Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Road to Church

Hi there!

Well it's the beginning of a new week. Woke up to another warm day this morning with some snow that fell last night making the porch creak when I went out to milk at a half-past six.

Not really any out-of-the ordinary topics to cover, so I thought I'd chronicle our Sunday drive to church in Minot. 

The Road to Church

I was finishing up getting things together for church and David came looking for the keys to the van. I had forgot to hang them up after filling the van last night.

David's always thinking ahead to start the vehicles so they're warm when we get ready to go.

Mom checked the road travel map and told us the roads were snow covered with scattered ice most of the way to Minot. She's the best at keeping tabs on road conditions -- helping us plan ahead to get to church on time in bad weather.

As soon as the bottle calf was fed and all the animals were taken care of and we sped out of the driveway hoping be on our way a little early to allow time for slower driving.

We make a point of asking God to protect us on our way to Minot, so Andrew obliged us with a prayer. With such icy roads, we were especially thankful to have a protecting a Hand watching over us.

Sunday is the Lord's day. That's the day He commands to be set aside from our own work, and be dedicated to simply resting as His grateful children in this world. Listening to the pastor, praying, and reading His word are all important things to do on the Sunday Sabbath.

As I drove, David, Andrew and I tossed back and forth questions to the Westminster Shorter Catechism we're learning. David punched his smartphone over to the young people's Facebook group that's doing the Catechism together, and announced "We're on questions 25-27!"

After a few laughs and friendly correcting of each other on our mistakes, we finished the Catechism questions and Andrew inserted David's new Michael W. Smith album. He turned up the volume and we cruised along the highway to the beat of "Sovereign Over Us."

At one point we were nearing Minot and the slush made driving slow. Plow trucks had salted the roads to melt the ice, but that created a dirty slush that narrowed the range of passable roadway.

Slowing to less than 45 on a 70 mph zone, I thought about passing the oil tanker in front. Needless to say, I soon realized the roadway was too narrow and flashed my blinker back toward the right-hand lane. But without my notice, a pickup had pulled up behind me and crowded my rear end, making it unwise to immediately pull back into the right lane.

Andrew and David, my back- and side-seat drivers, informed me of my dangerous clearance and ordered me to stay clear until the lane was safe. Then I was able to successfully merge back into the right lane and continued behind the tanker all the way into Minot.

We arrived at church just in time and settled into a great sermon on Romans 3 by Pastor Phil Poe. The theme; How can God "justify" the pardoning of a sinner? Great topic and wonderful service.

A few conversations visiting with friends later, we hopped back in the van and traveled the slushy and ice-patchy roads home.

Mom had the house filled with the smell of potato/carrot/beef stew when we got home, and we offloaded the latest news from church to Mom and Dad. We routinely take turns going to church so there is always someone at the farm for emergency's sake (we're about 100 miles from church).

With a successful trip to Minot and back, we're thankful to have joined with God's people to give glory to our Maker.

Now some of us have had naps, read books, and chatted around the table, so I'll probably rest a few moments before heading out to milk cows.

All for now,


Isaiah 58:13-14. "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Delivery Day

Good morning!

Andrew and I just finished packing a load of milk and eggs for Williston. We got up at 3:30 this morning (after going to bed at 11 p.m.) and worked like clockwork packing milk and ice into coolers and then into the van.

Dad and Mom got home late last night after going to Minot for the second farm succession planning meeting. Andrew and David cleaned up around the house before they got home.

Treating ourselves to homemade chocolate milk.

Sweetened with stevia and flavored with organic cocoa. Can't beat it!

Packing bottles this morning.

Andrew does a great job packing the van. The coolers are all labeled and organized by drop location so Dad can easily find what he needs.

Dad does a few home deliveries, but mostly group drop-offs in Minot, Stanley and Williston. Tomorrow he and Mom will take the load to our newest destination -- Grand Forks.

Time to milk!

Talk later,


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2 Lessons from a Plane Ticket

Hi again,

As I've been wanting to blog again, I've wondered what kinds of things to write about. I'm sure that's what everybody goes through. But I just decided I'll say what I've been thinking about.

2 Lessons from a Plane Ticket

It struck me a few days ago that the calving cycle for our cows was going to make four of the eight milk cows go dry at the same time.

I thought it might make a good opportunity for me to get away from the farm for a while.

We all sit around the table and talk before devotions (sometimes too much) so if there's anything needing to be discussed Dad asks, "is there any further discussion," or something like that.

That's when I brought up the plan I had been churning in my mind.

I mentioned the reasons why now might be the best time of year and we all pitched in our two cents. David punched into Google flights and started rattling off ticket prices on his smart phone.

Andrew flipped open Mom's chromebook and started bickering with David about dates and prices. Andrew said planning six weeks out tends to give the best ticket prices. I hoped I wasn't being too hasty and "flying by the seat of my pants."

Soon enough the decision was made. A really good priced ticket was available over the weekend of a Bismarck delivery (a lighter, easy-to-pack delivery weekend for our farm) and Andrew quickly submitted the order.

Hours later we still hadn't gotten the confirmation email. I actually tried placing the order again, thinking the credit card had failed, but the website still didn't work.

I checked the tickets again trying to get the website to work. The price had gone UP! Now I thought I was really stuck and started wondering if multiple orders had actually worked and I was in for a ride (literally).

So I went and asked Dad.

That's how it goes, I get stuck before I start asking people. Dad's brilliant mind proposed the answer -- call United Airlines! (should've thought of that...)

The lady was extremely helpful and found a record of my failed attempts. She read off my access numbers and I done. My ticket was ordered. Previous attempts canceled. And I got the cheaper price!

The frustration with United's website was resolved in full by their quick customer support.

I learned a few things that day:

1) ask for help before you get stuck, and 

2) be quick to resolve other people's problems.

Till next time,


Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Tractor Wheel

Hello again!

Andrew and I were going over pictures and videos that we had from "growing up" and it made me want to keep writing on my blog. Blogging just isn't the same as Facebook -- Facebook keeps you up to date with people, but not in as much depth as a blog post.

A lot has happened since I wrote last... If you'd like to see what I/we've been doing you can friend our family on Facebook and check it out.

Today I'd like to share about what happened with our tractor wheel last week, and how it all worked together for the best. Enjoy the story.

The Tractor Wheel

It was Saturday night and David unloaded the last bale into the round bale feeder for the cows.

I was guarding the gate so the beef cows wouldn't get out while the tractor drove past me. By the lights on the cab I noticed the front left wheel of the Massey wobble from side to side.

I signaled to David to stop and the cab door squeaked open as he asked what I wanted.

I motioned to the wheel and bent down to look. Sure enough, the lug bolts had loosened and the whole wheel now wobbled on the hub.

David parked the tractor on the loader bucket so we could get the wheel off. "Have to order another one quick," David called as I went to check on it. I didn't really know what we would do.

We just replaced the wheel a couple months before, after the old one did the same thing. Did we get the wrong size lug bolts? Maybe we should have checked it earlier.

Monday of the next week I got on the job. Dad thought I should call Mr. Monson, the previous owner of the tractor. He's quite a guy. An old time farmer with a heavy accent and a generous heart. I called his cell phone number and his wife soon passed me along to him.

"We stripped out the lug bolts on the tractor and are wondering if you have any idea where we might find a wheel to replace it." Dad thought by us calling him he might offer a spare that may have laying around somewhere. I didn't want to come out and demand one from him, so I asked him what he would do.

He replied with his grandfatherly tone, "I can't get out to the farm today in the blizzard, but I think I might have what you need. Or if I don't, I know someone with the same tractor who might."

When he called back later that afternoon he apologized for not finding something. He had gone out to the farm in the blizzard that day, in spite of the weather.

He said we could have someone make a new center for the wheel or buy a new one somewhere, but that was all he could do.

One of the mechanics greeted me at the back of Tweed Country Ag in town the next day. I asked to have the tire taken off the broken rim and he kidded me about being a young guy as I helped him lift the 100 lb tractor wheel onto the bead breaking machine.

He asked if I needed a new rim and told me to check with Bruce about what they had in stock. I did, hoping there was something on hand that would work, only to find all they carry is Bobcat specific wheels.

I'd have to look around town.

The mechanic knew all the local store owners on a first name basis, so he quickly whipped out his cell phone and called them all, announcing that "Bartletts are looking for a new implement tire -- can you help them?" He soon found, however, that there were no wheel rims the right size to be had in Bottineau.

I thanked him for his effort and wished there would have been a new rim the right size. It would have been the surefire way to fix our problem.

I packed the rim back to the van, leaving the tire and tube at the shop, and sped off to Anderson's Welding to check on Mr. Monson's idea.

Greeting a trio of dirty, tough looking men at the back of the shop, I explained what I was looking for -- a new center for the wheel to match this worn out one.

I told Chris, the owner of Andersons Welding, that we had cows to feed and needed it as soon as possible. He nodded and wrote down my phone number on the outside of the rim.

Tuesday rolled around and I traveled to Minot for an orthodontist appointment. Mom called me half way home saying the welding shop called saying the wheel was done. I picked it up on my way through town and paid the welder. "Quick work," I thought to myself as everything seemed to be well done and heavy duty.

The next day the wheel was mounted and the bolts fit the holes perfectly. The center hole fit the hub like a glove. After the right length bolts were found, everything was "just right" and way better than I expected.

Though all of these circumstances, I was reminded just how important it is to do good work and be helpful. 

The old farmer giving advise, the mechanic extending himself for me out of genuine concern to help, and the dedication of the welder to his work, all go to show that everyone in their place has a duty to do and contributes to the hometown economy.

A beautiful picture, if you think about it.

That's all for now!