2013-03-28 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

Spring is back in the heartland with highs expected to span from 34 to 52 degrees and lows in the 20- to 35-degree range. No precipitation was mentioned in Sunday night’s 10-day forecast. Calves are showing up in the pastures, which is always a good sign. Temperatures should be in the low 50s on Easter Sunday.


Our friends Ray and Iris Meligan of Ft. Pierre, S.D. stopped Saturday afternoon on their way home from a meeting in Bismarck. Ray was a year ahead of me at Carthage High School, and we both attended South Dakota State University. We shared a tiny mobile home one summer when we both worked at the university.

He and Iris, who was a Johnson from Iroquois, S.D., were married in 1968 while we were in college, and theirs was the first of a high school (or college) friend.

Our paths crossed when we both worked for Farm Credit System institutions. He was with the Federal Land Bank in Pierre, S.D., when I worked for CoBank (then Central Bank) in Colorado.

We had a great visit, and they updated us on their saga since the 2011 flood heavily damaged their home on the Ft. Pierre side of the Missouri River. They have been living in the house since not long after the flood waters subsided since the upstairs was not damaged. However, they are still putting the finishing touches on the restoration project.

To add insult to injury, a storage shed they rented for some of their family heirlooms and overflow was also flooded, and they were unable to get to it before the water came up since their focus was on their home.

Ray is in the appraisal business, and he shared some of the challenges of keeping up with the price of farm land these days. He said some of what used to be wheat ground in the Onida, S.D., area is selling for between $4,000 and $5,000 per acre.

We got to show them our living/dining room flooring, although we were still in the process of putting things away. We assured them it was better that they didn’t give us more notice (they called from the grocery store) because we would have gone wild putting things away and cleaning. This way we could just enjoy their visit.

Fessing up

I did not remember to extract a confession, but I believe Ray was part of the crew who lifted Miss Boomsma’s compact car off the street and put it on the sidewalk next to the auditorium when he was a senior. She was our business teacher at CHS and a favorite of students. She took it well and especially enjoyed seeing the boys struggle to lift it off the sidewalk and replace it on the street.

To my knowledge, Miss Boomsma never did find out who let loose the live salamander from the science room that somehow made its way into the teacher’s lounge next to the furnace in the basement of the school. The shrieks still ring in my ears.

Those of us in on the conspiracy wisely came to the rescue of the teachers and returned the salamander to its proper place upstairs. I will not reveal the names of the other perpetrators because they have responsible jobs in society today. One, for example, is a college professor with senior status.

Ready for Easter

With our flooring project completed and the furniture back in place, we are ready for Easter and looking forward to having Fred and Margaret home from college. They both have busy lives, so we especially appreciate it when they take time to return to the nest.

For the living room, we have ordered a computer desk from the North Dakota State Penitentiary through Schreiner’s. The inmates make beautiful furniture in the prison shop. While most of their furniture can be found in state offices, nursing homes and schools, they also sell office furniture suitable for homes. Our desk, which will be made to match one of the designs in their catalog, should fit perfectly where our old desk sits, minus the hutch I accidentally destroyed while moving furniture.

Just for fun, we will probably have an indoor Easter egg hunt, which is a family tradition. The twist this year is that Leah and I found two plastic eggs, one under the hutch in the dining room and the other under a corner cabinet. Judging from the contents of the eggs, we have carbon-dated them back about 10 years. We obviously hid them too well, or Daisy T. Cat knocked them under the furniture when she was batting them around the room.

It’s probably a good idea anyway to move furniture around every 10 years or so.

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