Kids are always looking for ways to make money.  I would think they do today.  I know when I was a kid we sure did.

My brother and I were always looking for ways to make some cash back there on that little farm by Leota, Minnesota..  Selling sweet corn, at least the ears the raccoons didn't get. Selling the apples from a little orchard we had. Walking bean fields was a decent way to score a few bucks. Baling hay.  On the farm those many years ago there were a variety of ways to earn some coin for the pocket.

There was a time when I was probably eight or nine I guess, my brother being about twelve or thirteen or so, when we decided the way to make money was raising rabbits.  That would be the road to true riches for us two on the farm. It was a brainstorm.

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From somewhere (memories tend to lean toward hazy after about a half-century) we got a wooden rabbit hutch.  It had twelve, maybe fifteen cages in it, plenty big for us.

We went to the Pipestone sale barn with our Dad because they always had rabbits and a variety of other critters for sale outside the building.  We began by just buying a couple or so, then a few more and a few more.  Pretty soon that old wooden rabbit hutch was pretty much plump full and we were ready to sell and realize our profit,

Except...ever heard of distemper? We didn't know what it was, but we found out in a hurry.  What it did was kill rabbits.

So in the words of some long ago great philosopher somewhere...that was that.

But that didn't deter us, not us two young business men. Up next would be raising White Pigeons.  What could go wrong?

Well, the White Pigeons got in with the regular old pigeons and pretty soon we had a whole bunch of ugly grayish kind of pigeons and gee, nobody wanted them. Not even us.

But there was one surefire thing we could do that was a slam dunk money maker: Pocket Gophers.

We'd set the traps (and yes, they were the old steel traps that would be sooo politically incorrect today) early in the morning.  After school and after chores, we'd take our bikes and check them.  And basically one of four things would be found.

1) The trap was empty. Yes, that happened more often than not.

2) The trap was packed tight with dirt. That doggone ol' gopher had sat in his tunnel and watched us set the trap. Hard as it is to believe, he had outsmarted us.

3) There was either a dead gopher in the trap, or a live gopher that was really, really angry.


4) There was a foot in the trap and no gopher. No need to go into detail about that.

We needed those gopher feet, you see.  A pair of feet in those days would bring .25 cents from the township.

So my brother and I would keep those gopher feet in jars of salt in our garage and in the fall bring them to Ray Beckering and Ray would pour them all out over his driveway, count out the pairs, and my brother and I would go home with cash in hand and a smile on our faces.

Do kids still trap pocket gophers? Are there even pocket gophers still around? A good memory from the old days.

How did you make your money when you were a kid?

Randy's Minnesota Memories

Randy McDaniel grew up on a small farm near Leota, Minnesota during the classic baby-boomer years of the 1960s and 1970s. These are his stories of growing up in the idyllic world of southwest Minnesota.

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