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Together at Christmas


Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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A story by Bonnie Prinsen
Monday, December 24, 2001

A version of this essay was originally printed in 1999 by Voices of Michigan: an anthology of Michigans finest new authors under the title "An Instinct For Grief."


Within seconds after baby pigs are born, they push themselves to their feet and begin a hyperkinetic movement. They shimmy and shake like religious zealots. Their fresh hides gleam from the slime of the birth sack. This dance is part of their amazing instinct to preserve their own life: they are whipping themselves into existence, like those watches you shake to start them running. Time is crucial for newborn pigs. They need to find food, and the ecstatic movement of the piglets near the mother's nipples encourages milk production to begin.

What I know of pigs I learned during Christmas, 1993, while visiting my in-laws' farm near Greenleafton. My husband and I were the only ones still up the night before Christmas Eve. Mike, nostalgic for his past on the farm, had accepted the unspoken responsibility of being the last male awake that night. He was worried about a sow who was ready to "come in" on this cold night and left the house to check on her. Five minutes later he was back in the doorway. I had been dozing in an easy chair, not listening to Jay Leno.

"Want to see some pigs being born?"

His face was red, moustache covered with white frost melting to water droplets.

"Why not?" And I began the laborious task of dressing for subzero temperatures.

The barn smelled like hay, warm breath, and pig manure. It was quiet as a church. Mike left most of the lights off. We walked over to the fourth metal crate along the wall. A sow lay inside, heaving like a big, dirty inner-tube. Four tiny piglets worked at her nipples, and while I watched she rolled backwards slightly.

"She's exposing her udder for the ones already born," Mike explained.

He lifted the top of a wooden box near the crate to show me two even newer piglets squirming damp under a heat lamp.

"It's so cold," he said, "so as soon as they're born I put them in here to dry off a bit and wake up."

He closed the lid and a few minutes later we heard bumping. The pigs were jumping in the heat box and knocking their heads against the top. They were ready and eager to join the others.

Farm life is intriguing and a bit foreign to me, even though my family owns a farm in Redwood County, Minn .....
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NORSTAD CONSTRUCTION

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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New Homes Remodeling Additions
Poured Basement Walls Driveways Retaining Walls
Agriculture Horse Barns Riding Arenas


Fill, Sand, Black Dirt, Landscaping, Lite Excavation


We offer a plan service ..... 
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Our Gift Shop

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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Features:
Locally made Amish Quilts, Dolls, Baskets & Furniture
Amish Pantry Spices, Mustards, Bread Mixes & Soups
Beaumont Brothers Pottery
Fall Pumpkins, Apples & Scarecrows
Tapestry Wallhangings
Bell Pul ..... 
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Welcome to Bluff Country's Finest Family Campground

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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SUPERSAW VALLEY CAMPGROUND
Deep in the heart of picturesque Bluff Country, welcome to Supersaw Valley Campground, southeastern Minnesotas scenic family camping area.

Come discover 185 acres of lush, bountifu ..... 
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Journal Profile #84

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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Name: Ellen Collett
Home: Preston, MN
Age: 54
Profession: Homemaker/Daycare
Family: Husband Dave, three daughters, two sons, and six grandchildren
Personal Hero: My mother
Hobbies: Se ..... 
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Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
Posted in

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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Birth Announcements

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
Posted in

There was no new birth announcements this week.There was no new birth announcements this week.

College/School News

Fri, Dec 21st, 2001
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Kari Byrne, a junior majoring in business administration: financial management, is participating in the University of St. Thomas London Business Semester program this fall. Byrne is the daughter of Thomas and Nancy Byrne, Preston.

Jim Spe ..... 
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