"My dad might have described the approach as 'don’t expect trouble, but don’t be a fool, either.’"
"I can almost hear one or the other of them saying, 'We raise cattle. What can be different with pigs?’ Quite a lot, as it turned out. "
Meteorological spring is only a few days away, but I don’t expect that to mean we have seen the last snowfall of the year out here on the prairie.
"Until the REA showed up when I was about 7, nothing lit up the night sky out in Lyman County, nothing except stars, billions of them."
The band I played with booked a wedding dance once, and a high-spirited groomsman approached us to ask if we knew any songs by Twisted Sister.
"As soon as the image popped into my mind, I could hear the snorting of thirsty cows, see the ice chips flying up from the hole with each ax stroke and feel the spray of frigid water on my face."
As the year ends, I should probably make a New Years’ resolution not to complain when nature brings moisture to the region, no matter how it is delivered.
"Those early years on a small family farm two miles from the nearest neighbor were the ones I remember vividly as the times of shared inheritance."
We had a cold snap in the middle of South Dakota midway through No-vember, and you would have thought the next Ice Age had arrived.
I have read hundreds of quotes about Thanksgiving, but I’ve never seen one that tells how to remain thankful when the kitchen sink backs up during cleanup after the big meal.
During my years with a dance band, we regularly booked gigs playing for a generally older crowd at the VFW Club in Pierre.
One of my favorite stories about my dad in his younger days involved the time he and one of his brothers hopped a freight train in the middle of South Dakota and rode to the World’s Fair in Chicago.
"We occupied that spot for less than the blink of an eye in terms of the universe. ... It was everything to my family, and yet, it was next to nothing."
I’ve been to three or four cross-country meets so far this fall, and I’m feeling like things are right with the universe.
Cemeteries in small towns are as much community gathering places as are town halls, school gymnasiums and church basements, it seems to me.
I tell people I never played baseball as a kid, but of course that’s not completely true.
The slanting sun caught the water spraying from the nozzles and made it sparkle like a cloud of jewels above the green crops. It was enough to take a person’s breath away.
We seldom hired custom combiners at the Woster Brothers farm partnership, but when we did, it was a real treat for me.
A strong, miserably hot wind blew from sunrise until late into the evening on Father’s Day, and I stayed inside a lot. For no particular reason, I began to recall random, unconnected moments on the farm with my dad.
The first time I visited Minneapolis, I got hopelessly lost on a dark Sunday night driving back to my college in South Dakota. I didn’t even know which direction I was going.
The first time a dentist prepared to fill a cavity in one of my teeth, I turned down his offer of Novacaine. I didn’t know if the family could afford it.
As a high school kid who grew up in a time of packed dirt or cinder running tracks and unpredictable spring weather, I envied the California track athletes their fine facilities and sunshine.
When I was growing up and telling the world I’d never become a farmer, my dad used to caution me, “You can take the boy off the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.’’
I never attended a one-room country school, but it wasn’t until I started third grade that I was placed in a classroom that only had kids of the same grade.
When I was a kid, even before rural electricity arrived and enabled us to play a phonograph any time we wished, music filled our small farm house nearly every evening.