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A long overdue rebuttal “True to Washburn”

Yes- I should have done this sooner. Better late than never~

This is a rebuttal to the editorial in the Washburn Leader-News newspaper in July. ( I said it was overdue!) and gives random thoughts section by section.

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(the True to Washburn editorial is at the bottom of this post in its entirety. )

“True to Washburn” – Not so much

As with any community the world over, they begin and then they change. Whether that change is good, bad or otherwise, there is an ebb and flow to every community. They evolve over time. New people and new businesses take the place of those that left or closed. Attitudes, economics and options dictate that change.  

To say that Washburn could become  “a mere memory” is is mis-statement. If that were truly the case, then Washburn is already a mere memory of what it was.

Opportunities, community and safety- these are some of the reasons make a home in Washburn….” So are  progressiveness and growth.  Without these the others don’t exist.

“WE came here…” We who exactly My guess would be that a door to door survey would reveal that nearly half or more have moved to Washburn for proximity to employment.

Where is our money best spent and our priorities located?“…So say the very folks that shop in other larger towns.  There is no law that says any of us owes a living to any shop owner anywhere. That is freedom of choice.  The same as the shop owner is free to choose whether to be pleasant or rude, open or closed. While I agree that ‘shopping local’ means those businesses will be there for the long haul, it is perfectly OK to spend money ‘in town’ as well. Besides- if a shopkeeper is going be rude, we’d just as soon go to town and be treated rudely anonymously and have more selection while it’s happening!

(And I quote a young employee from the grocery store in Washburn… “If you’re going to shop here, you should expect to lower your expectations” )

Not competition from a nation wide chain” …. Then why has Family Dollar been accepted so readily? The upshot is that competition is healthy, drives customer services, innovation, better products and more people stopping in town. If a national chain is what it takes to drive the 50,000+/- tourists to Washburn yearly downtown, then so be it.

toms om“…additions to the community must be done thoughtfully and over time.” It would seem the time is now.

A sense of belonging-” That IS a powerful reason to stay. But to achieve that, then don’t you think on the whole the ‘locals’ should treat newcomers like neighbors?  Belonging can be a powerful word. Act like it.

We can promote what we have”…We can clean and freshen…”  It’s been years since there was a serious effort in these departments. Thankfully there is some new leadership that is working hard at making a difference for ALL and not just some. 

We want to nurture that environment, not snuff it out.”  Enhance it, is more like it. And again.. we who exactly?

…”Becoming a different version of Bismarck or Garrison” No matter how hard anyone tries, or what new people or businesses come into Washburn, it will always  be Washburn.

Let’s think carefully as we add new things, as not to push out the old” Again- ENHANCE…. Nobody is ‘pushing out the old’…

“Locals are resistant to change.” TRUE. But remember- Always in NOT Forever! It’s a given, change is hard to accept. All things change. Once upon a time we shopped our towns exclusively. Now we are an extremely mobile society. Running to Bismarck or Minot or anywhere else is a breeze. That is change. New stores open. That is change. Are you going to begrudge AgPro because they are new? (that would just be plain silly!) Would you refrain from driving over the bridge because it replaced the ferry? (That would be plain silly too!) That is change. The way we eat has changed.  Many folks want a really quick, or a really fresh choice- without getting out of the car and without having to fix it themselves.  That is change. 

Mostly though, it would seem the most resistance to change involves the human element.

~Katy~

Leader News Editorial-

Opportunities, community, safety-these are some of the reasons people come from out of the city and decide to make a home in Washburn.  We moved here because we would know our neighbors, our teachers, our business owners. We came because we weren’t just one in hundreds of thousands here, but someone who could make a big a difference. We moved here, not because of a single feature, building or business, but because we fell in love with what the community represented.  And as plans are drawn up and ideas pour out, we can only  hope we don’t see the city  we chose become a mere memory. Let’s grow, but let’s not lose touch with our roots. So, as we think of what we can add, let’s remember what we need. Where is our money best spent and our priorities located?Maybe we need new signs and benches around town, and maybe our residents need help paying off special assessments that shook most the city.  Some would enjoy more fast food options in the city, but maybe we can bridge the gap by supporting and growing  our already established local eateries. Our local businesses need employees to fill shifts and involvement from the community, not competition from a nation wide chain. Maybe new attractions would give residents more places to go, but additions to the community must be done thoughtfully and over time. Maybe we need to push less to have more, and push more to improve what we already have. Because there is a reason so many decide  to make this place their home, and that sense of belonging is not something to overlook. This city has brought people from around the state, around the country, around the world. It is strong, independent and booming with history. And while we only hope to bring more neighbors to the city, we also know no city is the right fit for every person. Itis a place that people choose because of exactly what it is.    Washburn, like any other city, has room to improve. We can fill gaps that leave residents wanting more or visitors quickly passing through. We can promote our recreation and try new things at attractions we already have. We can clean and freshen up our community, without losing a sense of what makes it special. Because Washburn brings people who fall in love with the feeling of it, we want to nurture that environment, not snuff it out. As we push for new features, and new marketing to promote them, we hope the focus doesn’t lay so heavily on becoming just another version of Bismarck , Garrison or another city Washburn should never become. There is a saying around town that many of the locals are resistant to change, which is probably true. Because who would want to risk seeing a city they love change into something else? Maybe instead, we should strive to simply improve, to grow,to flourish. Let’s embrace what sets this city apart, and keep that message in the forefront of our minds. Let’s think carefully as we add new things, as to not push out the old. Let’s strive for better without losing sight of who we are. One hundred and thirty five years ago, this city was founded. And since then, generations have made a life here, because the city felt like home. Let’s not make the mistake of forgetting what a beautiful home it is. -The Leader News editorial board consists of Alyssa Meier, Don Winter and Hayley Anderson

 

 

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Are we Ranchers or Farmers?

That’s a tough one answer!

I think we’re “Franchers”

We have both cattle and crops. Though we have just crossed over to focusing more on cattle and all  it entails.

 

Depending on who you ask, or where you live.. you are one or the other.

If we lived in Montana … the general consensus is that if you have just one hoofed critter, you ARE a rancher.  However… if you have milk cows, you ARE a farmer. As in ‘dairy farm’.

Many farmers will argue that many ranches are part granger , therefore farms.

Trivia: In Australia  they are called sheep and cattle Stations. img_7317

Cattle Ranch. Dairy Farm. Sheep Ranch. Fish Farm. Buffalo Ranch.  Goat Ranch. Boneless Chicken Ranch. Game (wild) Ranch. Art Farm. Nut Farm. Fruit Farm. Fur Farm. Emu Farm. See a pattern here??

Typically- in ranching- they have always been ranchers. Farmers on the other hand are img_6158more typically ‘diversified’. Especially in the mid west.  We are diverse.. cattle, small grains and mobile yard art (chickens).

Farmers are not romanticized the same way ranchers have been. Cattle drives across the wild prairies and so on evoke our imagination. Plain old practical farming doesn’t seem to be as gripping!

When our Nation was young, having cattle and crops, or a dairy cow or chickens was not only a means to making it, it was also extra money at the end of the year. Butter and extra eggs could be sold.  A great book to read on this is Women of the Northern Plains by Barbara Marchello. And by the way- If you ever get a chance to hear her speak… GO! It is an eye opener to what Farm and Ranch women did ‘back then’img_7227

Our farm has always been known as a farm. For nearly 100 years, the hubby’s family have farmed this land we are on. And while there has always livestock, it was always called ‘farm’. So I guess for now, we will remain farmers.

~Katy~

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember that barn down the road???

Remember that post about the barn down the road from us? ( https://katescountryliving.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/the-end-of-an-era-a-praire-barn/ )

I said I would drum up some before pictures and  have…

2013winterbarnI have to thank Lexi, the owners daughter. She shared them with me.

 

 

From barn dances to boyfriends,IMG_1379

 

And weddings and wakes, these silent sentinels have seen it all.

 

 

 

 

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Sunrise to sunset, always a hub of activity.

 

 

 

Memories in every corner.

 

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I am lucky to be able to share these, and they will be added to a coffee table book I am making for the family.

While the barn may be gone, the memories remain and the tales will be told.

 

~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.

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The weathered boards tell their own story.

DSCN5984The skeleton of this majestic building sparks the imagination.

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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.

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~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~

 

 

The Fashionably Fabulous SakHat™ ~

SakHat ~ What is it???

Nicole modeling her hat

The fashionably fabulous SakHat is just what the name implies. A hat made from a sack! Mainly they are made from repurposed burlap and linen coffee/feed/seed bags.

Get one now!

Get one now!

Many of the bags I use are vintage.

Sustainable Couture.

Buffalo Style.

I love being able to make design fashionable, useable items! These are my way of merging America’s agricultural history with fabulous vintage graphics into something new and exciting. Each one is fully lined.

You can wear your SakHat  while on the river or on your yacht.

Nicole on the River

Nicole on the River

On your horse, in the garden, at work, the beach, the football game, camping, glamping, bicycling… anywhere!

Nora in KY loves hers!

Nora in KY loves hers!

Wear it to shade or eyes or just to show off a unique fashion accessory! Either way- you’ll look fabulous!

Order yours at http://www.buffalogalsmercantile.comcom or click here SakHat

~**Custom orders and special requests are always welcome**~ and latest creations can be seen on our Buffalo Gals Mercantile FB page.

~Katy~

 

Cottage Food Laws in North Dakota need a serious update!

Cottage food laws in North Dakota need to be updated. – Oh wait… ND doesn’t have a bonafide Cottage Food Law~

Ours are not the most restrictive, but they don’t help much in a predominately rural state.

~Currently we can sell baked goods, jams and jellies, lefse, candies and similar items at Farmers Markets, Country Fairs and Non-profit or charitable events. ~

Jams from Mare's Creations

Jams from Mare’s Creations

We cannot (not supposed to) sell at Craft shows, at for profit events, food festivals, online or out of our homes. (interesting- we make it at home, but can’t sell it from our home!)

~I propose the following changes:  Allow us to sell from home, sell at shows, sell to retail establishments- as long as they are labeled as such, allow in-state online sales (not to exceed 50,000$ a year) ~

Also I would suggest mandatory insurance of some amount, and have to register as a business (can be done online for a very nominal fee that way you can at least be tracked down if need be)

Why? you ask….

#1 Because North Dakota is a predominately rural state.  In spite of big oil and big money, the rest of the state is still the same. It is still mainly small towns and sparse population. Not every one can drive to ‘town’ (meaning the big 8) for a job,  and not every small town can employ everybody.  And not everybody even lives near a town! (we’re 17 to the nearest village)

#2 It will make a difference. It would bring in  more tax money to rural,small and outlying  communities. A much needed income stream!  It will help us, help ourselves. It can get people off assistance. It can make a difference between keeping a roof over your head, or not. It can help an entrepreneur take those first steps. It can spark hope in a town that may think it’s days are done. It can promote tourism and Agri-tourism. It can do many things for us.

Buffalo Baking Co. -Morada, CA

Buffalo Baking Co. -Morada, CA

** I can actually give a hundred good reasons, but for sake of space, I won’t**

I also don’t think we need an inspection either. Standard food service rules should be applied and followed along with common sense.  Most people who sell at farmers markets, bazaar’s etc have cleaner homes than most restaurants you eat in. Really. 

~What about the Nay Sayers? and the “It’s not Fair!” people?…. What about them?  No is just a word. And Life isn’t fair.  I totally understand where the lady who busted her chops to open a traditional bakery,and spent tons of time and money to do so may be miffed. But realistically it’s apples and oranges. Cookies and Jams are not Kuchen, Cream Puffs or other premium egg or custard based delicacies.  The home baker is not a threat to commercial businesses. We are an option.

Arizona allows resale of Home Baked Goods to coffee shops, cafe’s etc as long as they are properly labeled.  They also allow for in state internet sales.

Texas has created over ONE THOUSAND NEW JOBS this year through cottage food laws! Think about the tax revenue that brings in! And… in all 25 counties, Not 1 complaint has been filed against any home baker!

California and Utah have very generous CFL’s.

So- start shouting it from your roof tops! Tell your friends, pester your local legislators and city governments to get on the band wagon.

~Katy~

Helpful links: http://www.ndhealth.gov/foodlodging/PDF/PROOF_farmers_market_ruling.pdf

http://forrager.com/2014/09/texas-law-created-thousand-local-businesses/#comment-69561

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