Sunday, September 30, 2007


I don't like to think about it, but my Sally is getting old. She's at least 11 years old, maybe more. We don't know exactly because she was a stray my aunt Lori rescued from alongside a road.
Greta is funny. Meg is outgoing. But Sally is the best dog we have ever had. She reads our minds. She's completely loyal. She worries about us worse than a mother hen. She always seeks to please. She also has lovely manners.
Our staircase has a turn in it. Sal claimed the landing as her own when we first moved into our house. She peers down at our family life from her vantage point until something interests her enough to bring her clicking down the stairs. Greta and Meg do not disturb her favorite place. The boys love the idea that she is watching out for them if they come down in the night for a drink of water.
Thankfully, Sally is still very spry. She is always game for a walk or a tussle with Meg. The other dogs do not cross her authority. She takes her job of guarding the farm very seriously. Though she favors guarding the landing more and more. She likes her tie-dyed bean bag there. But who would blame an 11 year old dog for that.
Yesterday, while I was helping Clancy side the house, I noticed a chipmunk brazenly eating from the chicken feeder out in the yard. Greta was lounging on the porch and we tried to send her after it. She took note of the little varmint. She pricked her ears when it bounded away via the nearby dog kennel. She returned to her lounging. So much for that.
About an hour later we noticed the chipmunk was back at the feeder. This time Sally was lounging on the porch. I pointed out the rodent to her and she was off like a bullet. The chipmunk dove for the safety of a pile of lumber. But Sal's snout was only a hair's breadth behind it and she jerked the little beast out from it's hole. In one fluid motion she flipped it into the air, snapped it's backbone in one bite and brought it to my feet. Amazing. She must still feel pretty good if she can move that quickly.
I wish she would always be with us. Sally is the dog that taught me how much I love dogs. I can't even pretend that she didn't train me. Each dog that has been a part of my life has been dear to me. But I know Sally is the first dog to teach me that I am dear to her. She is special in ways I cannot describe. I can't teach another dog to be like her. Her presence is simply a gift from God-and from my aunt Lori who trusted me with her.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

North Side

This is the north side of the house as of noon today. Winds are gusting up to 30 miles an hour so Clancy is taking a bit of time to add reinforcement to some of our scaffolding. Hopefully by this evening I can snap a photo that shows some progress. Rains are supposed to move into our area by tonight.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Trumpeter Swans

Today couldn't be more beautiful: blue sky, drifts of brown crunchy leaves piled up against every windbreak...
The swans were floating just off the shoreline of Boston Lake this morning. They moved farther out into open water as I approached to take their photo. Too bad I only had my ancient digital cam-corder on hand. Trumpeters are exquisitely beautiful, and that was not exactly captured with this shot.
More beautiful than its gracefulness is the voice of the Trumpeter. These swans do call out quite loudly when they are alarmed or when they greet incoming swans, or fly over the farm. But they talk to each other quietly out on the lake as well. The honk is so subtle that it seems one shouldn't be able to hear it. Except that its purity rings through the air like the clearest chime of a bell.
The whispers of swans to each other can't fully be described. I scarcely believed in its reality the first time I heard it. All I have been able to liken it to in my own mind is the sound attributed to angles' trumpets in the Bible...heard from the distance of heaven.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rai Min

This little gal is my Spring '07 keeper lamb. Her name is Rai Min. If she develops into the type of ewe I want in my flock, next year I will register her as Boston Lake Rai Min.
Even though she is a chunk of a lamb (almost as big as her yearling half-sisters) Rai Min will not be joining a breeding pen this fall. She and her dam will take the season off together in their own pen, and then they will join the ewe flock after the rams are pulled out.
My reasons for not breeding ewe lambs here at Boston Lake Farm are based on our resources and my gut feeling. I really want to see that second fleece coming in before I decide whether or not to retain a ewe for breeding. Our weather is harsh and our soil is poor in mineral content. My lambs develop at a slower pace than lambs at other farms I've visited. A full year and a half of growth before the first pregnancy gives me a chance to evaluate a sheep for size, final conformation, fleece, temperament, and thriftiness under my conditions. Since my farm is only three years old, my breeding ewes are still the foundation ewes I bought from other farms. Boston Lake's first registered lambs (Sian and Delyth) will be bred this fall. My dream is to one day have the flock name, Boston Lake, represent a Shetland sheep that fits my ideal as well as thrives on my farm land with minimum input. I don't expect that to happen over night, but I do dream about it almost every night.
Rai Min is quite a bit bigger than her twin brother, Tormey. He had some setbacks as a young lamb. First he contracted Lyme's Disease which kept him from eating until he felt better. Then I pulled him off his dam a little early to keep his sire company while Kavan's broken horn healed. Then he contracted a non-contagious form of pneumonia. Since he was in a large outdoor pen at the time, we think it was from inhaling something (manual) or maybe just from all the stress in his life. Kavan was pretty good with him, but the little guy certainly did get the short end of the stick in his daily life. His pathetic little situation came to a head the day I put him and Kavan out on grass near the other two rams. To prove his masculinity to the rams across the way, Kavan ran poor Tormey ragged and mounted him several times. Quite literally, Tormey was flattened by the weight of the larger ram. He was pulled from the situation immediately and could hardly walk. Back in his own pen, he got special attention and recovered in a few days. However, the trauma of that event with Tormey cemented my decision to not breed ewe lambs. I know if ewe lambs are big and strong enough they can do it. And if they get extra feed during their pregnancy they can do it. But even though I'm very pleased with Rai Min's growth for the summer-I don't think she is ready for an adult ram. I don't have a ramling to pair her with. I'm not really sure of how soft her second fleece will be. And I do not have space and facilities to feed her separately all winter long.
Slow practices, such as not breeding ewe lambs actually make a lot of sense for a small farm like mine. At least for a small farm with my goals. It reduces the number of lambs I have each spring, which in turn reduces the amount of lambing space I have to prepare for. I only need extra pens for that short time span of breeding season. Otherwise, there is one ewe pen and one ram pen. Going slowly also reduces the number of lambs I have to make decisions about every year. I haven't developed a market for my lambs yet. So far I've been able to keep the best and eat the ones that don't match my standards. My Shetlands don't bring in much money this way, but they do contribute greatly as homestead livestock. They are my beautiful pets, my interesting genetic project, my wool providers, my lawn mowers, and one of my meat supplies. Quite a contribution for a non-income-generating venture.
Rai Min will have her first chance to contribute to my flock goals next fall. She has awesome conformation and a tiny tail. Her ear set and her bite are excellent. She carries moorit recessive. And even though I was not wild about her birth coat, she is softer than I expected last time I had a chance to pet her. She was also quite crimpy, which was a pleasant surprise as well. If Rai Min can produce a lamb with her good conformation and growth ability, as well as a softer fleece than her own, she will probably replace her dam in the flock. That is my hope for her.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

South and West

Here's what the house looked like on Thursday. We've done quite a bit more work to the North side, which you can't see from this angle,since then. I'll take a picture of that when it's finished.

Autumn Glory

My favorite season is in full color: AUTUMN. This photo is looking across our hayfield. I took it last Thursday while it was very windy and raining leaves. I think Autumn is even more temporal than Spring. Each day less and less is golden. Each day more vitality is lost for the year. With Spring, each day unfolds the promise further. Autumn requires us to say goodbye.
Today the wind is blowing again and whole trees are bare now. The Ash and Basswood are the first to fall. The Aspens are still green. When most of the other trees have lost their beautiful leaves, the Aspens will stun the barren dun-colored landscape with brilliant yellow. As they shed their color it looks like gold coins are falling from the sky.
Each day I can see farther into the forest. The atmosphere thins and the air becomes crisp. No wonder civilizations considered Autumn to be the one time of year when the veil between this world and then next is the most transparent. As the chlorophyll dies in each leaf, more light can pass through. Foliage seems lit from within. As the density of the forest decreases, we can see through that which could not be penetrated by light or view before.
My birthday is approaching. I naturally begin to reflect upon my life before I turn a year older. Maybe it is the season. It seems all of Nature is gathering herself to the quiet refuge of slumber. But before she rests, Nature says her prayers and praises God.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


My son took this photo. Greta is all conked out, and Chloe is surveying her domain in a reclined pose. How I love the way animals can completely relax.
Selena called me today on the cell; just to ask me how I was. I guess I've been a little stressed lately. The pain in my neck and shoulder is flaring again. And I've got a lot on my mind: Lots of decisions to make and not really a clear idea of which direction to go.
I've been praying about it. I have faith everything will work out for the best.
Now if only I could nap in the sunshine with my pets all day instead of behaving like a grown-up...wouldn't that be grand? :)

Monday, September 17, 2007


I love this photo of Dolce. It was taken the first year she lived here. She looks so serious, which is misleading: in fact, Dolce is a lovey-dove.
Today I started staining the siding that was hung yesterday by Chuck and Clancy. Thank you again, Chuck, for all you have done to help us with our house. I began at 9 am. When Clancy got home from work around 11am, we put up more siding. By 3:30pm, when it started to rain, we had the entire west end of the house sided and stained all the way up to the peek of the gable! WooHoo! Clancy would call out measurements and install the boards, while I cut the boards and ran them up the ladder to him. We made quite the pair: he's very afraid of heights and I get vertigo easily. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. We pushed ourselves to finish the staining and all the details because we knew we'd never convince ourselves to go up there again once we came down.
I would have taken a photo to share if it hadn't started raining. Thunderstorms and showers are likely tomorrow as well. Won't be able to side until it dries out. Then we have to shimmy up another one of the gables. I'm not going to think about it until I have to.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A lot for one week

This week started out with a shock. A family friend and distant relative of Clancy's died suddenly. He was not very old; he and Clancy graduated together. He left behind a wife and 12 year old son. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
My little moorit ram lamb continues to cough and is in isolation while he receives his shots of LA200. Tormey (who has been nicknamed LeRoy) is very vocal about his displeasure with this situation. Anytime he hears a voice, he starts in with his baa's. I've learned to ignore it for the most part.
Thursday morning we put all three mature rams into a small enclosure so they would get used to each other. They tousled as much as they could in the limited space. After 48 hours the rams were standing side by side to eat the bit of hay without a fuss so I decided to put them out together. The minute Kavan was released he faced off Unicorn. They charged about 5 times before Kavan accepted defeat. By that time he had broken off the last stub of his injured horn and had blood pouring down the side of his face. I got him all wiped off and praised God we were expecting frost that night. The idea of treating him for months again just exhausted me. I decided to do minimum intervention this time around. I would keep Swat on the wound and if he started going downhill I would butcher him. That was not a fun decision. I just checked on him again and he has a large scab across the entire hole where his horn used to be. I decided to leave it and just apply the Swat since it is supposed to be warm today. I am truly hoping he will be OK in the long run.
Friday I spent the whole day in town doing errands and buying supplies to make placards for Dad's business. Foolishly, I wore high heels. I seriously need to hem my favorite pants. Friday evening I made all those placards using foam core, tag board, card stock, and the computer. I think they turned out really sharp; and Mom said some folks commented yesterday on how nice they looked.
Saturday, most of my family went to Grand Rapids to help Dad with his booth in the Goods from the Woods Show . I really wanted to go but Clancy and I needed to use the good weather to side the house. And that is what we have been doing since yesterday morning. Except for the two hours that the electricity was out. It was quite windy Saturday and a tree fell on the overhead wires that come across the lake to us. When the utility truck finally pulled up and the guys got out to let us know they had the problem fixed, Tormey ran up to the fence beside them and bawled until his horrible cough set in. How embarrassing.
Today is more of the same-Siding. Hopefully the electricity will stay on and we'll get a lot done.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Button Holes

My mother-in-law, Nancy, is a fantastic lady. She's funny, she has never meddled in my marriage to her son, she spoils my boys with all the things they never get at home (ice-cream bars, cable TV...), she always remembers what I want for Christmas, and she lets me go on about my animals. (She actually asks how they are doing and everything.) Nancy is even more wonderful than all that, but I figure the animal part sums it up. How many people let me talk about my animals...really? Why do you think I started this blog?

What's more, Nancy never listens to the lame excuses I make up when I'm trying to stall for time. She knows what's good for me...

A little background knowledge: Machines scare me. Maybe I should describe that better: Machines give me anxiety attacks. I will do almost anything to avoid using a machine-especially one I've never used before.
(Think-gas pumps, automatic check outs, photo processors.) In spite of my fear of machines, some of the things I want to do most in life-like make wrap-around skirts, and spin lots of wool-sort of require the use of more sophisticated tools. Yes, one can use a needle and thread and spindle the old fashioned way-believe me, I do those things already, quite often. But I have limited free time. I have analyzed my situation and come to the conclusion that I would tackle larger projects if a machine were involved. A machine such as the dreaded... Sewing Machine: cue the lightening bolt and thunderclap, please.

Quite a few years back, Nancy offered to teach me how to use her sewing machine. I loved the idea but I wiggled away from the task of actually confronting that machine as often as I could. Sometimes Nancy would introduce a lesson about the machine. My chest would constrict, the blood in my ears would throb, and my eyes glazed over like a deer in the headlights. Desperately I would make up an excuse to put the whole ordeal off until another day.
Nancy's a smart lady, though. At some point she must have realized I would never willingly sit down to that machine. So she laid a trap, like a spider with it's prey, to snare me into learning something new. (A really nice spider-think Charlotte's Web) One day when I made a quick stop for tea at her house, she asked me to look at the baby quilt she was piecing together for me. (I had done all the embroidery work.) She told me to take a seat. Much to my horror, the machine was on, and completely cued up to sew that quilt. All I had to do was press my foot down on the peddle. There was no polite way to bolt from the room. In my state of shock, Nancy's voice was very far from my ears, but I did manage to do what she told me. And there I was-zipping along. Everything was pinned out for me: all I had to do was sew. It turned out to be a lot of fun.

She taught me how to knit the same way: I put it off forever. She decided it was time. I came over for tea to find myself seated in her rocker with a pair of needles in my hands that already had stitches cast on. I got my tea after I finished a few rows. I was hooked.
Several weeks ago, Nancy asked me to help her figure out the button hole mechanism on her new sewing machine. A few years ago she had given me her old machine as a gift. Of course, I put it off-I know, very lame. So a week ago she announced she would bring her project up to my house on Saturday and I could do the button holes for her. Part of me panicked, the other part of me knew there was no getting out of it short of one of us getting really sick. And I wasn't too sure my health would count in that off-chance possibility. I was stuck. Worse, I worried about it all week.
Along comes Saturday. I used pen and paper to record every minor detail of how Nancy set up her old familiar button hole attachment. I sat down when I was told to. I resisted grabbing the fabric when the machine started to run away with it. And I made a button hole. Simple. It was SO easy. I made another one, and another one, and another one. (It was a long button-up dress) Next thing I knew there were no more button holes to sew. It was delightfully fun.
And so, once again, my dear mother-in-law triumphed over my stubborn fear of all things mechanical. I love her for it!
With her help over the years, I have learned how to sew and knit. And I've learned that I can actually deal with things that have moving parts. I even had the guts to try out the peddles on a spinning wheel at Becky's house. Now I want one of those too. Nancy, thank you so much for having patience with me and believing in me. I love to knit. I can sew to "save my life." And now I'm a whiz at button holes! You're the best M-I-L anyone could ask for!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Once Upon a Kitty...

It must have been about 1978 when this photo was snapped of me and this ginger kitten. I can't imagine why my mom would have taken it, simply because she never let us have house pets. Nor do I remember this kitty-which I find a little strange because I remember so many of the farm cats we had.
Roman was my favorite for a long time. He was pearly gray with a bit of tabby-ness about his fur. His underside was all peachy colored-as if he was a dilute of some kind. Once, against the law of mother's house, I sneaked him up to my bedroom. (I felt it was very unfair that he couldn't live in my room and sleep on my bed.) After a while I heard Selena coming up the stairs. She was bound to tattle if she saw him so I stuck his furry little body behind my guitar that was leaning against a corner. Selena accused me of having Roman upstairs. (Selena has always had a way of sniffing out an intrigue.) I was quite smug with my superior job of lying to my little sister. Just about the time she was content to believe me, Roman drew one little claw across the harmonious strings, blowing a pretty whistle on all my fibs. We both laughed so hard Selena decided not to tell on me. In fact I'm pretty sure she smuggled her cat Butterball up too and joined me in my naughtiness. For many years before, and afterwards, Selena and I counted cats as some of our best friends. I planned on becoming a cat lady.
After cat-less college and early marriage years, I convinced Clancy to let me get a kitty just before our last son was born. She was a gorgeous tortoise shell that had showed up on some one's doorstep and they didn't want her. We got her fixed and vaccinated, named her Chloe, and she took over our household. I was thrilled with having my own house cat for the first time.
Unfortunately, by the time our youngest was four months old, he had asthma so badly that we had to take him to a specialist. Diagnosis: severe allergy to cats. As I learned about my son's problems I was also having a horrible case of "never-ending hay fever." Turned out that we were both extremely allergic to cats. How could that be when I never had a problem with cats as a child? With a heavy heart, we had to turn kitty outside. She was NOT happy about it and made sure we knew it by clawing all of our window screens to shreds. Eventually, my son and I could breathe again, though we go anaphalactic if we touch a cat. Not fun.
Chloe has been living outside now for 11 years. We have no idea how old she really is. She doesn't take sass from anyone. She won't tolerate another cat in her space either-wandering toms are thoroughly trounced and never spotted again. I would love to get another cat but it would probably be futile.
The other day I was stuck in town for a spare hour so I decided to visit the Animal Shelter. An older lady was sitting on a bench there playing with the two little kittens she planned to adopt. Those babies were at the age where they love to pounce but the skin on their tummies still shows through their fur when they are very full. I ached to hold one, knowing that if I did I would get so ill I wouldn't even be able to drive myself home. For a while I just visited with the lady and watched her adore her new babies. Longing compelled me to inquire if there were any altered, short-haired active mousers that would like to live outdoors, don't mind dogs, and don't like to cuddle. The shelter houses at least 50 cats; but the volunteer had a little trouble finding one that fit my description. I figured I was safe from falling in love with another cat. Then, the volunteer said she knew of a cat that just might do.
Minutes later she brought out a slim, 9 month old, black-and-white-patches, fixed male. He trotted around the lobby like he had an agenda. He made two laps around the room, swerved around people and stuck his nose in every corner, sharpened his claws on the rug, and posted himself by the glass door leading outside. Oh, he was definitely "the one." And guess what his name was?...Skunky Morneaux. How great is that?!!! I just know I would love him.
Well, Clancy doesn't want another cat. And I suppose I am jumping the gun. Chloe Cat shows no signs of giving up her reign yet. Nor is she inclined to share her territory. But I will admit I've been thinking about that Skunky Morneaux. I liked his saucy dismissal of all that I couldn't give him anyway-cuddles mainly. I hope he gets a great home; even if it isn't with me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Clancy Erickson---Artist

The following images are pastel and chalk/charcoal works by artist, Clancy Erickson. These are copyrighted images that may not be used without permission from the artist. Please respect that.

Clancy is the guest curator for the invitational show, "Skin", that opens at the Bemidji Community Arts Center this Friday night. These works, and many others by several local artists, will be on display through September.

OK, that's all the serious stuff. Now I gotta say, "I think my husband is awesome and I'm so proud of him!"

Monday, September 3, 2007

Last Day of Summer

School starts tomorrow. The boys decided that was cool about 4 hours ago. After all, they will be able to see their friends.
They spent the last couple days of summer pilfering sheet goods from our house-building supplies to enhance their tree fort. It's looking pretty good.
Actually, it looks like a tree fort made by boys. But I'm fond of that kid-did-it look. It speaks to me of all the time they spent on it...working together, keeping busy, letting Mom have a few minutes of peace. Well, as much peace as three boys with hammers can offer.
Tomorrow I'll be enjoying the "peace" of having the boys back in school. Usually that doesn't pan out-I end up busier than ever. At least being busy helps distract me from the fact that my oldest boys are going into 7th grade this fall. And my baby is starting 5th. When did they get so big?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Wood Work

For almost as long as I can remember, my dad has worked in the wood industry. He started logging when I was about 3 years old. To this day, I still remember the sight of him sitting at the kitchen table on winter evenings, sharpening his chainsaw. There is a distinct smell to saw sharpening: bar oil, mixed gas, the sawdust caked in all the cracks, and that flinty-metallic smell of the filing process. I used to hover and beg for a chance to run the round file across the tooth of the chain. Dad worked away from home long hours, and climbing on his back while he sharpened his saw was one way to share some of his attention.

For a time, Dad's equipment consisted of a chainsaw and an old 2-wheel drive pickup. He left before dawn and rarely returned home before dark. Once in a while we would see more of him in winter, when the days were shorter. But as often as not, Dad would bid on a job out of the county and he would live in the bus in the woods somewhere else. Mom ran the farm, and raised us girls without an extra pair of hands for the most part during those months. It was a huge treat to visit Dad in the woods and spend the weekend camping. In truth, the conditions were similar to our household conditions, but that is a different story. The novelty was that Mom and Dad had nothing better to do than play board games with Selena and me. Or we might build a snowman, watch deer out the windows, or look for timber wolf tracks on the long forest trails together. It was a little slice of real family time.

By the time Dad was spending months away from home, he owned a skidder to drag logs out of the woods onto a landing. Different men that owned loader trucks would haul the wood to mills for him. Sometimes Dad would get a big contract with a mill and other loggers would fill part of the contract with him or for him. Eventually, Dad bought a shear, which is a machine that holds, cuts, and drops the tree right where the logger wants it. The chainsaw was used more for limbing after that. Dad built a small shed to use as a shop, and sharpened his saw out there. I know for a fact that Mom never missed having the chainsaw mess at her kitchen table.
Every year the wood industry changed. Laws, regulations, attitudes, permits, bank loan rates, contracts, stumpage prices, insurance costs, worker's comp, obsolete machinery, environmental assessments and awareness, new methods, new politics, new competition, continuing education, niche markets, supply, demand, weather and seasons, all affect people that earn their living by working with forest products. Dad was savvy enough to allow his wood business to evolve through the years. He kept up to date on county, state, and federal news concerning all sectors of forestry and he had the ability anticipate how all those small changes would affect his business. He made sure his business was poised to deal with those changes.

Since I was old enough to think trees are pretty, I've challenged my Dad about his work. I loathed the changes a logging job would make to the forest. I researched facts and figures about the devastation wood mills had on the environment. I chafed at the official stupidity that was often allowed to make decisions about public lands. I didn't agree with anything the wood industry was doing. (The college years were especially bad.)

God has a beautiful sense of irony...a year after I married the one man that was as different from my father as possible, Clancy quit his job as a technical director and bought a sawmill to become his own boss. Dad became his main customer and I was surrounded by the wood industry once again.
Even though my dad and I didn't agree on most issues, he still took the time to explain to me the different things he was doing with his business. He also asked for my help with different projects. I did ghostwriting for Dad to large pipeline companies during the time Dad helped an elderly woman go to court to receive a fair market price for her trees that were in a proposed right-of-way. I read the minutes of board meetings Dad was a part of that helped guide environmental decisions within the county. I started to observe how hard Dad worked to find a market for every scrap of wood he handled-to make production not just more profitable, but less wasteful. And I became interested in the wood business...

I suppose any industry is a microcosm of the world at large. As I mentioned before, hundreds of different things that most people never associate with wood actually affect how that piece of wood becomes part of a house or chair or some one's firewood or fence post. I find that fascinating. Eventually I became more interested in listening and learning than spouting off. With Dad's introduction, I've had the privilege of meeting many folks from different walks of life that care about the trees and the wildlife, the watersheds and sustainable harvest as much, or even more than I do.
I still have a wicked mouth when it comes to criticizing my Dad's business though. One day when he was frustrated with his website I took the liberty to inform him how pathetic it really was and how he should do things differently. Merciless critique is one of my gifts. Word to the wise: Be very careful if you start enjoying the sound of your own voice. Before the conversation was over I found myself agreeing to design a blog/website for Wille Lumber and Timber Inc. And it turns out, I'm loving it.
One of the ventures I'm most excited about, is Dad's involvement in the Minnesota Wood Campaign's "True North Woods" brand. The awesome people that created this association wrote a mission statement that reflects all the high standards and ideals I ever dreamed of for the forest products industry.
The blog I write for Dad is just getting off the ground. To start with, I mainly took a lot of older photos and loaded them in like small advertisements. My next goal is to start writing articles about the forest products industry. I will still highlight products and materials Dad's business offers though.
Just like a spiral, life keeps coming around to the same point time and again, until you learn something new from that experience. What I've learned is that I am not the only one that cares about keeping Northern Minnesota's forests green, diverse, and healthy. If I think back, the person that influenced my love of nature the most was my dad. He taught me how to recognize trees, birds, animals, soil types, and that the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. We still see the world from vastly different perspectives, but we do see eye to eye on some things now. We both want to see Northern Minnesota (it's lands, it's wildlife, it's waters, and it's people) thrive.