On The Road Again

Farm fields as far as the eye can see near Mayville, N.D.


I’ve never been a fan of Willie Nelson’s music, but his song comes to mind when I look back over the past month.

“… On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again…”


Starting Memorial Day weekend, and for three consecutive weekends, Mom and I were “on the road again,” attending parties for graduating seniors on the Kohls side of the family tree in Mayville, N.D., Sioux Falls, S.D., and Alexandria.

An old elevator in the middle of a farm field in North Dakota.

While treks to Sioux Falls are frequent enough, the trips to Mayville and Alex offered a nice change of scenery. The vast flat lands of North Dakota proved corn and soybean fields really do stretch as far as the eye can see; and the Alex area is dotted with lakes and seemingly endless fishing opportunities. (Yes, we took our fishing poles, and yes, we caught fish!)

I reconnected with cousins I haven’t seen in a couple of years and children of cousins, some not seen since they were in elementary school. For three straight weekends I visited with Uncle Orv and Aunt Gayle, and on the Alex trip, I learned from Uncle Eldy, the family genealogist, that one of those DNA testing companies claims he’s 5 percent Norwegian. (He’s in denial.)

Anyway, that means my mom is 5 percent Norwegian and, well, I don’t know what that makes me, but I can no longer say I’m 100 percent German and love to do Norwegian embroidery. I was actually thrilled to learn there’s some Norske heritage in my blood.

While the weekends have been extremely busy, so too have the work weeks. Watch for Saturday’s edition of The Globe and you will see why.

A relic of North Dakota history in Mayville’s Pioneer Park.

For the past five weeks, Globe reporters have been working on the annual Today’s Farm Century Farm edition. We have 16 newly designated century farms in our coverage area, and for the first time in my recollection, there isn’t a single absentee landowner among them.

Stories on 14 of the farms are included in the special edition, and from the sounds of it, the reporters had a wonderful time meeting with and interviewing these century farm families.

Having a century farm on both the Aielts and Kohls sides of my family tree, this project is one of my favorites. I love to hear the stories of farm life, from the days gone by to the technology of today.

While visiting with Orville and Ruth Heidebrink, I learned my Grandpa Henry Buntjer was quite the bowler back in the day. He’d send the pins flying at the bowling alley in Rushmore. Henry died when my dad was 18, so I’ve heard few stories about him. I had no idea he was a bowler — and my dad wasn’t aware of that either — so thanks, Orville, for a snippet of my family history!

The second story I want to share was told “off the record,” but if I avoid telling you where I heard it, it should be OK, right?

I wrote a blog once about how my brothers scooped up a frozen cow pie from the cattle yard, wrapped it in a box and put it under the Christmas tree with my name on it. All these years I thought my brothers were terrible for doing such a thing, but, as it turns out, they were relatively nice compared to some other girl’s devious sibling.

As the story goes, a fresh cow pie was conveniently located just outside the barn door, when a brother (who shall remain nameless) stuck a firecracker in the “ever-so-slightly crusted” cow pie, called for his sister, lit the fuse and backed away. According to family legend, the timing of the sister opening the door and the firecracker exploding couldn’t have been better (or worse?). The girl ended up with cow dung from head to waist … and the brother didn’t stop running (or laughing, I suspect) until he reached safety on the neighbor’s farm.

The story made me laugh so hard I cried … and I now realize my three brothers weren’t so evil to me after all.

So, to the farm families, thanks for sharing your stories — your laughs and your trials. And to you, our readers, we hope you enjoy this project as much as we did.