Column for January 30, 1980.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

By Liz Taylor

January 30, 1980

Mouse River Farmers Press, Towner, N.D.


                The Mouse River Farmers Press has a somewhat wider circulation than I had thought prior to writing a column in it. One day I received letters from subscribers in Arizona (Ole & Lou Hjellum) and Alaska (Arly and Ginny Haman), and that’s about as far apart as you can get in the U.S. or A. On another day I received a letter from Mary Voeller in Minneapolis, Minnesota, not as far away, but just as welcome.

                Arly and Ginny are enjoying a mild spell in Fairbanks with temperatures in the 20 to 40 below zero range following some days of 50 below and colder! The Hjellums reported Arizona was basking in 70’s above, and their daughter, Carol, was visiting them. Mary Voeller didn’t mention Minnesota’s weather, but I expect it’s the same there tomorrow as in North Dakota today (Minnesotans blame North Dakota for their weather, we blame Montana, and everybody blames Canada).

                This column writing is great. I just answered three letters and got paid for it! Thank you folks for the letters and kind words for Fern and I and the “Press” in general.

                I’ve also talked on the phone in the past week to my three sisters. Hjordis (Blanchfield), Devils Lake, had been visiting to Kalispell, Montana, area recently and decided to go skiing for the first time in many years. A couple of trips down the “bunny slope” proved boring to her so she took to the larger slopes for an enjoyable day of skiing and all without mishap. I’m not surprised at her courage, she always had more than her share.

                My other Devils Lake, N.D., sister, Ruth (Kenner), was in the hospital in Grand Forks ready to undergo surgery for a broken knee cap. I had assumed, since she too is married to a farmer, that she had been doing a “rain dance” in the Fort Totten area to help alleviate the shortage of rain last fall and snow this winter. Not so. She was picking up a grandson at school and slipped and fell on the ice; knowing her, it wouldn’t have happened if she had had ice skates on instead of just shoes.

                Sigrid (Medalen), Petersburg, Alaska, recently won the “pickled herring” contest at a food fair there and received a wood carved trophy of a fisherman made in Norway. This may not seem like much to you folks, but anytime a farm girl from North Dakota wins a “pickled herring contest” I consider it news. Unfortunately, she had made several batches before she was satisfied so does not have the recipe of the winning entry, or I would put it in Fern’s recipe column.

                About the “Beef Referendum,” this is a referendum cattlemen will be registering for and voting on in the next few weeks. Registration dates are January 28 to February 6 at the ASCS office, and voting is February 19 to 22 at the same place. At this time cattlemen will be voting on whether or not they wish to have a small portion of their cattle check to be taken off to be used by the National Beef Board for advertising and promoting beef and to combat lies about beef and the beef industry. At current prices this payment would be around $1 an animal on the average calf.

                As a rancher’s wife, I see the need has come to promote this most nutritious of foods, beef. I did not always feel this way, thinking there was no more justification in charging ranchers and cattle feeders to promote beef than it was to bill wheat farmers to promote bread and macaroni. However, in the past few years I have read and heard too much propaganda about beef not being good for you. There have been countless unsubstantiated claims that beef causes cancer and heart disease, that we “rip off” consumers with high prices, etc. Cattle prices have never consistently kept pace with the rest of the economy, but have been subject to a high price one year, followed by several years of “break even” or “go broke” slumps. And the real culprits of heart disease and cancer still stress, bad health habits, food additives and environmental pollution to name some.

                And then there are “fabricated foods” as referred to in the latest Readers Digest; an expected 11 billion dollar industry in 1980. I’m talking about meatless hamburger, grapeless wine, and you all know what’s in some hot dogs! Some years ago, when Catholics were discouraged from eating meat on Friday, the standard joke in these parts was about the meat processor who put so much cereal and other additives in his hot dogs and sausages that “you could eat them on Friday.”

                Recently I was in Minot and hunger drove me to a convenient, well-known, if unpopular cafeteria where I had a meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, something green (vegetable?), and gravy on a paper plate. Well folks, the plate was the most nutritious part of that meal, also the most tasty!

                I have no quarrel with “fabricated” foods, nor with soybean meal additives, and cholesterol free margarine or the like. As has always been the case, world population is exceeding the food supply. However, I cannot condone the “one-upmanship” of fabricated foods climbing to the profitable top of the food industry on the lies they spread about beef, pork, poultry and milk.

                Last year an estimated $47,000,000 was lost to the cattle industry by something so simple as untreated lice on cattle. The Beef Board expects about $40 million for beef promotion through a favorable vote in February. Also, if you are not satisfied with their methods, or disagree with the program in general, your money is refundable through a written request. This is something like playing poker and having your money returned if you don’t like the way the game is going…it takes away some of the thrill of winning, but spares you “the agony of defeat.”

                That’s it folks. Quit your “beefing” and vote “yes”. And if you don’t wish to, that’s your business…or “everyone to his own taste,” said the farmer as he kissed a cow!

                I was surprised to read in last weeks “Press” that Towner has had a newspaper for 92 years…something to be proud of I think. I was even more surprised to read about the “men who’ve sweated out their living” there. Apparently the writer forgot about the “woman” who ran this paper for twenty some years, Fern Lee. I know this was not an intentional lack of credit, but I call attention to it because Fern was editor when I first began making weekly visits to the press office as editor of the Cardinal when I was in high school, never mind the year! I immediately fell in love with the newspaper business and especially the Towner arm of it. The old press office with its sloping floor, hot lead, black ink and the wonderful clank and clamor at printing time made it one of my favorite places.

                Next week, “Plagiarism for Fun and Profit.”




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