Brute’s Bleat by Harold Brutlag

Maple Lake’s American Legion Post 131 is in the process of raising money to make improvements to the post’s kitchen as required by the Minnesota Department of Health. It looks like it will take $10,000 plus to get the job done, and the Legionnaires are using a $2,000 Cash Raffle to help fund the project. Over the years American Legion Post 131 has been instrumental in providing funds for projects in Maple Lake like scholarships to graduating seniors, youth baseball, girls and boys state participation, and a color guard for funerals of military men and women to name a few. Now, they are asking you to give them a financial hand and purchase cash raffle tickets which are being sold for $5.00 each by the members and at various spots around Maple Lake. Only 2,000 tickets were printed and there will be four winners for $1,000 – $500 – and two $250 cash prizes. The drawing will be at the Legion, 8 p.m. on August 18, Maple Lake’s Gear Head Day. Maple Lake’s American Legion is also looking for new members as was noted in a story about Ken Hennen’s service as the Post’s Sergeant of Arms and his service in Korea in last week’s Messenger. He pointed out becoming a member is as easy as stopping at the Legion Club and picking up an application form from any of the bartenders. * * *

After some lack-luster efforts at providing fish for the family I did have one good evening last week on Thursday on Maple Lake. The sunfish seemed to turn on about 7:30 p.m. in 12-13 feet of water close to and in the weeds. I was alone and consequently don’t have anyone to collaborate my story; and you know how some anglers have trouble sticking with the truth! Anyway, I put on a piece of nightcrawler and immediately had a bite. After catching a few but losing more, I switched to Power Bait minnows, which, because of their toughness, helped me put a dozen eight-to-nine inchers in the livewell in short order. When I had ten I decided to try another spot, and the bite there was just as good. Not wanting to fillet fish that evening, I figured it would be a catch and release night about 8:45 p.m. I was assuming I could go out again the next morning and catch another batch for the family, and boy was I wrong about that when I could hardly get a bite and went home skunked. . . and to add insult to injury on Sunday morning Pastor Culynn Curtis based his sermon on the Gospel according to Mark 6, which told about the feeding of 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. Apparently, the Lord was with me Thursday evening but left me on my own the next morning teaching me a lesson about faith and fishing! The Holy Cross Lutheran Church bulletin also had a reminder about the Summer Music Festival which is on July 29. This year it will feature Christian guitar and Celtic bodhran (Irish drum) music in a concert by Dave and Sabra Horn who travel and live in a fifth-wheel moving throughout the states sharing the Gospel message through their music. The concert starts at 7 p.m. and will be preceded by dinner of salads, pulled pork sandwiches, and desserts from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. The Holy Cross music festival is always the last Sunday in July, this year the 29th. * * *

I found the spectators at the youth baseball Field of Dreams Tournament on Saturday a willing group who bought me out of American Legion Post 131 Cash Raffle tickets in about an hour or so as I meandered among them. Besides selling tickets, I had a chance to watch parts of the games. The young athletes and their coaches seemed oblivious to the hot afternoon and played some exciting and close games. The teams were outfitted in baseball uniforms and one team from Maple Lake had uniforms with Irish green trimmings including green eye shadow. They were impressive to say the least! The games continued on Sunday after that morning’s downpour of an inch of rain. * * *

Last week I talked about how alfalfa hay was processed on my Dad’s farm back in the 40’s. That referred to the first cutting, normally there were three. After the first cutting, some of the farmers would use their spring tooths (diggers) and go over their field lightly in a process that tended to split up the alfalfa root system. This made the second and third crops of alfalfa thicker and more desireable hay for milking cows. I also talked about spreading the hay as it was transferred from the hay rack into the hay loft. Everything went well if the hay had been allowed to dry sufficiently, but sometimes an over zealous farmer wanting to beat a rainstorm would put the hay into the barn too green. When that happened there was a chance for green hay heating and causing internal combustion, resulting in a fire that could burn down the barn. My Dad came close to that happening one time in his dairy barn. While we were tossing the hay down for the cattle that winter we came across a fairly large patch, 20 to 30 square feet, of parched hay that had burned black, but the lack of sufficient oxygen put itself out. We were just plain lucky and there weren’t any short cuts after that incident! If I keep reminiscing about my days on the farm in my youth, I’ll take you on a journey of the threshing season and what really happened once the oats, wheat, and barely ripened before the advent of combines. * * *

Minnesota’s Outdoor News magazine had this to say about fishing in Ottertail County last week. Ben’s Bait Shop was credited with the info: Walleyes are hitting live bait in 20 to 30 feet of water during the day or crankbaits in 5 to 10 feet of water at night on Silver Lake, Otter Tail Lake, Rush Lake, and on West Battle Lake. Look for sunfish and crappies on the weedlines of Clitherall Lake, Rush, Silver, and West Battle. Spinnerbaits have been producing bass on the weedbeds of Fiske Lake, Buchanan Lake, East Battle Lake, and Stalker Lake. Sucker minnows have been turning northern pike on the 15- to 20-foot weedlines of Fiske, Donald Lake, Rush, and West Battle. A few muskies are being hooked with Jakes in the 15 to 20-foot weeds on West Battle.

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