ISSUE 636 A1

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    A Minnesota


    A Minnesota


    Not a Time Not a Time For the WeakFor the Weak

    Early in the summer of 1873 the homesteading farmer in southern Minnesota had good land beneath his feet, credit when he needed it, and a market for all the grain his family could produce. Before himas far as the eye could seewas the wheat that would guarantee his future.

    Riding the early June winds were hordes of Rocky Mountainlocusts, swirling and gnawing their way east through the tendergrasses, stripping the countryside. The farmer and his family could do little but watch as the grasshoppers dropped into their fields anddemolished the waving stalks of wheat. When the swarm moved on, the fami ly was left with only the hope that they could survive the winter to plant again in the spring.

    They werent alone in their troubles. Throughout the state newspapers reported swarms of locusts so large that they eclipsed the sun. The roar of their frenzied feeding sounded like a prairie fire. From Rock, Pipestone, Lincoln, Redwood, Renville, Brown, Watonwan, Blue Earth, and Faribault counties, farmers reported losses totaling mil lions of dollars that summer.

    What had been a bad dream for the farmers in 1873 became a nightmare in 1874. The grasshoppers had done more than ruin crops, they had laid eggs. The following spring, black clouds of young hoppers erupted in field after field in search of food, and within days Minnesota was again under siege. The locusts consumed crops as far north as Becker and Aitkin counties and as far east as the Mississippi River.

    Pluck, determination, and charity carried many Minnesota farming families through the next three winters. With each spring thaw came hope, and with each plant ing came disaster. As grasshopper swarms crossed and recrossed the state in search of new feeding grounds, the crisis made inroads into the mainstream economy. Local businesses extended credit to farmers until the money ran out, while food prices soared.

    In 1876 newly elected Governor John S. Pillsbury encouraged Minnesotans to do everything they could think of to fight the pests, and listened patiently while one person after another offered solutions. A teacher from New Ulm, Gustav Heydrich, proposed a horse driven machine that would sweep grasshoppers into a bin and then crush them under the machines heavy wheels. A Willmar citizen, Andrew Robbins, invented a tar-filled metal pan that would scoop up and trap grasshoppers as the pan was dragged across a field. Several hundred of the inexpensive hopperdozers were put into operation. In 1877 the town of Le Sueur advertised a bounty of 20 cents a quart for dead grasshoppers; but, the number caught exceeded the towns coffers, so the bounty was reduced to one dollar a bushel. Still the grasshoppers came.

    A relief committee, chaired by prominent St. Paul politician Henry M. Rice, distributed many thousands of dollars across the state feeding and clothing 6,000 people during the winter of 1876 and appropriating $75,000 in 1877 for buying seed grain. Help also came from the National Grange, which collected $11,000 to spread among the stricken families in Minnesota and in other states.

    In the the spring of 1877, the next crop of locusts hatched and Minnesotans prepared for another year of disaster. But instead of eating their way through the state, the grasshoppers lifted their wings and rode the wind across the border. The ordeal was over but the grasshopper plague was only one of a series of misfortunes that hit Minnesotans in the years after the Civil War. Droughts, floods, hailstorms, crop disease. and insects plagued the wheat fields all through the 1870s.

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    Things that go bump in the night also go bump in the daylight. Every odd sound you hear in your home is not made by a spirit, but some of them might be. There is a reason why things seem to happen at night. During the day you are occupied. If you hear a thump or the light comes on, you probably wont pay attention to it. If those same things happen at night when the house is quiet, you will pay attention and your attention is what the spirits are looking for.

    Imagine sitting in your home late at night when you hear a sound that doesnt make sense to you. A chair moves in the kitchen; theres a knock on the wall; a creak on the fl oor; walking on the stairs. These are all easy sounds for a spirit to make in hopes of getting our attention.

    That said, when you hear one of these sounds, dont immediately jump to the conclusion its a spirit. Most of the time it wont be. See if you can fi gure out what else might be making the sound. Is it cold outside and your house is contracting? Do you have a pet that may have run up or down the stairs? Perhaps that same pet pushed the chair in the kitchen.

    If youre not able to fi nd a satisfactory reason for the sound and believe its a spirit, see if you can fi gure out who it is. Sit quietly and ask (in your head) for a name. Ask for clarifi cation who might be visiting you and why. Something else that frequently happens is the manipulation of electronics. Lights turning on and off; the TV coming on or shutting off by itself; computer acting up.

    Since everything is energy, its easy for a spirit to play with the gadgets around our home. Again, before you believe its a spirit, make sure you dont have a short in something or a light bulb doesnt need to be changed. If youre sure things are running smoothly, then its time to tune in and see if you can fi gure out whos attempting to communicate with you.

    Thank you for your interest and attention. Till next time, stay in touch with yourself, with your life, and with those loved ones who have moved on.

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    On Feb. 25, 1873, Enrico Caruso, the greatest tenor who ever lived, is born. After making New York's Metropolitan Opera his home base in 1904, Caruso recorded

    scores of arias of three- and four-minutes in length -- the longest duration that could fi t on a 78 rpm record.

    On Feb. 26, 1919, more than 800,000 acres of the Grand Canyon is established as a national park. The Grand Canyon is the product of millions of years of excavation by the mighty Colorado River. The chasm is exceptionally deep -- dropping more than a mile into the earth -- and is 15 miles across at its widest point.

    On Feb. 21, 1927, humorist Erma Bombeck is born in Dayton, Ohio. Her fi rst book, "At Wit's End" (1967), comprised a collection of her columns. Among her many other popular books were "The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank" (1976) and "If Life Is a Bowl Of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?" (1978).

    On Feb. 27, 1934, auto-safety advocate and activist Ralph Nader is born in Winsted, Conn. Nader's 1965 book "Unsafe at Any Speed" criticized the auto industry for poor safety standards, and ultimately led to various reforms.

    On Feb. 23, 1958, fi ve-time Formula One champion Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina is kidnapped in Cuba by a