The Useful Duck!

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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Random irritations which I have no proof read

I've been listening to George D. MacDonald books which I've downloaded from Audible.
I have read them all before so a lot of what I find interesting is the social commentary and the comparison between now and 1965-1979.
I really had forgotten the utter BS that was the 1970's.
Pretty much the same as now. I find it pretty amusing that "kids today" make fun of the "Boomers" as they are exactly the same as sanctimonious and pretentious morons as their grandparents.
I also find it interesting to see that the propaganda/cynical manipulation of disadvantaged people by the educated elite of the 1970's is now accepted as gospel truth today.
I suspect that actually reason MLK was knocked off is the same reason Bill Cosby got his kink exposed, they opposed the institutional victimization of black people. You must have class conflict to further the revolution.
I understand systemic racism a lot better now that I spent a winter stripping hemp with poor white folk. It is pretty simple.
If you are white and your parents get caught up in drugs, crime, if you have a single parent and live near the poverty level, it is really hard to move up. If you don't do well in school and you don't have parents to force you to study, get a job, learn self discipline, and your influences/roll models glorify your failure, you will end up 34 years old with a face tattoo, riding a BMX bicycle because you never got around to paying off your traffic tickets, you are going to get profiled and harassed by the cops.
I see those people every day...
I get profiled myself. In my life of driving crappy cars I've found that looking a certain what and driving a certain car will guarantee that I will have a broken license plate light and I will get pulled over. It is almost amusing to see the cop's expression change when he discovers he has stopped a grumpy old farmer with a car he bought at an auction and not a potential meth dealer.
Of course I've had to be more careful now that I'm carrying around felon possession amounts of hemp. (I can prove it is not weed. I carry the test in the car with me)
I find it amazing that in the 1970's activists laughed about changing the interpretation of statistics showing black people commit more crimes per capita to the interpretation that black people are targeted solely because of their skin color.
Of course the problem is that white liberals are idiots.
I see it at work and the way my college treats students. There is no challenge to be excellent. Everyone is defined by their victim status. Work study students are not challenged to work, we are just their low paid babysitters.
It is really pretty depressing.
In other news, I'm thinking of becoming a labor activist.
I do hate progressive politics and unions in general but our new president is determined to screw us.
He loves slogans.
He thinks he is a man of the people and his favorite jingoistic slogan is "one (insert name of our third rate college here)."
Our college is a very hierarchal benevolent dictatorship sort of bureaucracy. Back when the college was actually relevant to the local community we had a lady president who saw the college community as family. I was talking to a long term security person at the college the other day. He was telling me how the president used to walk with him and talk to him when he was doing his rounds at 4 a.m. He laughed when I asked him if the new president hung out with him.
We have a couple employee associations. There is an association for for hourly employees which I am a board member. This association has a contract with the college. We provide representation if you are called into HR or if you have to meet with a supervisor. We have an agreement which spells out our rights and benefits.
The administration of the college really hates this. They continually try to redefine our agreement and it always results in an interpretation which devalues us.
They really hate our free tuition benefit. It used to be that if you worked at the school for over 5 years your dependents could get free tuition even if you quit. Also, there were summer school tuition benefits. The leadership thinks that this costs the school money. The school is begging students to attend. We have a 95% acceptance rate. I doubt they even check your heart beat. Although, if you are the child of an employee they are not real excited to have you as you are getting something for nothing. This pretty much sums up the attitude of the college HR department and the long time department heads and supervisors. Employees are there to collect the (formerly) amazing benefits and do a moderate amount of work for not very much pay.
We are expecting an announcement at our next meeting.
I'm researching how to organize a real union. I'm not going to join it. I just want to irritate the people power.
I'm especially irritated with he president who pretended care about us working class stiffs but really is just using his position to hang out with celebrities.
Ah, the undeniable virtue of the oppressed...

In other news...
It is a rainy Sunday and I'm trying to come up with a more concentrated hemp tonic. A former Workstudy student came to see me yesterday. She is now a physical therapist and was quite excited about the benefits of topical CBD applications.
I've found that just soaking the shake/trim in Everclear gives mixed results. I have some concentrated crude which I was trying to infuse with alcohol to boost my leaf based tonic.
My daughter wanted to listen to records so I put on Tom Waits, Night Hawks at the Diner, followed by Tom Petty, "Southern Accents," Now we are on MC-5 "Kick out the Jams."
Haven't heard much from her.
Tom Waits does "Phantom 309" if you want to get confused on your Trucker Music genre.
MC5 does "Back in the USA."

Sunday, May 3, 2020

A rambling post including Wu-Flu, Hemp, Farming

It has been a while...
I've composed several blogs in my head but have not actually posted them.
Since the "Pandemic Lite" started, life has certainly changed.
I am still working at the college.
I am an essential worker.
We divided into three teams which work three days a week.
The other two days I "work for home." I actually do work from home. I rebuilt the new sprayer my college bought me. I took sexual boundary and harassment training. I though briefly about lawn mowing.
The rest of the time I spent catching up on things which I have neglected for the past four years I've been working off the farm.
No-Tilling oats at the top of the hill

I've also been pushing hemp tonic. My hemp tonic is made from left over leaves and buds soaked in Everclear. I soak them for three weeks and then strain out the solids and put the alcohol mixture in a spray bottle. Hispanic people buy it. Apparently people in Mexico do this with the actual weed.
I have repeat customers so I guess it works. I use it for hand sanitizer. I tried a couple sips as people do take CDB internally for things like Parkinson's disease but it really tastes bad. Not something you really want to ruin a full cup of coffee with.
The whole Wu-Flu debacle has been pretty depressing. What is really sad and depressing is what will follow. If say ten percent of the population had died then world wide quarantine measures would be heroic. However, the Wu-Flu seems to mostly his rest homes and places where people are really squashed together (NYC) or have been sharing a lot of bodily fluids (spring break).
We are at the point where people who have small businesses are going to lose everything. When faced with the choice of going broke at age 55 and losing your house and all your life savings or getting really sick but probably not dying people are going to not choose losing everything.
So we have a conflict between those who have really good unemployment, an essential job (like me), or compromised immune systems, versus those people who are going to lose their homes or in other countries, people who will starve.
Politicians and Governor's can't deal with this choice because they can't understand the choice. The concept of losing your life's dream has never occurred to them. They don't think that way. If they did there would be a lot fewer sexual harassment accusations towards people in power.
I think we are going to have to go back to work. And I think there will be a spike in Wu-Flu cases as different groups start interacting and different levels of immunity come into contact again. (because that is how it works with cows...) Then the idiots that run the world will do exactly the wrong thing. Not sure what the wrong thing will be but they will do it. It will divide along party lines for sure but there will be legislation that will remove our personal freedoms and make us more vulnerable to pandemics.
That is my opinion.
This photo sums it up. Sports fields are closed at my college. The tiny golf green and the hammer throw are behind this fence. It is the only sports field with no gate. Someone put up caution tape. There are only a few people wandering campus during the day. Sometimes people go around the caution tape and sit on the bench by the hammer throw.
The only people this tape keeps out are the one guy who works for Utilities that likes to hit golf balls on break and people on lawn mowers. I do not tell people to leave because I don't care. Unless they are damaging the lawn.
Keeping America safe by restricting all open spaces
In other news...
I have been thinking about my lack of blogging.
I have an hour lunch and I'm bored to tears for 30 minutes so I could blog or write the Daily Strumpet.
Here is a shotgun list of all the issues:
When I get home I tend to work.
I don't think I'm funny anymore.
Mechanical problems:
Back in the day, I had a PowerBook 180, a giant monitor, and a GCC BLP II laser printer. I used a real camera and sometimes developed my own pictures. In someways it was easier to print the Daily Strumpet than it was to do a Blog. Or more fun..
Tunnel Vision on the PB180

Currently, I have a MacBook Pro 2010 which locks up unexpectedly with large programs and won't shut down properly so the battery is always dead. I take photos with a non-iPhone and send them to Google Photos. Then I have to download them to my glitchy MacBook. The Blogger App does not work on my phone.
When I was blogging every day, my MacBook Pro worked. I used an iPhone or a digital camera and you could just hook up a cord to the computer and import the photos into a named folder created by Graphic Converter. I don't think things work as well as they used to work.
I'm looking at a 2017 MacBook Pro with 8gb ram, 256 gig HD, 13" screen, and the Adobe Creative suite installed for $750, might have another six months of AppleCare. I really don't want to spend the money but the battery life is amazing. My daughter bought one for college and she loves it. HD failed and AppleCare replaced it with 500gb flash drive and the guy she bought it from offered to replace the software.
I don't know. I've go so much work to do and not that much enthusiasm.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The never ending hemp processing

Art was wondering what happened to the lazy hemp farmer...
He suggested too much Bud for Budd! He could have been correct!

The process is never ending.
We finished stripping buds off all the hemp plants. I dried everything and put it in large bags. They are 36" by 36" by 46" high.
We still have our contract with the processor. Our CDB levels should be around 12%.
Labor costs were starting to really eliminate any spare cash. We hired a couple people who were connected with the farm where we are processing the hemp.
When we finished stripping the hemp we took a couple days off to reorganize and figure out what needed to be done next.
There are six bags of material that test 7% CDB. We need to sort stems out of this so that we can improve the ratio buds 13% CDB to leaves 2.6% CDB, (according to the calculations of my workstudy girl who helped during Christmas break and is a genius).
While we were shut down we got robbed.
The farmer got hit worse. He lost a generator and tools. I didn't think we lost any material as the person who is supposedly the thief weights 300lbs and could squeeze though the locked door.
(I have now installed a second lock on the door so you can't pry the door away from the post.) Word is that he got a few pounds from me also.
The end result is that I have no one to help sort hemp.
I am able to get college kids on the weekends.  I'm really hoping my Workstudy girl doesn't get stuck in Vietnam because of the virus. She went home for New Years and has to fly though Hong Kong to get back. I'm thinking I will try to recruit this coming week as there is a winter break at my college. Going to also have to call in the daughter. I have nephews but they are a little hard to find.

The worst problem I have now is that hemp absorbed moisture from the high humidity and I may have to re-dry and re-bag most of it. If I do that I will use plastic bag liners and use a vacuum pump to remove the air. Then I will put CO2 or Nitrogen gas in the bags.
I need to just finish this project up. The price is terrible but we do have a floor price in our contract. I'm tired of working on this every evening and recruiting my wife and various college kids and people without valid ID to help.
Sometimes I feel like the little red hen...

In other news, yes I am still a groundskeeper. I love blowing leaves in the pouring rain. I am happy all the day long!
This is an art installation on campus. This is what you can do with $42,000 when you study art...
I think the cleaning services guy was disappointed when he tried to change the roll of paper...

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Merry Christmas 2019

Christmas time arrived before I knew it. I've been sort of obsessed with the question of will we be stuck with 15 industrial sized bags of hemp buds.
That is a lot to smoke, make into weird tinctures, boil on the stove, give to people who will never actually do anything with it, or store for a year.
I bought everything online.
I did ok with my daughter but the wife presents were a complete bust. The first one I bought she then bought herself, the second present turned out to be the wrong size.
At the family Christmas on Christmas Eve, my wife's sister bought the same thing I had just wrapped and put under the tree.
The final indignity was when I got home and found the last present had arrived.
It was the wrong size.
My daughter and I went out and bought her a heated blanket. (as opposed to a heating pad)
Then I went and checked the hemp dryer. It is getting dry.
The hemp project has turned into a forever project. We improved our quality to the point where we have passed the minimum quality standard and could sell our product if the price ever comes back up.
We had a pretty small Christmas Day with just daughter and wife and I.
We listened to Christmas Records and it was really rather relaxed.

We are going to BBQ for supper and if I was not lazy I would go over and visit my Nephews and give them the Donald Trump fake lego sets I bought from a sketchy Chinese importer. Oh, the lovely Christmas Irony!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Hemp hophead fever

I am trying to drag myself off the couch to work on stripping hemp. It is an all consuming project. I haven't run the dryer for three days due to lack of production. I have to get a load in it today. Goal setting is important but task completion is key...

I would be happy to never smell skunkweed again..
or perhaps we should say the Wildwood Flower?

We are attempting to process our hemp.
As you may recall from last week it has been a bit of a process.
Several things have gone wrong.
Overproduction was the obvious issue and we saw that problem going in. What we didn't imagine was a summer which did not have enough heat units to produce mature buds and that screwing around for a week and not getting the weed in the ground was going to cost us thousands of dollars.
The planting issue came about by me trying to get a job planting for a neighbor who then did and end run around me and borrowed the planter and kept it for two weeks. The problem was that we didn't own the planter and I let that slip... We had the tractor and the pot grower down the road had the planter and bedder and no tractor to pull it with.
But that has been the whole problem with hemp growing. There is so much imaginary money involved that people definitely take care of themselves first.
Not to say that people haven't been great. The farmer who owns the sheds we are using to process the hemp has gone above and beyond being "neighborly" to the point of loaning us helpers and even coming out and stripping hemp himself. My buddy who borrowed the planter has also been coming out and helping in the evenings and has offered his stripping machine. It is what it is.
Our basic problem is that we have less than 10% CBD when we take in anything but buds. Stripping only buds is really slow.
We have considered using the gravity table cleaner as we are processing our hemp at a seed cleaning plant. Air and vibration make the round buds, leaves, and steps separate. But, you can't stop everything and experiment when you have a real job to go back to on Monday...
Things stopped over Thanksgiving as I was trying to get the people buying our material to come out and look at it and we sent samples for more testing. Of course the hemp girl hit a curb and bent two rims on her way over on Wednesday and Thursday was Thanksgiving. Our tests came back and the hand sorted material was three points higher than the material straight out of the stripping machine.
I've been trying to load the dryer before work and then I work till 9:30 or 10 pm afterwork. My wife has been sorting during the day and my nephews also help between school and other duties.
I've tapped labor from previous Workstudy students and my daughter and random individuals I have met. I suspect we will never get done....

Below is a photo of our material. The first photo is hand sorted, the second is just buds. The pen is for scale.

My daughter came home from college and helped last weekend. She does not like to be photographed.

Several Workstudy students have helped me. Here is one of my best students. He even has a real job after graduating from a Liberal Arts College.

Have a happy day...

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Before you decide to plant hemp, give me a call....

We planted 2 acres of hemp.
Two weeks after skeptically committing to hemp I sold a load of pig feed from a fellow who raises pigs in the part of Oregon where the most beautiful hay is grown.
He was asking about hay as there is a shortage due to the fact that every hay farmer in the state has taken out their alfalfa fields and planted hemp for CDB oil.
Then I talked to a friend who had attended the Louisville Farm show and he was telling me how everyone was talking about hemp.
So, I've been a little skeptical...
Apparently there is enough hemp oil for every American to drink CBD juice for morning noon and night and also smoke a few buds when the urge takes them.
It has been a learning experience.

1. CBD is just an excuse to smoke pot. Not that I really object. I don't but I know a lot of people who do. Smoking a CBD bud gives users (according to a review of our brand of hemp) a pleasurable restful experience. Sort of like getting stoned with Cheech and Chong back in the day I suspect.
One of the helpers at the farm where we are drying our hemp took a bud home "to his Mom," to smoke and she reportedly got nicely stoned... Yup, its just for your "health."

2. Hemp takes a lot of water and fertilizer. Kind of like growing corn. Plus there is a ton of plastic and drip line to dispose of if you do it like we did. Not that environmentally friendly.

3. No one is doing anything with the leftover biomass. I want to grind it into chicken litter but I'm not sure I'll have the energy.

4. Over production, if something is too good to me true it probably is...

5. Hand stripping hemp is a pain in the butt. I'm tired of changing the dryer everyday before and after work...

This ain't no way to be a lazy farmer.

Let me know if you need to score some bud....

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Reflections on the upcoming anniversary of working off the farm

I was looking back to 2015 in the blog history. I suspect my job sucked from day one. It was day two that I came up with the tuition, insurance, retirement mantra and that is how I have made it through.
Today I started a new job.
I am a temporary dump truck driver.
I have a commercial driver's license for something like 30 years. I've never really used it, but I've kept it up to date since the CDL was invented by the idiot gubment.
I can drive triples and tanker trucks. I've never done that before.
Today I declined the opportunity to drive a set of doubles. (another story...)
The steam line at my college is failing and so they hired a company to repair it. But first, they put off the repair for several years so their was continual steam venting from the earth. It was sort of neat in the winter....
But I digress.,
There is a company that has subcontracted the excavation work for the steam line. They seem to be having a great time. They climb their dirt piles with their electric UTV. The employees run from the excavator to the Bob Cat. The young kid does wheelies with the Bob Cat which causes the tight asses at my college to blow multiple fuzes.
Their supervisor has been friendly with me. I got to telling him stories of my truck driving failures whilst hauling silage. Like the time I had to shift the five and four in downtown rush hour traffic while hauling corn and I screwed up the ship and had to stop in the middle of traffic and start over. Or almost hitting a small car with a giant pumpkin in front of the train station in Salem. Or the time I was loading a truck with the really old but big Case excavator that my uncle used to own, and I dumped a giant load of mud in the bed of a small farm truck, which caused the truck driver and his passenger to hit their heads on the roof of the truck, and then it turned out to be the owner of the farm I was digging the ditch for.
Then he offered me a job driving dump truck.
I said, "But I'm just a farmer," and he said, "But, you have a CDL."
It turns out he was not joking and he is paying me twice what I make at my college job.
I promptly took a week off work.
Today was my first day.
I went to work at 7 am. We had a nice little chat. Young guy loaded me up. The supervisor showed me wear to dump. Everyone seemed happy. The supervisor came by a couple times and chatted with me while I was being loaded.
I screwed up shifting the 13 speed several times. The supervisor said he didn't know how to drive a dump truck and that he was just happy I was helping. I noted that I needed to make some calls as I also needed to haul hay today. The supervisor said that was fine and he assumed I was not going to do that while driving through the down town of our fair city.
At 11 am the supervisor and the kid said they were going home as they live out of state.
The kid showed me the controls on the excavator and how to switch from the normal controls to the weird controls that I am used to using. The said I should leave the keys under that floor mat and I could work as long as I liked.
I am so slow with the excavator. I tried the controls in the normal setting but kept hitting the truck bed. The next load I switched the valve to the Vintage Case setting. But then I was all kinds of mixed up. The bucket rotates and tilts which is really cool and fun.
I got better.
Then my neighbor said he would haul a load of straw for me so I went home to help him. He wanted me to drive the truck but I begged off claiming incompetence and I drove the RoadRunner.
We hauled my two tie wheat straw into the barn. Now I only have five truck loads of fescue straw in the field. It has suffered two inches of rain already, I suppose the anticipated additional inch will not ruin it further.
I'm pretty much screwed in the farming department. I expect the main farm to be ok if we actually get our hemp harvested, but my personal farm is screwed.
I did not realize how essential my daughter was to the operation. She would go out to work at 9 a.m. and would ask for a job. This would set things in motion. She would invariably get sent back to the house until 10 am but at ten there would be a raking or baling job for her.
This meant that my retired helper would be able to bale which meant that I would be able to stack till midnight when I got home.
Without Lulu, the helper would rake for two days and then bale for three days and I would come home and work on the baler until 9:30 pm and be so irritated I'd feel like I stacked until midnight but in reality NOTHING GOT DONE ALL SUMMER. And so when I took a day off and actually got something baled it was so late in the year that it was shite and there was no real incentive for the people who were guilted into buying the aforementioned shite to actually picking it up and then we got 2" of rain.
And then of course as a side note, I didn't bale my feedstore 2-tie hight quality straw as I was still working for the main farm and so it all got rained on and I lost my customer.
I think there is a basic failing in my business plan.
Four more years and my daughter will have her degree in Cognitive Neuroscience or Nursing and I can quit this idiot job where I am not trusted with keys to Toro lawnmowers, or the green house, and my supervisor thinks I am wasting time on my cell phone and the list goes on and on.
It was really great to be appreciated and respected for just one day. I would have driven truck for free, just for the appreciation and trust shown by my new supervisor. If they offer me a permanent job, I suspect my daughter my have to look for more scholarships....

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