ElkFarm Stories

A Daily Dose of Writing

Australian Lingo and Local Terms

Just a short post this time. Though I’ll never travel to Australia, I’ve resigned myself to that, I enjoy the culture of Australia and the uniqueness of the land down under. Bill

Strap Down Those Piles of Dirt

My Cousin Jimmy from Amery dabbles in a variety of odd jobs–hauling dirt, fixing doors, mowing lawns, clearing out varmints of any kind.

A week ago  State Trooper Julie Jackson stopped Jimmy west of Amery near Deronda. Jimmy had a load of grass and leaves in the back of his truck, but nothing was strapped down or covered. She wrote out a warning to keep materials covered or strapped so they don’t fly around.

SO, this week he was hauling fill dirt for a business out by the Forrest Inn, moving it down Highway 46 to Stalheim corner. He made sure before he left with the load to strap it down. Jimmy is not always the classiest fellow, but he follows the law.


What Makes a Good Story?

On the back of a shirt I have the statement: Writer Looking for a Good Story. In other words, when I’m out among people, I would like people to share their best story. So far I haven’t worked out the process, but I’ll keep at it. And here would be the time for you to write to me with your best story.  elkfarm@wctc.net

The natural question would be, What makes a story good, what makes it great? A person could describe and list attributes, but the best way to define a good story is to tell a good story. The following story is 100% true.

In my hometown of Amery, a farming community, a farmer’s wife died a number of years ago. This man wasn’t wealthy, but he spent carefully and had money that eventually helped fund a humane shelter in Amery and other programs. After his wife died, neighbors, relatives, and church members brought him hot-dishes, pies, bread products, and cakes. Overwhelmed with gratitude, he kept track of the people who showed love in the form of food. The man wasn’t used to receiving help because he seldom needed it in the past.

Years later after his death, in his will he gave specific instructions for the money he left behind (the couple had no children). Along with the big programs that would help the Amery area, he left instructions to give something to the people who showed kindness and love after his wife’s death.

Using that list, he asked the executors of his will to give a $1,000 check to all of them. Each person who came forward who gave him something, and paid him a visit, he rewarded. That’s gratitude. That’s a legacy.



Wood Beauty–the Tub and the Entry

This post will be a simple one, the photos doing all the work. Found these pictures recently and thought you’d enjoy them. Imagine the work that went into that tub, and the types of wood.

Below, what a great setting and fabulous view from a lake “cabin”. This is the kind of picture and memory that makes people recall this sense filled scene when they’re away from it. Mostly in the cold seasons? Thanks Ethel.


ALMOST a Disaster, Almost


Humor can be defined as something painful or uncomfortable happening to others. Others is the key word, like the Funniest Home Video TV show. If you or I experience it, it’s terrible, and it’s not funny, until years later, maybe

These photos I’ve found elsewhere. I call them almost because it doesn’t appear that anything bad has happened yet. Zip is the number of photos I take like this, but when I do you’ll be viewing it/ them and reading the story.

I’ll post two on this page and if you want more, click on CONTINUE READING. As you can tell, the timing has to be perfect. The above photo may be a set-up, but if anyone can send me the original photographer of the vase shot, please write a note in the comment section. The guy above looks like me in my heavier- clumsier days, though I haven’t changed that much.

Continue reading

Lilly and Her Absent Dad

Lilly earlier this summer. She loves this photo and has it on the wall in her room. We don’t have a good picture of her at the dance recital.

She raised her chin when her father came into the auditorium, and we could tell she perked up when she saw him. He hadn’t visited  her for over 6 months, and his presence surprised us. We weren’t sure what to make of it. He sat in the back, he applauded when her dance group finished and then caught our eye and waved. There were more performances. Lilly did well in them as she did in the others, but we all were on edge.

At the end, the applause filled the room, and everyone stood;  we looked back to where Doug had been sitting. Gone.

Bone Lake and the Reading Lady

One cool 45 degree morning, steam/ warmth came from the surface of Bone Lake. Later it looked like this when the rain poured.

We traveled to Polk County last week and stayed at a cabin on Bone Lake north of Amery, Wisconsin. The lake wasn’t friendly that much, and it rained intently one entire day. The cabin, however, was cozy and all the cold weather gear we could find was put to use. We drove around the area some days and ventured out on the pontoon a couple times.

The photo below is a statue the front of the Luck Public Library. The Bloomer Public Library has reading kid statues made out of the same material.

Portrait of Someone’s Best Friend

There is nothing like a dog as a companion, and this image I found looks like the picture was taken in a photography studio. That’s all I have to add.


Long Boards Long Time

Lou walked into Lampert’s Lumberyard in Amery last Thursday and told Mac behind the counter that he wanted lots of boards.

“We’re remodeling and adding on,” he bragged, as if he knew what he was doing.

Mac asked him how long he wanted them. Lou, confused, asked to use the phone to call Kathleen. After he got done, he said to Mac:

Kathleen says we’re going to nail them on so we’ll need them for a long time.

Mac? Speechless.


Masked Raiders in Our Yard

You can see that they aren’t newborns, they’re full sized, mature adult raccoons.

The other day we woke to find the pole holding the birdfeed container, found it doubled over and broken. We figured bear, raccoon, pack of chipmunks, a whole lot of birds, or a swamp monster because we are near a swampy area. And here are the results.

Clearly a couple of big ones, enjoying the seeds of their labor.


Bringing in the Hay

Long before bales became popular and common, farmers brought in loose hay. My Don Johnson neighbors unloaded it into the haymow with a lift powered by a tractor; my wife Marilyn in the 1950s worked with a horse-drawn lift on the farms of her relatives. The top picture is a late in the day painting, getting the hay in after sundown.

The photo below is my Aunt Olga and her brother, my Uncle Lawrence, with a huge loose hay wagon on the home farm north of Amery, WI. This photo probably was taken in the mid-1920s.


Strawberries (jordbaer) and Fresh Produce

Just today my cousin Unni from Norway posted this photo, one of several picnic pics. These are wild strawberries, about the size of marbles. The jordbaer pictured here only understand Norwegian. Though I never had the patience to gather a mess of them in a container, friend and neighbor Willis and I picked them in the ditches in our neighborhood east of Amery, WI. Eating each one was like taking a bite of strawberry sugar. Intense, natural.

Today for the first time this season I stopped at our local farm market downtown Wisconsin Rapids by City Hall. What a sight, and what tremendous amounts of produce available. Tomatoes galore, beautiful red beauties along with so many other garden vegetables. The Amish sold bread, pickles, and jam along with their produce, plus fresh eggs, in the same location as last summer. The Hmong stands sold a variety of noodles, egg rolls, rice, and other specialties. Photos to come in August.


Ida Mae’s Cafe in Amery; Inquiring Minds

Ida Mae’s Cafe, downtown Amery. There’s the clock in the distance.

A stranger approached Kathleen and Lou as they scarfed down breakfast at Ida Mae’s Café. He introduced himself as traveling through the area and asked if they’d be able to answer a question.
“Go ahead,” Lou said with his mouth full of bacon.
“I’m headed for Clayton, I think that’s east here.”
Kathy and Lou nodded.
“What’s the quickest way to get there?”
Lou thought for a few seconds, took in an entire fried egg into his mouth, and asked him a question.
“You walking, biking, or driving a car.”
The guy thought that was a foolish question, but in all seriousness answered, “A car.”
Lou looked thoughtful, shoved a half a piece of toast in his mouth, and said to him, “Yeah, that’ll be the fastest.”

Lou and Kathy when they aren’t eating, a quite thoughtful pair of former teachers.

Margie and Me

She surprised me, alone on her bike by the Amery Beach. Told me she felt like a swim but the water safety class had the beach that July day.
“Hi, Loren.”
“Margie. Strange to see you here.”
She smiled and said little except to ask if I wanted to ride bike together. She straightened my collar. I pretended to punch her in the stomach.

“Think you can keep up with me,” followed by her famous chuckle.
We rode to the culvert area where North Twin runs into South Twin. Usually there’s  a lot of fishing going on at this spot but not today.
We sat down facing South Twin, and at the same time asked each other how summer was going.
For me it was going great with lots of reading and an upcoming family trip to the Wisconsin Dells.
For her, a family reunion, plenty of reading, and sleeping in.
Throwing rocks, skipping rocks, a few words.
“Mrs. Wilson was nice, wasn’t she.” We just finished 3rd grade.
Me, I never thought about teachers and nice. Just grumpy ones and regular ones, but I told her she was fine.
Both back on our bikes, I asked her if she knew about the church tent by the football field.
“Yeah, I came by it to get to the beach.”
The tent site was deserted. We rode up to it quietly before dropping our bikes on the grass. Still no signs of life.
The sign advertised the “Amery Revival” Three nights, and the question: “Have you accepted Christ as your personal savior?”
Nothing but chairs under the middle section, and a platform on the north end.

“What’s that tank for? Dunk tank?”
We laughed. Too small for a dunk tank.
We both saw the name BAPTISM on it at the same time. Catholic Margie and Lutheran Loren: clueless about tanks like this.
We stared at each other, gazing around for adults. Then we looked down at our clothes and decided quickly that they were swim-worthy.
She walked up the steps at one end, and I came up the other. Touching our toes in the water, we felt it pleasantly warm. Laughing, we couldn’t believe we’d soon be swimming.

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Lady Liberty and the Flowers

Just recently a statue was erected  in the Wisconsin Rapids, WI, area. The life-like Statue of Liberty stands close to the sidewalk and the street, across from the State of Wisconsin Office Building. This retired teacher also has wonderful hanging baskets of flowers, and we’ve always meant to stop in and try to find out her secret to those lush and beautiful flowers.. The flowers alone were spectacular, now there’s another attraction.


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