Two Bits



Julie Ellingson
Executive Vice President
After a winter that wouldn’t quit, it appears that our long-anticipated spring has finally arrived. The grass has a greenish hue, there are buds on the trees and I have the urge to get working on my outside projects.
A few more days of sunshine and a little shot of rain and it’ll be time to mow the grass. Around here, grass mowing no. 1 is usually quite an adventure. You’re never quite sure what you will discover in the inaugural go-round after the yard was camouflaged in a blanket of snow over the winter. I can usually count on the remnants of afterbirth, a missing dog toy or two and a thin layer of gravel from when the loader bucket accidentally scooped up some rocks moving snow. There’s that and, of course, a bumpy first lawnmower ride as we bounce over the divots left behind by the bulls that got out in the yard on a wet day in the fall. Still, the sense of satisfaction after the mowing is complete and the smell of fresh green grass in the yard and in the pasture are hard to beat.
When we get AI’ing and turnout behind us, it’ll be time to fire up the paint brushes and go to work on some corrals. That’s another thing I actually look forward to. I sure didn’t as a kid. Back then, all our barns and outbuildings and most of our corral panels were wooden, and my mom, sisters and I spent much of the summer with a paintbrush in hand, burning through red and white oil-based paint like no tomorrow. Dad would join us in the fall, when it was time to do the barns, and either give us lifts on the bucket of the loader or run the sprayer as we followed behind, brushing out the places where the paint was a little too thick.
We dreaded the task and hearing our mom say: “Go get on some painting clothes and report to the barnyard.” We had quite a collection of “painting clothes” in a cupboard in our laundry room. It was a mishmash of out-of-style, but still functional, shirts and pants we used to keep our good clothes from getting wrecked. We came out of the house looking like whatever the opposite of fashion divas is. You never saw girls move so fast to hide behind a bale feeder or a barn door than when the UPS man or the cute neighbor boy unexpectedly pulled into the yard.
While my corrals looked pretty good, I was not a very neat painter and ended up with about as much red paint on my arms and in my hair as I did on the panels. As a result, cleanup took almost as long as the painting as I lathered myself up in a mix of gas and mineral spirits.
Looking back, those painting days were among my favorite memories with my mom and my sisters. We almost always worked together — with half the crew on one side of the corral and the other half on the other, so we could touch up each others’ drips. We talked, laughed and sang along to ‘80s rock and roll playing from the walkman clipped to the pocket of our fancy painting jeans. We added color to our yard and to our life, and I hope my girls are as excited about this year’s painting as I am.
North Dakota Stockmen's Association * 407 S. 2nd St. * Bismarck, ND 58504 * 701-223-2522 *