When I sat down to write this, a thought came to my mind. I could write my letter telling you all about holiday spirit and how happy and perfect everything is. But that’s just not what I’ve been hearing or feeling lately. Nope- not from my friends, around town, and especially online, not inside myself. People just seem to be… angry. Bitter. Tired. Divided. I mean, I can barely read the news, watch tv, or get on facebook without someone putting someone else down, judging others, or the dreaded laugh emoji on facebook when you know someone is trying to say something heartfelt. And as much as I try to practice happiness, kindness, gratefulness, I swear this was getting to me, too. I remember one day, about a month ago, deciding to myself that I was going to take a break from working on the magazine and head into the floral shop. Tony is able to run it pretty smoothly by himself whenever I’m busy working on this publication but from time to time, I go there just to help and clean, and kiss my husband when customers aren’t in the store. It was during this latest visit when two of our biggest funerals orders ever had come in. Both from friends, both heartbreaking. It’s never easy to create funeral flowers but for me, I consider it the highest honor. Even higher than weddings. Tony typically does most of the wedding work but for me, it’s funerals. I always ask what the departed’s favorite music was, along with special information about who they were. I like to think about who the person was for a long time first to really get a feel for their tribute. Some may say this is crazy, and it might be personal, but my feeling is that at the end of the day I’d want someone to create something for my last shindig that really reflected who I was. I always like to think they are standing there watching me and laughing, “Who would’ve thought this crazy magazine lady would do my funeral flowers? I hope she doesn’t reach for that huge thing of glitter.” Back to the lesson at hand: this time, both funerals were for two men. Two wonderful, fantastic men who had cared about their communities, inspired others, and had wonderful women in their lives who I had come to love and respect. But- they were as different as night and day when it came to politics. The reason I mention that last bit is because these men were known for what they believed in. And being that on the very day I created their tributes, I had read so many online arguments, most between local friends, I was just really feeling lost. But as I listened to their music- Pink Floyd for one and the old country favorites like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline for the other, I realized something so important that we all should remember. Don’t let the world make you bitter. We are all the same. We all live and breathe and love these rolling hills that embrace the place that we call home. We are also all different, we all have unique beliefs, ideas, and passions. But at the end of the day, we share this space. This world. This land. It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity of politics, to feel weighted down and powerless to what is going on around you. It’s easy because if you aren’t actively celebrating the gratitude in your day and in your life, the very gift of it, you will for sure be washed away with the tide of unhappiness. But it really doesn’t have to be this way. I want you to remember and relish the gift and the joy that is your life. I want you to reflect on the fact that there will always be something to complain about, feel lost about, worry about. But take a look around you. Silence yourself and your thoughts, your judgments and your defeatist mindset. There will always be things that break your heart, people who take advantage of you, someone judging you, or something to complain about. It is very important that you always keep your head where it’s healthiest and happiest for youeven if it means a smaller social circle, less time online, or maybe more time with your friends. Use your time on this earth to better it in any small way you can. That’s why people get such a great feeling when they drive up to the coffee stand and it’s been paid for. That happy vibration that comes from someone waving you through traffic, raking your leaves, texting you just to say, “hugs to you,” like my friend Ashley does for me. And if nothing else, use this very magazine, this very letter to inspire you to be kind to others. Because when the world was starting to make me bitter this year, I received so many kind gifts, emails, letters, and reminders that we are so much more than the ongoing conversations in our own mind. I was given the gift to create tributes for two men who were very different from each other, but brought out the best in me. Reminded me. Today is the time to live your legacy. Don’t let it pass you by. I hope you actually and truly know that you, dear reader, are a gift to me. Your kind words make my advertisers sing, my writers feel loved, and me feel cherished. You’ve given me a place in this world, and I hope you see how much I’m trying to bloom just for you. I wish you all a lovely season, whatever it may be you celebrate. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart, for everything. With love,
Heather Niccoli Editor-In-Chief Home&Harvest Magazine
Editor | Design | Sales Heather Niccoli
email@example.com 208.596.5400 | 208.596.4434
po box 9931, moscow Idaho 83843
Keith Crossler Zachary Wnek Temple Kinyon Gayle Anderson Kellie Wachter
Joe Evans Diane Conroy Emory Ann Kurysh Dawn Evans Tony Niccoli Heather Niccoli
10 the b 14 holi utton boxes day 20 swh traditions eat 26 croo farm life ks 30 flank crash t 36 meat o flame less 46 white dad s 52 learnin pring ranch g 60 holida new skills ym oon
Temple Kinyon I really can’t think of any better way to kick off this issue other than to formally introduce you to someone many, and I mean MANY of you have written to me about. Yep: Temple Kinyon. She’s the talented writer behind the lovely stories that have graced these pages and kept you captivated, made you laugh, and I know I’m not the only one when I say, cry. I am very pleased for when you reach the back of the magazine to see she’s done it again, and this time blessed us with a hilarious and touching Christmas tale, a special treat just for you. But there’s something else she’s done that I am proud to announce. Temple has written and published a book titled The Button Boxes. It’s a heartwarming and charming tale of a young man who is given a special gift from his grandmother, soon to change his life.
It’s one of those pick-it-up-don’t-stop-till-it’s-over reads. At least that’s exactly what me and her already hundreds of readers are saying. While we’ll get into her inspirations, struggles and advice for becoming a writer and her book itself, I thought many of you would appreciate some insight to Temple herself. So pull up your chair, get a cup of tea and savor the behindthe-scenes of one of Home&Harvest’s most beloved talents who made her dreams come true. Even with her book signings, deadline, and her busy life she was kind enough to let me interview her. So let’s get to it. If you were guessing if she was a local girl, you’d be correct. Temple spent her first eighteen and a half years growing up in Potlatch, Idaho. Her parents farmed the land her Great Great Grandpa Albert Anderson purchased in 1905, growing things such as wheat, barley, peas, lentils, canola, rapeseed, and grass. “I loved being a farm kid,” she told me. “Life in a small farming/logging community held excitement and adventure. I had a lot of family and friends close, and always felt the support from the community. My passions were allowed to blossom, but as a kid, I didn’t have a clue what a powerful force writing would hold for me as an adult.” You may have enjoyed her last piece on harvest, and for me personally, I loved the description of her sitting next to her father in the combine. But how did she really begin what would become a lifelong dream of being a wordsmith? “I was relatively young when the writing bug bit. I loved crafting letters to my Grandma Ardy, writing elaborate stories, and reading everything in sight,” she laughs. “Probably about 4th grade, it hit me how much fun putting words together in a creative way could open doors to countless worlds.” Without giving away too much, I wanted Temple to explain where she got such an interesting angle to write regarding The Button Boxes.
“I grew up around remarkable seamstresses—Grandma Ardy, Mom, Aunt Mary Beth, Grandma Lois—they all wielded a sewing machine to create clothing, quilts, and other treasures. One day my mother-in-law, Diane Kinyon, a.k.a. Mama Di and I were talking in her sewing room, marveling that at a point in time not that long ago, clothing items were all stitched by hand. Then she excitedly suggested that buttons surely held stories of what they’d witnessed. Well, of course, I had to turn that intriguing thought into a story. I wrote The Button Boxes mainly to appease the tug on my heart to tell the story Mama Di conjured up. It wouldn’t stop tickling my brain. I’d think about it before I fell asleep or when I was daydreaming. It wanted me to bring it to life. Through the whole experience, I knew I wanted to share it, but my motivation to get it down on paper drove me more than anything. I intended to write a cute story to share with my grand-nieces and grand-nephews. I used the names of places and people close to my heart, which made it more personal. I never pictured it as a published book for sale on Amazon or Barnes and Nobel or on shelves at BookPeople or other fabulous places. After I saw it in the hands of family and friends and received overwhelming support and excitement, I realized THAT was my dream for The Button Boxes.” But what does it really take to make a dream into reality? Temple told me the struggle is all too real, and offers advice for those wanting to make their dreams possible. Many people have an idea of what it takes, but many don’t realize that behind every success is often many failures or stresses. Temple shared some of hers with me. “Writing The Button Boxes was a journey. I decided to write it without realizing the work and time involved,” she explains. “It took many years to finish, with a lot of research to do the historical portions justice. Once I finished the first draft, I completely rewrote it, thanks to an agent who I now know was an idiot. That chipped away another year. Then I let the little voice in my head freak me out—I wasn’t worthy of being published; what did I know about being a writer; no one would ever like this story. You know, those little devils on your shoulder whispering in your ear that you should just give up. And after getting more rejection letters from agents than I’ll admit here, I shoved my sweet book into a corner and ignored it. I continued to write for magazines and work on my dad’s memoir, but The Button Boxes gathered dust. One day a friend asked about it and made me realize it was up to me to tell Andy and Lois’s story. I asked several self-published author friends for advice and jumped in with little clue how it would all turn out. The week before Amazon/ KDP approved it for publication, Hurricane Dorian nailed the east coast, closing down the Amazon/KDP offices for several days.
Once they opened back up, the cover was short by a gigantic .053,” and the ebook file wasn’t formatted correctly. My MacBook Air got nailed with malware, my website got hacked, and I had to reset my iPhone to factory settings. To top it off, I shattered the dog treat jar lid into a zillion pieces, and the toilet seat broke. But even at my wit’s end, turning back didn’t even enter my mind; I had to get it published before my 50th birthday. And bingo, that item is now checked off my bucket list. I’m flying by the seat of my pants, learning as I go, making mistakes, and enjoying incredible wins. It’s a blast!” And speaking of seeing her book, when you saw the cover photo to this article, you all might have gotten a familiar feeling that you’ve seen something like the art on The Button Boxes before. I know when I received my copy, there was something very wonderful that I noticed right away. Turns out, it’s a small world, afterall! The cover artist is someone you will certainly recognize for sure. “My beautiful cover is actually the second cover for The Button Boxes,” she tells me. “I decided to print draft copies—quick and dirty—for my test reading group. I figured book format would be more realistic for my test readers, especially for the kids. The first cover resembled a wooden box with two brass buttons sitting on top. It wasn’t great. I struggled with how I wanted it to look. I finally reached out to my dear, talented friend, Julene Ewert, and asked if she would read my story, then decide if she wanted to craft a cover. I felt like the first dream for my book was achieved when she said yes. She grasped so many concepts in the story and crafted four drafts. They were all remarkable. I got tears in my eyes because things were getting real, and it was so special to have [local artist] Julene involved. I chose the one with all the buttons; it’s colorful and engaging. It’s like a yummy quilt wrapping itself around my words. It still takes my breath away when I see it in photos people send or hold a copy of my book in my hands.” In such a short amount of time, Temple has sold many copies and has attended the first few of many local book signings. Readers have flocked to meet this beautiful, kind, and radiant woman who manages to craft words as if, well, she was born to do it. I certainly feel this way. It’s my honor to publish her in this magazine, and you’ll certainly love what she’s written in this issue. This is a great gift for yourself, but it truly is a great gift for anyone this holiday season. It’s easy to buy locally and online. Any last advice for those of you ready to face the first step of making dreams come true, I asked her? “Stop overthinking it. Your dream will never come to fruition if you just sit and continue to dream about it. Sure, you’ll probably trip and stumble as you strive toward your dream, but those are just stepping stones to-
-embrace as lessons. It’s human to be scared, to share yourself, but to remain stuck and safe isn’t living. Arrive on the scene with gusto and confidence because you’re the only one who can do you. If you’re not doing you to your fullest capacity, the world is missing out on your talents and gifts. Let me know if you’re scared. I’m an excellent cheerleader,” she smiles.”
The Button Boxes is available locally at BookpeopleofMoscow.com (both online and in-store) Black Bird at the Depot Palouse Divide Lodge Barnesandnoble.com Chapters.com Bookstores, libraries, gift shops, and schools can purchase it through Ingram Content Group at reduced prices for retail sales or educational purposes. If anyone has questions, you can reach out to Temple at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website, wwww.templekinyon.com.
by zachary wnek
oliday traditions vary widely from family to family and across everyone’s religious views. In searching through the archives I found some very interesting stories of how Christmas was celebrated in some of the more rural areas of Latah County, specifically Burnt Ridge and Park. These stories were recorded by the people who lived them, therefore, the exact dates of the stories are unknown. Based on my research, I believe these stories range from the period of 1900-1920 however, keep in mind that is my best educated guess. This article is truly the work of the residents of Latah County. You will see me jump in from time to time to help build context to the quotes, however everything you read in italics is a primary resource directly from the Latah County Historical Society archives. As primary resources any grammar and punctuation errors from the original records have been retained to be true to the original record. Where necessary I have provided clarifications in [brackets]. I would like to thank the residents of Latah County for recording these memories, the Friendly Friday Club of Troy, Idaho for publishing many of them in their work Burnt Ridge Memories, and the volunteers and staff of the Latah County Historical Society for preserving them so that we can all benefit from these stories. Edward Swenson begins discussing decorating for Christmas in Park, Idaho. Yes, we used that [the schoolhouse] both for school and Sunday school and church. We had Christmas trees in there. Father was always delegated to bring the Christmas tree when we had our Christmas doings. And I would help to put the trimmings on. They would bring a pretty big tree, it would reach almost to the ceiling of the schoolhouse. And they hadn’t studied out just how to set that tree, to brace it and so on. So father got a good (chuckles) idea, and he went home, he had a big two inch auger. He brought that over and they moved the desk over to one side and they bored a hole through the floor (chuckles), stuck the tree down through that hole in the floor (laughs). And then they fastened the top to the ceiling so it couldn’t fall down. So every year after that when Christmas time came, why they’d pull the desk over to one side and stick the Christmas tree down through that hole in the floor (laughs). And we used to string popcorn and tinsel and things like that, you know, and hang on the tree, and presents of course. And we bought candles there was no electricity there you know so we bought candles and put on and lit them up, and the tree looked pretty nice. And then had the program of course and handed out the presents. Then we would leave that tree there until after New Year, so there would be New Year’s services there, and everybody that hadn’t been there for the Christmas doing could still see the tree.
Nov/Dec 2019 15
Melvin “Tarry” and Margaret (McComb) Smith lived on Burnt Ridge. Margaret remembers Christmas their traditions on their farm on the ridge. Christmas was a special holiday for us. The traditional Swedish foods were on the table, too, although I had to learn to make them, as I was of Scotch-Irish ancestry so I wasn’t used to Swedish customs, but I learned to love them. Tarry put up a sheaf of grain, usually wheat, on a pole, for the birds’ Christmas, as it was an old-country Swedish custom. And he and the children gave all the animals an extra measure of grain for their Christmas too. … One Christmas, when we wanted to get a large baby doll for Saralee [the youngest daughter in the family], as Marilyn [the oldest daughter in the family] had received one, he [Tarry] saw what he wanted to get her on a punchboard in a Troy restaurant, and bought all the punches that remained. Needless to say, Saralee was delighted. John and Ida (Dahlin) Smith lived on Burnt Ridge and raised livestock to feed their family. When hogs were butchered, they cured and smoked the hams and bacon, made sausage, head cheese, rendered lard, pickled pigs’ feet, and even made cracklings from the skins. ... At Christmas time, especially, they made a variety of special sausages in casings for holiday feasting. They didn’t waste anything and one man’s remark was accurate, that ‘they made use of everything but the squeal.” Since livestock were so important to the Smiths it was quite a problem when several lambs disappeared on Christmas. The family explains: One Christmas, several lambs disappeared, and they looked everywhere for them, to no avail. Upon returning to school after vacation, they were astonished to find them in one of the outside toilets there, thinner and weak, of course, but alive. They had wandered into the door and couldn’t get out, and had survived on snow which blew in through cracks in the walls. Throughout it all the children remember the hard work of life on the farm and the dedication of their mother Ida who made family and friends Many afghans, bedspreads, sweaters, pillows and mittens were completed for her children. All the grandchildren remember receiving knitted mittens containing dollar bills at Christmas time. Maxine Anderson Nelson remembers Christmas at her grandparents’ home on Burnt Ridge. It was in my grandparents Jonsons’s [Lawrence and Carolina (Larson) Johnson] home where traditions we follow-
for the celebration of Christmas were started and those were the traditions they brought with them from Sweden. The family dinner on Christmas Eve included lutefisk, potatis korv, thin bread, root beer, cooked rice with cream, sugar and cinnamon, just to name some of them. After Grandpa [Lawrence Johnson] had read the Christmas story, we opened the gifts from under a tree decorated with lit candles. Then at 5:30 A.M. was Julotta at church, the early morning service on Christmas Day as practiced by Swedish Lutherans. Again, on Christmas Day, a family get-together with much good food. I wanted to take a break here to remind you all that the Latah County Historical Society will be hosting our Victorian Christmas this year on December 14th from 1-4pm. Please make room in your holiday traditions by joining in one of ours. This event is free and will be hosted at the McConnell Mansion, be sure the bring your whole family! To close this issue’s article I thought it was appropriate to allow Eva Kellberg Rathburn and Helen Kellberg Anderson to have the last word. The Kellberg family, of Burnt Ridge, remembers Christmas vividly. Eva Kellberg Rathburn and Helen Kellberg Anderson recall their family customs during that time of year: On the day of Christmas Eve, Papa [Alfred S. Kellberg] would go to town and buy a few special foods and pick up one gift for each child. On the way home he would cut a tree he had long ago picked out, and bring it home - and take it into the dining room. It was usually covered with snow and icicles, and his mustache was, too. The older kids, having already found the trimmings, soon had it standing in the corner and everyone was soon putting on the ornaments, strings of tinsel, angels, and a big silver star atop. Last but not least were the tiny candle holders clipped onto the branches with real tiny candles in them, that would be lit at the appropriate time. Oh, what expectation and excitement! It was soon supper and the table prayer, as usual in Swedish, and the Swedish supper - lutefish, potatoes, cranberries, white gravy, homemade cheese, and boiled rice with an almond in it - for who would be the first to marry. After supper Mama read the Christmas story - yes, in Swedish, and then we’d retire to the parlor and sing Christmas hymns and songs around Hilma at the piano. When all of a sudden we’d hear a loud commotion going on the back porch, the little ones ran crowding along to see what happened, and always too late! Papa explained he just got there in time to see someone drop the bag of toys and he took off. Now was the fun! Dad would lug it into the house and take out something all wrapped up in brown store paper … tThe anticipation for us was almost unbearable. Finally he’d say who was the lucky one. This went on and on until there was nothing left. All too soon, it was off to bed so we could get up early and go to ‘Julotta’ a Swedish Christmas early at 5:00 o’clock morning service at the Troy church. We were up at 3:30, dressed and on our way in a big bobsled sitting feet to feet in the middle of the sled. We were sandwiched between straw, covered with blankets and heavier covering over us to keep out of the cold. Soon the horses with sleigh bells were trotting merrily along under the clear, bright moon and starlit sky. We’d sing and talk and listen to the squeak of the frozen snow under the runners. If God ever felt so near, it was then, under his beautiful firmament - so beautiful and so great!
Swheat Farm Life
Gayle Anderson by
I read an article the other day where TV show host Mike Rowe was talking about a word he had come across and it was “weltschmerz”. He went on to say the word as he understood it, “is a kind of nostalgia for a time you didn’t actually live in”. I looked up the word and while the dictionary didn’t actually put it like that, I like Mike’s version better, as I can identity completely. While I consider myself an outgoing introvert and need lots of quiet solo time, I do enjoy gatherings both large and small where real face-to-face conversation takes place. In today’s world of getting sucked into our phones and being bombarded with all kinds of social media, I long for a bygone era that I never lived in. One where social events brought everyone and their dog together at local grange halls for parties, dances and community events. I’ve always been enamored with the 1940s, from the style of clothes to life lived in general. And being a 1940’s wannabe, I remember back when I was about 16 and was working in a grocery store in Moscow and every week I’d look forward to this elderly couple who would come in to do their shopping. The woman looked like she had stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine from her era. She wore these stunning and beautiful dresses that were accessorized with gloves, a hat, and jewelry and I could tell they must have been expensive back then. I’d sort of follow them around the store as I was too shy to talk to them, but I liked watching them as they made their way up and down each isle. Her husband always wore a suit and hat and they were adorable. It was important to them to dress up when going to do ordinary tasks. And I was sure they had a fascinating life. Now I wish I would have chatted with them to hear their stories which maybe would have forged into a friendship. And as I’ve always been obsessed with that era, first with fashion and the kind of music in my youth, now I realize what I truly love were the moral and social values. Where the importance on family, patriotism, and community connectedness were first and foremost. And I like to think that living in our rural area, that we still have a lot of those values. The first time I actually knew I had gotten a small glimpse of what the community social spirit must have looked like back then was when I moved to Genesee in the mid-1980’s as a new young farm-wife. I could immediately sense how close knit this farming community was and how they welcomed me and my daughter, Jen into their world. One of my favorite memories was our first Christmas when Jen who was almost 5 participated in the Sunday school Christmas play as an angel. She was excited to be part of the play and she looked truly angelic in her costume (yup… a proud momma). The program was held at 4:00pm on a Sunday in December. The beautiful white church is located about 4 miles outside of Genesee and sits in a picturesque setting amidst rolling farm hills. I remember the snow on the ground and how brightly the stars were shining and how the church lights shone against the inky darkness. It was simply magical.
Nov/Dec 2019 21
And if you wanted a seat, you went early. Once inside you saw parents, grandparents and other church members who had gathered to enjoy that beautiful story of how our Savior came to earth. You giggled at the impromptu roaming of the little ones who would sometimes go rogue and wander down the isles. After the play, we would follow our noses and head down to the basement kitchen where a delicious dinner awaited. It was a potluck affair and I saw first-hand the cooking expertise these women had. We sat at long tables and chatted as we enjoyed fellowship with so many local families that I had come to know. It was experiences like this that fuel my imagination of what life must have been like four decades before, only more enhanced. And where people gather, there is food and I took note that ranch and farm wives definitely know their way around a kitchen. It was also through stories from my mom who talked about how she and her sister helped their aunt in her kitchen to feed their haying crew around Philipsburg, Montana. And mom still reminisces how her mom would whip up magnificent hearty meals on an old wood cookstove without using a recipe. And having those pictures in my mind, I’ve long admired the culinary skillset of rural woman and it makes me continually work to improve on my cooking skills. If truth be told, I have always been a bit afraid to try to my hand at canning. But two summers ago, on a whim, I decided to try and bought a canning kettle at a yard sale. This was prompted mainly because I had so much fruit from my small orchard that I knew I had to do something. With 7 apple trees, 2 peach trees, 2 plum trees and a cherry tree, I made all sorts of plum, pear and apple butter. I’m still giving jars of it away… it isn’t as bad a zucchini season when you lock your car to avoid getting dumped on, but it’s close! Anyway, there is something so satisfying about putting up your own food and hearing that “pop” of the jars after you take them out of the boiling water, I was hooked. Not long ago my sweetheart, Rod recently gave me a cookbook that had belonged to his mom. It was a Farm Journal edition on Freezing & Canning, prized recipes from the farms of America. You could tell the book was well used and well-loved given its duct tape binding on the spine. This past summer I had tried my hand at canning pickles and wasn’t really satisfied with the recipes I tried. Of course, it could have been the nut behind the stove (me) that wasn’t doing the pickle process quite right… and that prompted Rod to dig through his collection of cookbooks and lovingly presented me with his mom’s most cherished canning book. I was thrilled. When I opened the book, I felt like I was sitting in her kitchen and getting a glimpse of her world. Rod tells me stories of her canning everything under the sun throughout the summer on their farm and how tasty it was. I loved where there were the little notes on certain recipes that must have been a fav to make for her four boys and husband. It made me wish I had been able to know her when she was alive.
Unfortunately, the prized pickle recipe had been cut out of the book. But in reading it like a novel the book was fascinating and gave indications of the everyday life of farm woman. I particularly enjoyed the folksy excerpts written in each section by the author. For example, in the pickle section, “When a farm wife goes to the garden daily to look at the cucumber vines, she’s daydreaming. She sees jars filled with all kinds of pickles on her fruit closet shelves and imagines how at Christmas she will tie ribbons on some prized jars and nest them in baskets for gifts. And she can almost hear guests around her table repeat, please pass the pickles!” I don’t know about you, but this is charming and showcases a much simpler era. One where socializing was more than a given back then, it was where you joined clubs and organizations as a means to getting off the farm and connecting with people. Agriculture now, and as in the past, is still mostly an occupation wherein you usually work by yourself, and so it is a treat to go out and socialize with others when you get a chance. Currently the majority of America doesn’t have that kind of Ag experience and many work in offices where your cubicle is among many. I have always worked off the farm, so I get it, I see both sides, those who work by themselves and those who work in a public sector. And sometimes after a challenging day in the office, I don’t want to be social and need the quietness of rural space. But after getting my batteries recharged, I’ll start to crave the company of others. Gatherings where my family and friends put away our phones and have genuine conversations (usually over good food). People and gatherings, it can be timeless. As the holiday season approaches, my hope and wish for each and every one of you is to join me in remembering the value of family, friends and community, not only through the holidays, but in our everyday world. To take the extra step of reaching out to one another where you focus on being present in the moment and enjoy the here and now with those in your life. And if you can, join that group or organization that appeals to you. Oh and if you have a great canning recipe for pickles (or really anything) kindly send it my way. (P.S. if you see me with jars of canned goods heading your way, I’ll give you a 10 ten second lead to run or lock your car doors... haha!) As always, I am happy to hear from you and if you want to reach out, I’m just a click away at email@example.com and also my blog at www.swheatfarmlife.net. Wishing you the most joyous holidays ever.
All my best, Gayle
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Crooks crash by Keith Crossler It seems that the worst calls happen on the nicest days. Maybe because we let our guard down due to the nicer weather. Maybe we just don’t pay as close of attention to driving when the roads are in the best driving conditions they can be. Either way, some of the worst or biggest crashes I’ve been on, happen on beautiful days. This call was one of them. It was in the early afternoon on a Sunday. It was absolutely gorgeous outside and just the perfect temperature. The weekend was looking to be overall quiet as the on call Battalion Chief and I didn’t think there would be much of anything on such a nice weekend. Of course I think that, and the tones go out for a car crash. About 8 miles north of town on Crooks Hill. At the time, I lived on the north end of town so I knew I would likely be the first one on scene. The Moscow Volunteer Fire Department responds to a crazy amount of vehicle crashes in general. I was once told by a previous EMS Chief that compared to other departments, our call volume for crashes is through the roof. Now we get all kinds of crashes. From a basic non-injury slide off, a single vehicle roll over, two-vehicle head on crash, or a truck crash. As this call went out, I wondered what type of call it would be. I hate thinking that as my career with the MVFD has progressed, that I would become complacent when it comes to calls. No two calls are the same, though they often will have the similarities that make you expect much of the same. I checked en-route to the call and got back the update that I certainly wasn’t expecting. And, it made me realize that you can never be complacent when it comes to the fire service. Dispatch answered back “Batt 1 en-route to a three vehicle crash. All lanes are blocked with a possibility of 9 patients. One patient confirmed to have been ejected from the vehicle.” Holy cow. Now this definitely wasn’t a call I’ve been to before. I acknowledged the update as I pulled on to the highway. I requested staffing for three ambulances, both of our rescue trucks, a rural engine, and a mutual aid request to Potlatch for another ambulance. The downside to a call this far out in our response district, is the time it takes to get there. Imagine getting involved in a crash and by the time-
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someone stops, calls 911, help gets dispatched, and then the travel time out there, it could be 15 minutes before help shows up. We go as fast as we can, but we have to make sure and drive responsibly, too. If we crash, we don’t make it to the call we are going to and can’t help them anyone. As the crews were all getting together and our equipment started going en-route, I was only a couple minutes away at that point. Our on-call paramedic was close behind me in our quick response medic car. I was pleased about that as it sounded like there were a lot of patients to triage and the quicker we could do that, the faster we could help all those people. Potlatch had checked en-route just I was checking on scene. I could see we had the three involved vehicles. All were upright on the roadway. I was able to confirm the ejected patient and I had our paramedic check on her first. Then I did a quick assessment of all the folks involved and realized at that point we really only had three patients. The rest of the folks needed checked out, but would likely be non-transport patients other than the three confirmed patients. The second patient was out of their vehicle and pretty shaken. I walked over to check on the third patient. This was the driver of the vehicle that the first patient had been ejected from. The car was in rough shape. The kind of rough shape that after the call we all wondered what kind of car it was. You actually couldn’t tell at a glance what it was anymore. I walked up and looked in the car to a very calm man in really good spirits considering what was going on. His car had been hit on the side. He was actually sitting pretty much in the middle of the car, in his seat. I asked him how he was doing. He calmly replied that he thought his leg was broken. Looking down at his leg, I was sure that it was. I’m confident that legs won’t naturally bend into the shape that his was in. He was also trapped in the car. I assured him that we would get him out as quick as we could and get him to the hospital. He said that was fine as long as we helped everyone else out first. Next I worked to establish where I was going to park all the vehicles we had coming. We had the whole highway to work with, but in these types of events, you have to be a little methodical about placement. Checking in with our paramedic, the ejected patient was stable, but in bad shape. At that exact time, I was notified that there was a Med-Star helicopter available at the Moscow/Pullman Airport and they were ready to launch if needed. I gave the go ahead. Our patient was critical and they would be here in no time at all. At this point I had all of our resources checking on scene. I had my engine crew work to use our trucks to block off the landing area for the helicopter to make the landing zone easy for them to see and use. Our rescue guys were working on extricating our broken leg patient from his car. They were cutting the doors off and the top of the car off in order to really gain access to him. They also had to push the dash up off his legs in order not disturb his already broken leg. Med-Star was coming in to land and we were ready for them too. We shut down all operations and covered our patients. The helicopter came in and landed just as expected. We focused on our two most critical patients at that time. Helping getting the ejected patient into the helicopter and our broken leg patient out of the car and on to the hospital. Med-Star took off and headed for St. Joe’s in Lewiston. Our first two ambulances transported the other two patients. The third ambulance along with the Potlatch ambulance checked out all the other passengers and they all got the clear. Now that our patients were out and transported, we worked to clean up the highway. Big crashes like this usually mean there is large amounts of fluids from the cars on the roadway. We work using kitty litter or absorbent to clean up as much as we can. Once the Sheriff ’s office is done with their investigation, the cars are towed and they can open the highway. Sometimes it’s quick or sometimes it can take hours. This one would take some time. We cleaned up the best we could and we cleared the scene. Getting all our equipment off the highway can help open it up, too.
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Have you been keeping up with the Flank to Flame series this year? We made 2019 the year of the novice griller (or pro looking to brush up on forgotten skills) and we started with some of the most basic techniques possible. Across the 6 articles this year, we have progressed onto much harder cooks and advanced techniques. If you have been following with me and cooking at home you now have no fear with brats, burgers, or steak. You have mastered seafood, and even conquered beer-can chicken. And now, for our final step, the student becomes the master. Today, we grill pork. And before we do, I’m going to come clean and tell the whole story of my first time really grilling. I’ve mentioned it a little in previous articles, but never give all the terrible details. Foolishly, I started with pork. I was a freshman at THE Ohio State University, and my roommates and I decided that what our dorm room was missing was a great, big, messy grill that took up some more of the space that we already didn’t have. So we found someone with a car, a grocery store with a sale, and a beautiful $19 red metal (maybe tin?) grill with folding legs and one vent on the lid. What could possibly go wrong? We got a small bag of charcoal. A huge bottle of lighter fluid. Comically short matches. And I got some meat from the sale section of the butcher’s case. My choice – thin cut pork chops. Without any seasoning. Seriously. I didn’t even own salt. I know, at this point you must think I’m joking. I’ve written an entire article on salt! I’ve covered brines and marinades, and instructed on the delicate balance of making your own dry rubs at home. But at 19 years old, I didn’t even have the sense to swipe a few packets of salt from the cafeteria. And so, on a stormy night in Columbus, Ohio, more years ago than I now care to admit, I strode confidently out my dorm armed with tons of lighter fluid, paper-thin pork, zero grilling knowledge, and no salt. First – it started raining before we even finished setting up the grill. And the set-up was just folding out the legs. But we didn’t even get that done before the rain started pouring. My buddy Dan gave up and ran back to the room. My other friend Jason was MIA before we had even started. But loyal man Kevin and I soldiered on. About a block away we knew of a building with a good overhang and we made a break for it, arriving drenched but with a few matches still dry enough to strike. Next – I spread the charcoal evenly (stupid) and covered it all with lighter fluid. A lot of lighter fluid (very stupid). I got the blaze going and then occasionally shot it with even more lighter fluid for the first few minutes (epically stupid). We had a huge flame and Kevin quickly got his hotdogs cooked, or at least burned on the outside, leaving me alone in the blowing rain just as the grill went out for the first time. Turns out a ton of lighter fluid will just rapidly burn off before you even get the coals ignited. I didn’t know that and determined that the problem must be lack of heat, and therefore insufficient lighter fluid. I added more and repeated the process two or three more times before I had all the-
-coals actually lit. And I’d been trying to cook over direct heat this entire time. So the outsides of chops were already blackened. Like many novice grillers, I pressed on – saying “I like the flavor of a little char on there.” And I started flipping and flipping and flipping the pork. I never actually closed the lid, all the better to check and move each pork chop every 30 seconds. Flip, flip, flip, flippity flip. Each time I flipped way too soon so they stuck to the grill – at least until the entire outside was charcoal. And they got harder, and blacker, and yet still hadn’t cooked in the center. I would cut one open, see pink or juice and hit the flames with a little more lighter fluid to try to raise the temperature. They were awful! I mean terrible. Completely ruined. Thankfully, I didn’t give up grilling right then and there, though that might have been a wise decision at the time. And now, years later with enough experience I can confidently keep you from reliving my mistakes. So let’s get you started right. You know I swear by a good thermometer, along with a spatula and some tongs that’s nearly all you need to grill. If you still haven’t taken the plunge, but you’ve been reading along and cooking with-
-me all year, treat yourself to an instant read meat thermometer. They aren’t very expensive and everyone you cook for will be glad you finally upgraded to properly cooked chicken and pork instead of just grilling until its past well-done for safety. Along with that grill thermometer you want to get some thick ribeye pork chops. Ask for 1.5” thickness with the bone left in. You may also see these labeled as rib-chops. Don’t be afraid of the extra thick cuts, and don’t let that bone scare you. As a novice you may have shied away from features like this, but it’s time to face the challenge, and you’ll have a much better result that won’t dry out before its cooked. We are going to get the pork ready with a really simple wet brine. See – another new grilling skill! Just put 1/2 cup of salt in a large bowl with 8 cups of cool water and stir well. We want the pork in the water and back in the fridge for at least 30-45 minutes. If your schedule allows, leave them for 3-4 hours to let that salt do its work. They will retain a lot more moisture as a result. You can also dry brine by just rubbing the exterior with a lot of coarse salt and then resting in the fridge for an hour or two.
Nov/Dec 2019 33
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Heat your grill to high heat (going for 450-475 max) with an indirect zone. Remember, that’s just coals on one side, or one burner off on a gas grill. We will be using both parts for this cook. Head back inside and make your own spice rub. I’ll give you a hint here – start with 2 parts salt, one part black pepper and one part of any spice you enjoy. Maybe some smoked paprika, or a little garlic or onion powder, coriander, even some cayenne if you want to bring the heat. Just keep it equal to the amount of black pepper, and then use twice as much salt. You could even split the last ingredient (like half cayenne and half onion powder). Once you get a feel for this, change the ratio of salt and pepper to your taste. Take the chops out of the brine and pat them dry. Then oil them on both sides first and then liberally hit them with the dry rub. Remember that you need a lot of salt for a cut this thick and you will be losing at least 1/3 to the grill so use more than you might expect. The chops go over the direct heat once the grill is up to temperature, and they sear for 3 minutes on this first side with the lid closed. Then flip and give the other side 3 more minutes over the high heat. Don’t move them early, don’t rotate for diamond grill marks, and don’t even lift the lid to peek during the sear. Once you finish the second side, move them off the heat to the indirect side of the grill and if you are on gas, bring the temp down just a little. I like to face the bone toward the hot side of the grill and the meat away and then close the lid again. For a 1” chop you should need about 10 minutes, for our 1.5” expect 12-16 depending on your grill. But we will be checking occasionally here and cooking to temperature, not just by sight or time. At 145 degrees they are ready to come off the grill, but you want to let them rest for at least 3 minutes before serving. For the thick cuts we used, make sure to give them little longer to rest and reabsorb all those juices. Once you are more comfortable, you can actually pull them a little early and wrap in foil to let the carry-over cooking get you to the final 145. You’re going to be amazed at this new skill and so will your family! Perfect, juicy pork chops, with seared exteriors and perfect flavor. Let them know you made a brine. Let them know you invented your own spice rub. And most of all, let them know that you aren’t serving burnt, flavorless, dry-as-dust pork anymore! Now take a bow, master griller! If you kept up all year, and just went from learning to roast a brat all the way to chicken and pork, you have finished an amazing journey. It took me years to go back to the pork chop after my first try. And even more years to get them right. But past mistakes mean nothing – you’re only measured by the last meal that came off your grill so we’re both looking good at this point. Congratulations, and enjoy your holiday grilling! See you in January, my fellow masters of the flame.
To welcome a new young couple moving in across the street, I had taken over a dessert. A few days later, they returned the Tupperware the dessert was in. As we became neighborly, one day she walked over and asked me about my making her some more ‘meatless dad’ - It was so delicious! I said, “I don’t know what you mean.” She said, “You know, that meatless dad dessert you made for us when we moved in!” I still had no clue. Turns out the Tupperware I used to make their dessert in was a previous container our daughter used in college to make her dad a meatless meal and in magic marker wrote ‘meatless dad’ on the lid. After tons of laughter the dessert became known as ‘Meatless Dad’ ever since. Of course I did make them another batch. It’s now my signature dessert that is simple and so yummy and is always a hit at any function.
make your own meatless dad .....
The base is ice cream sandwiches (any size) that line the bottom of any square or rectangular pan. Spread a layer of Cool Whip all over the ice cream sandwiches. Drizzle Magic Shell over all the Cool Whip. Put in freezer until set. Repeat the above if you want another layer (use more or less Cool Whip and Magic Shell as you like ) Tips: This dessert must stay frozen- thaw slightly before serving Be sure to freeze dessert each time you add a layer of Magic Shell.
Chocolate Cranberry Cake
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) softened 2 ½ cups frozen cranberry juice concentrate (cranberry cocktail is okay) * (divided – ¼ cup is used for the frosting, ¼ cup will be poured over the cooked cake) Thaw juice and pour into a pitcher, add only 1 cup of water) the concentrate mixed with the water should yield 2 ½ cups (maybe a smidge more) of liquid 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen cranberries chopped (I chop the cranberries in my food processor ( Note: sugared cranberries as a garnish is an option. You will need an additional 12 oz bag - Recipe at the end) ¼ cup dark or bittersweet choc chips 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 2 cups flour 1 cup granulated sugar ½ cup packed brown sugar 1 ¼ teas baking soda ½ teas allspice 1 teas salt 3 eggs (room temperature) 1 teas Vanilla extract
Frosting 8 oz cream cheese – softened ½ cup butter, room temperature ¼ cup cranberry juice 2 ½ cups powdered sugar ½ cup chopped cranberries Preheat over to 325 and grease/flour a 12 cup bundt pan or large tube pan. Melt butter and choc chips in the microwave & cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugars and butter till well blended, then add the eggs till well blended, then mix in 2 cups of cranberry juice (Remember a ¼ cup will be used to pour over the cake when it gets out of the oven). Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, allspice, salt, soda into the cranberry mixture – so all ingredients have now been added and mix till well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 55 min to 1 hour or until a long skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Once done, remove the cake from oven and poke holes into the hot cake, then pour ¼ cup of cranberry juice over the cake and let it cool 20 min. Invert the pan onto a serving plate and let cool completely. For the frosting: cream the butter and cream cheese until well blended, add chopped cranberries, juice and powdered sugar and mix well. Frost the cooled cake and enjoy! To make glazed cranberries as a garnish: 2 cups sugar, divided 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries DIRECTIONS: Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in cranberries until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to wire rack; let dry for at least 1 hour. Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar until well coated; let dry for at least 1 hour.
kitchen: gayle anderson
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers Emory Ann Kurysh
Serves 4 Ingredients: 4 bell peppers, hollowed out 1 tbsp vegetable (or any) oil ½ cup yellow onion, chopped 1 cup white rice, cooked ½ can black beans ½ tomato, chopped ½ tsp garlic salt ¼ tsp salt 1 cup (any) cheese, shredded Steps: 1. Begin cooking the rice in a separate saucepan or rice cooker. 2. Remove the tops of the bell peppers. Then in a large pot of boiling water, cook the peppers until softened (approximately 4 minutes). Drain and set aside. 3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in skillet. Cook the onions and tomatoes over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally. Remove from heat. Add the rice, garlic salt, and salt and mix well. 4. Fill the peppers halfway with the rice mixture. Add shredded cheese. Fill the rest with rice and top off with cheese. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted. Remove, cool slightly, and eat!
Nov/Dec 2019 41
White Apple Cinnamon Loaf
Ingredients: 1/3 cup brown sugar 2/3 cup white sugar ½ cup butter, room temperature 1 tsp ground cinnamon 2 large eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 ½ tsp baking powder ½ cup milk 1 large apple, peeled and chopped butter to grease
Baked with love by Emory Ann Kurysh
Steps: 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a greased loaf pan. 2. Add brown sugar, white sugar, butter, cinnamon, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Set aside. 3. In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Fold ingredients into wet mixture. Add milk. 4. Pour half the batter into the loaf pan. Add half the apples. Pour the remaining mixture over top then add the remaining apples, pressing down gently so they are not completely exposed. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Cool completely before removing from loaf pan and cutting into slices. For added sweetness, you can spread a layer of icing on this loaf. Make from scratch using icing sugar in order to control its consistency!
Spicy Squash Soup I was recently given a spaghetti squash from a family member. A staple in the grocery stores during the fall and winter months, I have always dreamed about cooking with squash, but have not made anything with one before. Admittedly, I didn’t even know that I had a spaghetti squash in my hand until I Googled “different types of squash.” Assuming that it had a naturally rich and smooth taste, I immediately envisioned a creamy soup sprinkled with green herbs. After clearing my original search, I then typed “squash soup” into Google. Most of the results were for butternut squash (which is probably what you should have used in this recipe), but not wanting to leave our home in the country and drive to the store just for another variety of what I already possessed, I decided to substitute it with spaghetti squash. (I also changed the amounts of vegetables and added my own spices as not to copy any recipe verbatim. If you are an adventurous cook like I am, feel free to do the same and rather use this as a general guide.) Finally, I Googled “how to properly cut a squash.” If you are planning on making this recipe and are not buying pre-cut pieces of squash, be sure that you cut and remove everything properly before adding it to the slow cooker. Good luck!
8 cups squash (any), peeled and cubed 1 onion (any), chopped 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced 5 sprigs thyme 2 ½ cups vegetable broth 1 tsp salt 1 tsp dill ¼ tsp pepper ¼ tsp chili powder heavy table cream parsley, chopped
Combine squash, onion, carrots, garlic, thyme, broth, salt, dill, pepper, and chili powder into a slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until vegetables are tender.Remove sprigs then put soup in blender. Blend until smooth. Add cream prior to serving and top each bowl with parsley. Best served with bread.
Emory Ann Kurysh
An Unhidden Treasure What & Where is White Spring Ranch?
By Diane Conroy
My grandfather lived with us when I was 6 years old. He used to tell us the story of his father, John Lorang, in Genesee, Idaho. We were living in Portland, growing up in a Mid-Century Modern home with lots of children. There were 7 children and 2 parents in our house in 1962 when Grandma Blanche passed away. My parents soon decided to also take in my Grandfather Barney Lorang, when he became lonely on his own without his wife Blanche. Grandpa lived with us for 3 years, telling us stories and playing with the children. The look on my Grandfather’s face, when he talked about his “Papa’s Ranch” was a look of awe, of amazement; that strongly impressed me even as a 6 year old. He would tell me that his father would grow saplings in the woods, shaping them into canes and chairs as they grew. It was like a fairy story to this little girl, but Grandpa’s face said it was real.
Well, I grew up, fell in love and married. My husband was also interested in History and encouraged me when he heard about the Ranch. I became interested in Genealogy and researched our family tree extensively. So much so, that I heard that Janet Lorang, who now lived on the Ranch, might like to hear the stories I had found. Next thing I knew my cousin Judy Litchfield and I were making a trip to Genesee, Idaho, to share the stories. It was now 2003. Janet Lorang was very interested in the family history that I had found. In the middle of the conversation, she stood up and pulled out a newspaper article about a local National Historical site. Could we do this also? she asked. I didn’t need much convincing. I asked Janet if I could look in the locked up Log cabin. Opening the old wooden door to the cabin, I could see a little bit through the darkness and dust and began to realize that these stacks of old newspapers were from WWI. The battles of WWII were playing out in another four stacks of papers. An old book, “The History of Idaho” 1918 was lying face down on the floor and covered in dust. It was hard to move around the log cabin; it was so full of magazines and books. A WWI uniform was hanging on a hook. Sitting on a shelf was a pile of 100 year old sheet music with my Grandma Blanche’s name on them. These were early enough to be from the time my grandparents were courting. Her maiden name on the music read “Blanche Morgan”. These were next to a WWI German helmet. The cabin itself was incredible. Hand hewn logs and the original 1876 roofing surrounded this collection. I then moved to the next cabin which had been a roadside Natural Science Curio museum in 1913. My great Grandfather John had opened his own museum, with cards and flyers, over 100 years ago. The shelves were full of everything imaginable. Large bull moose antlers were above the antique fireplace hearth on the far wall, with purses and seed pod necklaces hanging on it. Some strings were WWI campaign hat cords. The shelf under the moose antlers held 1920’s Tarzan series books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and a Native American mortar and pestle. There was no hope for me now. I felt strongly that someone needed to find out what was here. The Curio cabin also had a lean-to, which had been built onto it later. I was told that this lean-to was built to house all of the papers and items from Henry Lorang’s bedroom when he had moved out of the farmhouse. Henry was John’s son, my Grandpa’s brother and had been the next generation to live with his family in the Historical farm home. In the lean-to to the Curio cabin, I found several old wooden cigar boxes and in opening these one by one, I was introduced to an incredible collection of photographs, all over 100 years old; taken by my great Grandfather John. I had never met John Lorang. Grandpa had mentioned several other hobbies that his father worked on, but I did not know photography was one of them.
IDAHO GROWN. IDAHO PROUD. (family included.)
I eventually moved to the Ranch in 2008 and set to excavating the enormous collection stored in the 1876 Log cabin, 1880’s Curio Museum cabin and 18731904 original farmhouse. As the early Simon & Garfunkel song, “The Boxer” goes, “I left my home and my family” (My husband and my brothers and sisters, still need therapy for this; another story). After digging in dozens of cardboard boxes, cigar boxes and all kinds of containers; I began to wonder what we could create from the collections on the Ranch. There were so many journals and photographs, I thought a wonderful way to introduce the museum we were starting to build was to create books for local libraries and the public. Christmas was coming, maybe a Christmas book would be beautiful. I had also found vintage newspapers, including the “Genesee News” as far back as 1898. In gathering these papers, I realized that several of the front pages had letters written from Genesee soldiers to the newspaper, from WWI to WWII and up until the Vietnam War. I contacted Idaho Humanities Council for a grant to create self-printed books and with the assistance of student volunteers from WSU and UIdaho, we gathered articles and photographs to create several of these books. So far the list includes “The Story of White Spring Ranch”, “Martha Lorang’s Journal, stories of growing up at the Ranch in the early 1900’s” and the “Legacy of John Lorang” an illustrated directed study which had been written by a U of Idaho student, Kurtis Zenner in 1986, “Genesee Soldiers, WWI and WWII”, “Genesee Soldiers, Korea and Vietnam”, “Genesee Pioneers”, “The Great Depression, Genesee”, “ Younger People’s Contribution to History”, “Women’s History” and “Children at the Ranch”. Most of these are available at the Moscow and Genesee libraries, or through interlibrary loan. There are also copies here at the Museum. We hope to continue restoration and excavation of this site and continue to work with students throughout the school year. Idaho Heritage Trust grants and extremely talented family members are helping us restore the buildings. We have yet to create the Christmas book I had set out to do, but that should be coming soon. White Spring Ranch is open Sundays and Tuesdays 1 p.m. to Sunset, year around or anytime by appt. at 208.416.1006. We also hold annual events, such the Little House Day every September and a Christmas Open House. For more information see our Facebook page at White Spring Ranch Museum/Archive Library Non-Profit.
ACQUIRING new skills by dawn evans
Hunting elk for a number of years, I have been blessed with quite a few. But I yearn to harvest a branch antler bull elk. I’ve seen plenty, just not in legal situations during the season. Seems no one really understands my level of frustration when it comes to how hard I am trying to accomplish this goal. My amazing boyfriend has piles of these elk. He tells me if I take up bow hunting, we will have better luck in calling one in... less pressure. I say alright, but I don’t think he’s really learned of my lack of luck. But I am seriously willing to do anything it takes. So I signed up for the online course. Ok, so let’s be real here. I have this issue that has served me well, and has almost destroyed me all the same. My competitive side. Boy, it can be a beast. I’ve already said to John as well as myself that I know nothing of this world and I’m willing to take any and all instruction. He says we need to get fitted for a bow. However I took it upon myself to ask a friend if I could borrow hers to just try shooting it all by myself first before I make a fool out of myself in front of John. So I get this borrowed bow home and promptly did the cardinal sin of archery. I dry fired the damn thing. Meaning no arrow was nocked. And of course all the strings fell off her bow. I about shit myself. I coyly asked John, What does that mean when the strings fall off, and he replied, “Did you dry fire it?” I could almost hear the frown in the question. I said yes, I didn’t know! He replied with, well it’s good to wait for instruction and I may have bent her cams. Friggin wonderful. So all of you now really know not to do that. Man, I taught her how to shoot pistols and the important rules like match your ammo caliber to the right weapon. Safety and such. You’d think she would tell me about dry firing! Well, fortunately I was able to get it fixed and didn’t ruin her bow. Ok, lesson one.
One day John and I were shopping at a sportman’s storewhere some of his friends worked and he saw a huge discount on a left handed Matthews bow. Only downfall, it was 60-70 pound draw. Most ladies are like 40-50 max. I thought to myself, I can do it, though! I workout! So I tried and in front of all of his friends who worked there, I could not pull it back. Embarrassment took me over. Probably was no deal to anyone else but inside I died. I mean sixty pounds isn’t that much! Right? Man, I was bummed. We then even ran into a nice gal at the gas station who had just shot a deer with her bow and John was telling her congrats and I must say, I fell further into my sadness that day. By the next morning I had my trainer all lined out on my new goals for I thought: this can’t happen again. Several weeks later, we set out to get a bow for me. We shopped several stores, holding many different types of compound bows, I fell in love, well visually, with an all black Hoyt Nitrux. But they didn’t have it in a left hand model. In order to figure out poundage, I had to draw. Oh no, this again. With an audience. The store archery pro asked John what my poundage would be and he said fifty. The worker said “No way! My wife has been shooting all her life and she can only do 45 and she’s no small girl” John smiled at him and said, “Well your wife isn’t my girlfriend.” Ok, my heart soared at his confidence in me but now, in my head I thought, I must not fail. Gripping the bow and putting the release on my wrist, I told myself I could do this. Listening to all instruction, I drew that baby back no problem! I was so proud! So we finished up and ordered me a 50-60 pound Hoyt. With blue strings. Now, I’ve got to accomplish the studying part. Oh man. I haven’t had to take a test in years! While the information was fairly simple and straightforward, regurgitating it back was fairly difficult for me amongst the other things one has to do at work all day. I really respect people who go back to school when they are older. Plus, I found out I have no attention span during this course. That’s probably thanks to social media haha! But finally I passed and got my archery permit. Just in time for my bow to come in as well. We decorated her with all the necessities. Whisker biscuit, sights and quiver. Had some arrows cut and got field tips for practice. Bought my own release and I was ready to go. Now came the practicing. I was a very good student now. I listened to all the special things you have to do. Yet I could only pull my bow maybe eight times to failure. This aint gonna do if I want to get good, I thought. I need to be able to draw way more than that! So with the help of my trainer, I got to work in the gym.
And within two weeks I could draw over fifty times. John thinks I’m to the part I can up my poundage a little on my bow also. I am determined to go to 60. Not just to say I can, but with higher pound bows, you have better penetration and can shoot further. Also if you max your poundage on your bow, I’m told it shoots better. Now there’s good days of shooting and then there’s the days where you just want to quit. But honestly, I shoot pretty good. Lots of 20-30 yard practice. I even got a Robin Hood the other day! An arrow exactly inside the other! I feel pretty confident in that distance. I did do a little archery elk hunting, and had a branch antler bull at 20 yards at full draw. He just didn’t make the final step. Bugled many of them. I am so close. In fact I am writing this article in my blind after an archery bear. Haven’t had any luck with my bow yet, but I won’t give up. And now I have a way longer hunting season with less pressure. I have even gotten a healthy dose of humility along with this new skill. I tell you, I love to practice my bow. I love watching its flight, especially longer ranges. I admire the thud of the arrow as it penetrates the target with such force. I’m really glad I learned something new, for it taught me way more than just archery alone.
Editor and sister’s note: Here is Dawn’s Robin Hood shot. It’s incredibly rare and shows extreme skill. She’s too modest.
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the MAGNIFICENT red stag
It is tempting to refer to this animal as being the New Zealand version of the American elk. Well, we could also refer to the American elk as our version of the New Zealand Red Stag. Either way, the red stag is truly a wonderful creature, well deserved of our respect. This tale is not the usual hunting story about the mighty hunter harvesting his animal with great accuracy after a demanding hunt. Not quite, but I do have to be truthful about it and pass on some information about rifle shooting that we all should embrace. Before we get to the hunt details, there are several salient observations I would like to share. First, New Zealand is clean. I mean no littering and everything is clean in their towns and countryside. New Zealand people are truly a class act. Second, in the grassland areas I hunted, I noted no invasive weed species in this area. The grasses were a tall bunch grass such as is found on the Palouse, but when you gave a close examination, this tall grass was surrounded by a low growing, dense grass which would choke out invasive species. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve spent over 40 years on the Palouse as a licensed pesticide applicator, dealing with trying to keep our native bunch grasses weed-free and it is my opinion we should take a close look at what is being done in New Zealand. It could reduce our management decisions and greatly reduce herbicide applications. Ah, back to the red stag! Actually, my first experience with red stag did not occur in New Zealand but in my own backyard about 30 yards from my back door, over 10-15 years ago. I had a creature in my backyard that I thought could be a red stag but I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sure. I reported this sighting to the appropriate authorities, during which time the stag deported. I later learned this arrival was dispatched by a farmer. This actually was a wise action as red stag will breed with North American elk. This is not considered a good thing. Where did the stag come from? My best guess is that the beast escaped from a traveling New Zealand circus. I believe these traveling circuses have been banned as a result of this escape. Sounds logical, huh?
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It is customary to rank stags in three categories when it comes to a New Zealand hunt, such as the one I went on. Bronze being the smallest and least expensive in cast, silver is somewhat larger and more valuable. Gold is the most impressive and costly. Gold medal stags can be quite expensive and the big question here is- how much money do you have? My pocketbook dictated a silver metal stag. I am a hard-core meat hunter and was privileged to sample meat from several stags while on the south island. In my opinion, it is as good as the best elk, moose, or caribou. It didn’t take us long in the field to find a silver medal stag. The weapon I used was borrowed from our guide and was a Browning A Bolt with bipod, suppressor, Zess variable 20x scope in 300 Winchester Magnum caliber. Ammunition was Hornady Whitetail Hunter in 150 grain weight. The stalk was about 400 yards of flat on my belly, dragging this heavy cannon. Pretty painful with the damaged left shoulder rotator cuff I was experiencing at the time. I got to about 200 yards and set up for a prone off bipod shot. Only about the top third of animal body was visible but this should be enough, I thought. I squeezed the shot off and stags went everywhere! I got up and went to collect my stag. Only problem is- NO STAG! No blood, no hair found, even after a several-hour search. As well, we were able to climb up a hill and search the grassland for well over a mile to see if a wounded or dead animal was there. None was found and it was agreed I missed a pretty easy shot. Not the first time I’ve done that! Okay, time passes and the opportunity to take a stag surfaces once again. Aaron, our guide, Debbie, my wife and I watched the stag from afar for what seemed to be hours when- all of a sudden- Aaron says, “Take him,” and set the scope for 380 yards. I was only too glad to do this so assumed prone position with bipod so carefully (so I thought), and squeezed a round off. Aaron says, “You’re high!” How can this be? With the Zeiss set at 20x, the stag seemed as big as a barn and at my last shooting event, on the last shot I nailed an 8 inch plate at 908 yards on the first try. Okay, time to relax. Next shot is made and while the rifle is in recoil, Aaron states, “He’s down.” I doubt if anybody has ever seen an animal of this size down with a lung shot and no bone hit at this range. Very impressive! So what happened with the misses? Several things, actually. My left shoulder rotator cuff was giving me much pain, affecting my holding ability, and as was my long-standing tendency to tense up under pressure, and a slight bedding issue which I verified that night at our lodge. Boy, was I ever a happy camper! Life is good! No, life is great! Best thing about it all is we were able to bring the meat home and we are now enjoying it. Dawn’s John (say that ten times fast) mounted the head and it now resides over my couch. It’s 10 points per side and 352 SCI points, which is not a supersize head, but a perfect memento of a wonderful hunt. Well, we will talk about this bedding issue another time. Have a great Turkey Day and Merry Christmas!
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Christmas Pageant Story words + photos
Large snow flakes lazily floated down to the frozen ground, creating a sparkly quiet. Nestled among the light blanket of snow forming and large pines dusted with frost, a small, unassuming building sat, waiting for its bi-weekly surge of life. Norman stomped the snow off of his overshoes as he stepped inside the building’s tiny vestibule. He pulled off his overshoes, revealing sharply polished black cowboy boots—his goin’ to town boots. A large pile of chopped wood took up a quarter of the area, but there was plenty of space below the benches and hooks for the dozens of snow boots and overshoes to come. He set about selecting pieces of kindling from the bucket next to the wood pile. Loaded down with the tinder, he grasped the worn, ornate handle and opened a second door into the actual grange hall. A smell of old dust, touched with a kiss of the aged wooden floors and walls met his nostrils, making him feel right at home. Clicking the switch with his elbow, the overhead lights popped on illuminating the space with moderate brightness, pushing away the early evening darkness. Wood stove to his right, metal chairs set up facing the stage on the far end, fulllength benches along the walls, and the meeting set-up to his left. Everything was set for tonight. Several grange members spent this morning preparing and decorating. After months of painstakingly planning and corralling children for practices and costume fittings, the payoff was near. Tonight would feature the age-old tradition at the Mountain Home Grange celebrating Baby Jesus and Santa. Norman loved this particular annual event because no matter how much forethought and groundwork, the children, without fail, always made some sort of unexpected “change” to the program, whether they meant to or not. Smiling, he began crumpling sheets of newspaper and stuffing them into the stove. Then he stacked the kindling on top the newspaper in a cross-weave pattern. Striking a match, he lit the pile, then partially shut the stove door until the fire caught its breath. The flames grew with snapping and crackling, and he stacked several large pieces of wood inside, set the damper, and closed the door.
The metal on the stove started to pop with warmth, and Norman snuggled his backside closer, feeling the fingers of heat. He surveyed the silent room, wondering if this is what the creators of the grange movement envisioned when they gathered their first group of farmers together in 1867. He knew the history well, how Oliver Hudson Kelley, an employee of the Department of Agriculture at the time, set out to help farmers after the Civil War. Kelley started the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry in his home state of Minnesota. The movement expanded to the severely decimated post-war South. Thanks to Kelley and a few of President Jackson’s advisors, a fraternal organization evolved, allowing farmers to unite and collaborate for sound agricultural practices, farm restoration, and feeding the country. By the mid-1870s, almost every state boasted at least one local unit—a grange—ticking the national dues-paying membership of men and women up to nearly 800,000. When the Panic of 1873 hit, farmers found themselves in debt to banks, especially when railroads raised shipping and handling prices for agricultural goods and low agriculture prices spread throughout the country. With thousands of members, “Grangers’” voices vibrated nationwide, and the grassroots political side of the granges emerged, giving way to things like consumer cooperatives, railroad and grain warehouse regulations, and credit unions. Every American relied upon farmers, and it was the Grangers’ belief farms could and did hold the country together. Norman marveled at the immense and organized structure of the grange system. Membership eventually wasn’t limited to just farmers. The collaborative work the members accomplished, even just at the Mountain Home Grange—one of several in the Potlatch, Idaho area—carried to the county level, then to the State level. This process played out at all granges, converging at the National Grange level for maximum influence and benefit. But Norman had to chuckle a bit. Like any fraternal association, granges were structured, organized, and somewhat secretive during actual meetings. Norman thought they took the fanfare a bit too far, but who was he to question tradition? The meeting setup included three female members seated together—referred to as the altar—and an open bible on a podium. Both elected and regular members sat in a semi-circle around the podium with the altar closing the circle. At no time was any member allowed to walk between the altar and the bible. Norman wasn’t quite sure what would happen if someone did. Meetings were called to order by the Grange Master rapping on the table and stating, “We are the overseeing. Are the gates secure?” However, there were no gates at Mountain Home Grange, just a couple of doors that remained unlocked, usually even when grange wasn’t in session. After the call to order, the Star Spangled Banner played and the Worthy Chaplin gave a blessing. The Assistant Steward Man and Woman then conversed with the Overseer—in secret—to confirm that meeting’s password, which was stated to the members at the meeting two weeks prior. The Stewards walked to each member, asking him or her to whisper the password to them. Upon hearing the correct password, the Stewards went on to the next member. Norman smiled as he remembered the rare occasions a forgetful and surely embarrassed member had to stand in front of the Overseer, answering a series of questions to prove himself or herself worthy.
After all the ceremony, the meeting proceed with old and new business, and the Worthy Lecturer giving a program, which in many cases involved the children and served as entertainment. Tonight’s program was the Annual Mountain Home Grange Christmas Pageant. The meeting would commence first as the children congregated backstage to prepare. After the pageant came the sure-to-excite arrival of Santa Claus, a.k.a. Delfred Hobbs. Then decadent deserts, stain-your-lips-red punch, and hair-raisingly stout coffee awaited them in the basement, adding a happy exclamation point on the end of the evening. Norman believed one desire to become a Granger revolved around the social aspect. It was December 1972, and other than going to other people’s homes for dinner or attending church and church functions, there weren’t a lot of other social scenes that involved the entire family. Even though members couldn’t attend meetings at other granges, they were allowed to go to their social functions. Norman had enjoyed his share of memorable events, like rip-roaring-fun dances and Pinochle card games at the Princeton, Rock Creek, and Kennedy Ford Granges. All with no alcohol served. Suddenly, the whoosh of the door snapped Norman to attention. Shirley, Hazel, and Erma, loaded down with a variety of goodies, greeted Norman. Behind them, their husbands, Kenny, Burt, and Einer, were stamping snow off their overshoes. “Ladies, let me assist you,” Norman offered. He waltzed over and took items from each of the women, and the group proceeded down the stairs to the large basement, equipped with four extremely long wooden tables and a kitchen area encircled with a buffet counter. Everyone deposited their load, and Shirley reached over to plug in the Christmas lights she’d strung up during the decorating party that morning. The large, colorful bulbs lit up the room, bringing on a festive air. “Oh, now that looks super nice, dontcha know,” Erma declared. “I just love this time of year and all its fluff, yeah, for sure.” Erma and her husband, Einer, both descended from large Scandinavian families first settled in Minnesota, then to the area in the 1920s to work at the Potlatch Lumber Mill Company, and their accents still held strong. “Glad you approve,” Shirley exclaimed as she set about dressing the long tables in red, green, and white cloths. Hazel and Erma followed behind depositing at the center of each table fresh pine boughs and glass hurricanes holding red candles. Upon finishing and inspecting their work, Erma declared, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, yeah for sure.” Hazel giggled and said, “Dontcha know.” She winked at Erma, and then stated, “I’m headed upstairs to help round up the children and deposit them backstage.” “I’ll follow you, and see what the fellas are up to,” Normal smiled. They made their way upstairs, leaving Shirley and Erma to arrange the desserts on the buffet. Hazel greeted Lizzie, Bertha, and Pam as she emerged from the basement. The four women had agreed to serve on the pageant board this year since they all had children the right age— between three and seventeen—that they’d coerced into playing a part for the annual shindig.
“Kids, circle around,” Hazel ordered, and several youths of all ages huddled around her. “Is everyone ready?” Some children emphatically shouted, “Yes!” Some only nodded their heads. And a few stood stoic, showing defiance at being forced by their parents to participate in a crummy Christmas Pageant. “Then let’s go get ready,” Pam said, and the ladies ushered the children backstage as the general membership gathered in the back of the room for their bi-weekly meeting. The meeting was called to order and after the password and prayer, Norman tiptoed over and quietly stoked the fire. He could hear the hubbub behind the scenes as he approached the stage to check the large archway covered in fresh pine boughs and white twinkle lights. It loomed large as the main feature of the set. It was gorgeous, but a bit tippy, so the children had been warned to not touch it. Norman checked the hidden cables he’d jerry-rigged to provide at least some stability. The Nativity scene sat under the arch, complete with a small manger, bales of straw, and short “walls” made of wood scraps from Mr. Bennett’s lumber yard. Norman adjusted two standing microphones at center stage to accommodate both shorter and taller kids. When the meeting adjourned, the members ushered themselves to the metal chairs facing the stage.
Norman flickered the lights, signaling the backstage menagerie that their audience awaited. Lizzie signaled back from stage left, and Norman shut off the lights leaving the stage aglow with twinkle lights, a few overhead bulbs, and a single spotlight pointed centerstage. A quiet hushed through the crowd eagerly awaiting the big show; what Norman would bet money was sure to feature at least some Christmas hijinks. Every year it was practically pounded into the sweet children’s heads that the pageant was serious because it included the story of Baby Jesus’s birth. The audience also deserved respect for taking time to watch. And every year the children tried as hard as they could to show that seriousness and respect, but inevitably some sort of surprise would pop up, usually leaving the audience laughing. Thankfully, the kids always managed to pull off a terrific program, and Norman knew that was due to either parents practicing with their kids ahead of time or threatening a decrease in present count come Christmas morn. Suddenly, Hazel clicked out centerstage and thumped on the microphone with her fingers, sending bass-toned whomps through the speakers, along with a screech and a squeal of feedback. “Welcome! And without further adieu, I introduce the Annual Mountain Home Grange Christmas Pageant featuring your darling children!” The crowd applauded, then immediately hushed; they couldn’t see Hazel and Lizzie standing stage right, both poised to control the production as much as possible.
Nov/Dec 2019 64
Their counterparts—Pam and Bertha—stood unseen stage left ready to do the same. Fertis Smenk, a gawky third-grader with large teeth and hornrimmed glasses, clunked out in his brown cowboy boots, stiff new denim jeans, and a red and green plaid shirt, complete with a red bow tie. He took his place in the large, brown, leather chair placed off-center at the front of the stage. The chair was a staple in every stage production at the grange; it was like an old friend. Serving as narrator, Fertis cleared his throat and loudly proclaimed, “Tonight we will tell you the story of Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. Thank you for coming!” Click, click, click. Little five-year-old LoraineAnn clickety-clacked out to center stage. Her brown hair was pulled into a ponytail so tight she struggled to blink. Her lips were painted shiny red and her outfit sparkled with blue and white sequins. The familiar scratchiness from an LP came over the PA speakers and “Up on the Housetop” Christmas music began. LoraineAnn started tap dancing, placing extra emphasis on the “click, click, clicks” and “tap, tap, taps” in the song’s lyrics. Norman wasn’t sure how tap dancing played into the story of Baby Jesus, but as Lizzie’s daughter, LoraineAnn was chosen to start the show. When the music crescendoed, building anticipation for a big finish, LoraineAnn started flailing her arms and clicking so hard her ponytail loosened and cheeks flared pink. On the very last beat, a fraction of a second before she whipped out her famous “jazz hands,” her foot slipped and off flew her left tap, whizzing full-speed out to the crowd like a shot. Norman watched in shock as the crowd split, half leaning to the left and the other leaning to the right to avoid the rocketing piece of metal. It zinged past him and hit the wall behind the stove, landing with a clatter on the wooden floor. Snickers softly rolled through the crowd as they righted themselves to center and watched as LoraineAnn ran off stage, either glad she was finished or mortified she almost clocked someone in the head with her rogue tap. Fertis continued as if nothing happened, his preacher-like voice expounded the crisis of Mary and Joseph’s plight and no place to give birth. Doris and Virgil, two high-school kids portraying Joseph and an extremely pregnant Mary, scooted out from stage left. Doris sat perched on a sawhorse with wheels disguised as a donkey as Virgil pulled her to center stage. Allen, a stocky fifth-grader, lumbered out from stage right and proclaimed in a stiff, rehearsed stucco voice, “There. Is. No. Room. At. The. Inn. But. There. Is. A. Stable. Over. Yonder. You. Can. Take. Refuge. There.” He dramatically pointed to the area of the Nativity and tripped off stage as Virgil and Doris took their place centered under the arch. Fertis introduced a group of kids of various ages, who shuffled out to centerstage and sang only slightly ear-piercing renditions of “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem” and “Silent Night.” The mob then moved to the back corner of the stage as three Holstein cows—the 10 yearold Nyler triplets, Huey, Louie, and Chuck—herded themselves to center front of the stage, mooed loudly into the microphones, then started toward their spot in the stable. Norman watched in horror as Chuck, quick as a whip, stepped on Louie’s tail, which in turn, pulled down his white jeans with black spots. The spotlight illuminated Louie’s stark, white buns, causing-
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-them to almost glow. Everyone but Chuck expressed a collective
gasp. Louie hurriedly pulled up his pants then whirled around and socked Chuck in the arm. The boys started to argue, but a brisk, “Enough!” from Lizzie’s popped into sight stopped them. She directed “the look” with laser-like precision at the three impish boys, which immediately shut down the bovine shenanigans. The brothers pushed and shoved their way next to Virgil. Not missing a beat, Fertis exclaimed, “A good Shepherd stood watch over his sheep.” Artie, a sophomore, hustled out and declared that during his herd tending, a bright star in the night sky appeared. Two little kindergartners, Cheryl and Patty, dressed as fluffy, white-as-snow sheep timidly took their place next to Artie. “Baaa baa,” they bleated in unison, then toddled over next to Doris as Fertis proclaimed, “And then came along a drummer boy.” Seventh-grader Stanley Frost marched out from stage right bedecked with a snare drum around his neck. He stood next to Artie, and a scratchy rendition of “The Little Drummer Boy” crackled over the PA. An accomplished percussionist, Stanley skillfully hammered out the rat-ta-tat-tat drummer parts with gusto and at song’s end, began to power out a solo in spectacular fashion. Impressive, thought Norman. He’s such a master at… Suddenly, Stanley’s right drumstick flew from his hand, cartwheeling up and out of sight in the upper recesses of the stage. After a tense moment, it came hurtling down landing with a clunk on top of the archway. Everyone held their breath hoping the small infraction wouldn’t bring down the arch in its own spectacular fashion. It rocked back and forth once, then stood its ground. Stanley sheepishly took his place next to the little, fluffy flock.
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“And then Three Wise Men appeared,” Fertis broadcasted. Brothers Timmy, Tommy, and Truman trudged out and stood next to Artie. “We are the Magi. We seek the newborn King,” Tommy mumbled. “We bring good tidings of joy,” Truman stuttered. “We bring gifts of gold, Frankenstein, and mirth,” Timmy belted out, impishly smiling at the crowd. He glanced stage left at Pam and Bertha, who shot dagger-stares at him, mentally scolding him. There was no time worry about Timmy, however, because the big moment had arrived. Seven-year-old Natalee—Bertha’s daughter—nailed her part during rehearsals, to the point of making the women watching tear up. She now stood between Bertha and Pam, eyes focused on the large audience. Bertha bent down and coaxed her. “It’s your turn, honey,” she whispered. Natalee stood frozen, unmoving, then slowly looked into her mother’s eyes. “No.” Bertha’s eye brows raised. “What do you mean no,” she hissed.
“I can’t.” “Oh, yes you can,” Bertha forcefully assured her in a loud whisper. “Get out there and do it like you did last night.” She shoved Natalee, who tripped out of the safe darkness of stage left and into the glaring spotlight. She stood motionless, taking in the sea of people watching her. “Go ahead,” Bertha whispered urgently. Natalie took a few tentative steps toward the microphones, then stopped. Awkward silence. Slowly, she looked over to Bertha. “Mama,” she croaked. Bertha smiled, albeit with an ocean of frustration welled up inside her, and whispered, “You can do it.” By now the entire audience was quietly—knowingly—snickering. Not one member faulted little Natalie. Every one in the building knew the apprehensive feeling of going out in front of a crowd. They all had endured this same rite of passage when they were growing up as grange kids. Suddenly, little Sheep Patty, who had previously been searching for “gold” of her own up her right nostril, marched out from her place in the barn, shoved Natalee aside, and marched toward the microphone.
Natalee looked at the fluffy sheep-girl and started crying… only not just crying, but wailing an impressive squall. Horrified, Bertha stepped out of the shadows, smiled and nodded graciously to the audience, and knelt next to her daughter. “It’s ok,” she quietly soothed, feeling like the worst parent on the planet. She scooped up Natalie and stepped off stage. “I can do it,” Patty bellowed into the microphones, and sure enough, the little fluffy sheep powered out in Linus-inCharlie-Brown-Christmas-like fashion the prolific, historical speech. “And the angel…I mean SHEEP said unto them: Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” She whirled around, indicated the mound in the manger, and shouted back to the audience, “Taaadaaaa! It’s our Dear Lord Baby Jesus!” She marched over and whisked the Baby Jesus—a doll wrapped in white cloth—out of the manger. Her arms stretched out in front of her, holding the Baby Jesus. “See? He’s swaddled in his clothes!”
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Instantly, a deep, loud “pop” erupted from Baby Jesus, and his head launched off his body, bounced on the wooden stage floor twice, then kerplunked smack dab on the lap of Cletus Hill, the Mountain Home Grange Master himself. Shocked, he sat for a moment, looking at the plastic head staring back at him. He slowly stood, walked up to the stage, and handed the head back to Patty, who took it and the headless body of Baby Jesus promptly back to the manger. The hall sat dazed, letting the sight of Baby Jesus losing his head sink in, while the click, thunk, click, thunk noise of LoraineAnn taking center stage again, still missing a tap, filled the void. Without reservation, Fertis belted out, “Praise the Lord, Baby Jesus has come, and forever more, we will celebrate His birth.” Once again the scratchiness of an old, worn record album piped out over the PA, giving LoraineAnn the cue to start tapping with a jazzy version of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Her missing tap dampened the effect, but she soldiered through. Apparently, the show must go on. The entire motley crew joined in on the last verse and in Ethel Merman style, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The crowd exploded in applause, cheers, and a standing ovation. The children crowded to the front of the stage and took their much-deserved bows. Suddenly, from the basement stairway, a bellow of “ho, ho, ho!” shot out. The younger children froze, then looked to the stairs. Sure enough, out popped Santa, a.k.a. Delfred, bedecked in a St. Nick costume Norman knew hailed from before WWII. The children jumped off the stage like deranged daredevils and encircled the man of the hour. Laughing and belting out “ho, ho, ho” a few more times, Santa led them Pied Piper style back to the stage and took his place in the old leather chair. Each child received a brown paper bag filled with peanuts in the shell, gumdrops, ribbon candy, and an enormous orange. The adults exchanged Christmas tidings as they shuffled their way to the awaiting delicacies in the basement, surely talking about the antics on stage. Norman took assessment of the scene. When he arrived tonight, the grange was cold and dark, quiet and musty. But now companionship, camaraderie, and holiday spirit combined to create a unique sort of glow. His “grange family” was one of his favorite blessings. He chuckled to himself. The children had pulled it off. Not one Granger cared about the few mishaps; they added jocularity to tradition. Who cares that a razor-sharp tap tried to behead them, and they were mooned by a Holstein? And what difference did it make that a little fluffy sheep was the one to proclaim the birth of the Savior and then popped his head off? No matter the bungling, the message resonated each and every year, a tradition Norman hoped would live on for Granger generations to come: Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Man. This fictional story is mixed with whispers of nostalgic recollections. Many area granges still stand, including Mountain Home, Rock Creek, and Palouse. Some thrive and host community events. Others sit as mute souvenirs from a different time, and a few, like Kennedy Ford, are gone, holding only a place in memory. Tradition, however, never fully dies and is never completely silent. No matter how you celebrate this time of year, may the blessings of tradition, family, and friends surround you with comfort and joy.