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Four-wheelin’ (05/18/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

I went four-wheeling for the first time this week. On Monday, a beautiful day — sunny and pleasant — I got a call from a neighbor who asked if I’d like to go four-wheeling after work. This seems to be what they do in our neighborhood, and practically everyone feels sorry for my husband because he doesn’t own a four-wheeler.

The neighbors use their four-wheelers for farm work, getting to remote places to check the cows, for instance, or to haul things around — wood and such. John certainly doesn’t need a four-wheeler to do what we do. Our only livestock is the Standard Poodle, which we let in and out of the house, and our farm chores consist of throwing lawn clippings into the woods. We can take care of the dog on foot, and use the wheelbarrow for garden work.

But it was a beautiful day, and the four-wheeler would allow me to get to places on the neighbor’s farm that I haven’t been able to since my walking trouble developed. So I said yes — actually I jumped at the chance. I had a little trepidation, as I have never operated a four-wheeler, or motorcycle or moped, and I haven’t been on my bicycle for two years. A four-wheeler is more stable than a two-wheeled vehicle, though, and we were able to get all sorts of places without incident.

First we went up to the top of the cornfield, or what will soon be a cornfield, looked down at the view of Pleasant Valley and admired the newly planted field. On the way up we passed his cows with their calves. They sauntered away from us, but not too far, not wanting to spend any time away from their grazing in the spring meadow. We passed a field now planted in winter wheat, which will soon be a cornfield, too. From the top, we watched a couple of deer mosey into the woods. The deer are everywhere in the neighborhood (they drive my dog nuts!) except during hunting season.

From there we went down near the creek, and I admired my friend’s work clearing brush along the way, exposing a few fruit trees. We might have looked for trout, but as we approached the creek, a pair of ducks flushed in a squawking rush, sending any fish into hiding. Back a few years, I used to hunt for morels on this farm, and hike up into the hills. One of my favorite spots was an old apple orchard, from which the view of the valley is spectacular. I had despaired of seeing it again, but up we went on a trail for that purpose, and sure enough, the apple trees were in bloom, the gentle breeze making a few of them “snow” their petals. We came across two or three tree stands, which my friend indicated were perfect spots to see deer during the season, if not a guarantee that the hunter would actually bag one.

He pointed out one area to me that he thinks must have been at one time a Dakota settlement. It is protected, near the creek but high enough for a good view of approaching visitors, and a few years ago proved a treasure trove of early Indian artifacts. Among his family’s papers is a bill of sale for the farm bought by his ancestors from the Indian owner, probably a Dakota.

We paused there and looked over the vista, wondering how different the land looks now from when his family first moved there. Then it was on back to my car. It was then I realized, as my husband came out of the house, that this was most likely a setup to get me to say yes to the purchase of a four-wheeler. I have to say it was a great sales job. 


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