Sunday, June 21, 2009

Update from the Road: Swanton

Duane Sutter and his son Nathan, sit on Duane's riding lawn-mower.

Audio recorded and edited by Bruce Thorson

Duane Sutter

Sutter mows lawns for the entire village of Swanton.

Photos and story by Patrick Breen

Driving into the small town of Swanton, Bruce Thorson spotted another small-town situation that seems to play out almost everywhere we go. A man driving his kid on his riding lawn-mower. Our plan was to head out to Swanton because we heard the residents had some mighty bad hail damage.

A few days before I had followed around Ryan Birkett and his family as he discussed the hail damage to their crops and the roofs of DeWitt. He said he lost close to half his yield and figured the damage close to $40,000. Birkett said that even with the rush replanting that he and his brothers did, he imagines he'll only lose a third of his total profit. Birkett said that these last few hail storms, which hit earlier this month were some of the worst he has ever seen. Now, one of Swanton's 100 or so residents was describing the hail damage done to local crops and his job of mowing basically the whole area of Swanton.

Sutter was hoping to finish mowing in the next few days so that by Thursday he could be up in South Dakota fishing with his son.

After talking to Sutter for awhile, we went down to the local bar, The Corner Tavern, in which we found some very interesting people. We were challenged to a game of pitch, if you don't know what that is, you, Bruce and I are in the same boat. Nevertheless, we played and enjoyed talking with the two older men.

Even the bar owner lost a garden he had planted. Whether it was small or large, the people of Swanton and DeWitt seemed to still have their smiles and cheer about them.


  1. It's safe to say you are out of any slump you imagined yourself in. Great set, especially the portrait of Mr. Sutter. Good narrative, also.

  2. Patrick, you are a GREAT photographer! Tell everyone I hope the rest of the trip finds you with better weather and lots of great photos!