Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just Book It and Go

When last we visited, Marilyn and I had spent two days as Nomads wandering around Boston. But on this day we had plans to return to Logan Airport and meet up with my cousin and his lovely wife from Maryland. They are familiar with the area and I eagerly dropped the car keys in his hand never again to ask for their return.  A big load had been lifted from my shoulders, that and I was beginning to get the urge to do something about the people who had been honking at me. I’m too old to do something about people honking at me. Back home in Nebraska, folks honk but it’s to get your attention and then they’ll give you a wave. Okay, they also wave in Boston but it doesn’t resemble our farm waves. Only thing is, life is so fast paced out there that they drop letters from words when they talk and they drop fingers from their waves. I suppose it saves them time.
We had reservations for the next three nights at the Yardarm Village Inn in Ogunquit Maine. It was a fairly quaint little village with big square 2 and 3 story homes. We used Ogunquit for a base and traveled north into some low mountains for a color tour of fall foliage. Every fall is different back there and guarantees that the colors will be good do not exist. It was a below average fall for our tour but still pretty impressive.
One of our day trips went from Ogunquit up the coast a ways to Kennebunk and  Kennebunkport Maine. We visited the beach and the shops up town. One of our most memorable lunches was had in the middle of the downtown area in Kennebunkport. We stopped at Alisson’s Restaurant and had a cup of her famous Clam Chowder and a Lobster Roll. You can actually buy a clam chowder kit from the restaurant online. We haven’t done that, yet, but we will, just in the hopes that we could duplicate that flavor.  The restaurant and shops are all located near an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean and harbor area. It is fun to shop and relax in an area with boats floating nearby that are worth more than a new combine with a 16 row corn head.  Sorry but that’s how farmers think. A farmer wouldn’t be able to walk into the Boston Gaaden without saying, “Man, this place would hold a lot of baled hay. “

Photo taken a few hundred yards west of Plymouth Rock.
We finally returned to our place in Ogunquit because the girls had booked us for a play in the local theatre. ‘Miss Saigon’ was playing and my cousin and I figured we were in for amateur night in a small town.  We were wrong, most of the cast members had all played in the original Broadway production and it was pretty impressive. I’m not sure how they did it but I’ll swear they landed a US Army helicopter to evacuate soldiers’ right on stage in the second half. 
The next day we headed for our final two nights to be spent in Plymouth Massachusetts.  We toured a replica of the Mayflower and a museum that depicted a great deal of what life was like for the first settlers from the old world.  I’m not going to say they were the first white people here from Europe because they were approached by two Indians who could speak English.
Our trip was about over and even though we loved dreaming about seafood at every turn and we did in fact find that it’s true, we were becoming a bit weary. Oysters, mussels, clams, lobster, calamari, and crabs, and they were steamed, stewed, fried, on the half shell, sautéed, and smoked. I knew it was time to go when I saw turkey and dressing on an airport restaurant menu and it sounded good. I was finally tired of things that swam in the ocean.
We left Boston 45 minutes late and when we hit our connection in Detroit we were told they ‘might’ be holding our plane for us. It was just 10 gates away.  They did hold the flight but I could tell by the looks on the faces of the passengers that if it had been up to them, we would have been left to spend the night in Detroit.  We got to Omaha on the same flight as our luggage so I’d call that a good trip.
Thinking back on this I think the overwhelming reason for farmers to travel is to cement the truth in our minds that the farm is the very best trip to be on. It reminds us of why we live where we live.
Just book it and go.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


that it wouldn't get so cold in Nebraska this winter that I would need to wear a coat.
Vain hope.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Our 40th Anniversary And Other Reasons To Go To Boston

"Huzza, her sides are made of iron," yelled a crewman on the USS Constitution. Thus the name, Old Ironsides, was born. The crewman in question was on the USS Constitution, which was locked in combat with the British frigate Guerriere about 750 miles off of the Massachusetts coast on the 19th of August, 1812. The two ships were broadside at about 50 yards or less and the Guerriere's cannonballs were bouncing off the heavy oak sides of the Constitution.
The ship has had a long and storied career and retired undefeated. She is still commissioned and lies in port in Boston Harbor with a U.S. Navy crew of about 70. She is directly across the harbor from where she was first launched from the shipyard in 1797. In wartime she carried a crew of 450 crewmen which included 55 Marines.

I bring all of this up because my wife has had a fascination with this ship and its history and every year since I can't remember when has said, "We should take a fall tour into the New England states to look at the fall colors and maybe see the USS Constitution." Harvest being the devil that it is, has kept us from doing that. Early September would have been better for such a trip but all you would see is the color green at that time and I can stay home and look at a tractor or late season weeds to accomplish that.
This year was different. The Army Corps of Engineers had pretty well taken care of about 65 percent of our harvest with a slight miscalculation of the storage capacity needed in upstream dams to protect us down-streamers should it happen to rain or snow too much in the high country. Okay, slight is the wrong word but I wasn't sure how to spell gargantuan.
A few months back Marilyn suggested that this might be a good year to try our color tour since we don't have much left to harvest. "And besides, it is our 40th anniversary in September and we should do something memorable." "I guess so" was my long reply, and so we went.
Looking at the Google Maps satellite view made it seem like "well this big airport is here and the ship you want to see is right here. They were both in the same picture and it seemed possibly within walking distance were it not for this Boston Harbor which I later found the correct pronunciation to be Haba. Now if we can find some colorful trees nearby, possibly up on this Bunker Hill place, we'll be done in a few hours.
We could have made life easy for ourselves by getting into a taxi and saying, "We want to see the USS Constitution," and our cabbie would have said something like, "No pablem buddy, it's right across da Haba from heya." Nope, we're smarter than that, we rented a car. Those of you who have been to Boston are at this point slapping your hands to the side of your head and yelling, NO CLIFF, YOU DIDN'T REALLY RENT A CAR DID YOU? Yes we did and we later named it the "Albatross." We actually found a small parking lot about 10 blocks from our ship but later were shocked that it cost us $16 for the two hours we were there. The next day we backed out of a parking garage in downtown Boston after seeing their sign that began with "0 to 4 minutes- $6." We went back to our $16 lot.
Yes, we had learned the first lesson of Boston: come for a visit but we really don't want any more cars in our city.
We got tickets to a trolley company that stops at eight historic locations around Boston and you can get off, spend as much time as you care to and get back on. It was about $40 for all day and the drivers are as well versed with the history of the area as can be expected. Nothing can drive home the fact that we were at the birthplace of America than to have your guide say, "This is the historic Granary Burial Ground dating to 1660, here you'll find the graves of Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin's parents."
The USS Constitution, the Bunker Hill Monument, the burial grounds, and many of the attractions are at no charge to the public.
We had some trouble finding our way around town, We went past the Boston "Gaaden" where the Celtics and the Bruins play, three times on purpose and five times accidentally. At one stop, I got out and walked behind our van. Marilyn asked what I was doing and I said I was going to remove the bumper sticker on the back, the one that says "I'm from Nebraska and I farm so please honk at me often." They don't like folks going a mere 5 miles over the speed limit, but it's hard to manage much better than that when a lot of the highways are under ground and you're trying to use a GPS map with no service.
The Boston area is a great place and I would encourage you to visit but use the 'T', Boston's subway line. Turns out you don't need to take your own drawn butter either, it comes with the 'lobsta.'
On our arrival at home, the two brothers who help me at harvest already had the soybeans harvested and had started on the corn. Now we need to find some place to go until the corn is done.
Next issue, we'll head up the coast to Kennebunkport, Maine, and down the coast to Plymouth, Mass., and talk about the food.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


We got back from our trip to Boston and Maine on October 19th. I had missed the soybean harvest as my two brothers had completed that during my absence. (remember most of our farm ground was flooded all summer)
On Thursday the 20th I joined the battle of the corn and that was completed exactly one week later on the 27th.
Throw in County Board meetings, articles for a magazine, church activities and now regular field work as well as flood repair to come and I haven't been very good about getting around to see you guys but I assure you I will.

If you get the chance don't miss Alisson's Restauraunt in Kennebunkport Maine. The lobster rolls and clam chowder were to die for.
In the near future I might post a couple of pics with titles but nothing else to save time. I'll also post my latest article that explains our first few days in Boston also.