Volume 126, Number
Maddock native named Farm & Ranch Guide Country Woman of the Year at Minot luncheon
Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the July 17, 2009 issue of the Farm & Ranch Guide. Keller was announced as the winner at a luncheon in Minot on July 31. A 1980 graduate of Maddock High School, she is the daughter of Ruth and Arne Tollefson of Maddock and the late Leif Eugene Nelson.
BY DALE HILDEBRANT
Farm & Ranch Guide
You don’t have to visit with Country Woman of the Year finalist Lori Keller for long before you know she’s adept at a wide range of job duties.
Lori, one of six finalists for Farm & Ranch Guide Country Woman of the Year, feels right at home in the cab of a tractor or in an ambulance as it speeds to an emergency; and, she spends a fair amount of time in both situations. This was noted by Lori’s neighbor, Maggie Thomas who nominated her for this year’s award. In submitting the nomination, Thomas said, "I would like to see Lori get the Farm & Ranch Guide Country Woman of the Year for 2009. Lori is a very hard worker, is always helping and doing things for others and doesn’t take much time for herself."
That enthusiasm for Thomas carried through after the nomination deadline had passed.
"I think she called me every day wondering if I had heard yet," Lori said, "and when I heard I’d made the finalist list she was so excited that she brought over lettuce, spinach and flowers that morning.
She’s already made plans to be in Minot for the luncheon when the winner will be announced."
Of course Lori was excited as well. "It’s an honor to be nominated for this award, but I don’t feel I need to be recognized for it," Lori said. "It’s special that someone thinks that I do that much work."
Lori farms with her husband, Ron on a combination grain and cattle farm east of Harvey. Depending on the time of year, her daily activities are filled with farming and ranching activities, and yet she still finds the time to make an emergency call as paramedic on the local volunteer ambulance service and serve as a respiratory and x-ray technician at the Harvey hospital.
Their farming operation consists of about 3,000 acres, with a wide variety of crops raised including wheat, barley, corn, soybeans and sunflowers plus forage crops to support their commercial cow/calf operation. They calve starting the end of February and into March. The calves are backgrounded until the following March.
Lori’s typical workday on the farm varies with the seasons of the year. Now, during the summer, she is helping with haying and spraying operations and will soon start preparing for the harvest mode when she will get the bins ready for the new crop, help with the swathing and combining, plus hauling grain.
She just completed the spring season, a time when she hauls and applies anhydrous ammonia, picks rocks and helps with the cultivating, including helping change the cultivator shovels when they need it. While the cattle are out on pasture she checks on a regular basis for lameness, sickness and the fencing around the pasture.
During the winter months she helps with the feeding chores, and when calving season rolls round, she takes her turn checking on the cows and helps with difficult calvings. Lori often times has to draw on her former dairy farming experience to milk a cow and feed the calf that milk if a mother chooses to ignore her new-born calf. Year around she does all of the farm record keeping.
She is able to trim her horses’ hooves, give shots to those animals that are sick, even giving intravenous injections if the need arises, but that shouldn’t come as any surprise with her training as a paramedic.
In addition to her work on the ambulance and at the St. Aloisius Medical Center in Harvey, Lori also gives insurance health exams, provides respite care for some individuals and serves as a safety instructor for emergency medical personnel. She is also a member of the ND Emergency Medical Service test team, serves as a mentor for children in the area, is active at the Viking Church and works with the SAFE program for abused adults.
"When the paramedic pager goes off you just go," Lori said. "I am an advanced life support person, so that means we transport people to Bismarck, Minot, Fargo and sometimes as far as Minneapolis, Minn. But we do have a few others with this training so we cover for each other if one can’t get away.
"I do want to earn my ‘Stork Pin,’ which means delivering a baby out in the country. That’s one thing I haven’t had to do yet. I’ve delivered a lot of calves and horses, but they don’t count."
In her spare time she is working on remodeling their farm house, which was built in the early 1900s. She also rides horses, including going on trail rides, and enjoys quilting, crocheting, gardening, taking pictures and, as Thomas pointed out, helping neighbors with anything from medical to gardening ,to pulling them out of the mud, to just visiting with them.
Children have a special spot in Lori’s heart. At times she has had as many as 10 to 15 children at her place for hikes along the Sheyenne River, camp fires, hay rides and singing along with Bible study and games.
"I have a lot of children come to my home," Lori said, "and watch them so the parents can have a day off. I love doing that.
"There are so many advantages of raising a family in the country. I see so many town kids that want to come out here and ride horse, play in the yard and even ride in the tractor with me all day."
Lori has a stepdaughter, Jennifer Soblik, and a daughter, Dusti Vallier. She also had a son Dustin Vallier who was killed in an accident in 2007. She has two grandkids, two-year-old Abigail and 3-month old Dustin.
In her closing nomination comments, Thomas said, "Lori enjoys all the changing seasons on the farm, she says you don’t get bored that way; every day is different and you’re always learning something new. Lori enjoys the grandkids, family, friends and neighbors. Lori adds a lot to the community with her skills, trades and teaching abilities she has accomplished throughout the years.
"Lori does not sit still; she is always busy accomplishing things."
Benson County to observe 125th
Benson County will celebrate 125 years as a county on Tuesday, Aug. 18 at the courthouse in Minnewaukan. The banner above was created especially for the event. At 11 a.m. old and new vehicles and ag equipment will meet at the junction of ND 19 and old US 281 south of town for the 11:30 parade to the courthouse. Free barbecues and cake will be served beginning at 12 noon. Open house is from 1 to 4 p.m. with a program at 2 p.m. The program will recognize attending elected officials, reminiscenses from local historians and live music on the courthouse grounds. Benson County Public Transportation is offering rides to the 125th celebration for a discount rate of $3 each. Call Susan Fossen at 1-888-525-2104 for reservations. A souvenir red T-shirt with a map of Benson County, including all the names of every city in the county’s history can be ordered for $10 by contacting County Recorder Rhoda Pfeifer at 473-5332.
Lillian Shaw honored
On Friday, July 24, St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Fort Totten thanked and honored several people during a service of Thanksgiving and Eucharist celebrated by Pastor Canon Jackie Bernacchi and Deacon Bonnie McNaughton, with visiting priest, Danny Whitehead assisting.
The Trinity Episcopal Church Mission Group from Woodlands, Texas was thanked for their continued missions to St. Thomas. Each of the 19 missioners was given a yellow rose (Texas state flower) for their annual visits to St. Thomas. They spent the better part of the week working on St. Thomas’s existing and new churches and running art camps for Spirit Lake children. The group, led by Alyssa Stebbing and Molly Carr, were also honored with a Star Quilt. The families of Elder Belva Greyhorn and Vicky and Violet Hill were honored with a rose and thanked for their support and dinners they provided for the missioners and parishioners. Yellow roses and a plaque were presented to St. Thomas Elder Lillian Shaw (center) for her decades of service to the Church of St. Thomas and her donation of several blankets, including the Pendleton, which is mounted behind the altar at St. Thomas Church. On the right is Canon Jackie Bernacchi. The others are teenagers from Texas who came to the reservation on a mission trip.
Now playing at NR
"Breaking Up Is Hard To Do," featuring the music of Neal Sedaka is playing this summer at the Dakota Prairie Regional Center for the Arts in New Rockford. Left to right are cast members Peter Foss, Rachel Markestad, Tony Peterson, Megan Jury, Erin Markestad and Tyson Rost. Shows run Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. until August 16. Tickets can be reserved by calling 701-947-2174 or online at www.dprca.com. Deb Belquist is the managing director.
Left to right are cast members Peter Foss, Rachel Markestad and Megan Jury in a scene from the play. Peter Foss, Rachel Markestad and her daughter, Erin Markestad are from Maddock. Megan Jury of New Rockford is the granddaughter of Myron and Mary Jury of Minnewaukan.