The Useful Duck!

Contribute to my Vacation, please...

Monday, November 30, 2009

DAK is still in business?!

When I was a kid there were a couple catalogues that I really enjoyed. First was the Montgomery Wards Christmas toy catalogue, (especially the old ones from the 1950's that were at Grandma's house) The Sharper Image, (full of strange electronic gifts) and the DAK catalogue.
With DAK if you ordered a lifetime supply of their extra special cassette tapes you would get a free stereo or something. I think I got a little radio that got TV and weather signals that was on the size of a pack of smokes.
This morning I was looking for a turntable to play my records on. I had four turtables stored away but, one was not very good, the second one got dropped while loading the trailer, the one that plays 78's has a bad transmission, and the four one is gone and no one remembers where it went.
The forth one was the good one. The two good ones didn't have cartridges as I had the cartridges packed in their boxes. I am positive the fourth turntable went away as it looked like it was not usuable. I am pretty sure of this because the one I wanted to go away is still here. It is not such a big deal. Who knew three out of four would be bad? Perhaps the fourth one went bad as well.
I would like to find something to play my 78's on, and a good player for my LP's. I looked at the new USB turn tables but they look pretty cheesy.
Something will turn up I'm sure...
But, I digress...
DAK is still in business hawking interesting electronic stuff. Drew is still writing these informative sales pitches. Drew is a good writer. I would like to write stuff like that. I am impressed by some copywriting that I have seen. Drew writes easy to read material that flows well. It gives you the impression that you are gaining valuable information in easy to understand language about fairly technical stuff. But, it is all crafted to get you to buy the product.
If you want to be a writer you should look at the persuasive copy on the DAK site!
Pretty funny!
I have the urge to buy his record player and special converter box. It is really not that bad a deal for a new turntable (it appears to play 78 rpm) and a preamp but the software is not for a Mac.
Somewhere I have a legal copy of soundsoap, and I have a preamp so....
I'll look at the rest of his stuff!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Useless crap-but it is all interesting!

I accumulate stuff.
I hate to use the term hoard.
Perhaps I should.
We moved out to the farm a couple years ago.
We once lived in a big old farmhouse. We had a deal with a retired farmer. If we kept the lawn mowed and didn't bug him we could live there for $225 a month.
After he put in a new well I started paying him $300. We lived there for something like eight years.

It was very cold. The house was built at the end of the 1800's. The walls were not real thick. We burned a lot of wood. But, it was the sort of house that had character. There was a fireplace the previous renter had built out of bricks from another 100 year old house. There was an old 1950's enameled woodstove with a Magic Heat exchanger and the sound of the fan put us to sleep every night. The wind whistled and the house creaked. In the summer a climbing rose tried to grow through a little hole in a window pane that I had to keep taped shut. There were little stained glass panels around the windows. The farmer's grandmother had painted black squares around some of the door knobs so that the devil or evil spirits couldn't find their way into the house.
There was a big old crooked walnut tree in the back yard for Sadie to climb and apples trees and roses and a wild mess of dandelions and daffodils would grow up every year. I wish so much that place was mine. But, it was not nor would it ever be.

We had lots of room and we filled it. I've been renting the barn for storage and we have been trying to cut down on the collections.
Today we went after a pickup load of junk to be burned, and a pickup load of cool stuff to be sorted through.
I have, two complete darkrooms with enlargers, a box of Interview Magazines from the 1980's. Popular mechanics from the 1940's, Motorcycle magazines from the 1970's and 80's, old text books, boxes and boxes of other books, some very old, some not so old. Old Mad magazines, old toys, old tools, a box of dishes you got from buying shreaded wheat in the 1950's, more old tools, a box of telegraph insulators, an antique bicycle, a box of old Daily Strumpets, more Daily Strumpet coffee mugs, a disk drive for a Mac Plus and there is more.
To store this stuff in our surplus 30ft trailer I had to move an old cider press, a 1970 Triumph Motorcycle, more toy trucks (structo and tonka), boxes of old photos, and a roll of photographic back ground paper I've had for 20 years.
Somehow I've got to stop, this is all interesting stuff! I have a 1942 Almanac-sans cover, I have Silver surfer Comic books, Love and Rockets comics, LP records-From Joe Ely, Johnny Cash, Hank Sr., to the other extreme, The Damned, Eddie and the Hot Rods, Dr. Feelgood, The Clash, Ian Tyson, The Beatles, James White and the Contortions... I have three turntables, two tube amp receivers, three tape decks, a reel to reel, four cameras, Penatax K1000, KX, ME Super, two small olympus and XA and another rangefinder, and a GAF instamatic, oh and a medium format that is somewhere, I haven't found it yet. Should I get attacked by Axis forces i have a WWII surplus range finder and an aircraft spotters guide. No Betty Bomber will take me unawares!

Sadie will just call the scrappers when we die...

This was our old back yard-

This is our new back yard. Sadie is well off the training wheels by now. That was from 2006.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Things we do that we think make money but are really kind of pointless

I should have bought stocks. Case/New Holland, AGCO, Ford, all are way up. I didn't. Of course this may have been because I was broke rather than I figured the world was going to end. I'm not altogether sure we are out of the woods yet.
I have been grinding feed. We do have lots of good ideas. We grew an acre of soybeans as a test. We combined some corn as a test. While we do have good ideas sometimes we fall short in the execution of those ideas.
The soybeans were pretty much a failure. Just after I planted them they skys opened up and we got three inches of rain in a half hour. I have heard that this is not good for soybeans. Then I tried to break the crust after the rain with a rotary hoe. This really didn't work. I think I did something wrong. I did run over my hat and put a hole in the bill. It was a new hat.
Then there was the corn test. The standing corn combined with no problems. Aside from the massive plug-up with the straw chopper. The corn that was knocked down by the irrigator and skipped by the custom silage chopper didn't pick up so well and we ended up with a lot of dirt in the tank. Then there was the moisture problem. We needed to transfer the combine tank load of corn between a couple different bags so help dry it out. It didn't happen. So the corn is moldy.
I sold the corn to a fellow who wants to feed it to his free-range chickens. He wants me to mix it with oats and wheat and triticale.
So I ran the corn and beans through my old Minneapolis-Moline hammer mill. The belt keeps flying off. I can't keep it tight, it has a rip in it, the hammer mill plugs up, adding triticale and oats is not getting the moisture down. I filled a big bag with the mix of corn, soybeans and whole oats. The moisture was 19 percent. I think I will spread it out in a truck bed and see if it drys down. I need to get the guy a sample to try out. I don't want to mix the good feed with this stuff if it is going to spoil.
Then I discovered that I forgot to save any barley.
Last year I sold a lot of barley and oats for feed. I totally forgot to save any barley this year.
This may been one of the reasons I am not a sucessful farmer...
Perhaps my daughter will marry well...

My Last Post was a load of Crap

I think I got all wierd and depressed last night grinding feed. I just need to relax a little at times.
I woke this morning to the sound of gunfire. Actually I woke up early and it was dark and I couldn't go back to sleep. Strange dreams that I can no longer remember. I went back to sleep and then the guns of the neighborhood opened up.
Duck and Goose hunters. I'm pretty sure they provide for their families by shooting geese. Although, judging from the number of shots fired, they may be spending more than they get in return.
Sounds like a war zone!
What about a quiet hobby, like stamp collecting. You could get up at four AM to paste stamps in a book and it wouldn't annoy your neighbors? Should I learn to play the banjo and then get up at 4 a.m. to practice in front of the neighbor's house? I think he would call the cops!
People shooting at tin cans in the afternoon doesn't bother me. I do that my self. I have brutally murdered many inanimate objects. But I don't do it a FOUR AM!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Holidays in General-Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Christmas, Weddings, Family Picnics...

Not everyone is happy.
Thanksgiving time is a time when we think about the things we are thankful for. It is therapeutic to look to God as the giver of all things good and the one who helps us deal with all things bad.
Some people have a hard time accepting this rationalization.
There are different forms of denial. Some folks become atheists. I think I have more respect for those who say they just don't know... As it seems to me that atheists have to much to prove... Haven't made up my mind on that one.
But I digress!
Some people shoot themselves, some people become fanatics, some folks practice self medication.
I attempt to put one foot in front of the other. Get out of bed in the morning. When Sadie and I say our prayers we have three parts to our prayer. Something to happy for and/or thank God for, someone who needs help or God's blessing, and something we need help with or are worried about. I don't think it matters if you believe in God or not to understand the point. I think keeping those ideas in your head helps you cope with life.
I remember one holiday season a number of years ago. I was setting in a pickup with a fellow farmer and he told me why he doesn't own a gun. He was afraid that he would use it--on himself.
I think those of us who are not as happy as we should be, get kind of put down during holiday seasons. If I could do something about it I would. In fact I try. I want to be happy, no one wants to be unhappy, do they? I mean it was kind of fun at first, angst and all that but, it is really old after twenty some years.  I try different things, Vitamin D is my latest. I should spend more time reading my Bible, that works for many, many people.
But, I don't really want to discuss my personal issues. I was thinking about my friend and his gun comment. I wonder if those who are more honest kind of fall through the cracks. They most likely would not leave a note and don't really want to make anyone else feel bad, they just want it to be over.
I guess there is no way to discuss an issue like this other than to bring your own experiences into it. I don't allow myself to think about it. I have a child who didn't ask to be born. I have a responsibility to bring her up to the best of my ability. How ever depressed I might be would not absolve me of that duty. Even if it were to look accidental it would still be a trauma for the kid. You can't even allow the thought in your head.
But, after talking to my friend I gave the whole issue some thought. I wish I would have thought it out enough to tell him something other than, "are you absolutely sure if you do that you would not go straight to perdition?" and "who would I have to be depressed with."
The thing is, I don't want to be dead, I don't want life to be over, there are many things in life that are enjoyable, I just want to be happy. How would shooting yourself make you happy? If you disbelieve in God to the point where you would kill yourself, how do you know for sure that the last millisecond of your life would not be your eternity. Do I want my eternity to be the thought, "oops, that wasn't a good idea,' or "ouch, that really hurt?"
I just wish you would push a reset button somewhere and try it again.
But, on the other hand, everyday is a new day. People can and do change their lives.
My life is not bad. The question of if I am wildly happy or not seems to have nothing to do with my quality of life, rather it has everything to do with my interpretation of my life.
We just had my wife's family here for Thanksgiving. I don't think my lovely and gracious wife reads my blog so I will be honest. It is not that I dislike anyone. It is just hard to be the host.
It was painful for me. Even though everyone is quite nice.
Relatives arrived the day before and straightaway invaded my personal space. I knew this would happen so I had an escape plan. I went and spread fertilizer Thanksgiving morning. While spreading fertilizer I tried to think of things to say to each person in my wife's family. It was not my intention to be ungracious, what do you do? Should I have a sign in my front yard stating that I am a strange and reclusive person? Would that even be true?
So I envisioned discussions that did not involve any of my obsessions, collecting 16mm films, no-till planting, farming, people who owe me money, or my lack of success as a farmer. Instead I rehearsed topics which involved other people's interests.
I was not all that successful. I played with Sadie. I tried to look busy getting chairs and tables. I didn't interact with the younger set all that well. They used to really like me as little kids. I don't know what to talk about now. So, I tried to appear involved. I have no idea what they thought...
Which brings me back to the topic of my first paragraph. Not everyone is happy, especially during the holiday season. Should you fall into that group of people I have some suggestions.
1. You can be thankful for many things and still not be happy. This is ok. This does not mean you are ungrateful at all. It just means that somehow you are not happy. Hopefully there will come a point in time when you figure out why and are able to change it, but, being thankful doesn't mean you have to be happy.
2. People will invade your personal space. Accept this and have a backup plan to help yourself cope. Denying that people bug you will not make them bug you less, rather it just means that you are unprepared.
3. Just because people annoy you doesn't mean you have to dislike them. It just means you are easily annoyed. You need to develop a plan to deal with the annoyance. My backup plan is playing with Sadie. I usually try to find children to play with. This seems to always be a good plan. Children annoy many so-called normal people. I find most children to be good company.
4. Other people do not understand they are violating your personal space. Your personal space is an invisible boundary. Even if you try to define that boundary people may not understand. My best defense is to acknowledge the space is being violated, understand why and how, and then rationalize it to the point that I can deal with it with a certain level of comfort. I try to understand why people annoy me, I to understand if that is a fair assessment or not, and I do what I can to avoid situations where I will feel compelled to express my feelings. I understand that by me expressing myself, they will not understand me or suddenly want to make me feel better, instead they will attempt to justify themselves and give themselves validity at the expense of my sense of self worth.
In other words, pick your battles and win them....
5. Life is most likely a bitter struggle. Find happiness when you can and appreciate it. Realize that people my annoy you now, but they also have good points, one day they will no longer be here. Did you make the most of the good times and minimize the bad ones?
6. Just because people annoy you doesn't mean they are bad people or you are a bad person. It just means that at this point in time, they annoy you. That is all it means...
Happy Thanksgiving.
Good luck with your copeing mechanism!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I forgot my funny story!

I had a funny story to  tell last night. But the battery on my little iBook went dead and I was tired and went to sleep. I'm such a lazy fellow that I didn't want to get out of bed and plug in the computer. I have no idea what I was thinking about.
I have someone coming to see if he wants to work for me. He is the son of a neighboring farmer so he knows what he is doing. I'm not sure if he is ready for our farm. Ours is not quite what he is used to. He was selling insurance and just quit or got fired. He hated selling insurance. He was pretty good at it I thought. I bought all my farm insurance from him. Now I am without an agent... It didn't really matter to me that he quit as his insurance guy traded him to another office in a different city.
The insurance buisness can be just one step above a con. If you have ever seen the movie "Matchstick Men" there is a scene where they are on the phone selling waterfilters. I always think of that when I get a call from an insurance guy. My wife sold Banker's Life and Casualty for a while. She would get lists of names to call, often those lists were of elderly people who had just lost a loved one. The company tried to pass it off as doing those folks a service. A service much like that of a vulture who picks the bones of a dead carcass... There were other issues. I think she made the average employment of a year or so. I think insurance companies also gain clients by hiring earnest young people. These people get all their relatives and friends to buy insurance so they are big sellers the first six months. Once they are done with the first big sales then the pain sets in. I think most new insurance agents quit before they have made it two years.
If anyone who reads this is interested in joining an insurance company look at this link to and this one which deals with insurance agents as independant contractors.
There are people who do well working for insurance companies and other legit but sort of high pressure marketing/scam companies like J.J. Keller and associates.
1. Salesmen who have the ability to sell "ice to Eskimos" These guys could sell water filters, cars, tractors, Amway, or whatever can be sold. They do really well selling insurance and soon are at the top of the sales team.
2. People who are completely honest and sincere and believe the not quite true information put out by companies such as Bankers. These people set records their first six months but then crash and burn after a year...(my wife, my friend who just quit.)
3. People who need a buiness and learn to work with the companies. They are not so concerned with making lots of sales as they are taking care of the customers. These people usually have their own small agencies. The Farmer's agent I had before I switched companies was like this. However, they didn't do commercial policies so I was kind of pushing it. I'm going to see if she will take me back.

Enough of my opinions. I must drag myself out the door. There is fertilizer to be spread, balers to clean out, little bits of floordry to vaccum off the floor of the shop.... Money to be made! Perhaps I will be able to read the latest WORTHLESS update on Oregon OSHA standards, which don't even apply to us, which J.J. Kellor and Associates have sent up. If only I could come up with a good informational scam program.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why Winters at the Farm drive me insane

Saturday I worked in the shop. We share a shop with my uncle. This has always given rise to tensions as it always seems as though I do something wrong and then I don't react very well to the criticism. We had another one of those little incidents today.
I was sort of proud of myself. I only made a brief sarcastic comment and then remembered that it is not polite to swear at the older folks and it was not that important an issue anyway. My problem is that I am easy going to a point. When the point is reached then I can't seem to go back to reset mode. Then every time the person says something to piss me off I'm right back to the serious anger management mode. I work on it, now that I've figured out I have a problem.
So the issue was floor dry.
I was changing the oil in my pickup and I got distracted and wandered off. Somehow the drain pan tipped over and four quarts of oil went all over the shop floor. I hunted all over and could not find any floor dry or sawdust. So I went out to the barn and got some of the floor dry that I use to clean out my drill or to mix with seed or slugbait to let me plant at a lower seed rate than the drill is metered for.
I really didn't want to give up the floor dry and I knew my Uncle would not like the floor dry but oil was spreading across the floor.
My uncle likes to use sawdust to clean up oil spills. He has been getting it from the basement of the old farmhouse where Bro and Dad live now, for the past 50 years. I really don't care all that much but I don't like to go into the basement of someone else's home and get sawdust. Plus, sawdust is messy and it is usually wet.  It also does not absorb near as well as floor dry.
The uncle is kind of obsessed with sawdust. He likes to burn it in the stove when it has absorbed all the oil and he has this think about the little white flakes of floor dry getting all over in the shop. He also "doesn't like the way it crunches" under his shoes.
I kind of think this is stupid. You can burn the oil out of the floor dry if you want. You have to sweep the shop floor anyway, it works way better, and really-WHO GIVES A RATS BOTTOM what you use. It is kind of like people who are proud of being dirty and stupid.
I also realize that the whole arguement is pointless and I feel silly for getting annoyed.
And...I know the real reason I was getting a lecture. It is called "transference."
The real reasons I was in trouble:
1. His Case crawler broke a crank
2. His pot head grandson just called and said he was not working today
3. His one remaining employee is on a mission trip to Mexico
4. His son now works for the railroad and doesn't want to work on the bulldozer
5. I've been talking about buying a truck
6. I've been getting checks in the mail and I told everyone the story about the $5000 check.
So, now the floor dry bugs him.
I think I handled it well. I'm going to go sweep the shop floor while everyone is at lunch. The last time I got a lecture about something like this it didn't go so well. Perhaps I have matured.
Have a happy Day!

Edit: It is now an hour later and I went out and swept the shop floor. My uncle wanted me to make sure I got every little bit of floor dry. Then my dad called and said I need to come in the office before I leave. 20 years of weirdness kind of wears me down. Oh, now the phone is ringing again. Dad again. I should not have thrown my phone across the room. Now what good has that done. It did stop ringing but it is my phone. I don't feel better.
I can hear a pickup outside the window. We have been selling hay to a lady that rescues horse. We give them a good deal. I don't really care about her problems. She just loves horses. I don't care. I don't want to climb up on that stack and throw down a bale of hay for her. I want to be miles and miles away.
I seem to have broken the ringer on the phone. However it does keep beeping. Sounds like I have about five messages.
I really hate winter on the farm.
I want to go plant.

Gertie is getting fired!

I just checked the Gasoline Alley comic strip this morning and it looks like Gertie is getting fired. I'm hoping there is a story twist. However she did us some very poor judgement.
Gertie has been taking care of Walt for something like the past two-three years. Gasoline Alley is sort of in real time. Three years would be a while for a caregiver from my observations from the Rock of Ages rest home where we have services. Walt has Alzheimers (will spell check later, I only think of things to write when I'm in a hurry.) and has to have full time care.
Gertie has found true love with Earl Bird who is a harp playin' smooth talker and has now hit the big time. She took Walt to a concert to see Earl, but she bought the tickets from a scalper and she got thrown out. Walt stayed and hi-jinks insued... Now we are seeing a whole string of missunderdstandings leading to a set up for either her termination or lots of hugs. A cliff hanger as it were...
I am worried about Joel who fell in the grave he was digging on Halloween night. He is in there with kitty. I hope someone finds him. With the weather we are having he could have floated out...
To read Gasoline Alley click on the link on my favorite websites.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stormy Sunday

My lovely wife has been getting ready for Thanksgiving. She is shampooing the carpets and cleaning like made. She has four sisters and they will all be here. We live in a 35 by 60 foot trailer house, er manufactured home, well it is an kind of upscale and it does have an energy star rating. Plus, the old sprayer is no longer parked right in front of the house. Instead we have a Moline Z and a U. The Z took honors at the Amity Tractor pull so that has to be worth something.
Anyway, so I'm now sitting in my beat up lazy boy listening to my stereo. I finally put it back together after our move. I found an old Mavericks CD that I've had for years. I forgot about the Mavericks. I used to really like Country Western music.  I looked them up on YouTube. I'm listening to, "All you ever do is bring me down." I don't want to get into another rant about what is wrong with the modern (I mean post modern) world.
When I was just out of college I worked on the farm summers and I started listening to country. There used to be an AM station I would get at night. They played all the old stuff. Hank Senior, Lefty Frizzel, George Jones. I can't remember all the bands on FM radio at the time but I remember some good songs on the Juke Boxes of the day.
I saw the Del Lords at the Starry Nite in Portland and they did Johnny 99 and it was incredible. I found a verson of them singing the song on YouTube and it was just not the same. Likewise with Jason and the Scorchers doing Hank Williams, Lost Highway. Click here for the original version.  "Just a deck of cards and a jug a wine and a woman's lie made a life like mine." You don't hear that kind of stuff on the country station now days. Of course now that no one believes in anything you don't have the sin/redemption/sin concept, guy who knows better, dealing with temptation themes. You don't have the migration to the city, the coal mines, the history. You just have dumb asses on meth or hyped up on Stupid... Billy Ray Cyrus was the beginning of the end- now he pimps his daughter.
There is nothing like a live band someplace small. The energy is incredible. Music is something you need to be a part of to enjoy.
So I'm setting in my chair trying to think of stories to tell and listening to the wind and rain hitting the wall. My brother took his family to church.

Sunday Farming from beginning of the Month

I was looking over my posts as I was deleting my last nights post that says what I really think and I found this. It was listed as a Draft, and when I clicked publish it put it down as today's post. Seems like an alright post.
Sunday we pulled the pump. I hate pulling the pump out of the river on Sunday. It seems like we always end up doing it in the rain or on Sunday. We have had like three inches of rain in the last day or so.
I checked the Yamhill river levels online and it didn't look like it would be a problem. But when I went down to check the river level in person I saw that the foot valve pipe had blown off the elbow at the pump. It looked like it could go in the river so we just pulled the whole thing.
We always have to keep it in the river to fill duck ponds late. So, we have to work to attract ducks and geese for people who have nothing better to do than to get up early in the morning and shoot at them.
Then, we spend the rest of the winter trying to keep the geese out of recently planted fields.
Something is wrong with this picture!
Saturday we went to a wedding. Fellow getting married didn't really seem old enough. I remember when he got his license. When he was learning how to run a stacker his dad used to hire me to run ours to help keep up and to keep the young kid off the steep hillsides. It couldn't have been like ten years ago.
They seem happy. They are going to honeymoon in New Zealand. That seems like an interesting place.
His older brother was there with a very nice girl friend. She is pretty and smart and plays violin in a string quartet. She says she does not know how to "fiddle" but would like to learn. She has a good sense of humor. I have talked to her a couple times. I have not talked to the bride.
The brothers have issues which I don't quite understand. I sympathize as I do understand family issues. I think we worry about what our family thinks far too much. You just need to live your life and let them live theirs. I don't really know anything.
Life is a bitter struggle, you put one foot in front of the other, you enjoy the good times and live through the bad times.
Sometimes I would like to be 20 years old.
In the afternoon I went though a box of stuff I've collected. Marx farm set stuff. Sadie and I put a set together. The stuff is pretty cool but really to fragile to play with. I need to put it on ebay.

Someone did enjoy the old farm set...

Then we read a chapter from an Old Mother Westwind book about this field mouse.
The mouse moved into the Sugar House for the winter. Farmer Brown's boy befriended the mouse. When the mouse's home in the woodpile ended up in the stove used to boil the sap into maple syrup Farmer Brown's boy made the mouse a house out of a wood box. Farmer Brown's boy also rescued the mouse after it fell into a bucket of sap. I'm a little worried. I think the mouse may end up making quite a mess in that sugar house. Probably going to raise a family. Sadie says I should not comment on the stories, just read them...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I was going to write about a trip to Montana, but I got distracted

Sometimes several different events all come together to set me off on a train of thought.
1. I found this blog by a girl who went through a really tough decision and I've been reading it. She seems like a pretty interesting person. We probably would disagree on many issues but I think I would still like her if I met her in person. Then I looked at the people following her and I started reading all these blogs by 20-somethings. A lot of these people-especially the girls, are hip and cute and total idiots. Or should I say they see things from a different perspective than I? They are so impressed by their own uniqueness and cleverness. Just like the other 150 million young people with the exact same opinions-which they got from pop culture. See, I know I'm kind of full of crap. Does that make me less valid?
2. I've been reading my journal I wrote before I became nearly middle-aged. I was going to write about a trip to Montana in 1993 with my friend Mel but I kept reading and I found a post about this girl I sort of liked. I remember arguing with her about seat-belts and if there should be a law requiring you to wear them. She thought there should be and I disagreed. It was and is my opinion that things like that should not be legislated. I'm not going to debate that here and now because I don't really care what you think. I have only recently started wearing one and that is only because S. is worried I might die and to a lesser degree it is because I got stopped and the cop didn't give me a ticket but said I really needed to start wearing a seat belt and he would have to give me a ticket the next time he saw me without. He was really nice about it. Also, he didn't tase me even though I had a 20 round clip of 7.62 on the dash and the butt of a 10/22 was peeking out of a pile of coats on the floor of my truck. I thought that was nice of him.
But, I digress.
3. I worked in the shop today. My Uncle's grandson thinks he is going to take over his grandpa's business. He smokes a lot of chronic and he tends not to show up at work. He seems to have no idea that every one knows he is a pot-head and many jokes are made at his expense. He seems to be quite self-assured.

Edit: Removed my political commentary. Don't want my truck keyed or to be sent to a re-education camp...

So the 20-something is listening to country music at top volume. I have not been listening to country music. I think it would be more descriptive to call it "crap and sit back down in it," music.
Typical country song translated: "I'm a moron and I drive a big truck, I love a girl with a tattoo on her butt. We are both stupid and we don't wipe our butts. Years ago I was in high school and I love God and Apple pie and America but I don't really because I know nothing about God or America and I've never had real Apple pie cause my Mom is a fat and stupid woman who doesn't cook and just watches TV and goes to Walmart a lot with her snotty nosed and ill behaved bastard grandchildren and we have a dog and we used to go swimming and we drink beer and pretend we have southern accents so smarmy pants junior commies can laugh at us and pretend to be artists and hate God even though they have no idea of anything about God and all they know is what they have heard from their hippie freaking drama teacher and pretentious lit professors who couldn't get a real job if someone shoved it up their too tight, the 1960's were the best time in the world, bung holes."
Perhaps I'm reading a bit more into your typical country western song that is really there...
I've been working on my brakes today. I could be on edge...
NOTE: Unless I get requests from more than three of my readers to keep this post I am going to delete it tomorrow. I don't think anyone really wants to know how bitter about politics I've become in the past decade of liberal Republicanism...

Grammar and Spelling and the Daily Strumpet

I have been reading my own blog! I think I already posted those photos. I have discovered lots of spelling and grammar errors.
I also found a stack of old "Daily Strumpets." They have the same problems... Perhaps this is why I was always on the verge of getting fired during my brief tenure at the News-Times.
I may put a few Strumpets on the blog if I can figure out how. I think I can do it as a pdf.
If my neighbor's dog shoots him again I am certainly doing a "Daily Strumpet." Can't do one based on a 5 year-old event.
This whole editing thing has always been an issue for me.
I write really fast. If I slow down I loose my train of thought as I have the attention span of a gnat. (I assume that is really short) I am always in a hurry writing as I only think of things to say when  I should be at work. I discovered that the funny grinding noise coming from the left front wheel when ever I applied the brake, was not a rock caught in the brake rotor. No, it was a missing brake rotor pad. Now I have to install a new rotor. Which goes to show the follow of the whole, "it's not a lie if you believe it school of equipment repair and mantinance.
Gotta Go! Goodbye!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Some photos of Minneapolis-Moline tractors

We have been cleaning house to get ready for Thanksgiving. I found a journal from 1993. I think I was a different person then. Perhaps not. There are things i would like to say but really who cares. It takes a person a long time to learn some very pretty simple truths. Truths that they don't teach you in school and they don't teach you this stuff because THEY (whoever they are-I suppose you could just say that it is the modern adult conspiracy, er post modern adult conspiracy...) don't want you to know this stuff because it is a lot harder to sell things to you if you are self contained.
I just talked to a friend who wants to quit his job. It is a not a good job. It is selling insurance. Insurance is a scam, and making cold calls selling people stuff they don't want but know they have to have is horrible. But, it is a job. You get paid. You don't really have to work real hard.
A person has to learn to separate things. You are not entitled to be happy. You are not entitled to have the perfect romance, the perfect job, the perfect anything. You must take your happiness when you find it. Have a hobby, have a happy spot in your mind, do what you have to do survive and make the money to live. Save for a happy day. Make your own happiness. One freaking foot in front of the other, you get up in the morning and force you butt out the door and down the street and you just do it...
So, when I look back on 1993 and I read what I missed and see that I was an idiot it doesn't matter. I do what I do now and I must do my best...
Anyway here are some photos. End of my speech. I need to call this guy and say, look you got a wonderful girlfriend, you are an artist, you have another life, just put your time in and save some cash and take the next opportunity. I'm not sure working for me and going to school again is an opportunity. I think it is a cop out... I probably won't call.
Photos! Your are here for pretty pictures not philosophy.

(Ed Winkle, if you read this tell me what photos have been posted on NewAgTalk cause I don't

This was me in 1982 or so...

 This is how you get the uni-combine off the power unit. If you ever see a hoist like this at a farm you know they had the uni-system. They seem so small now!

This is the tractor that put us into the 100 horsepower range. Bought it used at a farm sale. Seemed like a big tractor when we got it. Has been 17 or 15 years I guess now. Before we farmed with three M670 supers. Did 200 acres or so. Usually had 50 acres of corn.

This is from the early 1990's. When we really got serious about baling. We did over a thousand ton a year with these two balers. I remember stacking straw. Sometimes the stacks would be over 1/4 mile long. Put the straw up with a New Holland Super 1048. Loaded the bales on trucks with a farm hand F-11 loader on a 1964 M670.

This photo makes me sad. It is from ten years or so ago. We found the Studebaker in a barn. Had fairly low miles on it. We absolutely killed the truck. We should be banned from collecting!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If I had a million dollars

If I had a million dollars. Aspirations weblog has this as a topic. I think there is a weblog challenge to write a certain number of words or something. This if you had a million dollars thing is along those lines.
You see my problem is my attention span.
I look read her blog and Ed Winkles, then I get distracted by some other link and then I wander off through the internet and I can never remember where I started or what I wanted to look at to begin with.
This whole million dollar windfall thing is a game that Sadie and I play sometimes. It has to do with my faulty logic, which comes from attending a public school where logic is not taught.
I once read that you have nearly the same chance of winning the lottery if you don't play as if you do play. I don't play as I am to uptight to spend the dollar but somehow I have it in my head that I still could win. The illustration is supposed to make you understand that playing the lottery is such a long shot that actually buying a ticket doesn't really increase your chances that much. It is faulty reasoning to say that if you don't play you still might win. Still, it may happen to me....
S. wants to by legos.
I have simple needs. I want to pay off the bills and the farm and get my brother and I a retirement.
Now if I was filthy rich... The example of Nicolas Cage was brought up. It seems that he is as nuts as I have always suspected. He bought an island, lots of houses, all kinds of stuff and now I guess he is broke...
If I was like a 250 million dollar winner then that would be something else. I'm not sure I want that. It would either be really fun to farm, because you could do it anyway you wanted, or there would be no point to farming. I don't think I would know until my first crop failure.
The extra cash would be bad for the kid. Anything she would want. You don't really have the hunger to do something if you know you have a safety net.
I would like to set up a program of preschools which use retired people to give the kids a link to the past. Like grandparents. S. went to a preschool like that and it was amazing.
I'd like to own a couple thousand acres all in one spot. I would pick a year, like say 1967, (that way I could have a G1000 Vista) and I would allow nothing on that farm newer than 1967. (Except for children...)
There would be a visitor staging area, kind of like a qaurantine  facility. If you didn't have the right clothes you could check some out. (like bowing shoes at a bowling alley.) Any deliveries would have to be transferred to period vehicles. I'd let antique tractor people bring in their old tractors and play with them. I'd have lots of implements for them to pull. I'd have a farm that looked like the Marx Lazy Days farm. I would have the place divided into smaller farmsteads. So there would be a mix of small and large farms. Each farm would be out of a different decade. I'd try all the old techniques out of the Farmer Stockman's hand book of 1945. I'd raise old breeds of cows and real tomatoes and wooley pigs. There would even be some horse farmers. Perhaps I'd expand by inviting some Amish to start a colony.
No cell phones...
There would be no wine.
Hard cider perhaps.
I would allow banjo music but only once a week.
Visitors over 16 would not be allowed to wear short pants except when swimming at the ol' swimming hole. I would have a steam powered ice cream maker.
I would wear a Fedora and drive a 1953 Pontiac around the farm at break neck speeds. Perhaps I would have a very cute intern to drive me around.
But, I digress...
Sometimes Sadie and I play the three wishes game. We have pretty well figured that one out. We will ask for good fortune. I think that is bullet proof.
We will not ask for a sausage. I read a story about that once. Those folks ended up in the end with nothing...

The title should be: The Oddball Farmer

So, I went to this AgShow yesterday. I wanted to see the new Great Plains drill my neighbor was telling me about. It turns out to be nothing but a three point 1500 with parallel bar linkage openers (like a corn planter) and no-till coulter mounted right in front of the openers, kind of like corn planter row units. It looks like it would take a pretty big tractor to lift it. They have a tongue setup to make it into a pull type. I would really like to have the series 10 parallel bar openers on on my drill, But it does look like more moving points to wear out.
The Great Plains rep recognized me.
I had to think back to when the New Holland salesman brought him out to see my "new" drill. The NH guy was trying to sell me a stacker which was a total POS. The Great Plains regional rep was just riding along. I sometimes I have a pretty happy group of employees. We are a bit odd. Sometimes we break into song. This is my fault. I have all these old country and rock songs stuck in my head. If someone says something that reminds me of a song sometimes I reply with the words of the song. This is funny if the other person knows the song. Otherwise it is just kind of strange.
So...Some one asked for a hammer and they started singing, "if I had a hammer." The Great Plains fellow was looking at my new drill. Someone who will remain nameless had backed a grain trailer into it the week before and bent the drill box badly.  People really gave me a lot of crap about that.
And then the regional Great Plains guy comes to see it.  And here I am with my two helpers working on a the tractor and baler under a tree. The drill is setting right there as I had a planting job nearby.
And there is singing. The whole thing struck me as memoriable in perhaps a strange way.
He did remember me. I hope it was in a good way... We had quite a discussion about Great plains drills.
What is really funny is that he seems to take me seriously!

My daughter got an award

It was for having a good attitude. Where did she get the good attitude? At least she didn't get the award for volunteerism. I warned her about volunteering for stuff...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sometimes it works out

I've been a bit depressed lately. Lot to do and no money coming in. I was planning on going to a fairly good sized agricultural show today with my sometimes a great employee young farmer kid but I found out S. was winning an award at school. So, I got D. to help me move farm equipment out of the river bottom. We had our 3 antique Hesston 6600's, the New Holland 1085 stacker, freeman baler, G1000 Vista, and a dead ranger pickup all lined up in the field. The idea was to blow them all off with the aircompressor, move them up to the shop and wash each one and find a shed to put them in. Well, the main employee just never came back to work a month or so ago and it didn't get done. I'm finally rained out from planting so I've been trying to get things put away. It is almost painful for me to see wet hay in the bale chamber of the baler.
D. helped me pull a the stacker out, it was stuck. Then he bought me lunch at Alf's. Had a very good hamburger I might add. He was trying to cheer me up. He has plans. We are going to build a shop...
We were going to go to the Ag Show but I found out S. was to get that award. She just had a teacher conference and the teacher said she is really good in all her courses. Math, spelling, and science. So, I'm thinking she is getting an award for something academic. I never got those awards. I was pretty happy.
I got to school and saw a former employee. We called him Smilin' Dave as he grinned a lot and is missing his front teeth. His kid vandalized the school last year as a second grader. He broke in and stole a jar of licorice. The kid likes school this year and is really doing well. He got the math award. His dad says he hates math...
S. got an award for being a nice person. I am postive she is my daughter but yet sometimes I wonder. I think the nice person award is kind of BS. I was going to take her to the AgShow with me today. I didn't so that she could get the award. She was kind of dissapointed. I think she figured she was up for something a little more substantial.
I took her home with me. Got her out of the last 20 minutes of school. It was close to 3 p.m. so we had coffee break. I had a pepsi and she had a coke. She drew a pretty good picture of us setting at the coffee break table. I think she is a good artist.
My brother called and was back from truck driving and thought we could still make the show. S. decided she wanted to play with her cousins instead. So I picked up my brother and took off.
Now for the amazing part of this story.
We walk in and are looking around for the Great Plains drills. I see a fellow I sold straw to last year right before the market crashed. I said hi to him and he says he has been looking for me. He pulls out his check book and starts writing. He hands me a check for $5,000. I ask him if he has sold my hay from this year. He says no this is from the straw from last year. He said he didn't want to get too far behind. Then he thanked me for encouraging the local dairy fellow who kind of went down in flames last year. I did think the dairy fellow kind of over reacted when I told him he was a really good dairy fellow that I always respected and as I knew he was having some tough times I was not going to charge him for planting his field. I didn't realize he was really depressed. I did want to encourage him and the field was only 12 ares. I set the drill wrong and ended up doing it again, and the GPS tablet crashed, and I really had no idea the true acres and I just thought I'd just not charge the guy. The fellow who bought my straw said I gave the dairy dude encouragement at just the right time. That made me feel worthwhile. It does kind of make the idea of doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing and not to be thinking of doing the right thing to make yourself look good but, doing it because you want to, much more rewarding. Now that was a run on sentence... Anyway I feel much better this evening.
I really didn't expect to see that money. Wow! Glad I decided to go!
I pretty much have the money spent already-but it does take a lot of pressure off me. Half the stacker payment right there!

My painful breakfast...

The minutes of your life slowly ebb away....
S and L watched the movie "Jack" again this morning. It just keeps getting worse. I do admit that I am missing huge chunks of the storyline. I just came back after the huge crisis of the film and I just missed the secondary chase. Jack had a heart attack and couldn't go back to school and then he went to a bar for some reason. I think it was to showcase Robin Williams 10-year-old boy impression skills. Now Bill Cosby giving him words of wisdom and he acts bored. I think he should offer him a Jello Pop.
Now all the kids miss him and are standing outside his house asking him to come out in play. Of course he is hiding in a box.  Oh, now he is tossing and turning and acting frustrated. Now he is crying and has put on his oxygen mask. I don't think he is going to die. Now there is some cloud and night and day sequence which should  represent his rapid aging.
Daine Lane looks pretty good in a bathrobe eating breakfast...Oh now he has reached his moral understanding. Daine looks at him and say, "you better hurry our you will be late," Somehow this seems kind of perverted. I can't exactly put my finger on it.
Oh my, now he is running to school. This must be the, "lets solve everything by putting on a show..."
Jennifer Lopez is so happy to see him. She is his teacher. She pinches his cheek. I think I have grown as a person.
Now I now the meaning of the term, "simpering grin."
Oh boy! The movie ends with him breaking his desk again. Oh boy Robin williams is a great actor. I would never have guessed he is really 60 years old.
Oh good grief, here he is going through graduation as a 90 year old man. Oh boy! he is topping off his performance with a parkinson's shake. He is class president or something and giving a poignant speech about how short life is and shooting stars. This is an academy award moment here. Robin Williams pretending to be a 10 year old boy and a 90 year old man at the same time. I think he kind of looks like Mrs. Doubtfire.
Daine Lane has a silly hat with a rose on it.
Oh boy, now he is driving off in a convertible with his high school buddies. I guess he is not 90.
I have observed some 10 year old boys. There are a couple who live next door.
If they got some rapid aging disease and turned 40 they would not talk like babies or put their hands in their pockets and rub their toes in the dirt. If they decided to go to a bar they would most likely not grab all the beer peanuts and make a pile on the bar.
I would say that they would act much like an adult except they would be quite shy in new circumstances, they would be overly polite or refuse to talk, they would be overly interested in driving heavy equipment and trains but they would not pretend to be Robin Williams.
More wasted time.

I read Gasoline Alley Every Day

I have followed the Gasoline Alley comic strip since I was a little kid. I remember sitting in front of the old oil stove and reading Gasoline Alley which I think was in the old Oregon Journal (
Somewhere I have a scrapbook from the 1940's that my great aunt put together that has Walt and Skeezix in it. I think Walt was courting Nina at the time. He had a long convertible car and had a small head.
I check the Gasoline Alley comic strip everyday. Gasoline Alley characters have aged over time. Nina died a couple years back which was sad. Walt has a bit of dementia but he is no spring chicken.
The place where I check the strip has a forum which is funny to read. These people take it all pretty seriously. There are comments on the artwork and the story line. What really cracks me up are the people who are always criticizing the story. They don't like Joel and Rufus or they don' t like new characters and they are always second guessing what is coming next in the strip.
I just like it all. It is pretty random stuff, pretty much like life is made up of a lot of random stuff.
The only thing that really bugs me is the characters who are drawn with no pupils in their eyes. They look like zombies. The kids, Rover and his sister, had no pupils and I always thought they would end up as devil children. They didn't. I think Rover married another pupil-less girl named Hogie and they live in a cabin in the woods.
My favorite line from the strip is, "fetch the fool jug Rufus." Don't ever say that in public. People don't really understand what you are talking about.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jack is Creepy Movie

Wife brought home a movie for S. to watch tonight. It is called "Jack," it is from 1996 and features Robin Williams as a 10 year old who looks like a 40 year old. It featues several actors who were famous at the time and who look pretty much bored stiff.
Robin Williams is pretending to be age 10. It is always funny to see 50 year-old-actors who are trying to play 40 year-old-actors pretending to be kids. Robin Williams is playing his usual charactor who is sometimes Mrs. Doubtfire and sometimes a 10 year old kid. In this case it is just creepy. 
Highjinks ensue when he goes to school. Of course there is a fart joke and of course the desk breaks and there is the recess scene. And there is a chase and then they are all friends. And everyone learns something about being different.
I was kind of wondering if the people in the school would not have perhaps prepared the other kids for a "special" student who looks 50 but is really 10. They did know that he was a little out of the ordinary. But, I guess that would have made for an insightful movie and not just a showcase of Robin Williams incredible acting talent.
Oh it was wonderful to hear Diane Lane exclaiming, "I made chocolate pudding, your favorite!" to Robin who is hiding in a box.
If only Mrs. Doubtfire could have appeared. She would have fixed everything.
Good grief! These people get paid freaking millions of dollars.

Monday, November 16, 2009

First stuck of the season!

I went to look at a field today. It was one which has been worrying me for some time. The fellow works for me some times and is trying to get started farming. I thought I would be there two weeks ago but it has been raining. In the mean time, all sorts of weeds have been growing-and he didn't get them killed. I called the fellow he has been driving tractor for to see if he would be willing to spray it. I just said, look the kid is not getting it done. What do we do? Do we let him learn the hard way or do we get it done for him? I really don't know the answer.  It is kind of a tough call. While I am his friend he also has to understand that I had 500 acres to plant before I got within five miles of his farm. Then another 200 acres on the wrong side of the narrow bridge across the Yamhil river that runs through the middle of town. So, getting to him is not that easy. I didn't even get my hay field planted. I didn't get my field sprayed. I'm in trouble as well. So, basically you have to look out for yourself.
He is supposed to have killed his 60 acres. But, he didn't hire the sprayer. So the field has three inches of growth. It is wet. I don't think wheat is going to work. There is too much competition for annual ryegrass. I hate to plant before the chemical is on.
Plus I got stuck with my pickup. We were trying to GPS the field. I felt it pull down and a floored it. It got me pretty far out there. Had to pull it out backwards...

You can see by the photos what kind of weather we are having. We were sitting there discussing what to do and I checked the weather on my phone. We are supposed to get three inches of rain in the next 96 hours.
I still have fall fertilizer to spread. We kind of put it of thinking our hired man would come back. It is a kind of no-brainer sort of job, if he can understand the GPS. Everything just keeps getting wetter and wetter.
I have been waiting for a break in the rain to finish planting wheat. I thought I had close to 1000lbs left in the power bin on the truck. I finally got a chance to plant today. I peeked under the tarp. There was perhaps 300lbs. My drill counter showed 2 acres when I got done. I ran the GPS around the section I planted. It was all short rows in one corner of a field. The GPS said 1.2 acres. Why didn't I look under that tarp when I finished the field? I know I had to get to the next field but 1.2 acres is like a half hour job. I hate it when I do something stupid like that.

Time to send out Bills!

I hate sending out bills. I like getting the money. I hate it when people don't pay and I have to call them. I'm about 85% sure I'm going to get stiffed for $6000. There is no way they can pay based on my view of their farming enterprise... And the fact that the crop will fail. I should have said no when I discovered they were not going to put chemical on after I worked the ground. I was already in $5,000 so what is the point in throwing good money after bad?
I need that money to make the stacker payment. Total custom stacking was 6,000 of the worst bales I've ever stacked. That would be something like $2000 total on a $7,200 payment. Too little too late is our farming motto...
Another fellow owes me $1,500 or so. We traded some work that I didn't need to trade for so I suppose I screwed on that as well. Have another bill where the customer disagrees with my acres. You know I don't make the acres up. I have three (3) acre counters on the drill. I don't think it really matters if I overlapped. The price is the price is the price. If it says it on the counter I planted it. If I used enough seed for an extra 10 acres and I have an extra 10 acres on my counter it doesn't mean I planted extra heavy. It means there were overlaps or the field was not what you think.
This particular field was an absolute pain in the butt. So rough I broke my seat armrest. I planted half in the dark in dust so thick you could not see past the front tyre. So, if I overlapped well then so what. I should have charged you extra for the damage to my tractor. What the #$%^ were you thinking disk ripping it three times anyway. That is not no-till. That is just screwin the pooch... Do you think I really enjoyed planting at 11 p.m. You realize I had to plant at 11 p.m. because your field was so rough I had to go at half my usual speed?
This is the time of year I want to sink into the couch... I need $12,000 for payments. I have $12,000 in the bank. But I also need money to live for a couple more months.
Those bastards that run this country can give trillions to their buddies they could give me $100,000 and I would bother no one...
Bitter much?

The wrong argument

I've been listening to both sides in some popular arguments and I'm continually impressed by the idea that people are often not arguing about the same things. I first noticed this with the illegal immigration issues. Most people are not against Mexicans, rather they are against illegal immigration. Those who profit from illegal immigration purposely skew the argument in the media so that people who should be united on an issue are at each other's throats. Pretty clevery eh?
I ran across this story on the death penalty whilst wandering about the internet. It is about a fellow who was accused of killing someone and sentenced to death. Then a number of years later, a new investigator discovered that the blood on the victim's pants didn't match the victim or the convicted killer.
Now, the article left out any circumstantial evidence or any info about the supposed killer. The story was about the wrong guy being convicted.
However, I think this has a lot to say about the death penalty as administrated in a lot of cases.
I read a story a while back about a fellow in Texas who was executed and then proved innocent later. The Republic of Texas wouldn't even offer an apology.
The story also brings up some interesting questions about the credibility of arson investigators. Or rather the incompetence of arons investigators. Like the one from the insurance company who denied a claim for my neighbor's shop. He said there was a hotspot in one corner that indicated the fire was set. That was the corner where the cutting torch was sitting. Yup, now that was a hot spot!!!
The argument about capital punishment is always should the state execute a man or not...
Well, the State does have the right to do such a thing....
Murder has always been a capital crime....
I wonder if the question should be, does the state have the credibilty, the competence, the honesty, or the integrity to execute someone. I'd pretty much say no to that.
I think execution as a crime prevention measure only works with public executions that are swift and sure.
I think execution works only as an reminder of the arbritrary power of the state. The Texas decisions only prove that Texas can and do what the state of Texas wants to do.
That is my opinion...

Edit: Somewhere there is a passage in the Bible that sums it all up. Perhaps I'll look it up this evening. Something about rendering unto Cesear that what is Cesears and if you don't they will come get you and throw you in jail. Basically saying that you want to keep a low profile cause if you get noticed problems will follow...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I want to make Cider

This is another one of those projects that I never get done. I like apple cider. Most of the time I am really disapointed when I try any. I've had good cider only a few times in my life. One year we made cider at our old house. I put a fruit jar of apple juice in the refridgerator and sampled it over the course of a few months. It was very good up till the time it spoiled.
I've been looking it up on the internet and most of the info is about making high alchohol content cider. I'm more concerned with the taste and drinking it without worrying about e-coli.
I'm thinking about buying a cheap beer making kit on ebay. There are some with a six gallon bucket with a tap and a lid and an airlock. I think you can control fermentation with the type of yeast you use, and if you add any sugar. The question is how did I make the really good cider I made before?
From what I've read the yeast used makes a huge difference.
It seems as though you could use the natural yeast strains to begin your fermentation process. The alchohol will kill off the yeast and stop the process. Then there is a secondary fermentation process which gives you the higher alchohol content.
Otherwise you can use Campden tablets to stop the natural yeast and then add your own yeast. An ale yeast will give a low alchohol content and a Champagne yeast will give you up to 14% content.
A low alchohol content should preserve the cider and give it a good taste but you wouldn't have to tell your temperace relatives that they are drinking booze. Not that many people sit down with quart of cinder at Christmas and get drunk off their holiday arses.
I think that I could do this in a couple ways. I have to figure out how I will actually get it done. I have read of people making boozy cider from apple juice you buy in the store. I think I could get the good taste by pressing the small hard apples I find in the fence rows. I don't know the different types of apples but I know what trees I got the other batch of cider from. So I think if I balanced the acidity of apple juice or those big juicy dessert apples you can find surplus this time of year with the fence row apples I could get enough apples with the least effort.
I read it takes about 15lbs of apples to make a gallon of cider. Thus a bushel box will only give you 2 gallons. But, since I want six gallons of cider I'll have to use 3 bushels of apples. I think I could easly get two bushels of fence row apples.
If I use the mail order five gallon bucket kit it should be quite clean. After the first fermentation process I can drain the juice into a five gallon glass carboy that I can also buy at a booze making store. I think I can stop the fermentation process there or I could add brown sugar or honey and more yeast and make the cider that makes you buzz. I think I will read more on this.
I most likely I will never get this done...
People are sick at  my house again. What a winter this is turning out to be. We can never totally get well. With all the talk of influenza a person is afraid to just do the usual and ignore it.
I'm taking vitamin D. One of the older ladies at church says this will cure my lack of sunlight induced depression issues.

I do have some questions for anyone who remembers how cider used to be made.
1. They say the e-coli won't survive past four weeks and by that time you should have a low alchohol content. So can you keep your apple juice cool to keep the fermentation rate down and check the booze content. Then when the yeast uses up all the sugar it will stop fermenting?
2. If you get rid of the oxygen and the primary fermentation process has stopped can you bottle it without bottle bombs?
3. What did people used to do? There is no way you can keep apple juice without it fermenting. But people in the old days were no all drunks..

Saturday, November 14, 2009

With the Lazy Farmer on Saturday

I've got my usual winter depression. I over slept. It could be that I was laying in bed with Sadie as she read from Mother Westwind's, Whitefoot the Wood Mouse and looking at trucks on Craigslist. I didn't find anything that I could afford...But then I kept on looking long after she went to sleep. I did find a nice Honda Ascot but it is not the v-twin model and instead of looking like a flat-tracker it kind of looks like a girl bike. I may call about it. 50mpg! Probably more reliable than the Triumph.
So, I overslept and now it is after 8 a.m. My dad is at work. He is 90 years old. I'm setting in my easy chair watching Julia Childs and having another cup of coffee.
It is time for our Christmas get together. This is always kind of sad. Once we were a really close family but we never get together anymore. Our wives are not real close. We work. We can never celebrate an event within a week of when it occurs.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I rant again...

Perhaps I should just get a therapist. Hopefully someone finds my annoyance intertaining... I got pretty worked up about this post of NAT last night and then saw people who agreed with me this morning. So now I don't really care that much.
Then I had to fix the dryer.
Then there was the garbage on the lawn. Stanley the large Great Dane/Aussie Shepherd hid in his doghouse. Stanley and my brother's dog Sam like to bring home unattended bags of garbage. I think the way it works is-Stanley rips the door off and then he and Sam share the bag in front of our house. I am not actually sure that it is just Stanley who does the door. Sam has aways been a garbage hound. Stanley is just bigger. Also, Stanley knows he is not supposed to do this. At first I put a lot of blame on him, but now I am not so sure. Who ever the culprit is... We know not to ever leave bags of garbage or bags of anything that smells good to a dog, outside over night. You can't really stop the habit if you can't catch them in the act... And if I ever do there will be some sore doggie bottoms in this neighborhood.
Wife and child picked up the garbage before the school bus got here.
Here is what annoyed me last night.... It is about Amish people and NAT posters. I'm not completely right nor am I completely wrong. I'm just ranting...

I wandered back over to the NewAgTalk forums this evening. There seem to be a lot of new people on there. More morons than there used to be. Someone posted some photos of Amish people harvesting corn. I found the comments to be offensive.
I'm wondering why it annoyed me so much. I am not Amish.
I replied to the draft dodging comment only to put my post in the wrong spot, so I ended up looking like an idiot. So I left. I don't like NAT so much anymore anyway.
I guess it that I've been reading to many internet posts by people who don't have a clue about people of faith, because they have no faith.
I think it is depressing that no one believes in anything that has any deeper meaning. NewAgTalk provides a pretty good cross section of armchair farmers so I suppose it is somewhat representative of modern America.
It is such a short step from apathy to antagonism. From people who are stupid and don't care to people are stupid, don't know it, and want to impose their stupidity on everyone else.
Now, I may not have all the stuff right about the Amish but this is how I understand it.
Amish people really do things the hard way. They do this because they decided to stop following popular culture way back in the social revolution of the post WW I years. The point is to live a separate and called out life. A life not caught up in the modern rat race. A contemplative life that is close to God. Amish people believe in taking the sermon on the mount quite literal. They do not fight back if attacked, they believe in humility, in helping those in need, and in turning the other cheek.
Of course they do have problems as they are human. Sure at times they end up with a legalistic religious belief. But, why can't we still admire them as people who practice their faith in the daily lives. Why not appreciate that they are first on the scene in every national disaster. That they forgave the psycho who shot up their school.
Why laugh at them because they don't farm half the county and own a giant John Deere 4wd.
When I wrote my little newspaper I defended farmers to the death. I was infatuated by the ideal of the noble and hardworking yeoman who was somehow a part of the earth that he farmed. I thought the whole Jeffersonian ideal of the landowner and his native common sense was still a part of the modern farm.
The more modern farmers I know the less I like them. The de-evoloution of the farming character is just a little ways behind big business, real estate agents, developers, and society in general. Instead of the occasional self serving jackass being the exception to the rule, the exception is the rule, and the far thinking, honest, person with a real belief system is far and few between.
I no longer see the heros of my youth. I think they are all nearly dead. I suppose that is progress.

As for the issue of the Amish being draft dodgers I find that pretty offensive. They attempt to live their faith every day. They did not dodge the draft, they did alternative service which did not involve killing people. Not every fellow in the Army is a front line soldier. Are clerks and typists and mechanics somehow not doing their part because they don't get shot at every day?
If more people lived like Amish do you think there would be so many wars?

Oh whatever...

It doesn't really matter. People don't like Amish for a lot of reasons. Some of the Amish do smell bad. Their slow moving stuff on the highway is annoying. They stick together, they marry to close to home, some of them are greedy and some of them are lazy. I guess you can find what every you want in a group.

I am amazed at the horse drawn technology. I do think that a person could make it as a horse farmer. It would require a lot of self disipine I think. Perhaps an outside job to get started. You could not borrow money. I'm not sure I have the horse sense to do it. I always wanted to try before my dad forgot everything he knew about horse farming. (They farmed with horses till the 1950's.)
Jose our Mexican worker farmed with horses in Mexico. I tried to get him interested in modern horse farming stuff but he wanted a tractor. Hmmm...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

More war stories

Had a talk with my uncle today. Sadie needed to ask him some questions about his war experiences. She was late for school so didn't get in on the whole talk. I would have been good for her to hear. I think. Need to get her to talk to her grandfather also.
My uncle was in the US Army from 1943-45. Said he spent a lot of time peeling potatoes and digging latrines... Uncle was a clerk. The clerk title was accounting, record keeping, administration, inventory, really general business management sorts of things. He made it to the rank of Sergeant Major. He said when he went in he kept quiet about being a farmer. The Army was looking for farmers to use in the infantry. He said he certainly did not want to drive a tank.
The disiclipine from the farm helped my Uncle. In basic training many people couldn't take directions or get ready on time. He would get up early and shave before anyone else. He kept quiet and did what he was told in basic and he did pretty well. "I was used to Grandpa or Uncle M. telling me what to do. When they said to do something you did it. It wasn't so much different in the Army."
He had been attending college and training as an accountant. He went to accounting school in Wyoming and then on to Texas where he was assigned to the third army headquarters staff. Then shipped to Europe. He said they moved pretty fast with General Patton. Every couple days they would pack everything up and load into trucks and head down the road. Then unload and setup really fast. (I thought he said 15 minutes?) Said that in the beginning they never spent more than three days in one spot. Everyone had a job. Latrine detail dug latrines, cooks set up to provide meals. Uncle was involved with messages. Messages would come in from different places and he would log them in to a book, then take the messages to the different tents. Said it was hard to do in the dark. No lights.
Said you could always hear the rumble of gunfire. You could see the bombing runs after dark. This was pretty spectacular. Said he couldn't believe there were that many planes in the whole world. He watched them bombing France from England. Said it was an amazing fireworks display.
He said the continual stream of Army traffic was unbelievable. Tank after tank rumbled by. Said when moving ahead there were dead bodies all along the road. "You hoped there were Nazi's but it wasn't always that way," he said.
Battle of the Bulge was a bad situation. He said it shouldn't have happened. He had a pretty profound experience at that point. I don't really think I ought to write about it. He doesn't know I write this.
The stress was pretty great in his group. They kept track of everything. Gas, ammo, materials. There was never enough gasoline. Patton was always yelling about that. Uncle's commanding officer had a breakdown from the stress. Had to be replaced.
It was a very interesting discussion.
After talking to him I was thinking about it. Uncle plays it all down. It was no big deal. Just doing my job. Never had a chance to be a hero. I've read about the 3rd Army's rush through Europe. He was pretty close to the action. Close enough that I would think you would be pretty worried at times. Not only that but all the logistics went through the headquarters people. He was in charge of logging and distributing messages. I'd say that was pretty stressful work. Now, I will admit that there is a difference between being on the front lines with an M-1, but I have a lot of respect for my uncle. He is really someone who always tries to do the right thing. I was looking at the two uncles and my dad today. They don't have that many years left. Hard to think about...
No- I did not get my switch wired today.
I got it almost finished and then my other uncle wanted to go down to check on the river. He left his little pickup and his bulldozer down there and was a little worried it would flood. I said we should just go down there and move everything to high ground. So I went with him.
Got back at dusk. I had everything hooked up and I turned it for the test. I have a windshield wiper delay wired in so that the foam marker runs for a short time and then pauses. There seemed to be a pretty heavy load and it didn't sound right. I did some checking and found out the air pump was locked up. I guess that would account for the fried wiring. Not enough to trip the circuit breaker but enough to fry the relays and the wiring.
I took it apart and oiled it. Think it will get me by. Now I need to tidy everything up. Not very happy with everything. But, kind of out of time. I have to make some money somehow.

Switch hitting

I've spend a week wiring a stupid switch for my grain drill monitor. I am some what of an anateur at electrical wiring. Now when I say amature I mean "pathetic failure," but we should not quibble with semantics.
Those of you who are interested in things like flowmeters, microtrak spraymate monitors, Great Plains 1500 drills, no-till, and FarmerGPS may actually read this post and enjoy it. Perhaps someone will click the offensive comment box. I don't know.
Anyway, I wired a magnetic switch so that when you raise the drill it puts the flowmeter, and calc-an-acre, and the GPS on hold so they stop counting. At one point it also turned the fertilizer valve off. I also have a landmark foam marker that has faulty wiring.
So, I'm trying to wire this all into one switch box. I used a plastic conduit box and made use of several bosch relays and a hay baler stroke counter sensor to do all of this. However, the wires and relays now won't fit in the box and I have to redo it a bunch more.
Yesterday I was soldering the grounds together in the foam marker box and it just started pouring. I decided it would be better not to get electricuted so I gave up on that. Then a fellow came by to discuss no-till and Great Plains drills. Then a fellow showed up who wants me to plant. Then I took my daughter to her Mom's school so they could go into town and watch "the biggest loser," at niece's house. Then I get back and I get started soldering again and it gets dark. I turn on the tractor lights, then it pours. I go in the house and get warm. I come back out and start the tractor and crank up the heater and work on the wire in the cab.
How can it possibly take so long to crimp and route wires and figure out double-pole-double-throw switches? I actually need to get this done and do things I really need to get done. I can't quit now I've got everything apart.
But....It is wet. I'm a little worried about my last 200 acres. I really, really, need the money...
Wonder how many people will click here by mistake with "amature" in the body text. I've thought about spiking a post with all sorts of keywords to see what will happen. Now if I'd combine "amature, naughty, spanking, wanker, and Studebaker" as keywords, I wonder if I would get british studebaker collectors who do all the restoration work them selves, sometimes shoplift, and have an embarrassing personal habit that cold lead to blindness. Now there would be an interesting demographic.
Once I did a search for amature radio. Oh my goodness! And that was with the safe search filter on!!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's day

I was helping Sadie with her homework. One assignment was to interview a veteran in your family. My Uncle was in WWII. He was in the 3rd Army. I think we was a clerk. He carried a typewriter. He was pretty close to the Battle of the Bulge. Was very nearly involved. Once drove Patton in a jeep.
My Father was exempted as a farmer. My father-in-law was a conscientious objector and went as a nurse or do you say orderly? Was assigned to a mobile x-ray unit. Was also way to close to the Battle of the Bulge.
My Uncle was a conscientious objector and was sent to work in the woods and I think he worked in a mental hospital. Note: these were not unpatriotic people, they had ethical objections to killing other people.
There is quite the generational gap between 1944 and 2009.
I am quite in awe of my Father and Uncles generation. It is unbelieveable what they had to do and what they were willing to do, and what they accomplished.

Another story that doesn't have a real ending and then I have to go to work.

Oscar the bachelor farmer was a proud fellow. Now you wouldn't expect to see pride from a fellow with rusty old farm machinery in every fence row. That was part of his conceit. Somehow he had it in his head that he couldn't throw anything away and that someday each and every piece of junk farm machinery would be perfectly restored and put into a museum. Of course there is not and it is doubtful that there ever will be a Society For the Preservation of Mid-twentieth Century Farming Techniques.
To be fair Oscar's collection did go back to the turn of the century. The previous century. Somewhere in the pile was a McCormick reaper, a stationary baler, and an old horsedrawn road grader.
He did not see his 1946 Chevy truck or 1951 Studebaker as a rusting hulk that would never run again. He saw the 46 Chevy as useful truck that only needed a new axle and the Studebaker just need brakes. He would get to it next winter perhaps. After he fixed the barn so he would have a better shop.
He didn't spend that much time in his easy chair. If he did it was because he was doing important research on crops or looking at the for sale ads in the farm paper. He really didn't watch TV that much. Mostly because he was too cheap to buy cable, but he was always just about to go out and go to work.
The problem was that there was only one of him. His parents had been gone for a decade, he had no wife, there was no one to tell him what to do. To nag him into action. His brothers who lived in various cities and made much more money than him had comments every time they visited. These comments did not spur him to action.
"Why do you do some scraping? How can you live like this? This would be a beautiful place, you could have bed and breakfast and farm tours," these comments made him feel tight inside. There was a touch of simmering frustration in the depths of Oscar's soul.
The modern farming revolution had kind of passed him by. While the neighbors had either gotten big or quit Oscar had just kept going, His ground was not so good, there were  some major crop failures in the past that had taken all the spare cash plus added some debt. His rented ground had been bought up but the modern real estate speculator type of land lord and their first act had been to send that guy with the old tractors on down the road. It didn't matter that he had never missed a payment, he didn't have a shiny green tractor. He didn't fit into their idea of a successful farmer.
In a way they were right. He was not at all your modern successful farmer.
Oscar's farm kept getting smaller and with less income there was less chance of getting new equipment or getting more ground.
Oscar was the last of the old style farmer. The type that had a few chickens, a few cows, small fields, and old tractors.
He still had his pride and people didn't seem to realize that.
He was proud of his old Ford pickup. It was in nice shape. He was proud of his 1964 Studebaker cruiser. It was a bit rusty and smoked a lot, but it was in good shape mechanically. His house was old and needed some paint but it was clean inside. There were a few piles of magazines he needed to research, and there were some boxes of old tractor manuals and advertising brochures but those were essential to the restoration of his tractor projects. There were a few boxes of old toys but he was trying to collect some really good sturdy toys like he had when he was a kid. This modern plastic stuff really didn't teach kids anything.
He really planned on building an office in the back room. He was going to do that after getting a couple tractors rebuilt as he really needed a better baler tractor. He just never seemed to have the time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas tree discussion at Coffee time...

We had another interesting and informative coffee break. Today we learned about Christmas Trees.
Christmas tree harvest is really going in earnest. It actually started in October with some shipments to the Philippines. Trees from Oregon go all over the world. The trees are harvested by helicopter. The workers (90% Mexican) cut the trees in the field and place stack them on two ropes. The ropes have a loop braided in one end and a hook on the other. They stack ten trees or so on these ropes then form it into a bundle. The helicopter drops a hook and picks up the bundle. The ferries it to the waiting truck. (They say that the static charge from the rotor blades can be quite painful. The pilot often drops the hook to the ground to discharge the static)
The trucks have special high sides to haul a lot of trees. The loads are then dumped at a central staging area where they shaken to remove any bugs, then baled (wrapped with string) and packed, either into another truck or into a container for export.
There are some variations. Sometimes the trees are shaken right in the field. A helicopter is usually used to move the trees out of the field. They are pretty fast. It is cool to watch.
Local farmers often haul trees with their big trucks to make some money in the off season. There is not a lot of demand for 30 year old trucks however, this pretty much leaves me out.

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