Monday, August 10, 2009

North Dakota Adventure - The Andersen Farm


Today’s blog entry was written by Kathy:

We have both enjoyed a web cam in Fairbanks, AK for years. It is called the Arctic Cam. Here is the link:

In fact, we posed for the camera ourselves when we were up there last July!


People from all over the country and the world check the cam, which is at the Fairbanks Daily Newsminer building. While up there I had posted a comment about our trip up to Alaska and if anyone was interested, our travel blog is at: Well, that got us a lot of hits from all over the world! Readers started to write in to us! One person invited me to a forum called Arctic Camsters!

Never having joined a forum before I was rather reluctant, but it was easy to get started and there were several people glad to help you out. Eventually it grew over the months and I added more and more cyber friends to my list. At one point this past spring, we were a huge group of about a dozen people that had bonded together, from all walks of life, different age groups and parts of the country! It got to a point where my inbox was full of Arctic Camster messages!

I now consider Vicki, Bette, Kit, Cecilia, Chelle, Gloria, Rosie, Jeanne, Kathy Blanchard, Liz and a few more as close friends, even though we have never met! My nickname for the group is Chatty Cyber Chicks! Some of them have met each other on the east coast. Envy, envy!! Now we barely go to Arctic Camsters, we just email each other direct daily, some days it’s several times! One email had 77 replies! That’s got to be a record!!

When we had to rethink our course of travel for this summer, we thought:

OK since we’re on the west coast, we’ll do parts of the Pacific Northwest and maybe head over to South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore. We got back from Alaska too late to get in there last fall, let’s do it now!

Well, I looked at the map and noticed that Vicki lives in North Dakota, but she’s in the very southern part of the state a short distance from South Dakota! As I said to Grant, using my fingers to demonstrate, “It’s only this little bit to Vicki’s! Could we consider visiting her on the farm?! Huh, can we, huh can we???!!” The proverbial comment was, “we’ll see how far it really is!”

So I batted my light green eyes at him and we were headed to the Dakotas through Montana and Glacier National Park, Theodore Roosevelt Park in North Dakota and then on to southern North Dakota!

The usual butterflies happened in the last hundred miles! Even though I had asked Vicki, “if we happened to be in the area, would it be OK for us to stop by the farm and oh yeah, would you mind us camping out on the far 40 as long as it doesn’t interrupt your life??!!” Is this strange barging in on somebody I have “met” only on the internet?! Will this work?

Grant and I are so curious of what it must be like to live and work on a farm! How do you know how much to plant? What kind of plants work well and turn a profit? When do you know when to harvest? Over the months of asking Vicki questions about farming, I have learned that farming is so much more complex than it was 50 years ago! Hard work, long hours and fighting “Mother Nature” most of the time, but there must be something enjoyable about it or else nobody would do it!

From the pictures of the farm Vicki sent me, we knew it right away as we drove down the highway that this was the Andersen Farm! We pulled into their drive way and sure enough; Vicki was up in the monster red tractor checking it out. It had just been delivered that morning!! She climbed down just in time to get a big hug from me!! FINALLY, I get to meet Vicki in person!! Grant was ready with his “magic camera” to catch the moment!!


Terry, Vicki’s husband, had 3 camp site choices all set for us! Though the one alongside the old house he grew up in had water and power! With the heat approaching in the 80’s, we chose that one, we could use the AC if it got hot!


We quickly set up “camp” and then came back to the house to “catch up”!


I was expecting a little old house on the prairie, but their home is very modern, beautifully decorated and endless flower gardens all around!! Vicki has a natural green thumb. It turns out that Vicki’s great grandparents homesteaded the area back in the 1880’s! Wow! Since Vicki’s youngest son farms with them that means 5 generations on her side have farmed here! Terry’s family has been farming here since the 1920’s!!

Here we arrive in the middle of their hectic schedule! They were trying to get the winter wheat harvested, but Mother Nature was delivering too much humidity to cut the wheat. If they cut it while it’s too wet it will spoil. So there’s a gamble on when to harvest! Then there’s cutting the alfalfa hay for baling. They had been able to cut the hay, it laid drying in the fields, but again they couldn’t bale it up due to the high moisture content! So much guessing!

Vicki had prepared a wonderful fresh ham supper for us that night! I said to her, “is it Christmas?! We never have fresh ham other than Christmas!!!” What a treat, we felt special! After supper, Terry took us on a tour of their farm. Now mind you, 3700 acres is huge, you can’t walk it, so we all piled into their SUV to see the wheat, corn and alfalfa fields! It was quite a distance from the house, I’m glad I didn’t suggest we walk it!!

As we stopped to look at one field, a pair of birds were dive bombing the vehicle. Grant jumped out to get their photo and they started diving at him!! Something about them screamed terns, but they were so dark, maybe Black Terns!! Have we seen them before?! We have been searching for Life Bird #500 and hoped it was this bird! Unfortunately, we had seen Black Terns before so it wasn’t number 500. We’ll just have to keep looking!

When we got back from the farm tour, we got a tour of their brand new 2009 Mobile Suites Fifth Wheel!! Oh my goodness, it is so gorgeous, I just drooled at the beautiful workmanship and special options that came with it standard! They are new to RVing, but their maiden voyage was an 800 mile drive to bring it home from Michigan’s Lower Peninsula the weekend before! That was some drive!


One thing, our camp site must have been the quietest site we have ever been in! It was a beautiful evening; we could leave the windows open and the Fantastic Fans on, not worrying about road noise! In the middle of the night, the fan’s thermostat must have shut itself off and it was so quiet you couldn’t hear a single sound! That’s never happened! EVER!!! I woke up, startled, “no noise at all?!”

The next morning while Vicki and I chatted, visited her flower gardens and even those of her neighbor’s, Terry did test runs on the wheat, hoping to be able to cut it before any more moisture develops!


We felt so bad, after all of his attempts, it was still too wet! That evening we treated them out to dinner so that they both could get a break. We had a nice dinner at the Ranch House their local restaurant, with great company and fun conversation! Grant tried the walleye with Cowboy Potatoes and I had Chicken Cordon Bleu with a delicious rice pilaf! I sampled at his dish, very good! I will have to remember the Cowboy Potatoes for the next Montana Owners Pot Luck!

When we got back to the farm we stopped by the closest wheat field to check the moisture content. I was curious to see what wheat looks like up close and personal! So Vicki and Terry showed us how we could just rub the stalk in our hands a certain way and the actual wheat kernel rolls out. Naturally, we had to taste it! It was just like Oroweat’s Wheatberry bread! Then Terry encouraged Grant to climb up and see the new tractor. Grant ended up taking it for a spin in the field!!!


OMG, this new toy probably cost more than our first house and Terry’s letting a green horn test drive it?!!! What a kick! Later, I just sat in it, hamming it up for Vicki’s camera, I didn’t need a ride!!


The next morning we had to pack up and let them get back to their schedule! Just before we took off, their neighbors, Rose and Rod stopped by to see the Mobile Suites. They also have one and travel during the winter when it’s too harsh to grow anything on the farm! I had read some of their travel posts to Vicki, so it was fun meeting up with other RVers!


Sadly we hugged our goodbyes! It had been a real nice visit! I hope we hadn’t interrupted their lives too much!! We wish them good luck with the harvest! The weather forecast didn’t look very promising! It was a wonderful treat to finally meet in person, Vicki, one of the Chatty Cyber Chicks from Arctic Camsters!!


More pictures down on the farm on the slideshow


  1. Welcome to Andersen's version of Bate's Motel.......where you just never

  2. Awesome! So glad you guys got a chance to meet too. That machinery is way bigger than I had ever imagined. Thanks for sharing this. friend

  3. Kathy,
    I love this beautifully written post!!!
    Grant looks intense up there!
    I feel like I was there w/ you!

  4. What a change to hear about a farm. It is very interesting.
    Thank you so much.
    People don't realize that a lot of farm equipment costs more than a fancy bulgemobile MH!
    Happy Trails, Penny, TX

  5. Nice blog Kathy. That's an interesting perspective of life on a farm. Isn't it fun when you finally get to meet those cyber friends?

    Grant looked so serious in the farm equipment. You looked like you could easily take that thing for a ride.

  6. Wow Kathy.....I love this post!!!
    You did a fantastic job on it!!!

    You and Grant can now help them out every now and then with the harvesting....LOL