. Elliott Noorlun

Elliott’s big brother, Lowell, and tiny sister, Rosemary, in 1946.

Two tiny tender toddlers,

Tethered by love’s sweet bond,

As if they had been welded,

By Norwegian magic wand.

#263=Clarice, Lowell & Rosemary; circa Fall 1946
Clarice holds baby Rosemary as little big brother, Lowell, smiles into the camera in late Summer or early Fall of 1946.

Separated by a whole three years,

Yet close and one in heart.

Twins in joy and mischief,

With giggles from the start.

#249=Lowell & Rosemary playing in tub; circa 1949
Fun in the tub for Lowell and Rosie in the Summer.

Oh sure, they had their tussles,

When tiny tempers flew,

But, overall, emotions would fall,

And their bonding they’d renew.

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Lowell and Rosie’s favorite radio show

Like when “Big Jon and Sparky”,

Was on our radio,

They’d almost collide, As they’d slip n slide,

To hear their favorite show.

Family times of reading and relaxing with Uncle Del and their mother Clarice

Before cell phones and video games,

Back in the days of yore,

Brother and sister would read their books,

And create such fun galore.

#277=Russ giving Lowell&Rosie ride in wagon; circa 1948
Rosie and Lowell got rides in the wagon that their father, Russell, was using to haul trees with.

Like climbing trees, Or playing in the hay,

On imagination’s ride,

Or using the wealth, Of children’s stealth,

As they’d play both Seek and Hide.

#45=Elliott, Lowell & Rosie on hay wagon(March 1955)
Lowell (blowing bubbles), Elliott (little over 1 year old) and sister Rosie on a wagon ride.

Then along came little brother,

In January ’54,

Big brother and sis, Just couldn’t miss,

The chance to hug babe more.

#57=Elliott on bike seat with Lowell & Rosie(Summer 1954)
Baby Elliott got lots of love n hugs from brother Lowell and sister Rosemary.

Even baby Sis, Got every kiss,

They could give in ’55.

Both Lowell n Rose, Would kiss her toes,

To see Candice alive and thrive 😉

It seemed no matter, Which way I turned,

I had the comfort of,

Knowing their guidance, And chastening, too,

Was guided by their love.

#250a=Noorlun kids; December 1960
Now truly a BIG brother & sister they were!!!  Elliott and Candice are center.

In less than a blink, They both were grown,

To handsome lad and lass,

And soon life took, Them each their way,

From our daily lives, They’d pass.

#307=Pauline Bidne, Rosemary..3rd BD.., Lowell; May 15, 1949
Rosie (center) has an almost “invisible” birthday cake on tub “table”.

A richer man, I’ll always be,

To have seen the love they shared,

It was just too plainly obvious,

These two siblings really cared.

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Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 14th


#576=Rosie n Debbie by MN grainery; Summer 1974
Elliott’s sister, Rosie, and his oldest niece, Debbie, stand near the old Granary that stored oats and any other crops that were needed to feed animals over the long Winter months on the Noorlun farm just to the northwest of Kiester, Minnesota.

That Granary building on our farm was like a giant oatmeal cookie just waiting to happen! 😉  At least that’s one fun way to describe the crop that was stored inside that centennial, two-story wooden repository.   I’m told that this building of purpose was one of the first and therefore the oldest structures built by the pioneer family who homesteaded this acreage in the 1800’s.  Attached to the Granary, was an “L-shaped”, wrap-around machine shed on the north and west flanks of this structure.  That was the place of protection for our father’s alfalfa “hay” baling machine and also may have been the storage for a grain harvester called a “combine” (which cut and processed the oat plants) that has something to do with today’s story.

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Cheery Cows & Cheerios

It is a well-known fact that many millions of kids and adults enjoy their “Cheerios” breakfast cereal each morning.  “Cheerios” are made from oats, just like the crop that our father, Russell, grew on our farm.  So, for our family, I guess you could say that, instead of just “Cheerios” we also had CHEERY COWS cause they loved their grains, too!  Oats, corn and other grains helped to grow our herd of Holstein dairy cows to be plump and healthy.   A bovine, with a good appetite, can eat as much as 27 pounds of grain per day.  With that need in mind, it’s no wonder our farmer dad had to harvest and store away as much grain as he could, in the Fall, for the coming cold Winter months to be able to properly feed the ravenous cravings of our various livestock.   Animals, just like you and me as humans, enjoy a good meal every morning and evening (besides them munching on grass in the pasture all day during Spring and Summer).

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Oats are known for their fiber and nutrients.  There’s even “Oat Bread” at your local grocery store.

The rising sun, that day, was just as golden as our oat fields as it sparkled up out of the eastern sky.  Dad had serviced and gassed up our tractors, gathered grain wagons and even a device called a grain auger to help “elevate” the oats up into their new storage home after being harvested out in our fields.  I recall at least a few extra helpers at the farm, on days like this, to assist with the harvesting operation.   Sometimes, our dad hired local folk, and other times, family and/or neighbors came by to “give a hand” of love and sweaty labor to get this job done before Winter was once again upon us.   Dad, in his good Christian upbringing, would always repay the kindness of those neighbors by making himself available to help them when a harvest time was happening at their nearby farms.

#326=Russ, bro.Erwin,Candi,Steve, Scott, made frame; circa Aug.1962
Elliott’s on the right tire of this grain wagon.  A center sliding door was lifted to allow grain to exit the wagon

Sometimes, work and pleasure could be happily mingled.  Like the time our Colorado Cousins arrived at our farm just as Dad was airing up the grain wagon tires in preparation for the harvest about to commence.   A grain wagon full of oats could weigh up to two tons (4,000 pounds), so those tires had to be in good condition and fully inflated to safely haul that golden load in from the fields.

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A grain auger with screw shaft outside of the machine for display.

As our trustworthy Farmall tractors began to pull the first loads of grain into our farm yard, our father already had a grain auger positioned and lifted up to the high swinging door at the top of our Granary roof-line.  At the top, the funnel apparatus of the auger was then placed inside that small doorway and secured.  This auger machine resembled a long, metal tube.  Inside that metal tube was a very long, corkscrew shaft with cylindrical “wheels” that “filled” that tube.  Connected to the base of that metal tube contraption was a hinged metal basket called the grain hopper.   A tractor would pull its wagon of oats just past the grain hopper and stop.  The hopper, on its hinges, was then let down behind the wagon and a door on the wagon was pulled open to allow oats to begin filling the grain hopper.   When the auger machine was energized, by a large electric motor (or otherwise), the corkscrew “wheels” now began to turn round and round to send the oats up, up, up ….through the tube and out the funnel device at the top and down into the Granary itself.

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Grain Scoop Shovels.  Just like the ones Elliott and his father used that day.


Dad chose to enlist my young muscles that day to help him in this important farming event.  I was honored and happy to help.  It made me feel “grown up” to be considered worthy to assist and no longer be relegated to just being a too-young bystander to life there on the farm.  I found this experience to be a good bonding time, too, between my father, Russell, and myself.   Besides, like Dad would say, “For every shovel full you take, that’s one I don’t have to make!”  😉  We were a team that day.  Farmers in in the same “harness” together.

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This is a photo of Elliott’s grain chute that brought oats down from the upper room of the Granary and into buckets for feeding the farm animals.

Our family’s Granary was composed of two large rooms downstairs, and two upstairs.  The doorways of each room had wooden tracking on each side in which boards could be slid down, one at a time, to close those doorways off as each granary room filled with grain.  The second story rooms of the granary had a large rectangular opening in the center of the floor.  As the grain came in from the grain auger, a funnel “sock” would be aimed at that floor opening to allow grain to go below to fill the bottom room first.  When the bottom room was filled, a rectangular “door” was placed in the opening of the floor so that the upper grain rooms could now be filled to the roof, almost, with subsequent wagon loads of more oats.

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For the dust.

As we two fellow Norwegian farmers entered the Granary that day, I vividly recall the fragrant and rich aroma of the oats filling our wooden ark that would keep our animals alive during the “flood” of Winter that would soon be here.  To protect our lungs from at least some of the heavy oat dust flying everywhere, my father took one of his large, red bandanna handkerchiefs and, after wetting it, tied it around my head to cover my nose and mouth as a form of a dust filter.  He then did the same for himself.   Though the bandanna procedure was necessary, I thought it also a bit comical how Dad and I now looked like two cowboy bank robbers from The Old Wild, Wild West days!! 😉

Up the Granary stairs we climbed to the second-story rooms to help guide the grain that was soon to arrive from the auger.   Once settled upstairs with our grain shovels in hand, Dad would give a shout or a loud whistle to a worker below who would start the long-reaching grain auger running.   Dad and I shoveled furiously as we sent the incoming oats off into the corners of each upper room so that we could pack the building as full as possible with this golden harvest.  The auger funnel above us continually poured dry “rivers” of grain inside from the wagons down below that disgorged themselves of their amber cargo.   As I shoveled grain diligently, in that upper Granary room, the sunlight came through the window and was doubly amber from the thick dust of the oats falling all around us as the grain filled the room.   That lighted shaft of oat dust was so thick, I could barely see my father across that small room as we worked.

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These sliding doors allowed Elliott to fill his buckets with grain from the upper Granary rooms.

In comparison to today’s giant farming practices, our Granary was quite tiny.  Yet, for us, it was the means to an end of caring for all the animals on our farm who loved a good meal throughout the year, especially in the frigid Winter when the world around us was dead cold and covered in snow.

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Elliott saw his dad as being successful!

As I look back, my job that day was a small part for a small boy to do.  Yet, it was still a part of the success of that day’s needs on our farm there in beautiful southern Minnesota.  I had felt very close to my Dad that day in our teamwork up there in those dust-choked grain rooms and it made me proud to be a Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

#39=Lowell with cow (circa 1960)
Elliott’s brother, Lowell, in front of the Granary.  Their father’s “hay” baler is sitting outside the wrap-around machine shed to the right.



Norwegian Farmer’s Son…October 13th


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The sting of Winter’s wind.

Like the crack of a whip, a brutal, ice-laced wind whipped around the corner of our Hog House and stung Dad’s face as he approached our “piggy palace” there on our farm in southern Minnesota.  Winter along this glacial moraine could be deadly to man and beast, but our father had been raised in northern Minnesota, so his “constitution” was fixed on surviving and thriving, no matter what.

No man could call himself a farmer without having an abiding love and caring heart for the animals that God had put into this mortal’s care.  Our hard-working father, Russell, was well-ensconced in those admirable virtues, and this is just one of those occasions when he let his loving heart direct his actions.

#28.1=Dad on TV commercial for Purina Hog Feed, early 1960's
Elliott’s father, Russell, loved his animals on their family farm.


The screeching blizzard winds that night, buffeting our Hog House, had swirled eddies of snow against the door of this wooden edifice of animal protection.  Between kicking the snow from side to side with his buckled boots, and yanking on the door itself, Dad was able to gain entry into the abode of amber-colored heat lamps in the different hog pens and farrowing crates on either side of a straw-strewn center aisleway.


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Farrowing crates protected little baby piggies.

Some of the hog pens had protection devices called farrowing crates.  These were usually of a metal tubular construction and kept momma sow “in check” so that she wouldn’t, inadvertently, hurt her little ones.   Sows were often known to just go kerPLOP on their sides when the wanted to lay down.   Problem with this scenario is that tiny piggies didn’t always have the common sense to see that “mom” was falling their way and could get crushed under her weight.  With “mom” now in the farrowing crate, she would have to first drop to her knees, and then stick her legs out the sides of the crate in order to lay flat for feeding her cute little pink, corkscrew-tailed darlings.   As a little farmer boy, I had often watched this new, safety-oriented process happen.  It was almost as if you could hear the little grunters squealing (in their oinky language)…...”WATCH OUT!!!! MOM’S COMING DOWN!!!” as they scattered in a myriad of directions before returning to “mom’s milk bar” for a meal.  😉

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So tiny and in need of extra love and warmth.

Our good-hearted daddy, on a number of occasions, was known to bring some of the “runt” pigs up to our farm house and settle them in a box behind our wood/gas cooking stove in the family kitchen.  Maybe the mother sow had rejected these tiny ones.  Maybe there just weren’t enough “spigots” for these puny porcine princesses to get enough milk from their mother.   Whatever the occasion, father knew when little ones of his animal kingdom needed some extra care and love.   Dad would unzip his outer jackets and sweaters and then tenderly slip a piglet, or two, into the warmth of his own body cocoon as he protected them from any biting blizzard winds that were sure to steal his (and their) breath away as he carried them up to enjoy rest, relished warmth and rejuvenation behind the cozy stove of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.

Cute  Baby pig is sitting on a box.



Memories for Sharon

Dear Sharon Zeller Meyer,

I recently came across some photos of your handsome daddy on a website called

That sight had three Kiester High School “Rambler” yearbooks from the years 1951 – 1953.   I’ve captured some pics of your father via my cell phone camera on a screen shot.  The resolution is not all that great, but I’m sure the memories themselves are sharp in your heart.   Enjoy!!! 😉

Handsome Milbert Zeller is on the left.  He was part of the janitorial team that kept Kiester and Walters schools sparkling for years to come.
A very young Milbert Zeller to the right.  Notice how the Head Janitor, Mr. Bufkin, even wore a TIE in his daily tasks of cleaning the Kiester school!  Wow! 😉
Seem to recall this shot is from the 1953 “Rambler” as Milton is bundled against the winter chill as he drives bus for the Kiester School children.  Milton is front row in light-colored jacket….looking down.