Tag Archives: North Dakota

North Dakota’s magical sunflowers, by Jenny Dewey Rohrich

Article by Jenny Dewey Rohrich

Until I stepped foot into North Dakota, I would have never imagined North Dakota to be a national leader when it comes to production of many different crops.  It’s safe to say I had never before witnessed fields of crops that are seemingly endless. But let me tell you, there is something magical about coming across a field of blooming yellow sunflowers as far as the eye can see. It literally makes you stop in your tracks and takes your breath away.Sunflower Photo 1

So how did sunflowers end up here?

Sunflowers actually originated here, in North America. They were a common crop among American Indian tribes throughout North America. There is evidence that the cultivation of sunflowers began before corn in about 3000 B.C. in some areas of Arizona and New Mexico.

Around 1500, sunflowers made their way to Europe by way of Spanish explorers. The plant was cultivated and began expanding its way through Western Europe for uses from ornamental to medicinal and culinary. By the early 19th century, Russian farmers were growing over 2 million acres of sunflowers. It is also during that time that many Russians (Germans from Russia) settled in places like Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

It is likely that the seed movement is attributed to them and by 1880 seed companies were advertising “Mammoth Russian” sunflower seeds in catalogues. In 1946, Canadian farmers built a small crushing plant. With an ability to get the oil from the flowers, sunflower acreage boomed in Minnesota and North Dakota. And since the 1930’s programs have been in place to hybridize sunflowers to provide additional yield, oil enhancement, and disease resistance. To date, however, there are no GMO sunflowers grown or sold.


Sunflower Photo 2Where are sunflowers grown?

Since 1977 North Dakota has ranked in the top states when it comes to sunflower production, producing nearly 51% of the nation’s total sunflowers. In the past several years, North Dakota has battled with South Dakota for the title of top producer. You would think with North Dakota being the leader in sunflower production that sunflowers are grown across the state. But this isn’t quite the case; in fact, I would venture to guess that some people living in North Dakota have never even seen a blooming sunflower field.

Reasons vary as to why sunflowers aren’t grown across the state. Disease is a limiting factor in growing sunflowers; some areas of North Dakota simply get too much rainfall, which makes sunflowers more prone to disease. In some areas of North Dakota it simply isn’t feasible to add sunflowers into crop rotation. Birds and large wetland areas (pot holes) go hand in hand as two more reasons which limit sunflower growing in some parts of the state. Large communities of birds can devastate a sunflower crop and usually birds flock to large areas of water and cattails. Also large wetland areas simply aren’t conducive to growing sunflowers because sunflowers are more of an arid plant and like less water. For more specific information about where to find sunflowers in North Dakota, visit this post, Where to find sunflowers.


Sunflower Photo 3How are sunflowers grown?

On our farm, sunflowers are planted on a four-year rotation cycle meaning a particular field will be planted in sunflowers once every four years. To see more about our crop rotation, you can check out this post on Community Agriculture.com, Crop Rotation on our Farm. Sunflowers are usually planted from early May until mid June and require soil temperatures to reach at least 45 degrees or above. Sunflowers are planted typically in rows about 20-30 inches apart.

Sunflower seeds require pollination to mature. Bees are responsible for the pollination of these fields. Farmers contract bee hives to be set near fields and the bees go to work. Because of the symbiosis between bees and sunflowers, North Dakota ranks number one in the nation’s productions for both sunflowers AND honey!Sunflower Photo 4


Sunflower harvest usually begins in late September or early October with a typical growing season of about 120 days. Sunflowers are harvested using a specialized header for our combine with trays that catch the sunflowers to minimize loss of any heads.


Sunflower Photo 5What are sunflowers used for?

There are three primary markets for sunflowers: oil production (oils), de-hulls, and confection varieties.

Sunflower seeds produced for oil are usually smaller and all black in color. Sunflower oil is the primary use for the seeds and has a variety of different uses from a healthier alternative for frying potato chips to even fuel! De-hulls (or basically de-shelled) are what you would find in your local grocery store to put on salads, chocolate covered, or to simply enjoy them without having to fight a shell. The confection varieties are roasted in the shell and sometimes flavored for you to enjoy at your favorite baseball game or an afternoon on the patio. Sunflower seeds are graded according to size and then separated. The largest size goes to be roasted and enjoyed in the shell, medium sizes are usually de-hulled, and the smallest size goes into the bird and pet food market.


Sunflower Photo 6As one of the few sunflower growers in our county, we hold them near and dear to our hearts. Sunflowers are a challenge and unique which are qualities that set them apart from other crops. They are also, as you can tell, beautiful. I hope you make a visit to a sunflower producing region of North Dakota in August and you will fall in love with the fields of yellow blooms too. Sunflowers are a challenging, but rewarding crop on our farm. And at the end of the day, we take pride in the fact that we are one of many helping to produce an important commodity to our state.

Sunflower Photo 7 copy



Jenny Dewey Rohrich smallJenny Dewey Rohrich is a born and raised Californian. She grew up in her parent’s local butcher shop and deli. She loved where she lived and vowed to never leave, but life had other plans for her. She met a farmer from North Dakota via social media and fell head over heels in love. Jenny followed her heart and her dreams to Ashley, North Dakota. Jenny and her farmer are now married and cultivating a legacy of family, food, and farming on the rural prairies of North Dakota. You can find Jenny at Prairie Californian where she writes about the things she loves: farming, family, food, photography, and fitness.



Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events

Scoria Road, by Danielle Hanna

Article by Danielle Hanna

DSC00559 (640x478)Instead of getting me into trouble–like you’d think it would–my bent for aimless wandering keeps turning up new treasures I never would have found any other way.

My dog Molly and I were driving home on Highway 83 one day. The sky was blue and full of big summer clouds and the pastures were the vivid green you only see in North Dakota in spring, before the Indian summers scorch everything brown. South of the tiny town of Wilton, we passed the wind farm just off the highway.

Since the first time I saw them, I wanted to photograph the windmills for my blog and Facebook page. The setting that particular day was ideal. And I had my camera.

I slowed the car a little bit and waited for the perfect composition to fill my windshield. When it did, I pulled off the highway onto the first turn-off to make itself available. Unfortunately, the few hundred yards it had taken me to find the turn-off placed the windmills squarely behind a hill.

I was about to pull back onto the highway when I took a second look at my surroundings. The turn-off I’d randomly chosen at 60 miles per hour was a narrow scoria road wending between waves of lush grass and disappearing over a spur of the hill.

Dorothy could keep her yellow brick road. This looked awesome.

Since the scoria road could get me closer to the windmills just as well as the highway, I decided to follow it.

Molly was all anticipation in the back seat. A new road! We’ve never been here before! Where does it go?

In that regard–and so many more–my dog and I are identical.

Just as we crested the hill, a little splotch of black in the pasture to my left caught my eye.

A foal, curled up in the deep grass at the base of a telephone pole. I gasped and slowed down. Serious Facebook factor! Where was my camera?

Just as I was ready to get out of the car, a much larger object cloaked in black entered the stage.

It was just like you see in movies: The noble horse prancing high; buff muscles rippling beneath its shimmering sable coat; mane, tail, and feathers billowing in its own wind. This vision of awesomeness came straight at me–and convinced me to stay in the car. In the presence of such majesty, the barbed wire fence between us appeared puny.

The horse veered off from her charge of the barbed wire to stand protectively over her foal.

I smiled. What an amazing mom. I think that mare was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in my life.

I looked over the rest of the pasture and found it full of black mares and their foals. Behind them, the windmills rose toward the sky.

I got out of the first mare’s comfort zone and photographed the other mares and their young.

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By now, completely entranced by this magic scoria road, I drove on, and every crested hill seemed to reveal more wonders.

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I spent an hour on the scoria road without encountering another soul except the horses. Now, as I stood fifty feet from my idling car, I turned from my camera at the sound of approaching tires. A pickup was coming my way. I eyed my car. I’d pulled it half-way off the scoria road, but the space left over still wasn’t big enough for a pickup.

I ran back, dove into the driver’s seat, and pulled into the grass just as the pickup closed in.

But instead of passing by, the driver slowed and waved out the window. This was infinitely more demonstrative than the rural North Dakota one- or two-finger wave from the steering wheel. I figured the guy wanted to talk. We stopped beside each other.

The man leaned a meaty arm on his window. “Runnin’ yor dog out here?”

I assured him my dog had been in the car the entire time and explained that I was just getting photographs for my blog.

“Hold on. Ya got my bad ear.” He cut the engine. “Now. What were ya sayin’?”

I turned off my own engine and repeated myself. He still didn’t hear me.

“Well, you can run yor dog here any time. So long as you don’t bother the mares and foals, is all. But it’s nice n’ quiet back here.” He went on to rattle off the names of everybody who lived on the scoria road. “All nice folk. All of us old. We won’t bother ya.”

I gave up on trying to explain the blog and just smiled and said thanks. It was nice to have an open invitation to come back.

When I got back to the highway, I found more turn-offs that would have gotten me better photos of the windmills. But I don’t regret for a moment the unplanned selection that landed me on the scoria road. It was like the magician’s hat that kept producing wonders. I was overwhelmed to think I had zipped past it so many times at seventy miles per hour and never known what I was missing.

The more I follow my wanderlust, the more I’m amazed at all the secret spots I find here in North Dakota–places that will never be advertised as tourist destinations, but are beautiful in part because they are only known to the locals and those brave enough to turn off the highway.

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Danielle HannaDanielle Hanna learned how to read and write at age four and knew she wanted to be an author by the time she was seven. She now writes Christian mysteries. When she’s not riveted to her computer, you can find her camping, hiking, and biking with her dog Molly in her home state of North Dakota.

Follow Danielle on her blog Embark on Adventure: Adventures of a Girl and Her Dog, Facebook, and on Twitter.




Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events

A Legendary North Dakota Conference Experience


 A Legendary North Dakota Conference Experience

I have attended numerous national conferences, and not one of them compared to the intimate (and awesome!) North Dakota Bloggers & Writers Conference I recently attended in Fargo, ND. Not only did I connect with writers from North Dakota, Minnesota, and Canada, but I experienced Fargo for the first time.

Before the conference kick off, my BFF and I visited The Rourke Art Museum.

Wine cellar at the Hotel Donaldson

Wine cellar at the Hotel Donaldson

Sunday Evening Walk About

Attendees gathered Sunday evening at the Radisson and paraded over to the Hotel Donaldson for a tour of a couple of their unique artist-inspired rooms, the wine cellar, and their distinctive work-out room. That was followed by hors d’ouveres at the Donaldson’s HODO Restaurant. Other stops in downtown included Unglued Craft Market, olive oils and balsamics at Pinch and Pour, and brews at Wurst Bier Hall.

Pinch and Pour

Pinch and Pour

Conference Day 

Monday’s conference started with a scrumptious breakfast of fresh fruit, bagels and pastries, coffee, tea, and juices.

Morning Presentations 

Rachel Hutton – Editor, Minnesota Monthly

Freelance Writers Panel

Freelance Writers Panel

Freelance Writers Panel with Jessie Veeder Scofield, Jennifer Dewey Rohrich, and Amity Moore

Moderator, Beth Schatz Kaylor, blogger at Rhubard and Venison

More Yummies

Lunch was presented with panache…pasta salad, seasoned potatoes, zucchini and squash with peppers and onions, and roast au jus.

Kim Jondahl, North Dakota State Historical Soceity

Kim Jondahl, North Dakota State Historical Soceity

Afternoon Presentations

Kim Schmidt – North Dakota Tourism

Kim Jondahl – North Dakota State Historical Society

Nicole Moen – Fargo-Moorhead Convention & Visitors Bureau


Afternoon roundtables included Writing Blogs That People Love with Jessie Veeder Scofield, Visit with the Editor with Rachel Hutton, Photography Inspired with Jennifer Dewey Rohrich, and Writing Tips and Tricks with Amity Moore.

Kim Schmidt (center) at the Hotel Donaldson tour

Kim Schmidt (center) at the Hotel Donaldson tour

Final Presentation

Passion with a Purpose – Tony, Sarah, and Gio Nasello of Sarello’s Restaurant and Wine Lounge in Moorhead, MN, and of Home with the Lost Italian.

Breaking Up

We broke up. I didn’t want to leave. I felt like I had new friends all over the state!

Display of the reconstruction at the Hotel Donaldson

Display of the reconstruction at the Hotel Donaldson

Other Bloggers

Here are the resulting blog posts about the conference. And many of these blogs have incredible North Dakota photos.

Allison “A. J.” Bauers of The Covert Extravert with A Guide for First-Time Conference Attendees

Sarah and Tony Nasello of Home with the Lost Italian, Staking Our Claim as North Dakotans

Roxane Beauclair Salonen, thePeace Garden Writer, Secret Spaces

Jessie Veeder Scofield of Meanwhile, back at the ranch with A North Dakota Story

Devin Berglund writes The ND Writing & Blogging Workshop, Through My Eyes

Jenny Dewey Rohrich, The Prairie Californian, with Refreshing My Passion for North Dakota


Filed under Blogging, Social Networking, Special Events

Will you be remembered after the writers’ conference?

fargoI am attending a writer/blogger conference in Fargo, North Dakota, this month.

I looked back on my writers’ conference tips, written last year. I also wrote about “branding” back in 2013 – you can see that link here.

For this conference, I thought…

How do I want to present myself? (The Word Shark, editor extraordinaire)

How do I want to dress? (professionally, in colors to match my website and blog)

What do I need to have? (biz cards, a name tag, give-away pens)

People are going to remember me because

I dressed like a professional editor – sensible shoes, a blazer, neat hairdo, spare make-up. And everything about me is going to scream, “Shark!”


I’m not going to use any entry-table name tag, no way. I made my own. You guessed it – it has a shark on it.

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I will have The Word Shark biz cards and give-a-way pens with a shark charm (people will take me home with them).

North Dakota bloggers on FB

I discovered and joined the FB group, North Dakota Bloggers. There has been some chit-chat about the conference, and I have connected with a handful of attendees as well as presenters.

Research the presenters

Before any conference, you get a who’s-presenting email. Do look up these people, connect with them on social networking, follow their blogs ahead of conference time.

Magazine articles

One of the presenters at this conference is the editor of a local, regional magazine. Will I have a couple of articles to hand her? You bet your dorsal fin!


Don’t just show up at the conference – engage. Talk to people, ask questions about their projects, and participate in discussions. Exchange cards so you can send a follow up email, “Nice to meet and you at the conference…”

When all the conference-goers go home

They will pick up my shark pen and say, “Hey, maybe I do need an editor.”


Conference ready!

Got the shark name tag

Got shark-pen give-away swag

Got a flashy shark shirt for downtown Fargo walk-about

Got a quiet shark tee and blazer for the conference crowd

Got the biz cards, ready to hand out

It’s all conference I’m about!


How do you prepare for a writers’ conference?

What’s your favorite thing about attending a writers’ conference?


Cool shark-charm pens custom made by The English Rose.



Filed under Blogging, Branding & Platform, Social Networking

Junk drawer, by Audrey Keith

junk drawerEveryone has one—that space, usually a drawer, where you toss all those stray keys, extra screws, odd-shaped pieces of metal or plastic that you know belong to something, small tools, tape measures, tubes of glue, a couple of buttons, a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, Cracker Jack prizes, and various other homeless items. That’s why it’s called a junk drawer.

Once in a while what you are searching for is right on top, but most of the time it is way in the back, on the bottom. Sometimes it’s wedged tightly into the seam.

Every five or ten years you dump everything out and throw away the partial tube of dried-out glue, the warranty card for an appliance that died three years ago, and maybe even the rusty screws and nails. In an extreme fit of neatness you may even put in dividers and sort everything. It will stay sorted until the next time the drawer is opened.

Then one day you’ll find a screw lying on the floor and tuck it neatly into the front corner of the drawer. When your husband decides to replace it, he will go through the contents like a side-delivery rake, looking for that screw. Failing to find it, he will decide it isn’t really that important, and go do something else.

junk mindThe junk drawer in my cupboard isn’t much of a problem, but I also have one in my head. It contains a lot more junk than the other and is just as poorly organized.  Old songs, poems, names, bits of movies, memories, both good and bad, and odd phrases that make no sense now that I’ve forgotten the context.

Like the drawer, sometimes what I want to find is right there on top, but usually I have to rummage through childhood memories of playing in the pasture trees, picnicking in trees alongside a gravel road, being driven cross-country to school in snow so deep the team didn’t trot, but lunged. Or memorized poems and song lyrics—maybe Beautiful Ohio, that we used to sing on the way to town—country and western favorites, popular or classical music. They persist in covering the information I am searching for.

Unlike that drawer, I can’t just dump everything out and discard those useless bits of knowledge: how to find grease zirks, or harness and hitch a team. I hope to never again have to clean and cut up a chicken, but the memory is there. Starter buttons on cars and seams on nylons are long gone and not missed. Nor forgotten.junk

Last night just as I was drifting off to sleep I had a wonderful idea for a painting I was beginning. This morning I can’t find it. I suspect it’s hiding under the words to Annie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

About Audrey…

I can’t remember not loving to read. It’s a harmless addiction unless the house is on fire or someone is bleeding.

I did finally gather the courage to take a correspondence course in writing through a state college, and I even submitted a few stories – an action about as comfortable as parading down Main Street in the nude.

My first publication – a humorous story about remodeling our old farmhouse – was in Woman’s World in the July, 1972 issue. Later I wrote mostly rural humor; think Erma Bombeck on a tractor. I have been published in The Fence Post, a farm and ranch magazine based in Colorado, Grit, Capper’s, Farm Journal, North Dakota REC Magazine, North Dakota Horizons,  Good Old Days, and in two anthologies, Why Farm Wives Age Fast, and Leaning Into the Wind.


You might also like –

Kristen Lamb’s blog – Writing and the junk drawer of life

Apartment Therapy – Organizing the junk drawer


Filed under Blogging, Guest Writers & Bloggers

My Main Street – Art Main

Art Main Anniversary Poster

Art Main Anniversary Poster from 1991

Art Main
13 South Main Street
Minot ND 58701
Phone: (701)838-4747 Fax: (701)838-1652
Monday to Friday – 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Connect with Art Main on Facebook.

Inside Art Main

Established: Open doors August, 1981.

Artmain is a retail store that offers custom framing, art supplies, and a women’s boutique with unique gifts.

Co-Owners: Beth Kjelson and Becky Piehl

About Beth – She is originally from Glenburn, ND. She graduated from MSU with double major in Elementary Education and Art Education, and then taught in Scobey, Montana, and Belcourt and South Prairie, North Dakota. She was Minot Art Gallery Director before opening Art Main. Beth is married to Keith and they have two sons, Eli and Billy. They live in Minot.

About Becky – She is originally from Marion, ND, and attended Valley City State University. Becky moved to Minot in the early 70s with her husband, Walter. She and Water have four children, Shadd, Levi, Crystal, and Cota. Becky retired in May of 2012 but remains as support to the business and to the Art Main girls.

Special Events

Art Main participates in downtown activities such as the Easter and Halloween walks, Fall Festival, and Christmas open house.

Art Main also conducts their own “in house” activities and specials. One of their long-standing annual sales is in February – “Sweetheart of a Deal Sale,” a custom framing sale, is still as popular as it was 32 years ago.

Provided by Artmain 2

Before Art Main

Prior to Art Main the building housed a gift shop called J &J Gifts, but the Scofield Block was better known as Olson’s Men Store during the 50s and 60s. This location has had many occupants. It has been a hardware store, men’s clothing store, barber, American cafe, and pool hall. Scofield block was built in 1905 by James Scofield who was also voted mayor of Minot in 1887.

Old postcard of Main Street, Minot. Provided by Mark Lehner.

Old postcard of Main Street, Minot. Provided by Mark Lehner.

Do you have a favorite art supply store in your area? Do you dabble in the arts? What medium?


Filed under Special Events

My Main Street – Margie’s Art Glass


Margie’s Art Glass Studio
109 Main Street South
Minot, ND 58701
Tuesday and Thursday 10 am to 8:30 pm
Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 10 am to 5:30 pm
Sunday and Monday closed

Connect with Margie’s on their website or on Facebook.


From Margie

I started my business in this location in 2004. I am the sole owner (except my husband has been my main supporter and custodian).

After a 19-plus-year career as a mom, I decided to re-enter the business world as a shop owner. I had too much experience telling my family what to do all those years to let it go to waste!

Opening the glass studio gave me the outlet for my creative side. We added the ceramic paint studio about a year and half after the original opening because it seemed a good fit.

Our coffee shop, “The Black Iguana,” was my attempt to bring people into the glass shop that otherwise would never come through the door – and it’s worked very well. We offer Minot’s best coffee drinks!


Margie’s offers a wide variety of glass classes including stained glass, fused glass, mosaic, and jewelry making. They also have a drop-in-paint-your-own pottery studio that has been well received in the community.

Downtown events

Margie’s Art Glass participates in a lot of downtown events, like the Bunny Walk, Treat Trail, and a Minot favorite, The Wine Walk. Margie’s also supports open house events during the holidays.

Before it was Margie’s

For the 24 years before I owned the building, “Sax” maternity and children’s clothes was in the building; before that “Stevenson’s” (men’s wear I believe) Then back to 1906 a series of five and dime stores selling stockings, shoes, thread, with this and that.

Around 109 South Main, circa 1950s

Around 109 South Main, circa 1950s

The grandsons on a recent visit to Margie's

The grandsons on a recent visit to Margie’s


Do you have a favorite crafts, ceramics, or pottery venue in your area? What is your favorite craft?


Filed under Special Events