State of Grace

Printed with permission in the October 2011 issue of Dakota Valley News Magazine.


BISMARCK, N.D. — It’s easy to look at the accident that paralyzed Russell Carlson, 62, and see only gross misfortune. A faulty ladder and a 14-foot fall left the North Dakota wheat farmer trapped in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Rural Jamestown farmer Russell Carlson, pictured here in October 2010, was often seen on his Harley Davidson motorcycle before the July 2011 accident that paralyzed him from the waist down.

“It’s frightening,” said Carlson, a gray-bearded bear of a man who looked profoundly misplaced in a hospital room. “I probably haven’t come fully to grip with it yet. It’s gonna be a hell of a change.”

But visit with Carlson for long, or talk to family and friends who inhabit the high plains surrounding his farm, and a brighter picture emerges. For anyone facing personal misfortune, there’s perhaps a lesson in Carlson’s refusal to submit to bitterness. And for a country facing widespread economic misfortune, there may be a lesson in how Carlson’s community has come to his aid since his fall. In an act reminiscent of an old-time barn-raising, neighbors are helping harvest Carlson’s 3,000 acres of wheat and soybeans and an organization called Farm Rescue has pitched in. All those involved insisted that, in their part of the world, such efforts are nothing remarkable at all.

“That’s just what we do around here,” said Kathy Blouin, 48, a neighbor who spent several days helping the Carlsons. “We can’t think of it any other way.”

Continue reading


Battery Back-Up Sump Pumps

Interested in buying a battery back-up sump pump for your home? Cooperative Energy Expert Tim Johnson has some advice.

The battery back-up sump pump is designed to be a secondary sump pump that starts working when the main sump pump has failed, such as during a power outage.

  • Battery back-up sump pumps can be purchased at most home centers, plumbing shops or hardware stores.
  • Prices range anywhere from $100 to $500 per unit or more depending on the rating of the GPH (gallons per hour) on the pump and the quality of the battery.
  • The recommended system has a deep-cycle marine battery with a controller, charger and alarm.
  • Both pumps must fit in the sump pit area. Some plumbing may be needed where the pit is too small to accommodate both.