SOUTH SHORE, S.D. — While the great pandemic of 2020 uproots much of the nation’s springtime schedule, the Tim and Lacey Grabow family of South Shore in northeastern South Dakota have filled their schedule with usual things — planting crops, gardens, mowing lawns.

The most urgent thing, of course, is that Tim and his father, Jeff, had planted their 2,000 acres to wheat and corn. They had half the beans planted on May 21, and were too busy for an interview. “I’ve heard a lot of other farmers say they’re wet and can’t get in, but we’ve been pretty fortunate,” Lacey said.

Oh yes, they’re having that barn painted again.

The springtime farm schedule is much as it always is for Lacey Grabow of South Shore, S.D., who is busy planting vegetables and flowers with her sons, Lane, 9 (right) and Covin, 6. Photo taken May 14, 2020, near South Shore, S.D.
The springtime farm schedule is much as it always is for Lacey Grabow of South Shore, S.D., who is busy planting vegetables and flowers with her sons, Lane, 9 (right) and Covin, 6. Photo taken May 14, 2020, near South Shore, S.D.
The house and milking barn were built by Tim’s great-grandfather, Ervin Beskow, at the time the nation was gripped in the great influenza pandemic in 1918-1919. It’s seen the family ups and downs, through the Great Depression and wars.

Lacey and Tim held their wedding reception and dance in it on June 14, 2003.

“I’ve been here 17 and this is the third time we painted it,” Lacey said. “We painted it before we got married and when we were pregnant with our first child. This time we decided we were getting older and needed to call in the professionals.”

 Lacey Grabow of rural South Shore, S.D., and her sons, Lane, 9, and Covin, 6, plant the pumpkin patch that will help feed the goats while Krueger’s Painting paints trim to go with the fresh coat of “barn red” on the vintage milking barn. Photo taken May 14, 2020, near South Shore, S.D.  Mikkel Pates / Agweek
Lacey Grabow of rural South Shore, S.D., and her sons, Lane, 9, and Covin, 6, plant the pumpkin patch that will help feed the goats while Krueger’s Painting paints trim to go with the fresh coat of “barn red” on the vintage milking barn. Photo taken May 14, 2020, near South Shore, S.D. Mikkel Pates / Agweek
Robert Krueger, an owner with Krueger’s Painting of Watertown, S.D., said his crew handles two or three vintage barns every year. This is the old-fashioned “barn red” color that so many like — the red sprayed on and the white carefully applied with a brush.

Barns of this era are disappearing, Krueger said: “We like doing them; they’re trying to save them.” The COVID-19 pandemic is slowing down the painting business, so it was nice to do this outdoor job: “You keep your social distance? You’re good to go.”

While Dad and Grandpa are out finishing the planting on their corn and soybeans, Lane and Covin Grabow of South Shore, S.D., were on their busy with their mother, Lacey.. Photo taken May 14, 2020, near South Shore, S.D.
While Dad and Grandpa are out finishing the planting on their corn and soybeans, Lane and Covin Grabow of South Shore, S.D., were on their busy with their mother, Lacey.. Photo taken May 14, 2020, near South Shore, S.D.
Social distance didn’t stop Grabows’ two sons — Lane, 9, and Covin, 6 — from getting close enough to holler a few questions up at the painters on their ladders. “Talking their ear off,” Lacey says, with a laugh.

On May 14, young Lane said he was eager for the arrival of three project pigs as he plans to join the Country Ramblers 4-H Club of Florence. (They arrived May 17.)

Robert Krueger, co-owner of Krueger’s Painting of Watertown, S.D., said his crew handles up to vintage barns every year. This is the beloved old-fashioned “barn red” color. Photo taken May 14, 2020, near South Shore, S.D.
Robert Krueger, co-owner of Krueger’s Painting of Watertown, S.D., said his crew handles up to vintage barns every year. This is the beloved old-fashioned “barn red” color. Photo taken May 14, 2020, near South Shore, S.D.
Covin was excited to be planting the pumpkin patch. The younger brother is now the taller of the two, and the owner of the trio of Nubian goats in the pen, over yonder, he said. “Goats like to eat pumpkins, you know,” Covin explained to a passer-by as he pounded in another marking stake. When he was finished with his own goat chores, he would be going after supper to see the neighbors’ new baby goats.

“It’s always something,” Lacey said, raising her eyebrow. “Always.”

And with everything upset in the world, it feels good to see some new paint on that old barn.