Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Autumn on a rural Minnesota acreage, a photo essay October 4, 2018

A restored windmill towers above a refurbished mini barn (soon to be art studio) on my brother and sister-in-law’s rural Redwood County acreage.


OF SIX FARM-RAISED SIBLINGS, only two live in the country. Neither farmers. But two work in the ag industry, one as the CEO of an ethanol company, the other as part owner in an implement dealership.



My middle brother remains in our home county of Redwood and welcomes us back for extended family gatherings, most recently our annual autumn tradition of making horseradish—157 jars this year. The tradition honors our deceased farmer father. He dug and processed horseradish roots for many years. Now we do the same but with easier methods than using an old meat grinder powered by a drill. Like Dad, we give away the condiment.


Sunflowers ripen and dry under the prairie sky.


Our annual gathering in rural Lamberton isn’t about the horseradish as much as it is about family.


I’ve always delighted in milkweed pods bursting with seeds.




While I enjoy our time together, I usually slip away to meander, to take in the rural setting, to photograph. I need that peacefulness amid all the chattering and joking and loudness of a group with some strong personalities.


How lovely the broom corn rising and swaying in the prairie wind.


My artsy sister-in-law creates vignettes like this that change with the seasons.


A sunflower, heavy with seed, bows to the earth.


I need quiet. And I need to take in the shifting of the seasons, the artful autumn displays, the aged buildings, all the visual reminders of a rural life I still miss decades removed from the country.


A gazing ball in a flower garden reflects sky, land and dried black-eyed susan seed heads.


I am grateful for the opportunity to escape to this acreage, to reclaim the serenity of rural Minnesota.


An old shed recently moved onto the acreage, to be rebuilt or salvaged for the wood.


I realize nostalgia tinges my view of country life. Much has changed since I left the farm nearly 45 years ago. But not the love I hold for the land, for the quiet and grace and muted tones of harvest time.


© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “Autumn on a rural Minnesota acreage, a photo essay”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Beautiful pictures. How wonderful to be able to use your camera again.

  2. Boy does this bring back the memories of growing up on farms. It was the best play area to explore and go on adventures. It was hard work, but rewarding hard work. I like the baby animal time the best – lambs, piglets, chicks, kittens, etc. Then there was the garden duty – a strawberry or two for the bucket and one for me – hehe. I loved growing pumpkins with my dad. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

    • What wonderful farm memories you have. I, too, liked baby animal time, although we didn’t have the variety of animals you did on your farm.

      I picked raspberries at my brother and sister-in-law’s place on Saturday. A raspberry in the bowl, a raspberry in the mouth…

  3. Caryl Larson Says:

    I’ll take some of that horseradish!!! Love the stuff. lol

  4. Bella Says:

    what lovely spare words pen the rural landscape complimented by detailed visual images.

  5. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Your brother and sister in law have a beautiful corner of earth to look after. Thanks for sharing

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    These photos bring me back to “home” in Nebraska. You do the same meandering and photography that I do at my brother’s place – our grandparent’s farm. I love those milkweed pods! They are just fascinating! Nicely done. What a calming piece to read this morning.

  7. valeriebollinger Says:

    So happy you can use your camera and take these photos that mean so much to you. I sure enjoy seeing them.

  8. What a lovely place to be able to retreat to! ❤

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