Sometimes I would wonder why I was ‘friends’ with a pig farmer.

Actually the bottom fell out of the hog market a while back and Brent Olson a down-to-earth-no-nonsense-farmer-turned-writer from Minnesota turned instead to crop farming.

I’ve never had the pleasure of actually meeting him, but then these days that doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for friendship.

One thing I have noticed though, is that most of my online friends share a deep sense of faith with me. And the best thing about them, and especially Brent, is that we never try to convert one another.

I’ve ‘known’ Brent for about twelve years I’d say. He has a bi-weekly column where he ruminates about all kinds of things with a lot of self-deprecating humour.

He has Viking roots, has traveled extensively, and to me represents the bedrock of American values.

He is the inventor of the Brentform resume. It’s a list of skills that really describes who and what you stand for.

Here’s a partial list of his Brentform resume:

When someone offers me help my instinctive response is to say, “No thanks, I can do anything.” It has gotten me in a lot of trouble over the years.

-I still say it.

– I once shot myself in the hand with a rifle while preparing for a Norwegian-Philippine-French Independence Day Celebration.

-I once took a group of other people’s children to stay in the ghetto of a third world country where our body-guard was a fourteen year old girl named Lauri.

-One of my books is in Pete Seeger’s bathroom.

-I know all of “Silver Tongued Devil” by Kris Kristofferson .

-I once harvested 235 acres of soybeans in 17 and 1/2 hours. It snowed that night and I
had three cups of coffee the next morning before I put my shoes on.

-I know that what Henry V really said at Agincourt was most likely “Let’s get ’em boys.” but Shakespeare’s version always makes me cry.

-I can castrate thirty pound pigs by myself, 45 seconds per pig.

-I am fond of every Caterpillar mechanic I’ve ever met.

-I know what the ground temperature has to be to germinate a corn seed.

-I cry very easily when I’m alone.

-I spend most of my time alone.

-I once spent the night in a motel bathroom in Brainerd with a baby with the shower running and the light off. The baby had croup and the light switch also turned on the fan

-I once was locked in a church with twenty-five teenagers and at three in the morning told them a story that made eight of them cry.

-I cannot sing, but can prove that either “Thunder Road” or “Kisses Sweeter than Wine” is the best song in the world.

-I’ve buried four dogs.

-I can cope.

-I love my family.

He’s written a wonderful book called Papa Figuring Out What Matters, that I had the good fortune of perusing. It’s filled with short essays, kind of like Chicken Soup for the Soul, only from a distinctly mid-western perspective.

To read more about him check out this blog where he’s been featured:

To sign up to receive his Independently Speaking column, go here:

And in honour of Brent, here’s my own Brentform resume:

-When I was a kid I used to lie under the sofa, stare up at the springs and compose songs and stories.

-When I was about four I made a card for God and put it in the highest place I could find, the second shelf of the kitchen cupboard above the sink. I still feel like it made God smile.

-I can flare my nostrils at will

-I can fit a soup ladle in my mouth-a feat which won me a dollar from my brother who didn’t think I could do it.

-When I was a kid, I’d stare at the eight letters that make up my first name and wonder that they could represent or define who I am. I still wonder that.

-I have great difficulty recognizing faces and remembering names. I can’t describe myself, and I suspect I wouldn’t recognize myself if I met me on the street.

-I love my family.

-I cherish my grandchildren.

-I know my Brentform isn’t at all as good as Brent’s but that’s okay.