Prairie View

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Wrap-Up, July 16, 2017

Three weeks ago, Dwight and Karen Miller's house burned.  Yesterday, a replacement house stood in its place--not complete yet, of course, but with a completely finished roof, and the framing, sheathing, and rough flooring all in place, along with some of the interior wall framing.

About 40 volunteers showed up to help yesterday, and many other volunteers had helped in the weeks since the fire.

Dwight and Karen and their family operate two home-based ventures, in addition to dairy farming. One of them is The Potluck, a produce market inside what used to be the "milk house," the separate building containing the bulk milk tank.  The building was attached to the milking parlor.  A new milk house and milking parlor were built later and are now in use for that purpose.

The other venture is a bed and breakfast.  One facility, called the Homespun Hideaway, is currently being rented out by the month, so is not available right now for overnight guests.  It's a small house, separated from the house and other farm buildings by a walking path through the big garden.

The Homespun Hideaway was my first home.  Until its B & B christening, it was usually referred to in our extended family as the tenant house.  It was one of three different small houses built by the landlord, Mr. Bostick, who owned lots of land and had three full time hired hands working for him.  Each of them lived in one of the homes he provided for them and their families.  This is the only one of the three tenant houses still standing.

My parents lived there when I was born, and we lived there until I was about three years old, when we moved to the place where I grew to adulthood, and where our son Shane's family now lives.

The other bed and breakfast facility is built into a barn loft near the Potluck.  That one is still open for guests.

Customers are also welcome, of course, at The Potluck--perhaps especially so now.

Here are some links to media reports of the events at Dwight and Karen's place yesterday:

Video from KAKE TV.
A second Video from KAKE.
An article in the Hutchinson News.


Local trivia:  One of the other tenant houses was located south of the Salt Creek Bridge on Centennial Road.  From Dwight's east corner (on Illinois Ave.), the house was located between 1/4 and 1/2 mile north--on the east side of the road, I believe.  I used to work the field occasionally where the house once stood, and recall seeing some remaining limestone rocks where it must have been built.  My dad and Uncle Edwin farmed that land together at one time, and my age-mate and cousin Valetta and I sometimes traded off with the tractor-driving chores.

The other tenant house was located near the intersection of High Point Rd. and Illinois Ave., in the northeast quadrant.  Old timers will think of it as being just east of Ervin Miller's east place.  This house was still standing in my memory, but was never inhabited in  my memory.

Each of the tenant houses was on a different section (square mile) of land.  I'm not sure how much land Mr. Bostick owned altogether, but my quick tally comes up with between three and six half-sections.  After his death, his two daughters, Georgeann Russel and Virginia MacArthur inherited the land.  Virginia was born inside the house that burned down in 1962.


Here is one story I posted on this blog earlier about working in the field where one of the tenant houses once stood:

 When I was young my dad and Edwin did some farming together, and shared equipment.  As a consequence, we children spent many hours working together--or playing together while our dads worked together.  A long tiring job of tilling the fields was ever-so-much more enjoyable when one person from each family went to the field together and took turns making rounds.  We usually agreed on a specified number of rounds at the outset, after which we would trade off drivers.  The off-duty driver waited under a shade tree if such were available. 

Last Saturday when Lois and I took lunch over for the family that had gathered after Edwin's death, we reminisced about one particularly vexing aspect of those field working escapades--the pop-off valve on our old U M&M (Minneapolis Moline).  As the LP gas in the tractor's tank expanded in the heat of the day, it continued to build up pressure until a safety release valve was activated.  When that happened, the noise was deafening, and a dramatic plume of vapor blasted out and billowed all around.  As Marlin remembered it, the ones in our family were used to it, and weren't terribly bothered by it, but those in their family feared it greatly. 

I remember it a little differently.  I don't think anyone ever got used to it.  It gave a bit of warning by a soft hissing, and if we hadn't been so scared of the whole business, we could actually have manually released some pressure at that point by opening the valve.  Instead, we cowered and waited and then shuddered helplessly when it finally blew.  Valetta remembers being so traumatized by it once that she walked a mile to our house from the field where she was working along Centennial Road, claiming that the blast had blown her off the tractor.  On Saturday she gave a more likely version.  It blew and she stopped the tractor safely and left in a hurry.


Another bit of trivia has to do with how very afraid of fire old Mr. Bostick was.  For this reason, he made sure that all the farm buildings were spaced far apart from each other and from the house, to ensure that fire did not spread from one building to the next.  That was smart, since help from a fire department was undoubtedly far away and slow in coming.

It seems ironic that twice now the house on that main property has been destroyed by fire.  The first time it happened was in 1962.  I can still recall exactly how that house was laid out, since it was my grandparents' home.  Before it burned, my aunt and uncle Ollie and Emma had moved from the tenant house into the big house with their infant daughter.  It burned on a day when they had left home to buy supplies for installing an indoor bathroom.

In my memory, the bathroom was a tall little squarish building at the end of a long board walk under the locust and catalpa trees around the house.  In the spring, when the trees blossomed, the scent along the walkway was heavenly.

When the two-story house burned, the adjacent wooden enclosure at the bottom of the windmill and the nearby wash house also burned.  Apparently Mr. Bostick's desire for convenience outweighed his concern about fire safety when these structures were added.


Our church gathering today was  far smaller than usual.  I know of at least four different families that traveled this weekend for family reunions.  At least one of them involved various households from Center.

Shane's family is still gone, having attended Dorcas' brother Titus' wedding in Virginia.

The Kansas Youth Chorus is on tour right now, so at least 13 of the young people were missing.

Arlyn's family was visiting in Oklahoma, where Arlyn preached this morning.


Mr. and Mrs. Micah Martin, a young couple who visited church this morning, are living and traveling in a camper.  Their travels began before last winter.  Micah is the nephew of Loretta Miller (Mrs. Arlyn).  They discovered various connections with members of our church after they arrived.  Mrs. Martin (Hannah) had grown up in the same church where my sister-in-law Judy's siblings attended.  She also knew Hannah, my niece.  She knew Heidi (Kuepfer) Overholt, who moved from here to Ohio after she got married to John.  Rachel Yoder knew her through Romania connections.

Micah's mother was the teacher who replaced me when I left my teaching job in Ohio in 1978.  Although we never overlapped, Mildred (McGrath) Martin, lived in the house I had lived in and taught in the same classroom where I had taught.


Last week when my sister Lois and I took a meal in for Dwight and Karen's family and others, we had a chance to visit with Dwight's brother Michael's family and his mother Ruth, who had arrived from Ohio to help.

When Michael was in third grade, he was part of a class that came to my 7th and 8th grade classroom every day for their reading class.  Michael's wife was part of Lois and Marvin's Virginia "family." Marvin had lived with her family before he was married, and she had helped in Marvin and Lois' household when Heidi was born.

Ruth was the parent of four of the students (counting Michael) who were part of my classes when I taught in Ohio.  She is still a perky, alert, and friendly lady, just as she was all those years ago.  A little more than a month ago her husband died, after having suffered with dementia for some time.  She was his main caregiver, so her ability to travel was very limited.  It's different now, and she stayed about a week longer than Michael's family did.


Our homestead here must be a wild rabbit factory--or at least a magnet for them.  Hiromi and his shotgun have dispatched an average of one a week for most of the summer, but we still keep seeing live ones around.

The fact that the carcasses  routinely disappear promptly gives evidence that other wild predators frequent the property also.  Coyotes, owls, and hawks are the usual suspects, but I'm not sure if all of those will eat carrion.


The other day I saw a pair of Bobwhites strolling through the backyard.  All summer we've been hearing their distinctive call, but I had never caught sight of them before.  They're very well-camouflaged.  Although they're ground nesting, they spend a lot of time calling from high in the trees.

We're in a hot, dry stretch of weather right now.   We're praying for rain and praying for all those who depend on a successful crop for their livelihood.


We're doing the second printing of the "Perry" books, written last year by the composition class I taught.  The book tells the story of my Uncle Perry's life.  He was a public school teacher for more than 30 years.  In mid-August, a reunion is planned for all those who graduated at Elreka school while he was principal.  That covered the years from about 1958 to 1984.

The first printing is sold out.  Those who didn't get one yet can console themselves with the knowledge that the second printing contains fewer errors.  Many of the errors were in formatting, and only a very few were actually factual errors.

Linda (my sister) helped me with making the corrections, and Arlyn (our principal) helped a great deal with getting the formatting and page numbering right.


We did the tuna can test with our lawn sprinklers today.  It was even worse than I suspected.  Despite running the 90-minute cycle three times in succession, only a fraction of an inch of water accumulated in the tuna cans we had distributed around the area.  Obviously, the size of the area and the output of the sprinklers are not well-matched.

I've known for years that the ideal lawn-watering method is to give the grass an inch of water once a week.  The business of watering a little bit, often,  is a terrible idea because it keeps the roots near the surface where the soil dries out fast instead of allowing the roots to grow deep and in order to draw up moisture for a longer period of time.  Here, natural rainfall must be considered the supplement to regular irrigation--at least during a typical summer season.


At the sewing last Tuesday, Rose N.  offered free-for-the-taking short lengths of fabric and some already-cut squares that had once belonged to a lady that Rani worked for.  She was a quilter who bequeathed her supplies to Rani and her mother when she died.  Among them were many lovely Asian fabrics--some of them obviously Japanese.  I felt like a kid in a candy store.  I've often drooled over such fabrics on ebay, and have purchased a few pieces, but they're expensive, and I could never afford to buy many of them.

Sarah M. had already sorted through them and had pieced a fan quilt from them which will be hand quilted at the sewing and offered for sale at the MCC sale next spring.

Years ago, I started piecing my own fan quilt, using scraps from my dresses and Hiromi's old neckties.  I will probably use these new fabrics to finish that quilt.

Finishing it will probably need to wait till I retire after this next year at school.


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    By Blogger Tabitha Driver, at 7/23/2017  

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    By Blogger Mrs. I (Miriam Iwashige), at 7/23/2017  

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