Mom’s Feb. 20, 1980, column–egg beaters, books and their new PBS channel

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

By Liz Taylor

February 20, 1980

Mouse River Farmers Press


                Some years ago when the children were small, I would have a neighbor girl hired for a couple of the summer months. They would help with the cooking and cleaning but would mostly keep an eye on the kids, especially if I worked in the hayfield, which was seldom.

                One day as I was preparing to go out to the field, the hired girl began mixing a cake. I had told her approximately where to find the basic ingredients. Indeed, finding things in my house makes any cooking task an adventure!

                The girl was rummaging through a kitchen drawer, and asked, “Where do you keep your egg beater?”

                I said, “It’s under the television set,” and went out the door.

                When I returned from the field she had a lovely cake ready but announced that it was no easy task without an egg beater, which she had not been able to find.

                “Did you look under the television set in the living room?” I asked.

                “Why, no, I thought you were kidding,” she answered.

                I went to the living room and under the TV, along with a myriad of toys was the egg beater. “Why would you think I was kidding? Where does your mother keep hers?” I joked, and told her that Tara had been playing with it and left it there the day before. And I had decided to leave it where both Tara and I could find it! Tara was about two years old at the time and had not been mixing a cake. She was just making noise in a pan with the beater and ignoring about $100 worth of toys.

                I’m sure there are no better toys for kids of that age than pots and pans and beaters.

                Of course, I can no longer blame small children for the way my house looks most of the time, perhaps it just got to be a habit with me.

                On another occasion, we were all sitting at the breakfast table discussing a movie we had seen the night before. The movie was “Sound of Music,” based on the book “Maria” by Maria Von Trapp.

                “I’m sure I bought that book one time, but now I can’t find it,” I said. “If I could find it, we could read it.”

                “Oh, it’s right here under the table,” Justin announced. “It’s holding up the broken pedestal of the table, along with…” and he ducked his head under the table, “along with ‘The World Almanac’ and the ‘Guinness Book of Records’.”

                Sure enough! Several weeks before someone had sat on the edge of the table and by so doing, caused a foot of the pedestal to break off. Grabbing a few books I had made adequate, if minor, repairs.

                “Gee, Bud, if you’ll fix the table leg, we can read the book,” I said, and he replied, “Well! If you’re going to nag about it…”

                Yes, a place for everything, and everything in its place!

                I remember when I was a teenager at home and we decided to improve our kitchen somewhat. With the aid of a crowbar and a hammer, a few boards were removed from a wall to make room for some cupboards. Inside the wall were a lot of magazines and newspapers nailed between the studdings for insulation some twenty years before.

                We immediately had a “work slow down” while we, a family crew, began to read and discuss news and happenings of bygone days.

                In my column two weeks ago I mentioned my fondness for mushrooms and through the “power of the press” I received a book of mushroom recipes in the mail. While the recipes made my mouth water, for the most part, there were some that would kill the appetite of a few people.

                One of my favorites began, “One boiled calf’s head,” and went on with such yummy ingredients as basil, tomato sauce, red pepper, beef essence, brown roux, gherkins, eggs, olives, sherry, two sheep’s kidneys, and, of course, mushrooms and truffles! A search through my pantry soon showed me I was out of most of the ingredients, with the exception of calf’s heads, which I expect to have plenty of when calving starts!

                Another recipe called for “Six fresh snipes” as the main ingredient, and while I never use anything but ‘fresh’ snipe, I could find none in the local grocery stores. This was for a snipe pudding, and really sounded quite delicious. Those of you who would like to read this book, ask for it at your book dealer. It’s called “Mushroom Recipes” and is written by Andre L. Simon. Good luck.

                The other day I decided to hand wash some sweaters and carefully read the label for washing instructions, as any smart homemaker would do. I got smart years ago by machine washing a wool sweater and putting it in the dryer…if anyone needs a size two, I still have the sweater!

                I said I would read anything, and clothing labels are hard to beat for improving your mind. One sweater boldly announced on the label that it was “100% Virgin Acrylic.” Now, there is something I had never known existed. How can a chemical compound be virginal? Indeed, I have never had an item of clothing that was part virgin acrylic, and part reprocessed acrylic.

                I wonder who come up with these labels in the clothing business? The instructions were simple enough, “machine wash, in warm or cool water and tumble dry, hang immediately.” I guess the latter means don’t dump it on the bed with damp towels and underwear until tomorrow.

                There is apparently not much you can do to harm 100% virgin acrylic. Some folks prefer to hang their sweaters on the mast of their sailboat in a hurricane until the storm is over.

                Something exciting here in the rural homes of this part of North Dakota this past month is a new TV station. We are actually being treated to PBS, or public broadcasting, and it gives us a “choice instead of an echo” when CBS, ABC and NBC have an evening of pure pabulum.

                Most of the daytime PBS is devoted to such children’s shows as The Electric Company, Sesame Street, and Mr. Rogers, which is quite an improvement over what children would see on other stations. Some excellent shows in the evening have been The Voyage of Charles Darwin, A History of World War II, All Creatures Great and Small, and many excellent news shows and interviews.

                As I write this I am preparing to go to Moorhead, Minnesota, to take in son Justin’s personal music recital. I am looking forward to it and a fun weekend, and the only thing that bothers me is that I will be on the bus between Towner and Fargo when the PBS station is offering a Verdi opera, live from New York’s Metropolitan Opera House.

                This three hour performance may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I would love to see it, and this from a gal who also enjoys “Hee Haw.” How wonderful to be offered this variety on television in this part of the country.

                “If you want to write something that lives forever, sign a mortgage…”

                Next Week, “More about survival kits.”


Dad writing about the first horses he had as a boy and a young rancher

Note from the typesetter–this is another story handwritten by my dad, Bud Taylor (1921-2010), when he was beginning to feel the affects of his Parkinson’s Disease. I typed it to share it and left the language, spelling and grammar as I found them to keep it authentic. This story starts out with a difficult disposal of a horse that died. Understand though that Dad always loved horses and he always took excellent care of every horse he ever owned, always fed, watered and curried. But sometimes they die and you do what you have to do. I italicized a little classic cowboy logic further down about a $75 horse and a $1,200 check. Enjoy. Ryan Taylor

My First Horse


            Gordon came to Towner with bunch horses in the 1930s, don’t remember the year for sure. Between 1931 & 1934 late summer. He gave me a gray 3 yr. old gelding that had hurt its back leg bad and couldn’t run good.

            He cut it out on main street by our old house and put on the golf grounds east of our house in a low draw and I carried feed and water to him till he died. The golf grounds were fenced then to keep milk cows and horses out as a lot of folks had milk cows then.

            Anyway it got cold and the horse froze down but didn’t bloat as it was pretty cold. One day the local city cop Harry Bundy came by and said that the horse had to be moved off golf grounds. I was young and we were poor for money. A neighbor and friend Roland Ness had a model T Ford, used to haul wood with it to sell. I would help him so he offered to help me get the horse to the dump ground about a mile east.

            We tried to skid it out but didn’t have power enough. We ended up cutting him in chunks we could lift and hauled out that way. That is a true story of one of the first horses I ever had but the only one disposed of that way.

            The only time I was in there golf house was in the 1970’s for a going away party for Pete Peterson who had a bar and sold it and was going to leave Towner. By the way, Pete died in the summer of 1986 maybe 50 years old 5 ft 11 inch tall 220 lbs picture of health but cancer of the lungs got him, too bad.

            In the spring of 1939 I came down to the ranch. I was 18 years old but when I was in school in the 30s I would milk an old Guernsey cow for people across the street name of Kinsey also carry in coal & wood and take ashes out every day so I got an old Sears & Roebuck saddle from them and worked it out. Took it out to Gordon and he fixed it up so I could ride it. One day we were getting in a bunch of horses east of his place, was riding a horse called Buck. He was a good horse but he was going too fast when we were trying to head them off and he fell on a rocky ledge and that was the end to my saddle. Broke the tree beyond repair. Gordon then got me a good used saddle maybe a 13 inch seat I used several summers after that.

            One thing I remember about them old ponies was when they got a little thin he would take a old collar sweat pad, cut in half & sew it down the middle so it was about 10” wide to 18 long and put it between the saddle and the saddle blanket to raise the center of the saddle up so there back bone would not rub sore. It did the trick real good. It was real hot in summer of the 30s so would get up real early 3:30 or 4 o’clock in the morning if you’re going to gather horses before it got too hot.


Second Horse


            The second horse I got was a pinto mare born in 1930 and am sure she was out of a pinto mare Grandma gave to Harve and I got her first colt and I called her Spot.

            When she was 2 years old I came out to the ranch, Art Brusch lived here then.

            John & Buster Brusch and me got her in the barn and got a rope on her. Sam Sidmore came over to ride her the first time and Mike Rosencrans lived over in the Merrit Hills that year and helped Sam haze her out and she wasn’t halter broke yet. She didn’t do much but run. We kept her in the barn at that time there was a open well northwest of the house and got her halter broke by leading her to water everyday.

            She was a real good cow horse and would race pretty good also. Bill Rosencrans won races on her several times. She lived to 25, died out north late in fall 1955. She would watch cows better than most horses at that time as she was used a lot to herd cows with most every summer. Not too big maybe 1000 pounds She had several colts.

            One of her colts, a big sorrel gelding born before I went to the army in 1942 was 6 or 7 years old when I got home in 1946. I broke him that first summer had to put a lot of time on him as he was pretty big and old to break. Got him pretty good and one day a rancher over west stopped in to visit and asked what I would take for him. I said $75, a good price then. He handed me a check he had for $1200 and said can you cash this? I said no, if I had that much money I wouldn’t be selling the horse.

            Anyway in a few days he came back and handed me a $50 and $20 and a $5 bill all in cash.

            The man I sold him to rode him to Towner from Granville the winter of 1948 and 1949 to pay his taxes as the roads were all blocked as it was the worst snow winter we ever had, 72 inches was recorded.

            His name was M.G. LaValley. He never wrote a check, used cash and had a little safe in the house.

            In the spring of 1986 he was robbed and clubbed to death in his house. He was a single man and lived alone, put up a good fight for 74 year old man but the young man who killed him was too much for him. The killer was caught and is in the pen for life. He maybe would have got away with it but failed to get the house to burn. He put diesel oil on the floor but the fire went out.

            Harry Anderson a rancher north of us drove to Minot to the funeral. My son Ryan and I went to the funeral with him. M.G. had a nice funeral. I could write a lot about M.G. maybe someday I will.

            Now for the next horse I had, he was born in spring 1936 out of a sorrel mare grandma left on the ranch. Never new her back history but was a real good pacer and smooth to ride. Maybe out of horse they brought from Indiana as my granddad liked horse racing when he was young.

            Anyway I called this horse Dime and was broke at 2 yr. old. I had him in town the winter 1938 & 1939. Also had a borrowed team that winter. Hauled and sold a lot of stove wood.

            Now about this gray gelding, Dime, he was a big tall horse was real fast and the best walk flat footed I ever rode, right on 6 miles an hour.

            Was hard to out run in a race but had 2 faults, hard mouthed and rough on the run, but had fast trot so that helped. Lived to be 20 some don’t recall when he died.

            Had a lot of horses since then the first registered quarter horses we had got were a registered gray three year old mare in 1955 and I went to Gillette, Wyo., the summer of 1956 and got a registered 2 yr old stud & 2 yr old registered mare.

Mom takes on Norwegian jokes and panty hose commericals. Feb. 13, 1980

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

By Liz Taylor

February 13, 1980

Mouse River Farmers Press


                How do you get a one-armed Norwegian to come down out of a tree? Wave to him.

                And that is what hereabouts is called a “dumb Norwegian” joke. Of course, the anser means that a Norwegian is so dumb that even if he is hanging in a tree by one hand, and if you wave to him, he will let go to wave back and fall to the ground! Isn’t that wonderful? To me it is, because I am Norwegian, and all it means to me is that Norwegians are so friendly that they will risk their lives to show you their hospitality!

                My Norwegian background stems from a father who came to North Dakota from Norway at a tender age to make his living in a new land, and from a mother who was born in Dakota Territory of parents who came from Norway to pursue that same dream. To me, Norwegian jokes only indicate the courage of this special breed of people who had the good humor and good sense to laugh in the face of adversity.

                Of course, most Norwegians think the expression “dumb Norwegian” was invented by people who had never met a Swede and I do not choose to worry about all the Swedes who became enemies by that remark…they are traditional foes anyway! A good Norwegian friend of mine said, (and she is married to a Swede and has four children, talk about your miracles!) “They don’t have Swedish jokes because being a Swede is no laughing matter!”

                I suppose the next time I come to town I’ll have to be sure my windows are rolled up in the car, in case there are any Swedes on the street. I should have gone on and written about the Irish and the Germans too, to get it all over with at once, but, some other time.

                One of my favorite Norwegian jokes I wish to share with you is as follows: “A Norwegian farmhand named Ole (is there any other name?) was between jobs and came to Towner, N.D., one winter day. He had searched high and low for a job, but it was between harvest and spring’s work so no one needed his assistance. He stopped at the Zion Lutheran Church and asked the minister if he knew of anyone who needed any help.

                “You are in luck,” said the pastor. “Our church janitor just quit and you can take his place. Just sign your name on the employee form, keep the church nice and clean, and when the phone rings, write down any messages there might be for me.”

                Ole said, “I would really like that job, but I have never learned to read or write. I cannot even sign my name.”

                “Too bad,” said the pastor, “You’re no good to me if you can’t take down telephone messages. I hope you can find work somewhere. No hard feelings, I hope.”

                Ole continued his search and finally found a job on a nearby ranch pitching hay and the by-products of it. He did so well at his job that the rancher, besides his wages, gave him a quarter of land and a few cows for a bonus. He built a nice house on his land and married the hired girl, a good Norwegian cow milker as it turned out, and they prospered. The had some children, good workers too as they grew older, and before you could say ‘lutefisk and lefse’ he had bought a small ranch nearby to add to his acreage, and he built a larger house, took trips to Florida in the winter with his family, and all in all, became quite prosperous. He had long since quit his job for the rancher but they were still friends. The rancher decided to sell his 15,000 acre ranch and gave Ole first chance. He didn’t have enough money to swing that deal, so went to see the banker and told him he would like to borrow on his savings and his proper to buy this big ranch.

                “No problem, Ole,” said the banker, “You have done so well and your property is more than enough collateral for the down payment, and then some. Just read this mortgage agreement over and sign your name.”

                “I cannot read or write,” said Ole.

                “What? You cannot read or write? Do you mean to tell me you have accumulated all this property without being able to read or write? My goodness, I wonder what you would be doing today if you had ever learned to read or write,” said the banker.

                “Oh, if I had been able to read and write when I came to Towner I would have been the janitor at the Lutheran church,” said Ole.

                I’m not sure if this is my favorite Norwegian joke, or just the longest.

                The other day while I was in town I parked my car across the street from the press office, by Avis Schwenke’s store. When I went to get back in my car, I notice a few good boxes on the sidewalk, apparently waiting for the local garbage truck. Not being one able to pass up good, clean, sturdy boxes (they are so handy to put things in to save for a rainy day, or a drought), I was rummaging through them when Corabelle Brown drove by. She stopped and said she had just finished reading my column about where I found the material to write about when she noticed me going through Avis’ garbage…what could I say?

                “You’re right, Corabelle, I’m searching for material for my next column!”

                All kidding aside, I found two really good boxes in that pile, and I always feel good when I can find treasure in the trash of others. I wasn’t too sure what I would use them for until I got home. As it turned out I made a super nest for the cats with one. I put hay in it and they are lying cozily in that nest waiting for food at this moment. They could be out in the granary hunting mice, but these are not stupid cats. They just lie near the house and wait for their food. I can’t help but wish they were a little more like the cat I just read about on, of all places, a dish towel I sent for from the Spiegel catalog. This cat, pictured on the towel, was singing a song and the song was: “Love to eat them mousies, Mousies what I love to eat, Bite they little heads off, Nibble on they tiny feet.”

                Somehow this little ditty captured my imagination, and I just wish my cats felt the same way! These towels are a specialty item and to give proper recognition to the author of the poem, the towels are an assortment called “Kliban’s Cats.” I don’t know who Kliban is, but I will be watching for his future poems!

                As I write this it is Sunday, February 10, and we are having another “humdinger,” although a small one. That is, it is snowing and blowing, but not cold. I am suffering a couple of aches and pains brought on by an experiment I conducted yesterday. I had been watching TV and saw a commercial about the advantages of “Sheer Energy” panty-hose. The makers of these hose were so proud of their product that they suggested taking a pair of “Sheer Energy” hose, cutting them in two and sewing on another pair of your “Brand X” panty-hose.  That is, half “Sheer Energy” and half “Brand X,” so to speak.

                It was no easy job for me to cut up and sew together two different pair of panty-hose. I am not famous for my sewing, unless you count the time I sewed two buttons on Bud’s shirt and Walter Cronkite mentioned it on the evening news in a feature called “Phenomena and other strange happenings…”

                After I got the two different kinds of panty-hose sewn together, I went for a walk. And sure enough, just like the commercial said, the “Sheer Energy” leg felt like leaping and dancing while the other old leg (in the regular panty-hose) just dragged along behind. Of course, with this mismatched gait it wasn’t too long before I stumbled and fell, almost breaking my neck and other parts of my pelvis. No more following the suggestions of TV commercials for me! Especially after I read about the woman who rusted to death from too much iron in her system from drinking Geritol!

                NEXT WEEK: “A place for everything, and everything in its place,” or, “Where did you say you kept your egg beater?”