OCCASIONALLY YOU MEET a character, and you know it just looking at the person, before lips even part to utter a single syllable.
I knew, just knew, Bob Michniewicz was a character when I saw him and his set-up at the Rice County Steam and Gas Engine Show in rural Dundas. With kitschy wooden lawn ornaments—you know the kind—and wind chimes and eye-catching messages defining his space, Bob was bound to be interesting.
Just look at the poster Bob leaned front and center against a support post for the tent under which he and his wife of 50 years, Judy, were peddling their wares.
Naturally, I asked Bob about that message. Seems he’s a bit worked up about all the non-farm folks moving onto farms in his area and then complaining about noise or smell or dust and such from working farms.
“Farmers were here first,” he emphasizes. And that, in this retired farmer’s opinion, should settle any matters of dispute.
All around him, Bob views the ever-changing rural Minnesota landscape. Within a three-mile radius of his farm (the home place) 3 ½ miles from Madelia, only four farmers remain. The rest are people living on the building sites.
Therein, according to Bob, lies the problem. “People don’t know where farm stuff comes from.” I’m not sure I understand what he means, but I think I do and Bob doesn’t allow me to interrupt this rather one-sided conversation.
Bob just steamrolls forward, asking if I know that potatoes in stores are sprayed to keep them from sprouting. (I don’t know this and check later to see if Bob, who is a gardener, is right, and apparently he is, although I’m not saying all potato growers, all stores, follow this practice.)
He looks me directly in the eye and says: “Next time you eat mashed potatoes, you may as well take a shot glass of Round-up with a beer chaser.”
Like I said, Bob’s a character, and an outspoken one at that.
© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling