Brute’s Bleat By Harold Brutlag – July 18, 2018

Maple Lake’s Lakers and the Howard Lake Orphans gave local baseball fans 2 1/2 hours of exciting baseball in an evening game Sunday at Laker Stadium. The 6 p.m. start was a blessing both for the athletes and the fans who enjoyed relief from a humid day as cold front brought in a cool northwest breeze. Maple Lake won the game 8-6 after an Orphans surge tied it at 6-6 in the sixth inning. Grant Mergen started on the mound and Hunter Malachek finished the game. The win gives the Lakers a 16-2 win/loss record and the #1 seed in the Region 12C Double Elimination Tournament which will be played at Howard Lake. Maple Lake will play the #8 seed, still to be determined, on August 1 at 7:30 p.m. The 7 top teams will get a bye into the Regionals. Howard Lake, Hutchinson, Delano, Loretto and Mound will also be in the top 7 and will get byes into the Regionals, but seeds will be decided by the results of the final weekend games. * * * I’m hearing a few reports of hen pheasants being seen with their clutches of chicks, some northeast of town and also northwest of town. The same folks have been seeing a fair number of roosters too which is good news for sportsmen. It’s probably time for me to think about heading for the Silver Creek Sportsmen’s Trap Range which conducts public shoots each Tuesday evening. * * * I was out on Maple Lake twice last week with mixed success. Once with Michael and Mary Miller when we followed the advice of a proven angler who had killed the sunnies on Monday. We weren’t as fortunate and couldn’t seem to find a concentration of fish that were hungry. We also got caught in a sudden rainstorm when we didn’t head for the Maple Lake Hwy. 55 access as soon as we should have. The rain drenched the three of us, but it was over as quickly as it started. I think we had about 12 sunfish to show for our efforts. Saturday morning I went out alone at about 8 a.m. figuring to beat the heat. The sunfish were much more cooperative and by 10 a.m. I had 15 sunfish and one 12 in. crappie in the live well. They seem to be hanging on the edges of the weeds and would hit my plastic minnows hard. It took some sorting, but that’s fishing on Maple Lake. I also had a report that Ramsey was giving up nice sized crappies, 12 inches and longer. Most of the lakes are beginning to show the effects or algae and are taking on a green tint. Ottertail Lake is continuing to give up walleyes in the evening with slip bobbers winning the race last weekend. * * * The sidewalk engineers had a field day in ML last week when they took a break from watching the work being done on the roundabout at the East Division St. and County road 8 intersection to watch the reconstruction work on the front of The Den, earlier know as the Carlson Dolls building, when it was used by Ray Carlson and his son Lowell for their souvenir doll business. Apparently a portion of the foundation had deteriorated and needed to be replaced before a ramp could be constructed to make the building more handicap accessible. * * * A couple of weeks ago I commented about how alfalfa hay was harvested back when I was growing up on a farm in the late 1940s and I would do a follow-up on the small grain harvest from that time. I’m talking about wheat, barley and oats which were the common crops grown in our part of Ottertail County. It all started in March when we would start the Fanning Mill in the grainery which was powered by electricity and used to remove the less desirable kernels and weed seeds from the species to be used for planting. In late April and May the ground had to be plowed (the soil wasn’t nearly as heavy as around Maple Lake) and spring plowing was common. My dad had a two bottom sixteen inch plow which was pulled by an old Oliver, I think, Hart Parr tractor with steel lugs. After the plowing he’d use a team of four horses to disc and drag the field to make it smoother. It was also during this time we’d all pitch in and pick rocks with a team of horses and a stone boat (a wheeless boat like device made out of oak which slid when pulled). I didn’t mind the challenge of loading the larger rocks, but the small ones didn’t excite me. Planting the three crops was done by four horses and a grain drill which was ground driven by large wheels on each end of drill which contained the seed in boxes. There also were boxes which held alfalfa or grass seed if the farmer wanted to start a new hay field. There were two platforms for the operator to stand on while planting, but my dad seemed to prefer standing on top of the drill boxes, probably to get out of the dust. Apparently he had good balance and trusted his horses to keep a steady gait. It looked dangerous to me at the time! Once the planting was done and the rains came the crops would sprout and begin to grow. This was before commercial fertilizer was available and the farmers relied on barn manure for the most part. Spraying for weeds didn’t happen, but the common practice was to hand-pull the mustard which showed up every year. Apparently there’s something about mustard seed remaining in the ground for seven years. I’ve noticed the small grain in this area is beginning to ripen and turn golden colored. Small grain is susceptible to the weather now as it was then and I’m also noticing some of the grain fields are beginning to lodge or lay down, usually because of wind and rain raising havoc with the heavy heads of grain which are unable to remain upright in the storm. Barring a hail storm the crops here look great and the farmers will reap the benefits. Anyway as the grain grew and ripened my dad would work on his grain binder, a machine also pulled by horses, and later a Farmall H tractor, to get it in shape. A grain binder gets its power from a bull wheel to cut the grain as it is pulled down the field. It falls from the sickle unto a canvas which transfers it into a bundle which is tied with twine, similar to bale twine. Then the bundle goes into a basket along with other bundles until it is dumped to form a windrow. The next step in the process was to set up eight bundles so they lean toward one another where they are allowed to dry. This was called shocking the grain and each person would take a bundle under each arm and set them upright working alone or in pairs. This was usually done in the early and late part of the day when it wasn’t extremely hot. It was a matter of choosing between the ever present mosquitoes or the heat. Jugs of water were necessary to keep the shockers hydrated. The shockers also had to fight the Canadian Thistles and their pickily stems. It wasn’t a fashion show and all of the shockers wore long sleeved shirts to keep their arms from getting too beat up from the bugs and thistles. Some shockers used three tined forks to set up the bundles which worked, but was more time consuming. During World War II it wasn’t uncommon for the town business people to put on overalls, long sleeved shirts and give the local farmers a hand with the harvest in the evening. More coming next week about threshing.

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