Brute’s Bleat by Harold Brutlag- August 15, 2018

This is that time of year which anglers refer to as “dog days” implying it might be better to stay home and sit under a shade tree sipping the beverage of your choice rather than try to catch fish. George Palmer and myself threw cautions to the wind last Friday and tried angling for sunfish on Sugar Lake where I had fished earlier. We found out the fish were still biting, but the larger sunnies seemed to have moved on. We fished several different spots and would catch a few decent sized sunfish (7 1/2 to 8 inches) and then we’d have to move. It took a lot of sorting and after about 3 hours of basking in the sun in the middle 80s we called it quits. We had 20 in the livewell which is about the right amount for two people to fillet which we did in the shade of a black walnut tree in our backyard. We both decided to put angling on hold until it cools off a little! * * * Ken Hennen and I took in two Laker games, Friday and Sunday as the Region 12c tournament was played out. Maple Lake defeated Hutchinson 6-3 Friday with Hunter Malachek on the mound. He got some great defensive help when center fielder Donnie Mavencamp corralled three hard hit fly balls in Howard Lake’s deep outfield. Brian Redemske, right fielder, threw out a Huskie baserunner at the plate. He also had two RBIs on a double and also scored in the same inning. It was a great game to watch with Hutchinson threatening several times only to have the Lakers make the plays needed for timely outs. Maple Lake’s third baseman, Nate Maas had Laker fans holding their breath when he collided with the Huskies first baseman while running out a ground ball. He was knocked out and remained motionless while he was being attended to by Laker Graham Brown, MD and others. He was taken to the hospital by the Howard Lake Ambulance and diagnosed with a severe concussion. He will not be playing in the state tournament. The Huskie first baseball remained in the game. Hutchinson was a 8-2 winner over Howard Lake on Saturday and face the Lakers in the one-game showdown on Sunday at 1 p.m. Right-hander Nick Preisinger got the mound call when Mitch Wurm was sidelined with a sore arm. He pitched good ball for five inning and was relieved by Grant Mergen in the sixth inning. Hutch was leading 3-2 at the time. The leftie didn’t allow any runs in his two innings. He was relieved by Luke Fobbe. Maple Lake went ahead 5-4 in the bottom of the eight, but Hutch came back to knot it up 5-5 in the top of the ninth and scored again in the tenth winning 6-5 while holding the Lakers scoreless. Both teams had 10 hits apiece, but the error column showed ML with 5 and Hutch with 2 and therein lies the difference that gave the Huskies the win. Maple Lake’s first State Tournament game is Sunday, Aug. 19 at 2:30 p.m. at Shakopee against Windom. Delano will play Lake City Aug. 18 at 11 a.m.; Howard Lake Aug. 18 at 2:30 p.m. against New London-Spicer; and Hutch plays on Sunday, Aug. 26th in a 5 p.m. game against the winner of the Waterville Lastrup winner. Games will continue until the final game on Labor Day which will be played at New Prague. * * * In my on going stories about harvesting during my high school years we reviewed silo filling last week and about the only harvesting that was left after that was corn picking. I was in high school during that time and enjoyed playing football more than I would have husking corn. That was done with a team of horses pulling a wagon box down the rows with the husker breaking off the ears of corn and tossing them into the box which was outfitted with a backstop on one side stopping the ears if overthrown. Some farmers also had a gizzmo strapped to one hand which was supposed to give them an edge in the process which was completed after the corn had ripened and that was after a killing frost. It was a tedious job that consumed a lot of time in the fall. Horses were preferred to using a tractor to pull the wagon down the rows, mainly because the husker would give the go command (getty-up) and a whoa to stop them rather than crawl up on a tractor to move it 15-20 feet. The first mechanical corn pickers were one row affairs that were powered by the tractor’s power take-off and pulled a box behind it with a elevater to transfer the ears of corn into the box. This method speeded up the harvesting method immensely, but not without many casualties to the operators who lost fingers and sometimes arms in the husking rollers which tended to get plugged up when the corn picker was moving forward faster than it could handle the corn. Remember this was the time of the year when the farmers were pressing to get the work done and I suspect that was a factor in the accident rate. The power takeoffs were properly shielded, but sometimes removed and more than one operator lost his shirt or trousers to the revolving shaft, if not a broken leg or arm. Two row corn pickers followed the first one row versions and speeded up the harvest with many of the farmers farming out that process to another farmer or someone in the custom business. The corn was stored in corn cribs, some of which are still used and visible at the farmsteads. Most farmers would grind the corn during the winter to feed to their hogs, beef cattle and some for the chickens. That pretty much winds up life on the farm during the various harvesting times. During that time the farms were mostly 160 acre diversified farms that were pretty much self sufficient with gardens etc. to feed the family. Slaughtering beef and hogs was part of the process until the creameries provided slaughtering and locker plants (cold units which were provided for frozen meat at a fee). The dairy farmers would deliver their milk and cream to the local creameries on a daily basis or it would be picked up in ten gallon cans by creamery trucks. Those guys hoisting those cans developed huge upper body strength especially if they were double decking them. There was little down time on the farm, even in the winter, but some of them liked to spear Northerns or angle for crappies when they could get away for a few hours. Ottertail county has 1,000 lakes and two, East Battle Lake and West Leaf Lake were favorites of my Dad who enjoyed the sport. Unlike some of the grain farmers of today who head south before the snow flies, I can’t remember any farmer heading south for a sun break. There weren’t any casinos then, but punch boards, a form of gambling, and pin ball machines that paid out in real money were common. Card games, whist, 500, and cribbage were also popular among friends and neighbors; and those in the know knew where the poker games were played. TV came later. I wouldn’t call them “the good old days”, but there are lots of fond memories of those growing up years!

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