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B-52’s and BullDogs

untitledAnd small town bars.

We all know those jokes- “A guy walks into a bar……………..”

Many years ago we moved out to the sandhills of eastern Colorado.  We had bought a café sight unseen on a hand shake at a football game in Denver. Yes- true story.

After weeks of working double shifts I decided I needed a drink.  So off I went to our nearest town with a bar- Yuma- 40+ miles away.

Our town was D.R.Y….

So, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, I walked into the bar. ALONE…and sat down at the end. The quintessential bartender is  leaning on it at the other end yapping it up with the ‘regulars’. They all look a little startled.

Him: What can I get you?

Me: A B-52

Him: Ohhh- Akron has an airstrip… anything else?

Me: okay- How about a Bulldog?

Him: Mason there (points at guy) has dogs for sale

Me:  How about a beer?

….Brings me a bottle…

ME: in a glass….

Him: It IS in a glass!

And then the frosting on the cake……

Him: WHO are you here with?????

And that is when I learned that well bred  ladies do NOT go to the bar ‘unattended’ out there unless ….. Unless what??

Maybe I should have had him explain it to me? heehee

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On another occasion we needed some wine to go with a harvest dinner for a private party- So I ran to the beer store in Joes looking for some- Fully expecting some KJ or Hogue or Napa Valley or something reasonable…

a164d6f6e765dbbdacd2d32bd91899ccAs I’m looking around, the very nice lady asks if she can help me find anything in particular…. I tell her we’re looking for a wine that pairs well with steak and seafood…

She proudly directs me to the far wall where they have EVERY FLAVOR of

BOONE’s FARM

Not quite what I was thinking… but what do you say in the face of such pride???

“We’ll take  a DOZEN of those….”

BTW- Boone’s has over 25 flavors…

Of which I am sure I have tried nearly all at some point….

But Boone’s and Strawberry Pop-tarts is another story

~Katy~

 

 

 

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Welcome to town….. Now GO HOME!

Welcome to our town … NOW GO HOME?

Ever felt this way when visiting or thinking about relocating to a new rural community???

no outs“You’re not the first, nor will you be the last…

Small towns are not all sunshine and rainbows ~  there is a darker side.

Don’t get me wrong…. We WANT to LOVE the town we chose to live in or near.  We WANT to be a PART of the community. We WANT to grow old here and feel welcome. But really – how do you think we feel when we hear:

“We don’t need your kind of help!”

What kind, exactly, would that be? Can you be more specific than just a general shunning?

It takes people who are thinking of the future of their community and the impacts on its current residents as a whole, to embrace and welcome with open arms the “new” people.

“We” don’t expect you to become our BFFs or to involve us in every aspect of your life. But a simple “hello” at the gas station or a “How ya doing?” or “Can you help?” once in a while goes a long way to help new people become part of the community. Blatant silence when you’re standing 3 feet from us is poor manners, no matter where you live.

And I have lived all over the United States — much of it in smaller communities or very rural areas.  Many have been very welcoming of “outsiders,” some not so much.

I was recently in a sparsely populated town that desperately needs any new people it can get.  I was chatting with the economic development person – ED for short — and she relayed this story:

ED: “Did you deliver that WELCOME basket to XYZ family yet?”

Welcoming committee: “WHY should we?? They’re not going to stay anyway.”

Holy smokes! What??? Really???? 

This community was in the national news for its “unwelcome-ness” (read about it here: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/opinion/mailbag/small-towns-are-not-welcoming/article ; more links to this story at the bottom of the page).

I know this community. It directly mirrors my experience in the central part of the state.

Love us or hates us… play nice. Our kids are in the schools and we shop and eat here! WeFF2085-D-2 pay taxes that help keep social services in place – important services like ambulance and fire. We volunteer – at least we try to, when allowed — for events and clubs. We belong to the churches.  And when something bad happens, we are here for you.

Even so, would you believe several upstanding long-time residents have asked me:

If “hubb’s” passed away, you’d sell everything and move, right?”

Welcome to our town … NOW GO HOME. Ugh!

Another well-intentioned but unproductive statement came from the ED of a town in the center of the state:

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this is the message ‘outsiders’ get loud and clear.

We will never allow another business that competes in any way with XYZ — they are our biggest tax base. ”

 

I have seen it time and again, and it’s not easy for us either. Many of us offer to “divorce” or force the “local” to move away again. We withhold our monies from the community, quit volunteering, close businesses, or choose to not start them at all. Our attitudes and frustrations transfer to our children, making them less engaged in the town and far less likely to ever return. That’s a loss not just for us personally, but also for the community at large.

Many people who relocate or return to small towns come because they have some sort of ties. Others come looking for a quieter lifestyle or a new start.

Whatever the reason — remember that YOUR” town was NOT settled only by people who exclusively knew each other. Its original settlers tried to make it welcoming and accepting, and to help it grow and prosper.

We need to keep that pioneer spirit alive – for our own good and for the good of our communities.

~Katy~

Additional links: http://bismarcktribune.com/news/columnists/julie-fedorchak/how-welcoming-are-we/article_4f27a470-20b9-11df-ae85-001cc4c03286.html

http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/florida-family-gives-up-on-small-town-north-dakota/article_cc28bcda-1a87-11df-8d88-001cc4c03286.html

Katy is a writer and speaker with Tait & Kate ( http://www.taitandkate.com ) –   She believes in the good, and knows the bad and the ugly of small and rural community living and business and feels it’s important to share ALL the stories.  Tait & Kate will bring affordable solutions, fresh ideas, enthusiasm and a smidge of irreverent humor to your town or business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Shop local’ is not an entitlement!

The “Shop Local” movement is wonderful.  It has done so much and brought tons of awareness and added sales for so many businesses and communities, especially small & rural towns.

Having lived and traveled all over this great big United States, I have spent  much time in very small towns. Over the years- long before “shop local” and “shop small” became catch phrases, I noticed that a considerable amount of shop owners seem to think they are entitled to your business.

As a business owner, in any size community, it is your prerogative to ignore customers, treat them badly or carry shoddy merchandise.  You have choices. But when you do choose to treat your customers badly you have no right to expect them to patronize your business.

   Did you know it only takes a customer 7 seconds to form an opinion of your business??

Do not make the mistake that just because you may be the only such-and-such in xyz town, that the good folks have to shop with you.

    ~Nothing could be further from the truth~

UPS, FedX, USPS are our friends  along with Amazon, EBay & Etsy and a whole host of other options that are Not YOU.  There are neighboring towns or we may just chose to save our purchase for the next trip to the city and spend ALL of our dollars there.

People are not obligated to shop with you just because you have a business. You have to earn it.

But if you are friendly and helpful, even when you don’t have what we need, we will remember and patronize you regularly.

Try to remember that even in a small town, the people who live there do not owe you a living. It’s up to you to make us want to shop there. You have to earn it. And it will repay you ten-fold.

~Katy~

 

K-8, K-eight, Kate, Kate the Great

Okay- it’s really more like the Kansas Sampler, but that doesn’t have the same ring as ‘Kate the Great’ does it?  logo

  “Kate’s 8” will actually  be a regular feature on the towns I visit and what I see as their “8”

According to the Kansas Sampler Foundation, there are eight things every community has. No matter their size, large or small, they can all drum up their eight with a little creativity.

Once you identify your eight, begin building on them and see how many ways you get people to come to your town!

The eight are:

Art, Architecture, Geography, Commerce, People, History, Customs & Cuisine

IMG_7363How do YOU define each in your community??  Is your Art murals? Is it sculpture? Is it the garden layed out in the design of the Queen of England? -Use your imagination

Even if it’s only the Avon lady… it’s still commerce! And it counts. It’s a start. And obviously somebody believes.

What is your history? Do you have a museum? The only stone jail in the state? When was your community settled? A long tradition of ‘old school’ music?   100_0219Find your own version of history and use it.

Cuisine is everything from Sunday church picnics to that fabulous smoked ham the neighbor makes. Maybe someone makes the best pies this side of the Mississippi. Maybe you have the BBQ joint.

People are everyone. You have people. That’s a start!   Tell stories about them. Celebrate376935_3912363420016_771502863_n them!

Customs can be anything from the yearly Church Social to the community Christmas Tree. It can be past customs. (that way it can also double up as history) Did your town used to have something? Do you celebrate Ukrainian Easter or other ethnic holidays? What do you have?

Architecture– I love architecture. All Kinds! Old buildings (especially with vintage or art deco designs or signs… Oh, hey! That’s also Art!! Bonus!) , 2014-05-18 11.20.40new buildings, churches, schools, barns, out houses etc… What do YOU have?

IMG_6944Geography is  everything from the sweeping vistas of the prairies to the woodlands and in between.  Every place has geography. Rivers, lakes, mountains and so on.

So, go on! Be creative. Involve everyone. Ask around. You’ll be amazed at how differently each person views ‘the eight’

“Kate’s 8”  will be ongoing features of the “K-8” that I find in the towns I visit.

What’s in your town?

~Katy~

Need a speaker? Call us! We give talks on rural and small communities and business and how they can grow using just what is at hand as well as showcasing fabulous ideas that other towns have embraced and turned into huge wins.  www.taitandkate.com  We can also show you ways to get the C.A.V.E (citizens against virtually everything) people on board too.

 

 

 

My dinosaur ran away!

That dang Dinosaur tried to gallop away! Just like in the western movies.

On my way back from a recent trip, I stopped in North Platte, Nebraska.  I pulled into the Sinclair gas station right off the highway… and to my delight wasIMG_20160512_153825 “Dino” the dinosaur right at the curb side. With a saddle!!!

It was beckoning me.. taunting…”you know you want to ride me”…

I heeded the call and wandered over for a closer look.  Practically giddy because I dig roadside kitsch.

In spite of the fact that ‘Dino’ was wearing a pint sized kiddo saddle, I put my foot in the stirrup and started to haul my self up when all of a sudden ~WHUMP!  And I was on the ground. The itty bitty saddle slid sideways.

man_riding_dinosaurThe first image in my mind was of my dinosaur galloping off into the sunset dragging me off with my foot caught in the stirrup.

So, me nearly hysterical with laughter and hoping nobody saw (except the cars going by!)

In the next second a young man runs over and hollers “Here Lady!! Climb up!” and flingsstanding himself down on all fours to make a human stool and his friend grabs the saddle, rights it and says “I’ll hold it”

How could I say no??

They even took a picture of me. And the one fellow had his phone out 2granby_dino_saddle-263x197too… I can only imagine that somewhere, I am now a YouTube sensation!

Damn Dino!

(you can bet the odds are good I will try it again sometime)

~Katy~

 

 

 

A road trip, Espresso and truth in advertising…

Once upon a time in a far off land…. Okay, not so far off, but it sure seemed like it!

Cope, Colorado is 130 East of Denver and 75 miles from ‘anywhere else’.  We used to live there.  Mind you, this is out there in the sandhills, with a population of a hundred. If you wanted an espresso, or French press or any other ‘fancy’ coffee~ you were pretty well out ofespresso cup luck.

One day a huge 1/2 page ad popped up in our bitty local paper…. advertising for the small town 45 miles North…

NEW COFFEE SHOP OPENING!!!! WE HAVE ESPRESSO!!!!

Holy smokes!!  In the blink of an eye, I was the horn to my friend Shannon. We were both totally twitterpated!  ESPRESSO… here we come. We made plans…

20140614_125827Shann lived 15 miles South of town and were 15 North of town. I bundled my two kiddos into the van (yes.. the “Down by the river” van)  and headed off to pickup Shann and her three kids.  and off we went, backtracking 65 miles up tovans-by-river Yuma only to find out that the “Espresso” they served was that pushbutton gas station variety.

Talk about heartbreak!  We weighed the options, told the kids to settle in and we headed for

espresso

Not espresso

Sterling… another 50+ miles.. to a place we knew without a doubt had “the Real Deal”  Did I mention ‘Da Van had no AIR and it was the middle of summer??

So… 200+ miles and an entire day later, we had our two dollar drinks and the kids had theirs. (back then they were ‘only’ 2.50!)

Lesson learned…. When you live ‘out there’ call and ask first!

~Katy~

3 Ways ‘small town’ customer service is actually hurting your community

We all talk about ‘Small Town’ customer service, and the ways it is supposed to help us in business.  It’s great to know everybody. But what about the ones you don’t know? How are you really treating them?bad-customer-service

Let’s talk about the ways Small Town customer service doesn’t help.  I have been blessed to have both lived and traveled all across this great nation of ours, so I speak from experience.  Hear me out.

I know plenty of small town people who will NOT talk to outsiders and are either openly hostile or blatantly rude to unknowns. .

~ When YOU act like WE don’t matter  *by ‘WE’ I mean anyone Not included in the best names in town. I also mean travelers and passersby  and people generally not from your town.  We take our money elsewhere.

In a town not too far from us there is a Rexall. The ladies that run it can actually go through an entire transaction without ever uttering a word to you. Not so much as a “Hello”, or a “Drop dead”. Really. But you let someone else of so called social standing come through the door, and they will fawn all over them and chat up a storm.  I can name a dozen people off the top who go an extra 26 miles to the next town over because they are friendly at the Rexall there. I can name even more who take their money to ‘the city’.

bad-customer-service-consequencesPay attention: Our $$$$$ is just as green as theirs!

~When you don’t give us the time of day    We remember. We have memories like elephants. We came to your communities for a better life. Or maybe family brought us here. Or jobs. Whatever the reason, we are among you.  Many of us are here to stay whether you like it or not.

When we come into your cafes, stores, gas stations etc- give us the same courtesies you give everyone else.  Come around and check on us while we’re dining. Don’t just leave us

cope3 001

Toasties Café-Cope,Co

to sit there while we watch you schmooze the five coffee drinkers you already know. Say “Hello” or “How you doin'” when we pop in for gas or grub.

By ignoring us, you hurt yourself in more ways than you can imagine.

We will take our money elsewhere

When you say something stupid we remember. And we will probably take it to social media, or blog about it. And word will get around.

I was at the market in a town near us just yesterday. I only needed some milk, but noticed there was a sale, so I stocked up on a few things.  Upon checking out, the cashier bellowed (yes! bellowed in his outdoor voice) “Gawd! I hope you’re not doing this for W.I.C, and just stocking up instead. I hate WIC””  The shame of it!! (btw- cash)   Nothing quite like having all eyes on you.   In no way should it have mattered if it is WIC, cash, check, charge or food stamps. That is NOT your concern to shout it to the world.

Your job as owner is to make it as pleasant of an shopping experience as it can be. And you employees need to made to understand that THEY ARE YOUR REPRESENTITIVES and had better well act like it.

When things like this happen, and not just to me, we take our money elsewhere.

If we’re going to be treated like that, we’d just as soon go the city where at least we can get some variety while  being treated like crud.

~ Do you want to know how this hurts you? It hurts your pocketbook. Trust me, a small business can’t last forever on the income from a handful of preferred customers. When you are wondering WHY you are not making a decent living or where your customers are, remember this: WE took our money to anther business.

It hurts your groups that rely on volunteers. When you treat us like we don’t matter, or that you could care less, we have zero desire to volunteer for great causes because of it. I can name plenty of towns that cry they can’t get help with anything, but persist in treating everyone outside their group like crud.

We don’t donate our hard earned money to your causes. They may be really worthy events or local charities. But we won’t budge a dime when you have the gall to hold your hand out after not even speaking to us ever at the gas station.

We Leave. Pretty simple. And we take our $$$$ with us.  Our disposable incomes that we could have spent with you, and our kids out the schools, and our property tax, and so on.

The reoccurring theme here is simple. Be nice to one and all. Not just some. And you will reap the rewards of repeat businsess and new people as well because we WILL tell our friends “Hey! Did you know So and so is the best around???”

I personally, planned all of my road trips from Denver to California around a stop over in Austin, Nevada. For 20 years! Why? Every business in this  little bitty town on Hwy 50 has Customer Service down to a “T” ! There was never a time when I was not made to feel welcome.

~Katy~

 

 

The end of an era – A Prairie Barn

         “Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one”-  Sam Rayburn

In this case, that carpenter was Gottilieb Hochalter .  His grandson Paul now owns this property. Which, luckily for me, is less that a mile away and in plain sight from our farm.

DSCN5973I have photographed this barn many, many times over the years. It has been in countless backdrops of prairie vistas from our place. The only shots I don’t have are close ups before it was taken down. – (something I plan on remedying soon with some help of the owner.)

This barn has seen hands lovingly hand cut each board and set them into place. It has seen countless barn dances and dairy cows, rope swings and hide-n-seek in

tornado,cafe,places,farm,bottlecalves 159

View from my porch. Tornado behind the barn

the hay mow, tornados and blizzards and stunning sunrises, it has provided refuge from hectic days as well as been the scene of many hectic days too.  It has witnessed love and heartaches of the family. It has seen droughts and bad years, and been full to overflowing during the good years.

 

This barn has been the silent sentinel on the prairie.

I miss it everyday when I look out towards the East.

0720121312-00 DSCN5982

The weathered boards tell their own story.

DSCN5984The skeleton of this majestic building sparks the imagination.

DSCN5791

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yep- That’s our place in the background

 

20140523_182844The view from the second floor was pretty amazing. 20140603_171416

And the odds and ends that came off the barn really speak about it’s life.

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I look towards the East every morning. Sunrise is my favorite time of day. The fog is coming up the hollows, the sun peeking over the horizon, turning the distant tree tops into lace against the coloring sky. ~ all that’s missing is my barn.

DSCN5992

~Katy~

5 reasons small towns should think regionally

It is  getting harder and harder for many small towns to hang on. State and federal funding is drying up, resources are disappearing and people have become complacent. By working together, small towns can revive themselves and head in a new direction.  Though there are  many, here are  my  reasons small towns should think regionally.

1-None of us are getting any younger. Things happen. Ask yourself What IF? What if you couldn’t just hop in the car and drive 50 miles to market?  Wouldn’t it be nice to walk down the street and grab a birthday card or a gallon of milk, or meet your friends for coffee? Or to just go the 10 miles to the neighboring town that has  what you need?

Ask yourself, If you couldn’t just drive into the city, is it a reasonable expectation to have your child or friend take an entire day off of work, come from the city to get you, take you back to the city to get that handful of items you had to have, and then drive you back home and head right back? That would be an entire day and over 200 miles of driving.

Just because you CAN drive in, doesn’t mean you need to or even want to. And we all know someone who really shouldn’t be behind the wheel to start with!

2-Shared resources.  One town has the lake, one the hospital, one has a huge yearly event , one a cafe, one the lake, one a motel. How can you use your neighbors resources to enhance your own? 

You could advertise your motel at the same time the next town is having AppleFritter Days. 2205027805

The tiny town of Aladdin, WY (population 15!) has a 100 year old store. And that’s it.  Aladdin is 20 miles from Belle Fourche SD.  They have built their  business around tourism to Belle Fourche and Sturgis and Devils Tower. Aladdin uses the simple 20140628_123515principle of Buy, See & Do to capture their audience. Aladdin uses the nearby towns  resource of people, hotels and more.

If a town of only 15 people can do it, so can you!

3-Events~ events draw people from all over. Take advantage of it. Even tiny events provide an abundance of trickle down economics. When they drive to your town, people will stop to fill their tanks before leaving, they will spend money in your café, gift shop, roadside stands, etc.

It doesn’t matter if you have a cartwheel contest, a parade, a farmers market or some huge event. Just do something. Once people know that your community has events, they will spread the word bringing more people the next time.

4-Small towns are inter-connected by family ties. Most everyone who lives in small towns is connected to other nearby communities by family. This means traveling back and forth. Shared knowledge and histories. Capitalize on it.

Make a traveling history exhibit featuring the townspeople, host a Cousins Day or something else crazy.

When Aunt Dorothy comes to your town for  little Jr’s birthday party, dimes to dollars she will stop at the local store  to grab a gift or a bottle of wine.. Just like when you go to that pot-luck  the next town over, you’ll probably stop in their market and get some of that potato salad to take with you.

5-Small business succeeds. When a small town thinks outside of its borders, businesses grow and thrive. By sharing  and collaborating with other nearby communities, you grow your customer base.

When you grow your base, more people hear about you.  The more they hear about you, the more excited they get to find out what’s new in your community.  With more people coming to town, the more the possibility of a business being able to expand or hire someone or for a new business to start.  How exciting would that be?

What ideas do YOU have to think regionally?

~Katy~

 

 

Mama’s easy Focaccia Bread

Focaccia Bread (Italian pronunciation is Fo-Katt-Ah) is a simple to make, hearty staple. You can top it with nearly anything. Focaccia is considered a flat-bread even though it has yeast.

Originally cooked on an open flame hearth or on heated disks, Focaccia is native to the Northern Mediterranean area of Italy. My maternal side of the family is from Filiatterra, Italy. (N of Tuscany) IMG_4406

Mine is a super simple recipe I’ve used for years.

3 C flour  /   1 envelope quick rise yeast (I just use a Tablespoon of loose)   3/4 Tsp salt   /     3 +/- Tbs Olive Oil  /   1 C water.

*** Seasonings and toppings of choice***

We generally mix some (like a couple tsp each  of Garlic, Rosemary, Basil, Thyme… or a couple TBS of our favorite Italian seasoning…. or whatever else is on hand at the time) right into the flour before putting it all together. ~ Good with spinach or beet leaves too!~

Directions: In a large bowl, mix together 1 Cup of the flour, seasonings of choice, salt and yeast. Add in 1 C xtra warm (nearly HOT tap water) water and 2 TBS  Olive Oil. Stir well. IMG_4401Add in remaining flour. Stir/mix . Turn out onto counter dusted with flour. Knead about 5 min or so until smooth and elastic-y. Cover and let ‘rest’ 10 minutes.

Roll out to about cookie sheet size and put in a greased (Note: Do NOT use Bakers Joy!! It will scorch the bottom!)  Or you can roll it out round… whatever makes you happy.IMG_4403

Use your fingers to make dimples. Cover let rise about 20 minutes.

Top with whatever you want. Today we happened to have a leftover tomato, some onion and a little Mozzarella & Parmesan cheeses. So that’s what we topped with.

Bake at 400 degrees. Check at 15 Min. I will be golden brown… you may need a few more minutes depending on your oven.

Gobble it up!  We like to dip ours in Olive Oil. Our good friend Celebrity Chef June Pagan  loves Nuvo Olive Oils..and Spirito Italiano Oils. I would LOVE to try some…

june

June Pagan

Sigh….. where we live there’s no such thing as fancy Olive oils. We have to wait for a trip to Fargo or Denver to get them! So today we made do Bertrolli’s. Sometimes we flavor our own oils here on the farm.

 

IMG_4408Mangia! Mangia!

~Katy~

June is the author of Purple Pizza and Other Flavors and founder of Urban Survival Kitchen.

 

 

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