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James W. Nelson was born in a farmhouse in eastern North Dakota in 1944. Some doctors made house calls back in those days. He was living in that same house on the land originally homesteaded by his great grandfather, when a savage tornado hit in 1955 and destroyed everything. But they rebuilt and his family remained on that land until the early nineteen-seventies when diversified farming began changing to industrial agribusiness. James spent four years in the US Navy, worked many jobs and has finally has settled on a few acres of land exactly two and one half miles straight west of the original farmstead, ironically likely the very spot where the 1955 tornado first struck, which sometimes gives him a spooky feeling.
He lives among goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, crows, cottontails, squirrels, deer, mink, badgers, coyotes, wallflowers, spiderworts, sunflowers, goldenrod, big and little bluestem, switchgrass, needle & thread grass, June berries, chokecherries, oaks, willows, boxelders and cottonwoods, in the outback of eastern North Dakota.