Thursday, July 29, 2004

Johnsongrass, revisited...

In case anyone is wondering why I have whined soooooo much about my Johnsongrass infestation...

This was the view from the cab today...

And here's a side view. Keep in mind, I'm sitting in the cab of a medium sized tractor, five feet off the ground.

I mowed this field July third to a height of about 6 inches. In less than thirty days it's nearly six feet high. The problem lies in the fact that the stems start getting like cornstalks. Horses won't eat 'em, nor will cows. It makes good hay provided you can cut it before it gets this high, unfortunately the weather has refused to cooperate with me this season.

They used to say Kudzu was the weed that ate the South. but I believe Johnsongrass can take that title.

In fact, I think it could choke out Kudzu if given a chance.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

This is one of the most remarkable aviation stories I've ever heard.

For someone who is not overly fond of heights like myself, it is mind-boggling.

Sunday, July 25, 2004


Jerry Pournelle was in Cleveland Tennessee (about thirty miles from me) for a convention and I didn't find out about it until just now.

That's what I get for living under a rock.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

It occurs to me that I should probably try to write something. Maybe tomorrow. This has been a very hectic week.

Monday, July 19, 2004


They've changed the %^#* weather forecast again. Naturally, they change it AFTER I lay 15 acres on the ground. I hope it misses us. I getting tired of rain every-other day.

I tried to cut the end of my finger off with a pocketknife yesterday. I was trying to open a bucket of hydraulic fluid and the blade snapped closed on me. Laid open my pinkie from the top of the nail alllllll the way around to the bottom. I wrapped my vile, greasy bandana that I use for a sweat rag around it until it stopped bleeding, went and got a band-aid for it, then headed for the field.

It was only much later (ok, it was this morning) when it occured to me that I haven't had a tetnus shot in about 15 years.

It's a blooming wonder I'm still alive with all the stooopid stuff I do.

Bigger brother came by and got the filler cap off the disc mower gearbox. Odd thing that. Everything on that mower is metric, but the hole is a half inch pipe thread. Weird.

He didn't show up until 12:30 or so. I had been bush-hogging all morning and had about given up on him, but I was determined to start mowing hay.

I pulled the Ford around the barn and hooked up the poor, neglected sickle mower. Always faithful, but sadly pitiful. Barely used these past three years. I needed to change some of the sections out that were excessively worn. Got about halfway finished with that when brother arrived, so I abandoned that project to get the disc mower hooked up. That wasn't fun. The driveshaft is twisted now, so it's almost impossible to get on and off without help. Brother and I managed with the assistance of a come-along, a pry bar and BIG hammer. It still took half an hour. I don't know how in the heck I'll get the damn thing back off.

And off it needs to be, because it looks like there will be no fit weather this week after all.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

I have a window

of clear weather starting tomorrow. I expect I'll be mowing from noon onwards, provided I can get the $&*# mower fixed in the morning. I can't get the &*%^ filler cap off of the gearbox to change the dope. I've messed with it off and on for a week. Bigger brother stopped by today, so I asked him to take a crack at it.

He managed to twist the top completely off. Until I get the %^&$ thing out, I can't mow with it. Looks like I may be greasing up the 'ole sickle-bar mower. That is a scarey thought. I can't imagine having to mow as much I have to mow with that thing. Granted, I used it for many, many years, but it's waaaaaay too slow for me now. In the same amount of time, I can cover (maybe!) a quarter of the ground that I cover with the disk mower.

On a completely unrelated note, I've noticed that any time I say that I'm busy and probably won't be writing much, it turns out to be the other way around. This nonsense I write (type?) actually seems to be a dandy stress outlet.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

My hound dogs

Meet Elvis (sitting up) and Marilyn (lying down). This is their baby picture.

Marilyn is no longer with us. She was hit by a car a couple of years ago. When the two of them were together they would roam the entire valley chasing rabbits.

My bride has pretty much ruined Elvis. He rarely ventures far from home, in fact he rarely leaves the couch anymore. Yes, this fine specimen of a hunting dog has become a house dog.

He's a great dog, but dumb as a post... which is part of his charm (what was this about dogs taking after their owners?) The best thing I can say about him becoming a house dog is that he's the finest alarm clock I've ever had. Between seven and seven-thirty every morning without fail (if I'm not already awake), he will stand in the bedroom doorway and thump his tail against the door jamb until I let him out. He has never made a mess in the house, rarely barks in the house and leaves sweetie's cats alone (outside, they are fair game).

He's actually fat now. Whoever heard of a fat hound dog?

The funniest thing he's ever done is teach sweetie's chi-weenie rat dog how to "sing." One of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life was Elvis, Yellow Dawg (sweetie's big yellow lab) and Lucky (Rat dog) sitting in a row on their haunches howling at a train.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


I would have thought my Bastille Day witticisms would have garnered at least one or two comments. Oh well.

In other news, this is how much of an idiot I am. I finally got the new universal joint on the mower today, but managed to booger up one of the seals and had to take it back off. In the process I messed up one of the caps that contain the four ba-zillion needle bearings that make these suckers work. Whilst looking around for my big honkin' set of vise grips, guess what I found?

A box that contained a U-joint. Not only that, it was a U-joint for the mower. When I opened the box, I saw two of the caps missing. Everything else was still there. Then I remembered that I had to replace a yoke and two caps last summer. What this means is that I spent most of Sunday afternoon in a fruitless search for parts that were five feet away from where I was working on the mower.

This is because I am not an organized person, nor is my memory that great anymore. Or it could be that I'm becoming one of the idiots that I write about...

Bastille Day

It's Bastille day... I'd like to honor our Cheese-Eating-Surrender-Monkey Brothers across the pond, but I ain't rightly sure what I should do. Should I run up a white flag and surrender to the nearest Bavarian Grenadier?* Pick a fight with an Englishman and get my ass kicked?** Drag out my trusty Guillotine and start beheading nobles of the Bourbon persuasion?*** Find a short Corsican Artilleryman with a small... nevermind... where was I? Oh! Find a short Corsican Artilleryman and proclaim him Emperor?****

What to do?

*See Franco-Prussian War
** See Churchill, John, Duke of Marlborough
or Wellesley, Arthur, Duke of Wellington
*** See Louis XVI
**** See Bonaparte, Napoleon

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Light bloggage for a day or two, delivering hay & working on equipment (and watching History Channel when I do come to the house).

Sunday, July 11, 2004

This has been a pretty crappy day. It finishes up a so-so weekend. I don't think I got a damn thing accomplished that I wanted to do.

I don't think I mentioned this, but I picked up a piece of metal in my offside front tire yesterday. It punched a hole in it that was too big to patch and wasn't really worth fixing anyway (I need new tires). The guy I buy tires from is on vacation and won't be back for a week. I had a brainstorm and put the spare from my old Ford truck on instead of the spare from the new truck. Why? because the spare for my old truck is the same size as what is on the other three wheels. The spare for my new(er) truck is a much smaller tire. Great idea, huh?

It was flat this morning. I took my little Nissan and went to get some good ole' Fix-a-Flat. Nearly six bucks a can for that crap. Why does this piss me off? Because I was somewhere (I can't remember where!) the other day where it was on sale for a buck ninety-nine a can. I was too dumb to buy any. I use the heck out of that stuff on my wagons, mower and other assorted things I have that don't get used very often that happen to have inflatable tires.

Finally got that fixed, took my truck to the barn to leave it parked (so as to be near the air compressor if it went down again) and hopped on the Ferguson to go to TC's and start mowing hay.

Got down there around 10 this morning and started mowing. On my second round I smelled something funny and before I could figure out what it was I heard a pop and looked behind me to see the driveshaft spinning wildly on the PTO. I had popped a universal joint. I don't have a spare. TH (the guy I get these things from) is on vacation. LA (neighbor with the same mower I have) doesn't have a spare one either.

Cut my fingers to ribbons getting the old one out because it needs to come out anyway and the manual doens't tell what size universal the drive shaft takes. Head over to TSC for another one. Guess what? They don't have one. They do have an empty box for one where some A-hole pocketted the damn thing. I go to find an "associate" (or whatever they call 'em) who assures me that they don't have any back in the back. Naturally she doesn't bother to go LOOK or ask her manager. Did I mention this is the same chick who informed me yesterday that they don't have any 2-4D? At least yesterday she did go ask someone if they had any more. I think the only reason she bothered to ask yesterday was because I asked her THREE times.

Ran by the Auto Zone on the off chance they might have one and completely flummoxed the poor kid behind the counter. I walked in with the U-joint and asked "do you carry metric U-joints?"

He imediately goes to a computer terminal.

"I don't know, what kind of car is it off of?"

"I'm not going to tell you, because if I do you'll just tell me you don't have it."

He didn't know what to make of that.

I said "If you carry Weasler U-Joints I can give you a part number, otherwise we have to go by the measurements."

"Ummm, do you know the measurements?" I don't think most kids today even know what a calipier is, let alone know how to read one that isn't digital.

"Yes, 79.4 MM on the cross, 29.something on the cap."

To his credit, this kid actually did go and look. He must have pulled out a dozen or so different sizes. He finally came back to the counter and asked what it was off of. I could tell the curiousity was killing him. He asked me if it was off a rail buggy or four wheeler. I think it shocked him when I told him a mower.

I could've drove down to Calhoun and got one, but that's thirty miles and my day was pretty much shot by this time. Did I mention today is my thirty-seventh birthday? Yes indeed, thirtyseven years ago today I hit the ground squallin' and ain't stopped since, as one can tell from the drivel that I write here.

I went to dinner with my bride and met up with Stick-Boy's sweetie to pass some corn on to them. Came home, feed the horses and now I'm typing this.

And as Walter used to say "And that's the way it is..."

Saturday, July 10, 2004

I didn't spray anything today. When I went to TSC to pick up some 2-4D the pickings were slim. They were out of 2 1/2 gallon jugs and only had two gallons of 2-4D Anime (water based, which is what I need), but they had plenty of 2-4D ester (oil based, more expensive), so I gave up on it until I can go to the co-op (which is what I should have done to start with.

I did get to do something neat today. I got to drive a Combine. I've never driven one before. It's a very interesting experience because you're sitting about eight feet off the ground with a thirteen foot wide wheat head on the front. Steering takes a bit of getting used to as the drive wheels are in the front and the steering axles is in the rear.

The reason I was able to do this is complicated, I really wish we'd had a camera today. TC wanted to combine his fescue before we mow it for hay, but the problem was the combine had sat for nearly three years without being moved. He's been tinkering with it for a couple of weeks and finally got it running this morning. The problem comes in with the engine, specifically the carburetor. The throttle cable and the choke cable are broken. TC needed to ride on the back with the engine to keep it revved up while someone else drove.

I am sure this was a very interesting sight. The neighbors already think I'm loco, I'm sure they think TC is now.

He gave me a crash-course in combine operation and down the road we went. I asked him before we started down the road "What'll I do if we meet a car?"

"Don't worry, they'll get out of the way."

I know if I met something that big coming down the road toward me I'd sure as hell move.

We weren't able to get anything down as there is evidently something wrong with the innards of the beast. We made about three rounds and only got a handful of seed. It was HOT today and after a little tinkering, TC said to heck with it and we headed back up the road.

Did I mention this thing doesn't have air? Even with a fan the thing is like a big glass oven. I have a newfound respect for farmers who drove these mobile saunas around back in the sixties.

And now I offer more equipment porn

This is a newer version of TC's machine. He has an F2 Gleaner with a six cylinder gas engine. Back when gas was thirty cents a gallon they didn't care how much fuel they burned. Nowadays no one builds anything like this in a gas burner.

Friday, July 09, 2004

My new hard drive seems to have cured a minor little annoyance that my G4 had. Whenever I would start up, I'd get a little question mark icon, which means the system couldn't find the boot disk. That seems to have gone away now.

I'm still reloading software. Luckily I did back everything up in January, so I didn't lose too terribly much, as I mentioned in the previous post, I've not done any free-lance work in several months. Unfortunately, I backed everything up onto a DVD. I don't have a drive at the moment, so I had to wait until today to borrow one from the office. I'm happily copying my fonts back over as I type this.

I set this drive up in several partitions. I'm going to take another shot at OSX (that's OS TEN. Nothing annoys me more than these idiots who insist on calling it X... apparently our piss-poor excuse for public education no longer teaches that X is the Roman numeral 10. Stick, if you're reading this you know WHICH idiot I'm refering to)

Came home and spent all evening picking corn. I get to run around in the moring and play delivery boy.

Tomorrow afternoon I am going to try to borrow TC's sprayer and do my part to make Mother Earth cry out in anguish by applying copius amounts of 2-4D to my leased ground. It won't get rid of the Johnsongrass, but it will get rid of the pigweed, ragweed, dogfennel and other assorted undesirable crap that's sucking up my fertilzer.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

The first time I've got a free-lance job in six months

and the hard drive goes down on my Mac. I had to go to office depot and buy a new one. Which probably cost me as much as I would have made on this project, which I'm not even able to do because it's due tomorrow I'm still loading %&*# software.

I'm still downloading updates. Keeping that stuff on disk makes too much sense, so I don't do that...

Everything is working except for email. Called my ISP, tech guy was very nice, but has no idea why email isn't working. Hopefully I can figure it out tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The entire concept of using equines for dog food (or glue, or whatever they do with them these days) bothers me because, unlike cattle, sheep etc. Horses are in a gray area between pets and livestock. Most horses that end up going to the rendering plant have been neglected and/or abused their entire lives. These animals aren't being raised for the purpose of becoming part of the food chain, but that is where many of them end up. That is the primary reason I don't go to sales. There are too many things one sees there that just don't sit well and there is not much anyone can do about it. There are Equine rescue organizations, but like my bride, they can't save them all.

I highly doubt that this is a lucrative business to be in. I think the whole thing attracts the bottom feeders of society.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

This is why I love the Yesterday's Tractors website

An example from the Implement Alley Forum:

This fella posed a question concerning a hay elevator...
We bought a hay elevator and it did not have a motor or a pulley on it. We put a 12 inch pully on the elevator and a 2 inch pulley on the motor. The motor is a 2 hp 1725 rpm. The problem is that it spins to fast.Does anybody have any ideas on how to slow it down? Thanks

and here we have some of the replies...
1) Barn Yard Physics 100:
A 2in. pulley on a1725 rpm shaft would be traveling something like 10850 in/min.
A 12in. pulley driven by a belt 10850in/min would be turning about 290rpms.
A 18in. pulley driven by that same belt would turn about 192rpms.

2) Try a bigger driven pulley.

3) I slipped up one time when I was running a table saw, cement mixer, corn elavator and small edger with only two motors, a 1725 rpm and a 3450 rpm motor put the 3450 on the corn elavator and sent ears of corn twenty to thirty feet over the corn crib.

As always,the names have been removed to protect the innocent.

Tired of hearing about Johnsongrass yet?

I mowed the field today, about a foot off the ground. Some of that Sh*t was already waist high. I do have a lovely stand of Bermuda coming up through it in places though... now if it will outgrow the Johnsongrass I've got it made.

My mower is giving me problems again. The gearbox that we had to rebuild TWICE last summer is leaking again, so I'm guessing the seals are out in the bottom. I'm going to fill it up with grease instead of dope and see if I can get another year or two out of it. It is too damn hard to take apart for me to fool with trying to fix the seal, even though that is the proper way to fix it. When it finally does go out I'm just going to buy a complete gearbox to put on it. A Bushog brand if the splines on the shaft will match up with the splines on the stump jumper (the mower is a Farmhand and is metric, a Bushog is in normal measurements).

Tomorrow is my Mothers birthday. We normally have a cookout and get the family together, but she told me today that she didn't want to. I decided that I would do something that I rarely do. I'm going to go to Church with her. I think she'll enjoy that mare than burnt burgers anyway... except for missing out on sweeties Bananna pudding.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Feed & Seed & Fertilizer sales

I worked at a feed store when I was in college and I loved every minute of it... well maybe not every minute. I remember having pucker factor a couple of times when they'd send me up to Beatty's in Cleveland to pick up fertizler. Why would that be scary? because we had a 3/4 ton Chevy van to haul it with and I would usually pick up six tons and drive the thirty odd miles back to the feedstore with the old van groaning and creaking every mile. How we did it without popping the tires I'll never know.

I would tell people (only half jokingly) that I was a fertilizer salesman. I had an english teacher who thought that was the funniest thing she's ever heard in her life. She once told me that I was still a fertilzer salesman, but of a verbal sort.

The feedstore is closed now, but I'm really surprised they stayed open as long as they did. They only shut down when one of the brothers that owned was diagnosed with cancer. He passed within a few months. I think he missed going to the store every day.

I think the only reason they stayed the last few years was because of the customers. The store had been there since the twenties and many of the customers were old folks who had never traded anywhere else.

More Johnsongrass

After doing some research on my Johnsongrass infestation I've come to the conclusion that I was on the right track when I mentioned mowing it.

Accordding to what I've read, Roundup is the only herbicide that will get rid of it for good. Countinous grazing will weaken a stand to the point that it will die out, but that isn't an option. Frequent mowing will have the same effect, but that also means knocking my other grass down. I'm going to try to split the difference and mow it high and cut the tops up. Hopefully that will keep it small and it won't be as stemmy as it was last season.

Of course, since it's never going to stop raining, I doubt it will matter.

On a totally different note; a couple of weeks ago I mentioned my buddy Chuck. I may or may not have said anything about it at the time, but his daddy was a circuit-riding Methodist preacher in Texas back in the twenties and thirties. Chuck told me he once preached a sermon about "...the Baptists and the Johnsongrass are a'takin over East Texas..."

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I need to update the ole Blogroll in the near future. I've discovered a lot of new folks that I've been reading of late. I think my last addition was Rankin' Rob and that's been a while back. I've had several nice folks Blogroll me and I appreciate it, but I would like to say that if you've done it simply because I've put you on my roll that I am not offended if you don't reciprocate. If you're on my roll, it's because I like your writing or what you're writing about. I don't put folks on there just so that they'll link to me.

I had a conversation with Terry about this some time back, but you might notice that with few notable exceptions, my Blogroll is mainly made of of Southerners. This is not an intentional thing, it seems I gravitate towards my own kind. As they say, blood is thicker than branch water. I read a lot of Blogs that aren't on there, I've just been too lazy to add to it lately.

So, if'n ye're a yankee what stumbles accrost this heah foolishness, don't you be all o-fended by my lack of divers-city, 'cause I've got some mo' folks to add to it. Some of 'em is even furriners. If'n you kin imagine that.

I'm also thinking of putting a "current reading" list up somewhere, just for the heck of it.

I have corn. Unfortunately it's too %&*^# wet to go pick any of it. I was able to grab about a dozen ears tonight to "taste test", but I dread getting the rest of it. Luckily it's not all coming in at once, I have some now and I'll have some towards the end of next week.

My bride thinks I'm crazy because I will sometimes shuck it and eat it raw standing in the field. I brought it in and cooked it tonight though. The ears are a bit small, but it seems to have a good taste. I'd rather have taste than size any day.

On the plus side, the next cutting should be really good, provided I can get rid of the Johnsongrass on my leased ground.

Anybody know what I can kill Johnsongrass with besides Roundup and a Wick applicator (which I do not have)? I've looked, but haven't been able to find anything. 2-4-D won't do the trick. I heard from someone that Poast will, but I'm concerned about it killing that whole field. For the time being, I plan to run down there with the batwing and knock the tops out of it before it gets too big.... I'm hoping the Bermudagrass will choke it out.

That, I'm afriad, is wishful thinking. I never should've put that two tons of Nitrate on it last summer. Live and learn.

This is too funny not to comment on.

An aquaintance of mine got married last Friday. In the process, he made a grave error in judgement. Not in getting married, but in letting his future inlaws plan the honeymoon.

A weekend at a cabin in Gatlinburg. Sound romantic? When they arrived, they discovered the "Cabin" had wheels on it at one time.

In defense of the inlaws, they made the reservation over the internet and didn't realize the "cabins" were trailers with faux log siding.

And people thought my wife and I going to the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green was tacky....

Believe it or not, that was her idea.