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The herd

Agriculture.com Staff 02/13/2016 @ 12:55am

We watched "Ice Age" the other night. Timing-wise it seemed appropriate -- the temperature was about -10 with a hard wind out of the North.

In case you haven't seen it, "Ice Age" is a movie about a woolly mammoth, a saber-toothed tiger, and a sloth that team up to rescue a human baby and become friends.

It is not a true story.

However, I've always maintained that at times, the best way to tell the truth is with a lie. This goofy little movie manages to tell a truth and it caught me by surprise.

At one point, the tiger is about to fall off a cliff into a river of lava and the mammoth leaps to his rescue. The tiger looks at him in amazement. "Why did you do that? You could have been killed."

The mammoth looks at him and says, "That's what you do in a herd; you look after each other."

The sloth looks at both of them and says, "Man, this is the weirdest herd I've ever seen."

I know the feeling. I belong to kind of a strange herd myself.

Our annual Arctic Open was held this past weekend. If by chance you're one of the few people in the world who isn't aware of this event, it centers around a bunch of fairly odd people who gather on a frozen lake to play a round of golf.

It's big fun. Tournament headquarters is a heated fish house full of guys in insulated coveralls and snowmobile suits. Facial hair and chewing tobacco, frozen beer, and orange golf balls -- it is a strange herd.

A few years ago, a TV crew came to film the event on a day when the wind chill was somewhere around -40 degrees. The show aired around the world -- single-handedly reducing immigration to Minnesota.

The tournament was the inspiration of a local car mechanic who loved golf; over the years it has raised a lot of money for local charities. We became involved a long time ago when our farm became a major corporate sponsor.

Okay, the truth is that all we did was donate a hog to be raffled, but it did add some class to the whole event. In the early years, the winning name would be drawn immediately after the last hole was played and we'd butcher the hog right then, hanging the carcass from the forks of the lumberyard's forklift. The winner would get a mound of fresh pork chops during the post-tournament dance. That's not something you can see at many black-tie charity balls.

The year we stopped raising hogs, our involvement with the raffle ended, too. During the dance that evening, the organizers suckered me up front and presented a plaque. When they asked me to say a few words, I took the microphone and said, "I've got nothing to say to a bunch of sneaky drunks."

They all cheered, quite pleased with themselves.

There's no longer any need for a donated hog -- they get piles of donations from all sorts of places, all of it raising money for the local assisted living center and other worthy projects.

It's one of the best things about living in a small town. We're kind of a weird herd, but we look after each other.

Because that's what you do.

Copyright 2006 Brent Olson

We watched "Ice Age" the other night. Timing-wise it seemed appropriate -- the temperature was about -10 with a hard wind out of the North.

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