Sunday, November 30, 2003

This story is more or less true, I'd never heard before yesterday, but knowing both of the main participants, I don't doubt it in the least. Some of the details may be wrong, but it's the way it was told to me.

Once upon a time about 10 0r 12 years ago...

These two old boys I went to school with, we'll call 'em LW and CN, were room mates, they also worked together as carpenters. They were working on building a house about the time this incident occurred.

It seems that one of 'em (CN) had a Corvette that was his pride and joy. He'd had the motor tore down for quite some time and finally got everything back in running order. He didn't have tags or insurance, but he'd had the car tore down so long he couldn't stand it anymore, he had to get out and drive it. He and WL took off down the road and decided to see how the car ran...

I'm sure you can see where this is going already.

Well, as one would expect, the Law commenced to chasing 'em. They had a pretty good little run until CN overcorrected or something and ran the car off in the ditch.

Well, for some reason CN made a run for it and took off into the woods. WL stayed with the car, either from shock or having better sense (hard to tell with that boy, my guess is shock).

I'm a bit hazy on this part of it, but evidently since WL wasn't driving, the po-leece let him go. (This is the confusing part) I don't know whether they let him take the Corvette home (I would think they'd impound it?) or a Deputy took him, I'm not sure.

But when WL finally got home, CN thought he'd done went and ratted him out to the po-leece and came out the front door with a shotgun. WL must have ducked, because CN only winged him in the arm.

I do believe that there must have been a Deputy with WL 'cause they hauled CN off to jail.

The most interesting part about this whole story is that WL went to the doctor, got all bandaged up....

and went back up the jail to try and post CN's bail.

They told 'im that they couldn't release CN into his custody with CN having just shot 'im and all.

WL told 'em that they had to, 'cause he didn't have nobody else to help him finish the house they was building.

I had to deliver a load of hay yesterday, ended up going to lunch with a couple of my buddies who happen to be masters at the art of telling tall tales. One of them DR (we still have to have initials to protect the semi-innocent here) told one that is truly worthy of a Cletus tale. As soon as I have a chance I'm going to try and get it down. I don't know how well it'll translate into print, but we'll see.

Friday, November 28, 2003

One of the reasons I am doing this is to improve my writing skills. I follow some of the political goings on, locally, state-wide and nation-wide, but I don't try to write about it. The biggest reason that I don't is because I don't make quick judgements on things I read or see on the news. Ok, that's mot entirely true, but for the most part I have to kindly chew things over and study on it for a while.

I generaly lean towards the right, but I will admit there have been very rare occasions that I've voted for a Democrat. Sometimes one of 'em will have a good idea, but even a blind hog will occasionaly find an acorn. Zell is about the only one with any sense and rest of 'em are too dumb to listen to him, but that's probably for the best.

Anyhow, usually whatever it is I'm looking at has been overtaken by events and there's a new scandal/news/stupidity by the time I've made up my mind about the last scandal/news/stupidity.

Soooo, you most likely won't see much in the way of politics here...

I realize that I have a lot of books, but I had no idea until today just how many Farm/Tractor/Implement/Forage books I have. I built a small bookcase this morning to go between my computer desk and my rolltop (the bill-paying desk) because my other book shelves are full and I have books stacked up all over the place. Since I've moved all my farm related books to the new shelf it looks like I might actually have room to organize all my other books.

It pains me to do so, but I probably should go through them and weed some of 'em out, especially some of the old computer books... System 7.5? Why in the heck do I need that now?

Sorry about the lack of posting, I'm in the midst of re-arranging my office and trying to finish up a couple of side jobs. A menu for one of my wife's friends and a big photoshop project that's taking up a lot of my time.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

The high-falutin' feller over at Civil War Bookshelf has a link to this article about the Confederate flag.

This line pretty much sums up my feelings on it.

"I feel cheated. As if the flag had been stolen from me..."

It makes my blood boil to see those idiots in the klan and all the neo-nazi skinhead jackasses waving the battle flag alongside the nazi flag.

The flag represents a lot of different things to different people, but thanks to these idiots half the people in the south and damn near everyone in the rest of the country see it ONLY as a symbol of rascism.

The way I look at it, they've contaminated my heritage.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

The Boss is starting to get on my nerves... She's in her office with one of her friends who is trying to open a deli in Chattanooga. I haven't eaten anything this evening and they're in there talking about all this wonderful food.

I think they're tormenting me.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

A buddy of mine dropped by today. He had his wife and kids with him and they wanted to see the horsies. I took them down to the lower pasture where all the critters were grazing, took a bucket of grain with me... got knocked in the jaw by a horses head so hard that I was seeing stars. The younger critters tend to get excited about treats... my fault for paying more attention to being a tour guide than what my "kids" were up too.

Fat boy came ambling along a bit later, I put a halter on him and let the kids walk around on him (with me leading him). They had a ball, riding on fat boy is the closest they'll probably ever come to riding a baby elephant. The kids (ages 4 and 2) were so tickled it almost made the whack to jaw worthwhile.

Fat boy is an Appaloosa, but he shows no Ap characteristics at all. He's a throwback to his Quarter Horse grandmother. If you've ever seen a picture of Wimpy, he looks just like him... except he's fat. He looks like he could give birth to twins at any moment.

He's not much fun to ride, it takes an act of Congress (or spurs) to make 'im move, but he's great with kids. It's a shame he's a gelding, I could make a little money with him if he still had his orginal equipment. He makes a great pasture ornament though.

It's been about six hours and my jaw STILL hurts. I'm hoping for a bruise. I'm going to tell everybody at work that Sweetie whacked me with a frying pan.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

I dragged out my Chickamauga video the other day. This is a documentary that somebody made using footage shot at the big reenactment back in '99. I hadn't really sat down and watched it before (my previous viewing cosisted of much fast-forwarding and cursing because I wasn't in it) I'll have to say, it's not bad. I've actually seen much much worse. I hate to admit it, but it's better than the one they show at the Battlefield (I AM in that one)

I think the reason I wasn't in it was because I was a wee bit tooooo conspicuous. I think I was the only idiot there with a white horse (can you say big honkin' TARGET?). I told the battalion commander (that I was baby-sitting) "Sir, you do realize that if they had live ammunition, we'd be dead?"

The boss just made it home from a Horse Show that she was supposed to be home from many many many hours ago. She has problems with this nifty little device called a TELEPHONE.

Well, I can't be too mad at her, she came home with a fifth place ribbon for a horse that's only been ridden eight times... meaning today, with crowds, noise and more horses was the eighth time that critter's been rode. (The boss wasn't ridding, but it was her horse that she's been training)

So she's very happy. It would be bad form for me to throw a fit right now. I did admonish her about NOT CALLING me.

I've had a fun day of mowing, but I'm pretty much done with that for the year. My only excitment was when the front axle pivot pin decided it wanted to fall out of the tractor. That would have been an interesting little wreck, but I saw the axle wobble and shut 'er down. (this has happened before...)

It will soon be time to tear the front end off and fix that... and the radiator and the fuel tank and the power steering and the... oh well, nevermind.

Friday, November 21, 2003

ok, I'm slow, but not completely stupid. I've figured out that I can't post any pictures with this software. What I'm trying to decide now is whether I will continue this foolishness long enough to warrant upgrading to something that will let me post pictures.

I shall leave that up to my 3 loyal readers.

Ya'll want pictures or not?

I'm in the process of reading Sherman's Horsemen by David Evans.
I've had it for about a year and I'm just now getting around to reading it.

I have a couple of interesting little tales to relay that I've picked up so far, but it'll be later before I can get to it.

I'm in the middle of trying to copy a bunch of CD's and it's slowing my poor little G4 down too much to use the web at the same time.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I went to see a friend of mine this evening, he's recently had some minor surgery and is feeling a little rough. I talked Sweetie™ into making him (and me!) a Buttermilk pie, so I took him that and a couple of books. Stanley Horn's history of the Army of Tennessee and a book on Colditz (WWII German POW camp). He handed Seven Pillars of Wisdom (T.E. Lawerence's book on the war in the desert) back to me. It's a hard book to read, he's worked on it off and on for nearly two years. It took me almost four months... and I usually go through a couple of books a week.

Lets throw in a Rabbi and a barbershop quartet while we're at it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

I went to the Funeral of an acquaintance today.

I hate going to Funerals, especially ones like this one. The guy was 41 years old and leaves behind a wife, four year old daughter and whole lot of friends.

It was a typical southern funeral, nothing dramatic, just a great deal of sadness.

I really made me think.

If I go in an untimely fashion, I want to make a freaking spectacle out of it. I want a bagpiper playing Johnny Cope and Cock o' the North, to heck with Amazing Grace. I want the Mariachi band to play that. I want a Catholic priest and a hellfire and brimstone Baptist preacher who climbs over pews and froths at the mouth. I want 'em to have a theological debate that breaks out into a fistfight. Hell, throw in a Buddhist monk and a Navaho medicine man too... I want to make my Pallbearers wear kilts or Zouave uniforms with big purple Sombreros or Viking helmets, or something like that anyway. I want to do whatever is most ridiculous and annoying to the most people.

Let's make sure that I offend everybody.

The way I look at it, I'd rather than everybody be pissed off at me than sad about my passing.

'sides it'll give all the old hens something to talk about for the next three generations.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

From the amount of raining we've gotten since this afternoon, I'm starting to wonder if I need to build an Ark and commence to gathering critters two by two.

Monday, November 17, 2003

I think I may have learned something today.

I was pretty disgusted down at Sunbelt with all the "furrin" made equipment. I was very disgusted with New Holland because one of their sales reps told me they'd dropped the '10 series tractors (5610, 6610, 7610). I really liked those machines because they were pretty much the same design since the 60's. They are extremely reliable machines.

At some point in time, I would like to buy a new one. I figured it would last me for the next 20 or 30 years and it's highly doubtful I would ever need another new tractor again.

Needless to say, I was unhappy when I found out they've dropped them.

Well, I need to do a little more checking, but evidently the new TB series are basically the same tractors, just with updated sheet metal. I need to ride over to Lafayette and see if the dealer over there has one I can check out.

So, when I do get to the point where I can afford a new one, it might end up being blue after all.

Probably shouldn't do this, but what the heck.

This is probably my favorite poem. It ticks my wife off when I start reciting it....

The Betrothed
Rudyard Kipling

"You must choose between me and your cigar."

Open the old cigar-box, get me a Cuba stout,
For things are running crossways, and Maggie and I are out.

We quarrelled about Havanas -- we fought o'er a good cheroot,
And I knew she is exacting, and she says I am a brute.

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a space;
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Maggie's face.

Maggie is pretty to look at -- Maggie's a loving lass,
But the prettiest cheeks must wrinkle, the truest of loves must pass.

There's peace in a Larranaga, there's calm in a Henry Clay;
But the best cigar in an hour is finished and thrown away --

Thrown away for another as perfect and ripe and brown --
But I could not throw away Maggie for fear o' the talk o' the town!

Maggie, my wife at fifty -- grey and dour and old --
With never another Maggie to purchase for love or gold!

And the light of Days that have Been the dark of the Days that Are,
And Love's torch stinking and stale, like the butt of a dead cigar --

The butt of a dead cigar you are bound to keep in your pocket --
With never a new one to light tho' it's charred and black to the socket!

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider a while.
Here is a mild Manila -- there is a wifely smile.

Which is the better portion -- bondage bought with a ring,
Or a harem of dusky beauties, fifty tied in a string?

Counsellors cunning and silent -- comforters true and tried,
And never a one of the fifty to sneer at a rival bride?

Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close,

This will the fifty give me, asking nought in return,
With only a Suttee's passion -- to do their duty and burn.

This will the fifty give me. When they are spent and dead,
Five times other fifties shall be my servants instead.

The furrows of far-off Java, the isles of the Spanish Main,
When they hear my harem is empty will send me my brides again.

I will take no heed to their raiment, nor food for their mouths withal,
So long as the gulls are nesting, so long as the showers fall.

I will scent 'em with best vanilla, with tea will I temper their hides,
And the Moor and the Mormon shall envy who read of the tale of my brides.

For Maggie has written a letter to give me my choice between
The wee little whimpering Love and the great god Nick o' Teen.

And I have been servant of Love for barely a twelvemonth clear,
But I have been Priest of Cabanas a matter of seven year;

And the gloom of my bachelor days is flecked with the cheery light
Of stumps that I burned to Friendship and Pleasure and Work and Fight.

And I turn my eyes to the future that Maggie and I must prove,
But the only light on the marshes is the Will-o'-the-Wisp of Love.

Will it see me safe through my journey or leave me bogged in the mire?
Since a puff of tobacco can cloud it, shall I follow the fitful fire?

Open the old cigar-box -- let me consider anew --
Old friends, and who is Maggie that I should abandon you?

A million surplus Maggies are willing to bear the yoke;
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.

Light me another Cuba -- I hold to my first-sworn vows.
If Maggie will have no rival, I'll have no Maggie for Spouse!

I guess it's pretty obivious that I like Kipling.

In my Custer/Spencer/Wilder post I said "They might have changed the outcome of the battle if Charles Dana (Assistant Secretary of War) hadn't came along... "

I need to backtrack/cover my ass on that statement.

I don't think a single brigade, even armed with repeating rifles, could have stopped Longstreet's breakthrough. Massed artillery might have, but it's hard to say because the ground is so broken in that area.

Anyway, about Charles Dana. He was the Assistant Secretary of War under Stanton. Stanton didn't have much use for Rosecrans (Commander of the Army of the Cumberland) and had sent Dana down there to (for all intents and purposes) spy on Rosecrans.

When Longstreet broke through, Dana evidently got seperated from Rosecrans. When he came upon Wilder's men (pretty much the only organized Union troops south of Snodgrass) he commandeered them to escort him to Chattanooga. Wilder was trying to work his way north to support Thomas on Snodgrass at the time, but Dana demanded that Colonel Wilder escort him to Chattanooga.

Whether or not Wilder would have made that much of a difference is a good question. Confederate causalties would have certainly been worse and having a organized body of mounted troops (I have no idea where the Cavalry brigades were at this time. Something for me to research) would have probably made Thomas's withdrawl much easier.

I did get somewhat motivated yesterday. I got out in the rain (I never claimed to have any sense) and broadcast some Marshall Ryegrass back in the woods where I mowed Saturday. I'm sure the guys that I've let come hunting are happy now. Most of that mess back there was head high, I haven't mowed it since early last spring.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Just watched Coyote Waits on PBS. It was a pretty decent movie, seemed to follow the book fairly closely in most respects. They showed previews for Thief of Time, it looks pretty good too.

I saw Skinwalkers when it came on last year. That was the first time I'd ever seen Wes Studi (Magua from last of the Mohicans) with hair.

A friend of mine who was/is really into Spencer rifles and carbines threw an interesting thought out at me a couple of years ago.

We all know the story of the Little Bighorn battle, but John had an interesting little twist. He thinks that one of the factors that led to Custer's defeat was firepower. I tend to agree with his line of reasoning.

Until the Black Hills expedition in 1874, the Seventh Cavalry was equipped with seven shot Spencer carbines. If I'm not mistaken, Custer held up the expedition until all of his companies could be re-equipped with the new 1873 Springfield. I don't think the Seventh was involved in any major actions during that expedition, or in the next two years leading up to the Little Bighorn Campaign. I think the War Department did away with the Spencers primarily because of range; the .56 caliber Spencer was a relatively short-range cartridge. From what I can understand from those with more engineering know-how than myself, the action/breech of the Spencer won't work with a longer cartridge case (I think that's the reason the repro's can't be chambered for .45 long colt). So a longer-range cartridge was not possible with the Spencer design.

During most of Custer's Civil War service and his Post-War service he commanded troops equipped with Spencers. He was accustomed to his troops having a tremendous amount of firepower.

At the Little Bighorn, his troops did not have that advantage. Since this was the first time the Seventh was involved in a major engagement since they had re-equipped, the difference in how many rounds a minute they could fire hadn't been tested in combat.

In an ordinary engagement (is there any such thing?) from that period, I don't think it would have mattered, but the sheer numbers that Custer's immediate command was facing swamped his five companies on the hill (dismounted, which means every fourth man was detached to hold the horses, for all intents and purposes taking away one quarter of his strength). There were not enough men to handle the angry Sioux who came boiling up out of the river bottoms. I don't know if the result would have been any different if he'd had the whole regiment with him.

I expect those boys thought they'd poked a stick in a hornet's nest.

Wilder's Brigade wrecked a couple of Confederate brigades at Chickamauga, primarily due to the firepower their Spencers offered them. They might have changed the outcome of the battle if Charles Dana (Assistant Secretary of War) hadn't came along... oh, well probably not, but that's a story for another time.

I realize there were many other factors to Custer's defeat, tactical and technical, but this struck me as good an explanation as any.

It's a good argument topic anyway.

It's been a crappy rainy day today.

I was able move some my more mobile scrap iron around before it set in raining though. The boss is happy now. She now has room to manuever her horse trailer around without running over any of my stuff.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

TC and I went to look at the Avery today. I'm going to pass on it. It wouldn't crank and it's had a bit too much... "engineering" done on it. Someone has cobbled up a mid-mount grader blade for it, a neat idea, but they screwed up the cultivator mounts to do it. Owner wants $800 obo. I'm thinking more like a $100 and I ain't so sure that I'd be getting a good deal then.

We rode on down the road a piece to a place I drive by on my way to the office. Since the leaves have fallen, I've noticed several crawlers sitting in the woods in front of a house, so we went by for a look.

The guy evidently likes crawlers, he had two and a half Olivers (long explanation required, so I'll leave it at that), a two cylinder John Deere Industrial that someone has painted JD green (instead of industrial yellow) and.... something that we can't tell what the heck it is. Whatever it is, it's got a very nice undercarriage and a six-way blade... problem is, that's ALL there is.

The owners wife came out and talked to us, the owner wasn't home, she made it very plain that she wanted this JUNK out of her yard....

I left her my number, but I haven't heard from hubby yet. I don't think MY wife would be very happy with me if I came dragging home a whole collection of junk crawlers.

I'd be living in the barn right quickly I'm thinking.

On the way home, TC's wife called on his cell and asked where he was. He told her that I was dragging him around to look at junk tractors. She told him that since we were out looking that she'd seen one with a for sale on it earlier, so we decided to swing by and look at it too.

I wish my wife would do things like that.

It was a '56 JD 40, tricycle, factory three-point hitch, set up to run either
Kerosene or Gasoline. Straight sheet metal, one new tire. $1200. It was the best looking machine we'd looked at all day. I'm not real interested. I'd like it better if it were a wide front, but I don't really need anything that size.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a short paragraph for the Possum Man about us scaring some kids over at Chickamauga battlefield some years back.

I talked to one of the other guys who was in on that the other day. He asked if I was at Snodgrass the weekend that he and Hobbit scared the two girls in the MGB. I had to admit that I hadn't heard this one.

It seems that for some reason Scutter and Hobbit needed to go back to their cars that evening. They (and a bunch of other guys) had spent the day doing Infantry demonstrations on Snodgrass Hill. There's not much room to park up there, so all of the guys had parked at the maintenance area.

It was about dark when they headed back to camp, for some reason they decided to go the long way down the road instead of taking the short way across the fields and through the woods.

They got down close to the crossroads at Dyer field and heard a car coming.

They promptly decided to hide.

Two girls in an MGB with the top down pulled up at the stop sign.

Hobbit was wearing a "long rider" duster. He buttoned it all the way up, took off his hat and pulled the duster up over his head....

And proceeded to run across the road in front of these girls flapping his arms and squalling like a scalded dog.

I can only imagine what went through those girls minds at the sight of a headless man in a long white coat running across the road in front of them. If I’d seen something like that, I’d have probably had to go home and change my underwear.

Scutter said the girls screamed, shouted a few expletives and proceeded to leave some serious rubber on the road.

And Terry thinks I've got a mean streak?

I wish I'd been there to see that.

I may have to quit bitching about the batwing. I mowed for about three hours today without any problems a'tall.

Friday, November 14, 2003

I live in a gray area (so to speak) as far as producing good forage (hay) goes. I'm just a tiny bit too far south to be able to maintain a good stand of orchard grass and just a bit too far north for coastal Bermuda grass. We can grow Tifton 44, but most of the horse people who make up my clientele aren't familiar with it.

I've got a neighbor who does keep a fair stand of orchard grass, but he has a drill and re-seeds every other year. I've had mixed results with seeded Bermuda (Cheyenne). I tried alfalfa three years ago (Amerigraze 401) had a great stand the first two years, but this year it seems to be thinning out.

Fescue, for better or for worse, seems to do better around here than anything else (except maybe ryegrass). I mixed some Jesup (endophyte-free) with my alfalfa and it seems to be taking over. I doubt it would persist in my pastures, but I've got it in a field that's only used for hay. If the price ever comes down on MaxQ I may replant some of fields that we use for both grazing and hay. I'm still a little leery of it though. Mississippi State (among others) has been doing a lot of testing with pregnant mares with good results, but I think they've only been testing for two or three years now.

The best grass I've planted has been ryegrass. I've planted several different varieties, but Marshall seems to do better than anything else.

I'm running out of time to plant any this year, I should have already planted some. I'd rather rotate pastures in the winter than feed hay. I'd rather sell the hay to the people who don't have the grazing options I do.

After six months of being in a state of disrepair, we've managed to get the batwing back operational.

I made two mistakes when I bought that %$%^ thing.

A. I bought it from a dealer in middle Tennessee (over a hundred miles away) who doesn't give a damn if I'm a happy customer or not. I sure as hell won't be a repeat customer.

B. It's a Farmhand. There's not really anything wrong with it, it's a heavily built cutter, but there are NO dealers within 50 miles of me and this B.S. about being able to go to any Agco dealer for parts is B.S.

Oh yeah, it's metric too.

I won't be buying anyother one of them unless we get an dealer close by and probably not even then. If I'd spent a little more money and got a Bushog, I'd have five dealers (that I know of!) within forty miles of me.

I didn't see any Farmhand stuff at Sunbelt, it makes me wonder if Agco is dropping them.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Well, I've learned how to do something new. Think I'll quit whilst I'm ahead.

I have no idea if anybody other than Stick, and maybe the Possum man is reading this, but if anybody is who has cows or horses, Southern Agribusiness Services is hosting a Southern Forages workshop in Chattanooga this February. It's a little pricey, $150 for a one day seminar, but it's worth every penny of it. I went to the one they had last year, I don't know if I will go to this years or not. I'd like to go just to get a chance to talk to the speakers again.

The three main speakers are; Dr. Carl Hoveland, University of Georgia, he's the fellar that figured out the business about tall fescue endophytes. The other speakers are Dr. Don Ball from Auburn and Dr. Garry Lacefield from the University of Kentucky.

I'm going to try to link the page that has all in the information on it, just in case somebody is actually reading this.

Well, I have hot water again. It's a good thing too, it's gotten cold today, supposed to be down in the twenties tonight.

I left work 30 minutes early do that I would have enough to check the radiators in both of the tractors and in my old F-150.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Donnie at ain't done it (I will someday figure out how to do links) posted The Charge of the Light Brigade yesterday. Most folks are familiar with that poem, but I'd say the people that know this one are few and far between...

The Last of the Light Brigade
Rudyard Kipling

There were thirty million English who talked of England's might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four!

They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, "Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites."

They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant's order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

They strove to stand to attention, to straighten the toil-bowed back;
They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and "Beggin' your pardon," he said,
"You wrote o' the Light Brigade, sir. Here's all that isn't dead.
An' it's all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin' the mouth of hell;
For we're all of us nigh to the workhouse, an, we thought we'd call an' tell.

"No, thank you, we don't want food, sir; but couldn't you take an' write
A sort of 'to be continued' and 'see next page' o' the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an' couldn't you tell 'em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now."

The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with "the scorn of scorn."
And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

O thirty million English that babble of England's might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children's children are lisping to "honour the charge they made-"
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

Kipling, I think really cared for the common soldier. It shows in much of his "Empire" related poetry. Tommy Atkins and the Widow O' Windsor are two more examples of this.

There has always been a tendency to treat soldiers badly in most of our western societies, at least until the shooting starts.

The Possum man mentioned 1911's in an email to me, it makes me miss mine. I had two before I went to college, but they went the way of the dodo because I was too hard headed to try to get any assistance.

I did hang on to the Officers model a lot longer than most of my guns, I think I finally sold it my last semester. I guess you could say I put myself through school with it. Not by robbing liquor stores either.

I hocked it four or five times to pay my tutition. About the time I'd get it paid off, I had to hock it again.

When I finally sold it, I had a crappy job with no better prospects in sight and a four hundred dollar vet bill to pay, so I ended up letting it go for good. Wish I hadn't, but at least I had a good reason, unlike the time I sold my Spencer carbine, or my Bess, or my... oh well, nevermind.

That's a story for another day.

I've found an antique to play with. A B.F. Avery model A (at least that's what I think it is), not sure what the guy will take for it, he said make an offer. TC and I are going to run over yonder and look at it Saturday. It runs, or at least it was fairly recently. We'll see if it'll still crank.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

ARGHHHHHH! It has been one of THOSE days.

I went to take a shower this morning, no hot water. Took a cooooooold shower. I hate doing that; I can barely manage to take a cold shower in the summertime when I come in from the field. I figured the element was burned out in the *&%$ water heater.

Stopped on the way to work to get gas, climbed back in the truck, turned to ignition... click



Every once in a while the bendix will spin, but the starter won't engage, so I'm thinking this is just lovely, marvelous, I get to buy a starter today. I pushed the truck away from the pumps (a couple of guy who pulled in were nice enough to help me) and studied my options, which were limited.

I didn't have any cash to use the payphone.

My cell phone is dead.

I went with option #3

I walked down the road to the junkyard (they have a rollback) to use the phone and try to get somebody to take my truck to the garage. They had the rollback already out on a call, but they called my mechanic for me, who called another guy with a rollback, who was able to come right over and get me.

Loaded truck, went to the garage. Unload truck, pop the hood.

I am an idiot.

It was the battery cable. Something I could fix in 30 seconds with a pocketknife. If I had been in my old truck, I would have known this, but I was in my "New" (new to me at least) truck, which I've only been driving for a about three weeks.

Rob (the mechanic) is a great guy; he cleaned off my cables and refused to let me pay him.

Got to the office around 10 and spent the rest of the day with the usual fun and games we have at the salt mines.

When I came home, I checked the water heater (I flipped the breaker off and on this morning) still no hot water.

I moved all the crap from in front of it that sweetie had placed there and found a lovely puddle of rusty water. Flipped the breaker back off, whipped out my trusty pocketknife and started removing access covers.

Everything on it is full of water. There is water standing in the top under the access plates. There is water dripping down the side around the wiring.

Called a neighbor, who told me about the great mysteries of the reset switch. Tried that, the power came back on, but I've got water dripping everywhere. After consulting with him for a few more minutes, I called my brother, who advised me to go get another water heater.

Just back from Lowes, $470 poorer. It'll probably be Thursday before they can come install the %^&# thing.

I'm debating on whether or not to go down to the barn and get sweeties bucket heater so I can take a bath in the morning.

I am not a happy boy right now.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Haven't heard anything from the BBQ emporium lately... I'm starting to wonder if it was Cletus that got busted for having that still over on Sand Mountain the other day...

November 11, 1918

My Granddaddy was a cook during WWI. That, and the fact that he did go to France, was all I knew about his military service. About a month ago, my aunt gave me a copy of his discharge papers and I learned a little more about him. The few times I asked him as child, he wouldn't talk much about it.

It seems he fibbed a bit to the Army when he enlisted. They have him down as being 20 years old when he enlisted. He was actually 17. I had always thought he’d been drafted in 1918, but he enlisted in September of 1917. I’ve since found out why.

My Great-Grandfather was married three times and he had three sets of children. His first two wives died, probably in childbirth, I’m not sure. My Grandfather didn’t get along with the third wife, so he enlisted to get away from her and probably to get away from the farm too. He was afraid to tell his daddy what he’d done; he went to his Aunt and told her so he could see which way the wind was blowing I guess.

According to his discharge papers, he was with Company H of the 60th Infantry Regiment. He did not see any combat and did not receive any wounds in service.

He was very fortunate.

He may not have seen combat, but I am sure he saw sights that few people today could relate to, or want to relate to. I think he knew, better than I ever will, how fortunate he was.

I wonder, every year, where he was and what he was doing when they got the word it was over.

The First World War was probably the most horrific war that has ever been fought in terms of battlefield casualties with the possible exception of the eastern front in the Second World War.

I cannot image what it would be like to be a Frenchman or a German who survived Verdun, or an Englishman kicking soccer balls as they went over the top at the Somme.

I’m glad Pershing insisted on American troops being an independent command, instead of being fed into the meat grinder like the Brits and the French.

I was originally going to try and make a point with this, but I’ve lost my train of thought somewhere in a muddy trench in the Argonne forest…

The road running through here was dirt when I was growing up. The county would come through three or four times a year and grade the roads. You could see a car coming for miles during dry weather. It wasn't any fun when it rained though. There is a creek that meanders along beside the road about half a mile north of me, when we get a lot of rain it will get up over the road. Back then; it would wash big sections of the road out.

There was a little one-lane bridge over the creek. It had a metal frame with planks laid down over it. When it was muddy, the mud would come off your tires onto the planks of the bridge, making it very treacherous.

We were coming home from a horse sale late one night. I was maybe eight years old at the time, it had been raining like hell and I was sleepy and grumpy. I wanted to go home! We got to the bridge and started across, about halfway the truck started sliding. We ended up with one of the front tires off the bridge completely. The only thing that kept us from ending up in the creek was the flimsy little guardrail. It bent the hood of the truck a little, scratched the paint, but it saved our bacon. My brother walked about half a mile in the rain to the neighbors, who brought a tractor down and pulled us out.

I think that was probably the most scared I'd ever been in my life up ‘til then.

I miss the dirt roads. I don't miss that bridge.

Why is it every time I find a good deal on a tractor it's on the other side of the world? North Dakota, Canada, New Yawk or some other furrin place?

Ok, that's not entirely true. I had one fall in my lap a couple of weeks ago, but by the time I made it up there to look at it, it was sold. MF1150, really too much machine for me, but it was cheap. cheap, cheap. I never got to hear it run, but from what I was told the only thing wrong with it was a hydraulic leak (musta been a blown line, it looked the Exxon Valdez had been parked where it was sitting).

oh, well, ya gotta have the $$. I would've had to borrow to get it and if I have to go into debt on a tractor again, it needs to be blue or green.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

I had intentions of trying to write some more this evening, but I don't know if I am that ambitious yet. It's been one of those days...

I think may spend the rest of the evening reading instead.

I would have liked to crash Acidmans blogmeet over in Dahlonega (it's only about an hour from me) a couple of weeks ago, I read this stuff and Donnie's stuff just about everyday. That was before I started this mess though and I was afraid that they'd throw me through a plate glass window or something.

I was raking and baling that day anyway. oh well, maybe next time.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

I need to try to catch up with Stick at some point in time. I've got two books for him. The Candlemass Road and Steel Bonnets by George Macdonald Fraser. Candlemass Road is a short book, I read it in an afternoon. It's an interesting little tale from the borders during the later part of Elizabeth I's reign. Steel Bonnets is non-fiction, unlike most of Fraser's work it's a little dry, but it's a great reference on the border reivers of the sixteenth century. Since Stick is from that neck of the woods, I figure he'll enjoy them. Stick was already familair with the Flashman series, but I loaned a couple of Fraser books to Stick when we worked together which he seemed to like pretty well (I'm still looking for another copy of Black Ajax for you Barry). I have an interest in this stuff because I'm pretty sure my family came from the northern part of England, maybe not exactly borderers, but who knows? I figure 500 years ago my ancestors were stealing his ancestors sheep and vice-versa

Sharps Rifles and Carbines

I can't hit the broad side of the barn with a rifle, but I love my Sharps. I have two, a rifle and a carbine. I've owned five or six over the years, both cartridge and percussion. I don't currently have a cartridge sharps, 45-70's ain't cheap and I'm not set up for reloading. 'Sides I kinda like the big boom the .54's make.

The carbine is a Taylor & Company I got a couple of years ago, I doubt I've fired it more than 20 times. I've never carried it on horseback, or in a reenactment. I thought about carrying it when I rode staff at the big Chickamauga event a couple of years ago, but I decided that a belt gun and two horse pistols were plenty. (I was baby-sitting a battalion commander who didn't know how to ride and figured I'd be better off without the encumbrance)

My rifle is a Sile that once was a sporting rifle that I had a friend of mine convert to a three-band military rifle (with a little help from a new forearm that I found at Wildman's Civil War Surplus down in Kennesaw along with some barrel bands from Dixie Gun Works). I think there is either half an inch or an inch and a half difference in the barrel length between it and the real one. John did such a good job with it, the first time I took it to an event; a guy stopped me and started bitching at me for carrying an original. I can't hit anything with firing live, but it's more fun to shoot than anything else I have with the possible exception of my horse pistols (Walker & a second model Dragoon).

Hmmp, in the nature of a public service announcement, let me state that it is always wise, when using a percussion sharps, to check the top of the breechblock for any powder left over after the breechblock tears the end of the cartridge... it can be embarrassing to throw it up to your shoulder to fire and drop the damn thing while screaming "ARGH my eyes!" Especially in front of a crowd....

I can't decide whether I should actually use folks names or not, so for now I'm using initials to protect the innocent.

Sunbelt Expo plus rambling gripes

I was able to use a couple of my (few) remaining vacation days this year to go the Sunbelt Expo in Moultrie, Georgia. I've been wanting to go for a couple of years now, just to look at all new/neat/nifty stuff I can't afford. I spent a fair amount of time hanging around the antique tractors that were on display. I got to thinking (always a dangerous thing with me) whilst looking at all the new tractors...

I had a couple of semi-related thoughts that I have been pondering; the show just reinforced what I've been thinking for a while.

When they started having the show (sometime back in the early 80's) probably 70% of the tractors there were made in the United States. This year, I'd say it would be more like 5% or less where made here. Some of the John Deere machines and a few of the big Case/New Holland (200+ HP) were made here. Everything else is made overseas. I'm not knocking the tractors from across the pond, Deutz used to have some of the toughest machines ever made (they may still, I don't know anyone who has one of the new ones). Now, I realize a lot of this equipment is built overseas because of cost, but dammit some of the machines I looked at were $60k+ (this would come under the heading "stuff I can't afford") Why can't we build these machines here? I honestly believe that part of the reason that Deere is so popular is because they still build a lot of equipment here (I am not saying that's the only reason, it's just one of many)

I have had mixed feelings about Agco for a while (can't talk about 'em too much, I owe them money), but now I am not too pleased with them. It seems they've closed down the Massey Ferguson plant in Coventry and moved their tractor production to France. Now, I realize that I've been bellyaching about building tractors overseas, but Massey Ferguson has been building tractors there for nearly 50 years. Where did those jobs go? More importantly, where is all of that knowledge and Know-how going?

One of the Agco sales reps told me that Beauvais was a more modern facility, but dang... why France? I realize that they've built tractors there since the Massey-Harris days, but damn, they're building almost all of their machines there now, all three lines, Agco, Challenger and Massey Ferguson.

The other thing was the fact that most of the stuff you buy today is loaded down with electronic gizmos to the point you've got to be a rocket scientist to work on 'em. Everybody, even Deere*, is guilty of this.

Looking at all of the old tractors, some of which are close to 50 years old (or older) and realizing that nearly every one of them is still capable of doing field work. Maybe not as fast as new machine, but they can still do the work. How many of these late-model machines will still be running in 50 years?

The Adams roadgrader that we just dragged home is probably 40 years old. It was a state machine, it's probably had minimal maintenance it's entire life. It still runs. Almost all of the engine, transmission and drive train parts are off-the-shelf and can be got just about anywhere you can find truck parts. TC has a 230 Farmall, it's close to 50 years old. He uses it as much or more than his "modern" 3020 ('67 model).

If I had a dime for every 8n Ford, 35 Ferguson or Farmall that is still running in this county alone, I'd could probably pay off most of my mortgage. If we said North Georgia instead of Catoosa county, I could pay off my mortgage... and buy one of these fancy new-fangled machines to boot. Why can't we build equipment like that in the United States anymore?

Deutz-Fahr (Germany), Same (Italy) and Valmet (Finland) have the reputation of being tough and relaible. Can you compare them to the old Farmalls? I don't know if that's fair comparision or not, but I do know that somebody (besides JD) needs to look at bringing some of this manufacturing back home.

*Disclaimer, I don't have any Deere equipment, not so much from choice as lack of money.

The great Roadgrader anti-climax

Well, for once things went smoothly. TC (my neighbor) got the grader started and pulled it up off the side of Mt. Everest where it's been sitting for the past four years. The guy we bought it from had parked it on the side of this ungodly steep hill so he could roll it off whenever he needed to use it. Problem is he never used it again after parking it. In the meantime he's built a lake at the foot of the hill. Needless to say, there was great potential for disaster, but TC stuck a hot battery on it, squirted a little ether and she fired right up. It actually fired right up last Saturday too, that's how we found out the governor was stuck. Anyhow, after pouring ten gallons of water and five gallons of hydraulic fluid into various orifices, we were ready to go. The master cylinder leaks pretty bad and four of the six tires were low, so we decided to take it to my place first and air up the tires. TC drove it over to the barn with me driving in front and KH (one of TC's truck driver buddies) following.

We made it to my barn without incident, aired up the tires and took a couple of passes down the cowpath I use for a road below my barn. Everything seemed to be in working order (other than a stuck injector, it was only running on three cylinders) So we took it on down to TC's place, where he has a shop and tools (and much more mechanical know-how than I do) so that he could get all of the little things fixed on it, plus use it on some pasture he's trying to get cleaned up.

Once I get a little better at figuring out this software, I will try to post some pictures of the great orange beast.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Fun with heavy equipment

ok, I don't what possessed him to do it, but my brother planted the seed in my brain...

Where it soon sprouted and grew like Kudzu.

I have a neighbor with an old Adams Roadgrader that has been sitting for about four years. It's got a four-cylinder Detroit engine, a 12' blade and a set of rippers. Big brother had the brainstorm that we should try to buy the silly thing and use it to dig some ditches in one of the hayfields that's stayed wet most of this year (as well as doing some road maintenance and trying to level out a place for a dressage arena for my bride). Anyhow, I talked to my neighbor and he made me a price. Talked to bigger brother, he wanted to wait. Another neighbor got interested in it. We got in a huddle and went in together on it. I'd like to own it outright, but it ain't like it's a piece of equipment that we'll both be needing at the same time. Tomorrow should be a very very very interesting day, because we're going to try to bring this huge pile of rolling scrap iron home.

It has no brakes... and the governor is stuck (ever heard a Detroit running wide open? it's an interesting sound) We’ll have to do something about the governor before we can move it, but the brakes are what scares the crap out of me. There are a few hills 'tween here and there.

I expect some adventures....

Movies/Secondhand Lions

yes I know it's been out for a while....

I don't get out to the movies very often, but after seeing a preview I wanted to go see it. I managed to con my wife into it. It is one of the best movies I have seen in ages. The bride enjoyed as mush as I did, which is rare with my movie pics.

I really like Robert Duvall, but he was in rare form this time. I did see just a little flash of Gus McRae in his character a few times. That made me enjoy it even more. It's worth it just to see the "fishing with shotguns" scene.

Michael Caine does a great job as straight man (I guess you could say that's what he's doing). I'm not sure, but I think this is the first time they've worked together since The Eagle has landed back in the seventies.

I did get to see some previews of a couple of upcoming movies that look pretty interesting...

I am looking forward to seeing Master and Commander when it comes out next week, I've read quite a few of Patrick O'Brian's books and I am really hoping that the movie will at least half as good.

The Alamo preview looked pretty good, but I think the folks who grew up watching Fess Parker ain't going to be happy with Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett... hopefully it'll be better than some of the other "historical" movies that have been made in the last couple of years. I have an interest in this one partly because I got a letter from some company out in Texas last year wanting me to come out and work on the movie. I don't quite fit the "body type" they were looking for, but they said they needed people to train the local extras. That I could probably do... after brushing up on my Von Stueben a bit anyway.

Who is to blame?

Well, I guess I can blame Terry at possumblog and Stick-boy ( for me doing this. I have no idea why, because I honestly don't have the time to mess with it, but what the heck. I might as well give it whirl.

I have a lot of time to think whilst sitting on a tractor. Sometimes I even have a good idea. Maybe this will help retain a few of 'em.

I do not fancy myself a writer. My command of the Queen's English is not what it should be, but I think I have a pretty fair grasp of my native tongue... Southern English.

That being said, everyone has been warned what to expect when I lapse into redneckese.