Farm visits and fish wishes

By the time I’d started my fifth load of laundry on Saturday, I began to reflect on what led up to such a monumental pile of one person’s dirty clothes.

Three times last week I had to drive home in the middle of the day to change clothes — once in preparation for a walk through a field, once after walking through fields and getting my jeans caked in mud (no, I didn’t fall!), and once to change shoes and socks after sinking through a crust of manure-tinged soil.

Memories of all three of the excursions still bring a smile to my face — especially that last one. That was the day I left my boots in the hatchback and nearly lost a shoe on the Feikema farm north of Luverne. Cattle farmer Mike graciously smiled … there was no ridicule about wearing “girly shoes” on a farm in springtime, which I appreciated immensely!

In what had to be the best stretch of days all spring, I was glad to get away from behind my office desk and take off in my mobile office, equipped with Greta Garmin, a camera with two lenses, notebooks, pens and my cell phone.

The cell phone came in handy when Greta Garmin claimed 170th Street at Luverne didn’t exist. (I’d say something about technology here, but since the cell phone came to my rescue, I’d better not.)

It wasn’t the first time Greta failed me — and it probably won’t be the last.

Little more than a week ago, Greta tried to direct me and my carload of passengers into a lake somewhere outside of Park Rapids. Certainly, it wasn’t the address to the hostel at Itasca State Park, where our latest U-Lead Advisory Academy session was to be.

Greta wasn’t the only one leading members of our group astray. At least three other drivers of carpools were taken down the same beautiful back-country road. Somewhere, a GPS programmer is snickering, I’m sure.

Anyway, I haven’t had time to blog about my excursion with U-Lead to the headwaters of the Mississippi River — apparently because I’m too busy changing clothes and doing laundry!

The three-day adventure, our last lengthier U-Lead session, included two nights at the Headwaters Hostel in Itasca State Park, multiple leadership sessions at the Jacob Brower Visitor Center and a trip to the Red Lake Nation.

While I had visited Itasca State Park once before, the trip to Red Lake was a new adventure. We visited the town of Red Lake (home to the basketball team that has faced the maroon and gold of Ellsworth in state playoffs in recent years), and toured a wild rice packaging facility, spoke with community leaders about health and nutrition on the reservation, and visited the Red Lake Nation Fisheries.

The fisheries stop was my favorite. We saw hundreds of fish — perch, whitefish, walleye and northern pike — being filleted, packed in ice and prepped for shipping. It’s one of the largest industries on the reservation, with all of the fish netted from Lower Red Lake.

The daily catch for the fisheries averages about 4,000 perch, 2,000 walleye and 2,000 northern pike. Fishing on Lower Red Lake reopened two years ago after it had been closed for a decade.

As you can imagine, I was ogling the walleyes and wishing I could be so lucky as to catch just one this fishing season. That’s all I ask for — just one good keeper.

I wonder if Greta Garmin could help direct me to the appropriate lake … when I’m finished with my laundry.

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