Monday, May 31, 2004

I've added one more picture to my sidebar (scroll down a bit). That's my Grandfather, taken on his nineteenth birthday, in France in the year of 1919. I've written a little bit about him before (on Veterans Day) and I'm too lazy to retype it, so I'm going to paste that (lightly edited) in here again. My apologies to the folks who may have already read this.

My Grandfather was a cook during WWI. That, and the fact that he did go to France, was all I knew about his military service. My aunt recently gave me a copy of his discharge papers and I learned a bit 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
(top of the sidebar) was married three times and he had three sets of children. His first two wives died, probably in childbirth. 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 before he went home to tell his father.

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.

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.

The Grumbling Bear once told me that I was obsessed with the past and therefore living in the past (or something like that anyway). I don't really think so, I just love history and I enjoy discovering the tiny little parts my family has played over the years.

This is one of the ways you can tell I'm from a small town.

I'm not sure whether it's the county or the city that does it, but every memorial day, the local cub scouts and a whole bunch of other volunteers put up flags through town with the names of all the veterans from the county who have passed away. One flag for each veteran and I don't mean little hand-waving flags either, I'm talking full-sized flags like you would fly over your house.

This has nothing to do with Iraq, Bin Laden or Bush. This is something they've done for years and years.

I've occasionally rode through town to look for the flag dedicated to someone I know, but I've never really paid close attention to the whole display. Yesterday, I was driving through town and started looking to see which war (I don't really know a better way to structure this sentence) was the earliest. WWI was the oldest I could find, which I found odd because surely we had at least a few men from the county that fought in the Spanish-American War. The vast majority of the flags were dedicated to the veterans of the World Wars, with a smattering of Korean and Vietnam memorials.

If you want to go back earlier, there were at least two companies of Infantry and one company of Cavalry raised in the county during the late unpleasentness... but those boys fought under a different flag. I don't know that it would be proper to put their names under a United States flag. They've actually got a memorial day of their own, not that's observed much anymore.

It would not surprise me if there were local men who went north during the war. G Company of the 5th Tennessee Infantry (U.S.) was made up of men from Hamilton county, which is right accross the state line.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent there. I'm glad they put the flags up every year. I hope that the veterans look upon it with satisfaction that, at least in this little corner of the world, they are not forgotten.

It's raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock.

It rained quite a bite early yesterday morning, so I didn't expect to be able to bale anything yesterday. Well, the sun came out and dried things off so bigger brother came and started a raking and we (he) ended up baling about half of what we had laid down. Problem is, it needed to be round baled. The hay isn't really hurt from being wet, but the color is horrible, so I can't sell it. Wouldn't have made any difference in a roll.

I hate it when he does shit like that. I loaded hay until 10:30 last night. This will take care of our needs for the year though, so everything from here on out can be sold. So, if it ever stops raining I'll call my lackeys and have them unload the wagons and put this up later today.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

$%&#*! Rain.

Unless we get some sun in the next little while I've pissed away a lot of fuel and lost most of this hay.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

I think I've just managed to lose all of my comments. In the future, please remind me not to monkey around with stuff that ain't broke.

Hmmm, ok, I've got them back now. One thing that does a annoy me a little bit about blogger is that most of the built-in features don't work on a Mac. I guess I shouldn't complain since it's free, at least I'm slowly gaining a rudimentary knowledge of HTML.

I'm through playing around now. If this is easier to read and things are where they should be, let me know.

Friday, May 28, 2004

I may have figured out my sidebar problem. I think the picture of Ed on his tractor was too wide and I'm too lazy to open Photoshop and edit it right now. Anyone taking a looksee at this page, please leave a comment and let me know if my sidebar is displaying properly.

I've changed the photo to a shot of my Great-Grandparents circa 1900. My Great-Grandfather was evidently hard on women, he was married three times and had three sets of children. His first two wives died young, but his third wife outlived him. My Great-Grandmother was his first wife. She is buried at Old Stone Church, which is one of the oldest churches in the county. Some of her family were among the founders of the church. In looking for a picture of it to link to I discovered something that I hadn't heard before, the famous gospel hymn Leaning on the everlasting arms was performed there for the very first time. This would have been sometime in the late 1880's, judging from the 1887 copyright on the song.

The church is has an interesting Civil War history, it was used as a hospital at various times and there are still places in the floor where you can see where the blood soaked into the wood. Some of the pews in the church date back to this time and are covered in bite marks. I am told the yankees dragged them outside and used them as feed troughs for their horses. Probably by Eli Lily's men or by Wilder's Brigade, both of whom were in the immediate vicinity on more than one occasion.

I read Lileks today for the first time in a couple of weeks. The thing that caught my interest was not what sent everyone else there today. It was the mention of a movie, Bubba Ho-tep. The very name was enough to send me on a search for to see what it was about. I've got to see this, because life will be dreary and dull until I do.

Somehow the idea of a Geriatric Elvis fighting a Mummy alongside a Geriatric JFK in a Texas nursing home appeals to my warped and twisted mind.

Baled what was mowed Sunday last evening. If the rain holds off until Monday, I'll be able to get the rest baled this Sunday.

I've got enough going on right now to keep all of my flunkies, lackeys and minions employeed this weekend.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Thanks to some of the fine folks who read Possumblog, we now have tractor porn available on this site. My thanks to everyone who made suggestions on image hosting.

My sidebar now sports a photo of my Uncle Ed plowing with his Ford Workmaster (or Powermaster, this was before I was born and my aunt doesn't remember what it was) sometime in the sixties.

Ed grew tomatoes and peppers for the most part. Other than a short stint in the service during the Second World War, he farmed all his life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


Well, it seems like I have sort of figured out a way to post pictures (and steal someone else's bandwidth)

This bears some experimentation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

For what it's worth (to anyone who has actually followed the tractor overhaul saga) the 285* ran great.

* Mine has a cab, this was the only decent picture I could find of one. Mine may look like that next year. We're having a debate about getting rid of the cab since it's noisy and doesn't have air.

Monday, May 24, 2004

I did mow a little hay yesterday... let's see if it gets rained on.

I've still got a fair amount of tweaking and tinkering before I'm ready to mow the big fields.

And I need to clear some more hay out of the barn so that I'll have room to put the new stuff. It may be a very attractive time to take my vacation days....

Since we put a roll bar on the Ford a couple of years ago, I can't get it into the barn when we're cleaning stalls. I've been using my JD 110 mower to move the spreader around with. I can actually use it to empty the spreader as long as it doesn't have a full load.

Sweetie hired a couple of boys to strip the stalls last week and I used little John to spread it with. When I was finished I left the spreader (and mower) parked in front of the barn and didn't think anymore about it. Until...

Saturday morning I had to run down to the tractor place down the road to get some bolts for the 285. About the time I got out of the truck, Andrew, an older guy who works there, yelled at me from the shop...


I'm thinking oh shee-it, what did I do this time?

I walked down to the shop where Andrew had a pretty good audience (4-5 people) and he said...

"I want you to go over yonder and pick out one of them tractors. I'm a gonna stand good fer it. I seen you had that little lawnmower tied to that manure spreader and I figure that any man who's a-having to pull his spreader with a lawnmower needs hisself another tractor."

He was pulling my leg of course, but what he didn't realize was that I HAD been using the mower to pull the manure spreader.

He thought I was pulling his leg when I told him that I had.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

It's Alive!

The 285 is running again.

I had to call in a consultant this morning to get it to crank. TC talked me through getting it running. I ended up having to bleed the fuel lines, which was irritating and time consuming to the extreme. I then had a bad moment when I did get it started... it wouldn't steer. Since working on the steering was huge part of this overhaul, I was about to go spastic. Whereupon TC asked the simple question; "did you put any fluid in it?"

"ummmm, nope"

"Well, put some fluid in and try it"

After about (what seemed like) three gallons of hydraulic fluid, the front wheels finally turned when I turned the steering wheel.

I made a quick check for major leaks, told TC I'd holler at him later and commenced to tightening bolts and suchlike.

About three hours later I had everything but the sheetmetal reattached, so I hopped up into the cab and fired it up to pull it out of the barn... for the first time in two months.

I immediately found a slight little problem that I hadn't noticed earlier...

I turned the steering wheel to the left...

and the front wheels turned right...

Turned the steering wheel to the right...

and the wheels turned to the left.

hmmm, this ain't gonna work.

I realised then that I'd had the lines going to steering cylinders crossed, which actually wasn't that big a deal to fix. I swapped the two lines (which wasn't difficult, but did involve laying in the dirt and getting covered with hydraulic fluid, which is sticky slimy stuff) and headed out in the field for a little shakedown cruise.

Everything seemed to work ok, only two leaks, which I fixed when I got back to the barn. In the morning I plan to hook it up to a disk and work it pretty hard to make sure that it's ready to start mowing with.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Changed the oil in the 285 yesterday.

Now I'm confused. With a filter change, the crankcase holds ten quarts of oil... I emptied two gallon jugs and two quarts of Shell Rimula into it.

Nothing on the dipstip.

Poured two more quarts.

Now it's showing on the very bottom of the dipstick.

Poured in two more quarts.

Now it's up in the normal range, but still not full.

According to my calculations, I now have 14 quarts of oil in it.... and it's still not full?

Has someone changed standard weights and measures lately?

Or, as it is oft claimed, am I just an idiot?

Monday, May 17, 2004

I learned an interesting lesson yesterday.

Never, ever taken a semi-drunken DR to the Wal-Mart.

My battery charger died, so I went to get a new one and took DR with me. Bad, bad idea. He'd been helping me work on fence for a couple of hours (actually he worked for about half an hour, then went to sleep in the truck while I worked on the fence). I was ready to take a break, so we went after a battery charger. Should've went to Harbor Freight. There would have been fewer females for him to owlishly leer at. It was embarrassing. I finally had to tell him, "'s one thing to check a gal out, it's quite another to gawk and drool in such an overt fashion...."

The bride asked me if he knew what overt meant.

Anyhow, had a stray dog show up today. A near-pureblooded yellow lab puppy, half starved, covered in ticks. Friendly little feller, all he wanted was something to eat and some attention. I knew if the bride saw him I'd be stuck with him. So I loaded him up in the truck and took him to DR.

He loves the Bride's little Chi-weenie rat dog and has made noises about getting a dog, so...

My instincts were correct. He likes the little critter, so I was able accomplish two things by taking him the puppy. 1) I didn't have to take the dog to the pound, 2) DR now has a companion who won't rob him blind..

I loaned him a chain, a doghouse and gave him a sack of dogfood, put Frontline on him (the dog, not DR) and gave him his shots (except for rabies, the vet will have to do that) and wormed the little feller. I hope the dog will bond with him.

Considering his past track record with the fair sex, I think that dog will do him more good than a new girlfriend will.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

I am not exactly what one would call a deep thinker, but I regularly read some folks who are. Two of which are Jerry Pournelle and Victor Davis Hanson. Dr. Pournelle is not fond of the neocons and I gather that he considers Professor Hanson to be a neocon. He provided a link to this article that praises Hanson for The Other Greeks: the Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization, but rips him a new one for The Soul of Battle and An Autumn of War.

For the record, I've never heard of the The Occidental Quarterly before, so I have no idea idea whether they are a bunch of moonbats or not.

Having read the article, I find I disagree with some of the authors comparisons and opinions, but I admit I did wonder the first time I picked up The Soul of Battle what connection Billy Sherman, George Patton and Epaminondas had it common.

As a Southerner, I do not look at Sherman as a "liberator". The article in question addresses that subject as well.

Ok, I'll also admit that I'd never heard of Epaminondas before I read the book. I had probably read about Thebes vs. Sparta in the distant past, but it didn't stick. Which brings me to an observation Dr. Pournelle made earlier this week...

But Cincinnatus is no longer in our schools (or even in our spell checkers), and no one has heard of him, or would think him anything but a fool to go back to his plow after saving the Republic. Politicians want power, and the more the better.

I think that says volumes about our education and values.

More to say about all of this, but work calls....

Axis of Weevil (Possumblog) Thursday Three, Volume VI

SEEING AS HOW our beloved South is known to some for its engaging, bucolic rusticity, we would like to know:

1) Have you ever used an outhouse? And we’re not talking portapotty, but a real, live, honest to goodness, wood-plank-over-a-hole, crescent-moon-door-cutout, infested-with-dirt-daubers privy. Please describe the experience.
Yes, as a small child... complete with Sears & Roebuck catalog. I will merely say that I have no desire to do it again. Dirt daubers! hah!, try yellow jackets and spiders. I have heard tales of snakes too... I know all about light colored corncobs verses dark corncobs as well, although I have never used one in that capacity. Which reminds me of a story... hmmm, best not to go into that now, since some of the perpetrators participants are still alive.

2) Have you ever called livestock for feeding? If so, please describe the type of animal, and a general approximation of the call used.
Horses, Mules, Cows, Chickens... I don't use a particular call, rattling a bucket of feed works wonders. I do have a couple of "confused" horses who think they are dogs and will come to me when I call them by name.

3) Have you ever driven a tractor upon a public street? Again, if so, please describe any backstory you deem necessary to allow our less well-rounded readers to fully appreciate the experience.
I have driven a tractor down a state highway more times than I care to think about. Since we are growing a new crop of pricey subdivisions nearly, it can be quite interesting at times, driving on some of the more curvy roads whilst dodging teenage idiots in expensive cars who like to drive 70 in a 45. Rather than people waving at me as I represent a rustic picture from a bygone era, I attract dirty looks and various versions of the finger. This is one of many reasons that I like BIG tractors better than small ones...

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I've been rather busy doing some catalog work this week, but I am, for the moment at least caught up.

My luck seems to be turning for the better. As I walked outside this morning, I noticed something hanging down under my truck. 'twas my poor muffler, which finally gave up the ghost and disintergrated (the front half of it anyway). I went by the muffler place close to my office where Indian Bob works. For the princely sum of twenty bucks (cash) he put a muffler off a Mustang on the F-150. I can't buy a freaking muffler from Auto Zone for twenty bucks. As I've said, Indian Bob is a pretty good guy, even if he is a yankee.

In other news, I found out what the problem is with my tedder. All the bolts on the bottom of the gearbox have worked loose. That's better than having to put new bearings in the gearbox. A little loctite and about an hours time will have it operational.

Lawnmowers are still dead. I can't find blades for the MTD because it's obsolete... suprise, suprise, I own obsolete equipment, who'd a thunk it?

The Ferguson is coming along, although it is still in many, many pieces. I should have taken a picture of it. Everything from the motor forward was off. Axle, grill, radiator, the whole shebang. I will most likely have everything back together this weekend.

Now, if it'll just quit raining sometime before June....

Speaking of rain, or lack thereof, this next little tidbit comes to me about third-hand, so I don't know how accurate it is...

My cousins, who farm down the road a ways, got some sort of letter from the county saying that they can't plow under certain conditions because it causes too much dust. I want to find out a little more about that. I do not think that's something a county can enforce. I'm not sure it's something that can be enforced at the state level for that matter. This sounds like some sort of EPA bullshit. I'll probably see them this weekend and find out exactly what it's all about.

Monday, May 10, 2004

well now, this is spiffy... seems that blogger has done gone and upgraded itself.

I may actually have to try and write something interesting for a change to celebrate.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I think it may be pretty obvious by now that I enjoy reading history, but I also enjoy reading fiction. There are a few middlin' decent authors who can combine the two and write alternate history. Some of these counterfactuals are interesting, some are downright stupid... but I enjoy reading them regardless.

One of the things I have grown weary of are people who (always) use Gettysburg as the point of divergence for the late unpleasentness. Despite that petty annoyance, I came up with a counterfactual of my own last night... based on Gettysburg. With one minor little change...

You can blame Rankin Rob for this because he set this train in motion.

On the evening of the second of May 1863, General Jackson is wounded as he conducts a late night reconnaissance. Next in the chain of command is A.P Hill, who is wounded a few minutes later. Command of Jackson's corps then fell to Jeb Stuart. Stuart did a good job of sorting Jackson's Corps out in the darkness and got them back into some semblance of order by daybreak. He then did a respectable job of fighting Jackson's Corps the next day (even against some hasty entrenchments Hooker's men were able to throw together the night before).

After things settled down and the smoke cleared, Lee reorganised the Army of Northern Virginia into three Corps, Longstreet, A.P. Hill and Dick Ewell.

Here is my what if... Stuart is left in command of Jackson's Corps.

Yes I know the Ewell and Hill and everybody and their brother was senior to him, but think about it. Gettysburg campaign follows pretty much as it did with that one change (ok, I'll admit, Brandy Station would have been a LOT different) until the first day at Gettysburg. I do understand that a lot of things would diverge because of this command structure change, but for the sake of argument, let's say it's only some minor deviations.

Do you think Stuart would've lollygagged around like Ewell did the evening of July First?

" possession of the heights, if practicable."

I don't think Stuart would have misinterpreted that... Jackson wouldn't have either.

I know this may sound rather silly, but the more I thought about it, the more interesting it seemed to me. I'd like to see someone (a historian) with a first-rate knowledge of the Eastern Theatre write an article along these lines.

Doubt it'll happen, but I think it would be a good read.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Busy this week, so I'm spending most of my time leaving comments on other people's Blogs.

Farm update; The 285 is still in many, many pieces. The disc mower is fixed as of today. Hopefully get the rake rebuilt this weekend. I'm out of luck on the tedder, I'll probably be mowing before I'll be able to tear it down. Oh yeah, both lawnmowers are dead. Looks like I get to bushog the yard.

The neighbors are mowing hay right now. I am an unhappy boy.

One of my buyers from last year backed out, I've still got 300 bales from last season I've got to get rid of at a giveaway price to get it out of the barn.

ok, that's enough woes and whining for one post. That should be enough to run off both of my readers.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I normally have no interest whatsoever in thoroughbreds, but I do try to watch the derby every year. I hear through my sources that the crowd in the cheap seats can make the Talledega infield look tame. Funny how they never show that on television, of course with the FCC frowning on the showing of boobage it's not surprising.

Interesting note; one of the (female) announcers did say something about one the horses "pitching a fit" which is not an expression one hears on national television these days.

I was sort of rooting for Pollards Vision, so it's a distinct possiblity that's why he finished next-to-last....