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Nothing nosy about counting noses

Many a critter in Vicki's barn!
Many a critter in Vicki's barn!

Finalcut_MagNorth_20100107.mp37.32 MB

Welcome back to Magnetic North  on this fine Jan. 7, where counting noses and beaks every day and every decade is the start and end to my days. Six, one, seven, two, five and 13. Good. Only sometimes the count is off.

Once I counted beaks in the coop and came up with one more than I’d ever counted before. Odd, I thought. But numbers have always been a foreign language to me, so I just accepted the new count. Until I heard more than one rooster crowing. Lo and behold, there was a Rhode Island Red rooster now living in my coop. Someone’s unwanted chick. Foisted upon me while I wasn’t looking.

Just in case the jokester who did that is listening, know that I have forgiven you. A fox got your rooster. And I’ve got a rather large and messy male turkey that would just love to spend the day in the back seat of your vehicle if I should ever find out who you are.

But I digress. My point - and I’m within sight of it - is that knowing who is out there and how many are out there is a very big deal. Mostly for them. And as it is with winged and four-legged creatures, so it is with us.

That’s the main reason I found myself taking a multiple-choice test this week in a church basement. I want to help get the Cook County nose count done. Done as completely as possible. So I applied and tested to be a census worker. After all, after being a reporter most of my life, I’m used to asking questions. Even ones people might see as being nosy.

There were just five of us testing in the cozy pine-paneled room beneath the sanctuary of Trinity Church in Hovland, four women and one man. I’d expected more. After all, the work is the kind of thing most can fit into just about any schedule. The hourly pay is around $14 plus mileage. And it’s a short-term commitment. Done in most cases by the end of summer.

Our county recruiter, Diane Stoddard, tested folks this week in Grand Marais, plus the East and West ends. But she has a whale of a big goal to reach - some 240 people to test - before she can rest assured that our county will be counted thoroughly by US and not people from Iowa or Kansas. Or worse!

So this is a plug to get with the count this year. Either help take the count or at least cooperate with it when you are contacted. Think of it like voting or stepping up when a neighbor needs help. Or even getting your blood pressure taken. It’s patriotic. It’s important to your community’s well-being. And it’s part of being a grownup. You can e-mail Diane at

Odd sentiments from a woman who spends her days and nights playing with goats and rabbits. Speaking of which, it’s way past chore time. With temperatures of 15 below or worse, I’m praying that none of my critters is sick. So along with the nose and beak count, I’ll be doing some condition sleuthing armed with my bag of potions and nostrums. In short, I’ll be doing a tail check.

Compared to this little activity, asking folks a bunch of personal questions seems just short of glamorous.