Down on the farm, there’s plenty for the young scholars to learn!

Of birds and bees, rams and lambs
Clarence the Exuberant Division

DebK of Rosemount reports: “Newly minted home-schooling families have begun visiting St. Isidore Farm, where opportunities abound to bolster life-sciences learning by mixing it up with barn cats, lambs, baby chicks, and pond-dwelling reptiles. (The broody hen, spread Sphinx-like over eggs laid in an unused dog crate, participates only tangentially in the youngsters’ schooling. She tolerates admiring gazes but nothing more intrusive.)

“Last week’s young scholars included a family of eight bright-eyed, budding agriculturalists. One particularly apt future farmer — the 5-year-old, I believe — was keen on bottle-feeding one of the twins born on Palm Sunday to our 4-year-old ewe Faustina, a helicopter mama who monitored the proceedings very closely. The proximity of a 150-pound wooly mother (in a state of some agitation) justified the heightened vigilance of the human parents, though the apprentice shepherdess herself appeared to be entirely comfortable with the situation.

“As the lamb chugged his bottle, fending off fierce competition from his twin sister, the little herdswoman got to wondering about the identity of the lambs’ dad. The child’s father, a scholar and academic of some note, leapt in to explain that our ram was the twins’ daddy. The (human) father pointed authoritatively to the adjacent pasture where Clarence the Exuberant lives in patriarchal solitude for much of the year and where he was just then dining solo on dandelion blossoms. Casting her eye at Clarence and then across the bawling assembly of 11 ewes and 15 babies, the (human) child followed with another question: Where are all the other daddies?”

The Permanent Family Record

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Subject: Should you or shouldn’t you?

“It’s a conundrum to decide if good parents should try to shield their kids from current events when times are scary.

“I grew up as the youngest in a large family during the Second World War. Before television was a fixture in every home, we got our news from the radio or the newspaper — except when you were the kid picked to accompany Dad downtown. Dad had been the carpenter in charge of building The Newsreel Theater, where for a quarter you could see the latest gory news on the big screen. Dad had a lifetime pass, and boy, did he use it. Unfortunately, I was the kid with him when the news broke that Mussolini had been killed, and the image of him strung up on a lamppost was the source of many nightmares.

“Our kids grew up with a father employed in the broadcasting business and a television set in the house. As much as we tried to limit their exposure, they still saw too much. I had the news on one morning, and our oldest son, Dan, watched little kids in the South being hosed by the police when they tried to go to school . . . just before he walked out the door to walk to his school one morning.

“During the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when our kids were taught to Duck and Cover in the event of a nuclear bomb, our oldest daughter, Michele, came home from first grade very cheerful one day. She announced what a good day it was, because there was no big white flash, and then she asked me a question I have never forgotten: ‘If the big white bomb goes off, the principal said all the bus riders will stay in the school and all the walkers can go home. You know, the streets will be all clogged with traffic, with the cars trying to get on the highway. What should I do, crawl over them or crouch down and go under them?’

“When those two oldest kids were in high school and the Vietnam War was raging, they tried to distract our preschoolers from some of the more graphic images, but the story that kept them leaping across the room to turn the set off was the Streaker Craze, with all those naked bodies running across football fields. It didn’t work. Our youngest daughter, Andy, was 5 when she was annoyed as she watched her dad pruning our cherry tree. She kept admonishing him to stop, and he kept cutting branches off. She could take no more. She shouted: ‘Daddy, if you don’t stop doing that, you are going to make a streaker out of that tree before you are through!'”

Could be verse!
Pandemic Division

Tim Torkildson writes: “Subject: The Laughing Trees.

“Every night at 8, ever since the world ran out of humor, the trees begin laughing.

“Oh, it’s easy to miss the sound.

“Laughter doesn’t come naturally to anyone, or anything, anymore.

“It’s not a loud guffaw or high-pitched giggle.

“More of a gentle, whispering chuckle.

“Or even like the kind of sigh we used to make after a big long laugh,

“like after watching Chaplin eating his own boot in ‘The Gold Rush.’

“Somehow our suppressed and supposedly extinct laughter has sunk into the water table, and the trees have drunk it up.

“Now, every night at 8, if you listen real close, and are near

“a bunch of trees,

“you will hear them begin to titter and snicker,

“and then break out into warm chuckles.

“What are they laughing at?

“Maybe us.

“Maybe themselves.

“Maybe nothing in particular.

“It lasts for about 15 minutes,

“then gradually fades away

“as if someone were slowly

“turning off a water tap

“until there is just a drip.

“And then nothing,

“and the Night is silent and meaningless again.”

Our birds, ourselves

Photos and text by our Official Ornithologist, Al B of Hartland: “A great blue heron can’t bite off more than it can chew, but it can bite off more than it can swallow.

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“A common yellowthroat blooms among the violets.

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“Orange you lovely, scarlet tanager.

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“The indigo bunting is a bird that is well worth staying home to see.

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“Some improvised jazz singing was performed by a gray catbird.

“The male brown-headed cowbird does a little song and dance.”

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CAUTION! Words at Play!

Donald: “Subject: A cutting-edge documentary.

“From Page 15 of the latest issue of TV Guide:

“‘I Was Lorena Bobbitt’

“‘MOVIE PREMIERE’

“‘8/7 Lifetime’

“Above this information was the category: ‘SLICE OF LIFE.’”

Our theater of seasons
Camera in Hand Division

Three photo-essays by Mounds View Swede: (1) “Subject: Visually exciting times.

“I find so many things this time of year to be visually exciting and heartwarming for me.

“My one red oak tree has light green leaves to begin with, and against a clear blue sky, such a scene just makes me smile in appreciation.

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“I have a plant with small white blossoms growing in the garden with the forget-me-nots, adding some visual variety.

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“And the forget-me-nots are doing quite well, it seems.

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“Over by the ponds in Ardan Park is the only kind of snowy scene I want to see this time of year: a mass of white petals . . .

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“. . . that come from this tree.

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“Next to the white-blossomed tree is one with pink blossoms. These are large trees just covered with blossoms that provide a visual contrast to the big piles of dried leaves and grass in the compost site nearby.”

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(2) “Six tulip blossom varieties.

“I caught a glimpse of these driving by and came back with my camera to get a closer look.

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“They varied not only in color, but also in petal shape.

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“The sun was hitting this one just right to shine through some of the petals and reveal more detail than would otherwise be seen.

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“And this one had one petal show just a little of what was inside.

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“I liked the way the red lines were displayed, especially the wavy ones — very artistic.

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“The garden is fenced in, so rabbits don’t get to eat these.”

(3) “Subject: Six raindrops photos.

“After our first rainy night in this series of rains, we noticed that certain of the hosta plants’ leaves seemed to collect the droplets.

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“Most of the hosta plants showed no droplets of water, but two of the varieties had nice collections of spots of light, much like the snow sparkles that captured my attention in the winter.

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“I assume some of the plants have waxy coatings on the leaves, but how the droplets get joined together into bigger ones is a mystery.

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“Later that day, I looked for some lilacs to photograph and found some white ones with bright droplets of water on a nearby leaf and some petals with drops . . .

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“. . .and then some lilac-colored lilacs with a similar situation. I was really glad to have the rain, of course, since it has been so dry in Mounds View this spring.

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“And I was also glad to see my first bee of the season.

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“I haven’t seen any yet in my yard and hope they show up when the raspberry plants start blooming.”

In memoriam

Mark Connolly:The Commemorative Air Force flew a B-25 World War II bomber over the Twin Cities on Memorial Day.  The Mitchell B-25 flew over the St. Odilia Peace Garden. Our father (Msgt. L.P. Connolly) was in the 4th Air Force in WWII, then in the Air Force Reserve out of Holman Field after the war.”

Never too young

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John in Highland: “Subject: Fish Story.

“Who says that a 2-year-old can’t catch fish?”

Oopp’s!

The Farm Boy of St. Paul: “I’m pretty sure that years ago in Bulletin Board, we addressed the issue of a single open quote mark being used where there should be an apostrophe. This typically happens when a word is abbreviated at the beginning, such as ’til, short for until. [Bulletin Board will not dispute that ’til is short for until, but will argue that till is the correct word.] Personal computers have helped spread this mistake, because the same key on the keyboard produces both punctuation marks, and computers often aren’t smart enough to know which the writer intends.

“That may explain this sign.

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“Still, once all the pages were printed, it would have been easy enough to fix in the hanging. Just rotate that one page 180 degrees.”

The great comebacks
Pandemic Division

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: With friends/neighbors like these . . .

“As I walked to my mailbox on a recent morning, my neighbor Pat was headed down his driveway to retrieve his mail. I decided to display my fantastic wit and shouted: ‘Stay away from me!’

“Without missing a step or a beat, Pat quietly responded: ‘I can’t get far enough.’

“Thanks, Pat. What a great way to start the day.”

The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division

Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor — Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul — reports: “Subject: Pray with clean hands.

“The most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:

“‘I WAS ASKED TO CHANGE THE SIGN, SO I DID . . .

“‘WASH YOUR HANDS & SAY YOUR PRAYERS . . .

“‘BECAUSE JESUS AND GERMS ARE EVERYWHERE.’”

Our times
Pandemic Division

Keeping Up With the Joneses:“Here is a picture of me celebrating my 60th birthday.

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“It’s not how I imagined I would be celebrating. I enjoyed my birthday, nonetheless, with my husband, son, and FaceTime with my sister. The face mask must work, because I tried blowing out my candles but couldn’t. A birthday to remember.”

Vanity, thy name is . . .

Donald: “This was the personalized Minnesota plate on a Mitsubishi Eclipse: ‘VECTOR.'”

Our souvenirs, ourselves

Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “From 1947 through 1950, Winter Carnival buttons were plastic ‘FUN’ keys rather than actual metal pinback buttons. The key had been featured on previous years’ buttons as being held by King Boreas. It had a different color scheme each year, but all included red, white and blue ribbons with two jingle bells dangling from the white ribbon.

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“However, the 1949 key wasn’t just a key; it was a key attached to a map of Territorial Minnesota. The color scheme was maroon and gold, and the ribbons and jingle bells were eliminated.

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“Why, you ask? Because 1949 was the centennial year of Minnesota’s having become an incorporated United States territory. As should be obvious from the map, by the time Minnesota became a state in 1858, it had lost some of its territory to the future states of North and South Dakota. We probably got the best of that deal.

“Obviously someone liked the design because after the Winter Carnival, this key became an official souvenir by cleverly replacing ‘ST. PAUL WINTER CARNIVAL, 1949’ with ‘OFFICIAL SOUVENIR’, and visitors that summer were none the wiser.”

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Try to remember

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Subliminal pun-ch line.

“While checking out at our locally owned IGA on the Wisconsin Riviera, I followed my age-related rule to never pass up an available restroom. While I was in there, I was relieved (ahem) to remember a last-minute item that wasn’t on the list. As I stood in the checkout line the second time, others probably wondered why the old guy was chuckling at his almost-forgotten ‘peas in the can.'”

Band Name of the Day: Jesus and Germs

Website of the Day: Winners of the 2020 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition (and check out bigpicturecompetition.org to see other years’ winners)