A historical month for sure

In March The Cattle Business Weekly published its one-time-a-year printing of history related articles. This year’s section holds within it stories on some of the region’s greatest saddle makers, a wolf hunt in Cherry County, Neb. and a quest to learn about South Dakota’s brand books. All three are interesting reads. 

Speaking of interesting reads, this winter, Kimber and I have been reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House series. Elementary school days was the last time I read them, so it is as much fun for me as for Kimber I believe. What a great collection which subtly houses within it a historical timeline of the region’s settlement. 

 This month I also came across a report “The History of Agriculture in South Dakota: A Historic Context” which can be found at the South Dakota State Historical Society website (history.sd.gov). It’s a long computer read – 127 pages – but it has photos and diagrams of how things were built 100 years ago. For you history inclined individuals, it’s also a valuable read. 

My mother got back her Ancestry.com DNA test results in March and found out that she was 47 percent Finnish – as expected but she was thrilled to see the data showing it. Her mother spoke a little Finn and received Christmas cards from Finland until she passed. Mom can remember the Finnish ritual of taking saunas on Saturday nights when she was young. 

In the History of Ag publication, there is a section on Finnish immigrants in South Dakota. It says, “A significant feature of Finnish and Finnish-American farmsteads is the sauna. Also constructed of hewn logs, it was often built with green wood to create an environment for maximum heat retention. These single-story buildings were often built on dry fieldstone foundations, were chimney-less, and had a large hearth or stove on the interior. Finnish farmyards were laid out according to plans around a central courtyard, or in an L- shape.” 

It also went on to list the geographic location of where most Finnish settlements were in the state. Brown (east river), Butte, Harding, and Lawrence (west river) counties had the highest populations. 

Fitting into the history theme this month was the re-watching of the HBO series “Band of Brothers”. When Storm Ulmer hit, Brian and I snuck in watching episodes of it between nighttime calving checks. As I have said before in this column, the mini-series ranks among my favorites for its authenticity and storyline as it portrays what E Company, 2nd Battalion of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division went through in World War II. Staff Sergeant Mike Ranney wrote: “In thinking back on the days of Easy Company, I’m treasuring my remark to a grandson who asked, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’

No,’” I answered, ‘but I served in a company of heroes.” 

That quote makes me cry each and every time.

Unfortunately, the historical theme March seems to have taken on for me lapsed over to Nebraska. Historical. That is how March 2019 will be remembered by the people of Nebraska. The flooding has been devastating and farmers and ranchers in the state will be forever impacted.  Historical losses. Historical sights. Historical efforts by our own heroes in the region during this time. 

– Codi Vallery-Mills

Codi Vallery-Mills is editor of The Cattle Business Weekly.