ALAMO -- It is often noisy at Jan and Arlon Peterson's farm home near Alamo, but no one ever objects.
With seven children in the family, sound should not be a surprise. The noises are sometimes the sound of equipment running.
In addition to the tractors, combines and augers used in growing small grains such as peas, lentils, durum and flax, there are construction noises.
Submitted Photo - - Arlon and Jan Peterson of Alamo will perform at the Frozen Fingers Festival with their family. From left are Rebecca, Caleb and Emily in the front row, and Jan with Alecia, then Arlon, Ben, Heather and Joshua in the back row.
Arlon Peterson noted his three oldest children have restored tractors: Joshua's 1949 Minneapolis Moline, daughter Heather's 1949 Oliver and Ben's 1941 Ford.
"Ben's tractor is really special," Arlon said. "Ben's grandfather bought that tractor new."
"We have animal noises, too," he said. "Heather milks a cow and Rebecca is milking three goats right now. We got started with goats because Josh was allergic to cow's milk when he was young. As long as goats' milk is fresh, we use it interchangeably with cow's milk."
But the major sound at the Peterson farm is music, particularly a harmonious blend of gospel, well-supported with string instruments.
The family began singing together about 2002, with their first gigs made at the Stanley nursing home where the children's grandfather lived.
Their next scheduled appearance will be at the Frozen Fingers Festival in Minot's Sleep Inn on Saturday. They will perform at 2 p.m.
"Talk about our family music just spread by word of mouth," Peterson said. "With the kids home-schooled, we were free to schedule shows. We sang in 47 places last year."
Petersons' concerts in 2011 included the county fair at Fessenden, the Balfour All-School reunion, and at Dickinson and New Leipzig.
"We have performed three times already this year, and we are invited to sing at a Gillette, Wyo., crusade in a month," he said.
Arlon is joined on the guitar work by Joshua using both acoustic and electric instruments.
"Josh, who also plays banjo, is a violinist and he is especially proud of his fiddle," Arlon said. "It belonged to his great-great-grandfather, who played it before he died in the 1918 flu epidemic."
Ben built the mandolin he plays two years ago, when he was 13. His father reported he is now building another mandolin for a woman at Tioga.
Ben also plays harmonica and adds percussion with another old-time musical instrument, spoons.
All the Petersons sing, with Arlon, Heather and Rebecca trading lead, and Jan, Josh, Ben, Emily and Caleb providing backup harmonies. Alecia, the youngest (who sings when she feels like it) will do everything musical when she gets older, her father predicts.
"I feel sorry for the sound guys when we sing," Arlon Peterson said. "When you have little kids with their soft voices, you tend to crank up the volume and then when they swallow the mike, they have to contend with a real blast of sound."
Audiences never seem to mind when the smallest of the Petersons, including Alecia, 4, capture a mike and belt it out.
The family members are not strangers to the intricacies of sound systems. They built a recording studio in their basement, where they are at work recording a second CD.
Their first CD, "When God Dips His Love in my Heart," cut in 2009, contains gospel music ranging from traditional favorites such as "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder" and "Wings of a Dove" to less familiar tunes. Joshua Peterson is listed as producer on that disc.
"The new CD has the same flavor, with a few more slower songs and more acoustic guitar," Arlon Peterson said.
One thing is predictable: the Petersons will continue to make a joyful noise. They can be reached at 539-2365 or by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.