Monday, April 28, 2014

Jesse James Gang Robs the Bank

   Northfield, Minnesota, is known for having their little bank robbed by the infamous Jesse James, American gangster, bank robber, and murderer, on September 7, 1876. The event is commemorated in a small museum and a re-enactment of the robbery every September.

Jesse James and his brother Frank got their start as Confederate guerrillas during the Civil War, responsible for atrocities against Union soldiers. After the war, they were joined by other infamous outlaws to rob banks and trains and terrorize the Midwest. 
The day they rode into tiny Northfield was the beginning of the end of the gang's 10-year crime spree.  They thought the bank was loaded with money, but they were wrong.    

 Part of the gang entered the bank, killed a cashier and made off with a bag full of nickels.

As the men tried to leave the bank and ride out of town, they were shot down by citizens of Northfield. Some were only wounded, but several robbers died and were photographed post mortem, their fatal wounds publicly displayed.

Weapons of the dead robbers are displayed in the museum.

Two of the wounded men were incarcerated in Stillwater Prison.  While they were there, they created boxes in the prison woodworking shop.
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Upper Mississippi -- Open For Business

   Lake Pepin (really just a wide spot in the Mississippi River) had a record 29 inches of ice this winter.  By April 18th it had finally melted enough that the first barge could make its way north to St. Paul with a load of cottonseed and fertilizer. The tow boat, the Angela K, had to break through 12-16 inches of ice remaining.  It was the latest opening of the river since 1970.

   It's just one of the important signs of spring up here.  The first robin, Twins baseball opener, the garden center going up in the grocery store parking lot.  Next thing you know, it will be fishing opener!

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Mills on the Vermillion River

      The Vermillion River in Dakota County is only 60 miles long and not very wide, but drops through a granite gorge made it ideal for early settlers to harness its power for gristmills along its banks.  There is a beautiful trail along the river near Hastings, Minnesota, that passes two of the historic mills.
The Alexander Ramsey Mill was open from 1857-94 on the lower falls, producing 125 barrels of flour a day.

The day the mill closed, it burned, and all that remains 120 years later are the weathered stone parts rising like towers above the rapids.



A few miles upstream is the upper falls, where the first mill was built in 1853 and has been in continuous   operation since. The oldest remaining section of the mill with some of the old water driven machinery is at the center of the photo. 

For many years King Midas Flour was milled here.  I remember my mom and grandma using King Midas Flour in orange and blue bags with the king and his magic wand on them. 
As business grew, so did the mill, and it is flanked on three sides by different construction styles. 
Today it is owned and operated by ConAgra, a huge U.S. food conglomerate, and 55,000 bushels of wheat, rye, and malted barley are milled per day. 
The 3-mile hike on the Vermillion River Trail through the gorge and beautiful rock outcroppings was one I will do again when the native spring flowers are in bloom.
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Not What I Had Planned

   Today was just about perfect.  Yesterday . . . not so much.  I had a fun day planned, the weather was sunny, and I had a day off from babysitting my grandson.  I packed a lunch and all the essentials (camera, binoculars, map) for a nice long hike.  As I was driving through town feeling free and excited, my car began to make a horrible noise.  My heart sank.
   I turned around and drove back to the little auto repair place in town and got an estimate: $420 and 2-3 hours.  Well, I did have my lunch.  And a book to read.  But still, I didn't want to sit inside for hours and smell rubber and grease, so I imagine I didn't look too excited. 
   Now here is one of the big perks of a small town.  The man at the desk pulled his car keys from his pocket and said, here, drive my car home.  I'll call you when yours is done.
   So instead of hiking, I worked in the garden, got the snow peas planted and trellised, 8 new asparagus plants in, and a pound of onion sets started.  
   Today was supposed to be rainy all day with high winds, but I decided to go ahead with my hike anyway.  I'm so glad I did because the weather man was completely wrong and we had hazy sunshine almost all day. 
   I'll have some photos from my hike in a day or two.  It was an excellent one, with bluebirds, Eastern phoebes everywhere, soaring vultures and eagles, waterfalls, open water on the Mississippi River, and some interesting history. 
   But for now I want to wish you a Happy Easter, however you celebrate.  I will be watching little boys hunt for Easter eggs, cooking strawberry waffles with my daughters, and feeling really grateful that the winter that brought us the Polar Vortex is past and spring is here at last.
HAPPY EASTER from the dancing chick and bunny and ME!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Peep at Spring

   Baby Mason and I headed for the feed store first thing this morning, a little because I knew they would have something he would like to see, and a lot because we both needed to get out of the house.  Winter has made an unwelcome comeback with cold and snow, so no more fun in the garden for awhile.

Mason liked the chicks for awhile and then we shopped a few things for the garden, just in case winter goes away again.
On the way home we saw a bald eagle in a field being harrassed by crows.  Well, I saw an eagle.  Mason had fallen asleep by then.

Someone shared this with me so I thought I would pass it along for a smile.  I think Cicero is right, although a little sunshine would be nice, too!

Thanks for reading my blog today.  I enjoy reading your comments!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Baaaaa, Baaaaa!

   Nothing says spring like lambs, and it looks like a bumper crop down the road. 

This flock isn't usually this near the road, so I was excited to see how their tribe has increased since I last saw them.  Nearly every mama has twins at her side.  Mostly white, with a couple blackies and spotties toward the back, they must have been born in our very frigid February to be this big already.

The young guy on the left is my favorite, a spotted brown and white. I'm guessing his daddy was a Jacob sheep.  What fun it would be to spin his fleece and knit it up. 
There is an interesting story about how Jacob sheep got their name.  In the Bible, in Genesis it says that Isaac's son Jacob, a shepherd tending his father-in-law Laban's flock to pay a debt for his wife, took the spotted sheep from the flock and bred them.  From Bible times, the breed spread through Syria, across North Africa to Spain and on to England. 
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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Has Sprung!

   In case you're wondering what happened to me . . . it's one word:  SPRING!  We have finally had a few days of it and it's impossible to do anything else but be outdoors, trying to catch up with what nature did over the long months of snow. 
The crocus are poking through the leaves in the front garden.
Sorrel and Egyptian onions are making a comeback in the vegetable garden.
Apple trees must be pruned,
greens planted in the one raised bed that is not still frozen a few inches in.
And of course, plenty of this!
I hope you are enjoying spring this weekend, too. Thanks for taking time out to visit my blog.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Surprise

   One of my favorite photographers in the world is Steve McCurry.  There is a human story in every one of his photos, told without a single word. 

   When I discovered he had a blog, I was excited, even more so when I saw that he paired quotes with his photos from all over the world.  
   When there is a new posting, I usually save it until a time I can savor every photo.  This morning I sat down with my tea, ready to feast my eyes.  The subject is "One Step At a Time," and as I love to walk, I knew I was in for a treat.
   The third photo made me sit up and tell my cat, "Hey, I think I walked on that exact same spot last September!" 

   Here is Steve's photo (and I hope I am not breaking any copyright laws here. I'm not profiting and I'm linking to his blog, and I can't say how much I admire this man's work.).
"There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. 

A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo." 
- Paul Scott Mowrer

   Yes, walking is exactly the right tempo for me, to explore another country, to think, to notice, to appreciate.

   This was my photo that morning from the Thames Walk before I figured out how to get down to the water myself. There was a man and his spaniel, which was running up and down the wood and rock structure and jumped in the water for a swim.

Here is the link to Steve's blog.  Take a look.  I hope it will bring you as much enjoyment and food for thought as it does me. 

Thanks so much for visiting my blog.  I love to read your comments.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Old-Timey Hitching Post
Looks like wood but it's metal.  Imagine the cars invisible and a horse attached.

New-Fangled Hitching Post

 Not exactly the same function (no one would steal your horse and carriage), but nice of the town to put them in for those of us who enjoy two-wheel transportation.