Over the years Melinda and I got into the habit of heading to Iowa on Sundays to get together with my side of the family, usually involving food, and usually at a restaurant convenient to everyone. Mostly this was at the Clinton, IA Pizza Ranch. Melinda was proud of the fact she never tried the pizza there, but she absolutely loved their fried chicken and mashed taters! Anyway, this last Sunday, all the sibs seemed to have plans made, but got an invitation to head to my sister Kathy's for dinner.
Now we all grew up on a working farm - about 360 acres, growing corn, hay and oats, mostly to feed the livestock - cattle and hogs. This was the traditional family farm. Boys worked with dad out tending crops and animals, girls in the house w/mom. But as we all grew up, only Kathy married a farmer and is the only one on a working farm - they have little livestock though (not much money in it!) - crop farming is their speciality.
As I arrived right at about 5, Kathy was just leaving the house to feed "the animals", so I followed her to the barn. But she was feeding the barn cats! Shown at left are the two tame ones, but note the "Grey Ghost" in the background who waited till we left to come down to eat... They do have about a dozen head of cattle, shown at right - the proverbial corn-fed beef! These are right at market weight, so taking them to Kalona to the sale barn will soon be on the calendar...
Just as we were inspecting the "real livestock", nephew Jeff and his family arrived to join us for dinner (they brought the pizza!). At left he and Claire are walking up towards the barn, carrying baby Natalie - well "baby" is relative - she's what, 20 months old... Note the good-lookin' corn across the road, soon to be harvested...
Of course, with any kids, there is instant fascination with farm animals. With Jeff and his sisters growing up, they were always quick to pull out baby pigs for us to pet. Nothing small this time, but Claire was quick to climb the fence to get the feedlot in the back of the picture!
After dropping off dinner in the house, Sandy joined us, and right at sunset, there was some good light to take a few family shots. All lined up at left, and at right are dad and Natalie... A great-looking family if I've ever seen one!
With hot pizza in the house, we didn't tarry too long outside... With Kathy cutting up her specialty "Chippy Dippy Bars" I documented the kitchen fridge. The farm refrigerator seems to be the center of the house, and whether it is the food inside it or the photo album and children artwork held on with magnets to the outside, it remains an attraction!
And of course, when you are at grandma and grandpa's house, the kids head straight for the toy box! They can transform an immaculate living room to a disaster area in seconds as they dive for the favorite toys! That red barn looks awfully familiar - it might be more than a generation old!
I sat in the easy chair and took advantage of some of the reading material Kathy and Rich keep at hand. Of course, in Tucson that would be periodicals about astronomy and photography. Here on the farm is a catalog of combine parts! Look like our reading lists don't overlap much!
The pizza was great! Knowing the mild taste buds of my family, I didn't even bug them for the red pepper flakes, knowing they wouldn't have any... But it was still great, as were the chippy-dippies - I even got a care package with some to take home.
Also, as is standard when any Ketelsens get together, group shots need to be taken. At right of course is me in the center with sister Kathy at right.
With my relatively new iPhone at hand, I took a selfie with great-niece Claire. She certainly has the family genes for being photogenic! Great-uncle Dean, not so much! Minutes later I hit the road for the 3 hour trip home, nothing exciting other than the biggest raccoons I've ever seen just after leaving Kathy and Rich's farm. Interestingly, with the Cubs playing in the World Series, the toll way across Illinois was absolutely empty - I interacted with less than 3 or 4 cars in the 90 minutes crossing the bulk of the state!