Friday, April 30, 2004

You hear a lot of folks talk about the good old days when a man's word was his bond and you could do business by a handshake. When I was a teenager I paid lip service to that concept, even though I didn't really understand it completely until I saw it in action a few years later.

There is an old farming family here in the county that owns quite a bit of property left over from the old days when they had crops other than subdivisions. They own several hundred acres of wooded ground right across the ridge from me. Back about fifteen years ago, they put the property on the market and a company from up north was looking to buy to put it some sort of waste handling facility. This was in the days before zoning in the county and one could have a single-wide beside a mansion and a chicken house beside an elementary school (note: that last item is what finally brought us zoning).

Some of the neighbours were rather upset at the prospect of dodging garbage trucks on narrow roads that had been dirt just a few years earlier and still weren't what they needed to be to handle that kind of traffic.

And of course you had the inevitable shit-stirrers and malcontents (including at least one jack-leg preacher) who liked to kick up a fuss. Someone put out the word that the company that wanted to buy the property was not only a bunch of Yankees, but they were also owned by the Mafia and they were also going to be handling toxic waste...

Naturally this caused even more agitation in the community.

Someone finally had the bright idea to get the community together to talk about it at a nearby church. Evidently no one had thought to go to the property owners and ask them what exactly was going on.

They held the meeting on a Saturday night and the little church was packed. I went, out of curiosity mainly, to see what all the fuss was about. I personally didn't give a rat's ass who they sold the land to. I figured if it was a dump it didn't matter anyway because of how the land lays (an entire little valley betwixt two hog-back ridges) and besides, it might keep the property taxes down if it depressed the land values in the area.

I also look at land like this, as long as I'm not making nerve gas or bubonic plague and testing it on the neighbourhood kids I think I should be able to do anything I want within reason on my property.... not that I would put up a tittie bar next to an elementary school, but you get my drift.

I listened for a while to the aforementioned malcontents and shit-stirrers as they stood behind the pulpit and denounced the property owners, the prospective buyer and just about anything else that they could while they had an audience. They were well on the way to working the crowd up into a lynch mob.

When one of the speakers finally slowed down enough to take a breath, a man came forward from the back of the church and approached the pulpit. This Gentleman was one of the property owners. Someone had been smart enough to call him and tell him what was going on, so he slipped down to hear what was being said.

He came forward and began to speak to this angry, pissed-off crowd who were about ten minutes away from the pitchfork and lantern stage and I saw the most amazing thing.

The crowd calmed down. Even the malcontents seemed embarrassed as he quietly and calmly spoke to the crowd. I do not recall his exact words, but he reassured people. After he spoke for a few minutes, an elderly gentleman in the church got up and left. I was standing near the back door and I asked him why he was leaving. I thought he was leaving because he was mad. He told me that he'd heard all he needed to hear, that JC (the property owner) had given his word (that the buyers were not a Mafia owned toxic waste company) and that was all he needed to hear.

A few more people started to leave, for pretty much the same reason I assume (I'm not positive all of them left for that reason because I did not speak to everyone), but everyone seemed to be contented when they left.

He talked for about fifteen minutes and by the time he left, everyone was satisfied except for a few red-faced instigators who stood around and muttered as the crowd dispersed.

What I carried away that night was seeing that a man's reputation for honesty and fair dealing had headed off a lot of ill-feeling and legal bullshit... all because he was (is) known as a man of his word. So I figured out that having a reputation for honor and honestly is worth more than a pocketfull of lawyers.... at least to people who respect such things these days.

oh, and for what it's worth, all of the turmoil was over nothing. The deal fell through about a month later.

One might wonder why that I say my Bluetick is lonely when I mentioned the fact that Sweetie has her little rat-dog. The reason is that Elvis, poor fellow, is merely a dog, whilst the rat-dog believes that she is not. I'm not that sure what she believes she is. It's difficult to say since she has a brain the size of a walnut, but what matters is that she ignores Elvis.

My Bluetick is beneath her notice y'see.

I can relate to that.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

As I type this I am listening to a true Southern concert.

My Bluetick, Elvis, is "singing" at a passing train. The railroad tracks are about two miles away, but you can hear the whistle clear as day. He's lonely since his sister Marilyn was hit by a car a couple of years ago, which seems to make his howls all the more plaintive.

My bride has finally grown accustomed to Elvis giving us concerts, but she is having trouble coping with the fact that he has taught her little kick-me rat dog (Chihuahua, Weenie dog and God only knows what else) how to "sing."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I've had my fill of Funerals of late, but I thought this worth a link.

I'd druther have a team of mules pulling my carcass, but a 4520 isn't bad. That'll give folks something to talk about for many years.

Monday, April 26, 2004

It's time to pass on one of Indian Bob's Skinner stories.

Now I've known Skinner since we was both wee lil' fellers. You'd think when you first meet him that he's just another dumb hick like me. Nothing could be further from the truth. He's one of these guys that can make or build anything. A natural born engineer if you will, with a healthy amount of practical wrench turning ability to go along with it.

Skinner likes his long guns, far more so than I. I'm more of a pistol man, but that's neither here nor there since this is a Skinner tale. He'd seen these nifty little vise-type devices (I don't know the proper name for them) that you use on a bench rest when you're sighting in a rifle, so he decided to build one. He got out in his shop one day and built a very nice looking vise. He couldn't wait to try it out, so he took it, his spotting scope and an old SMLE .303 out to the range to see how well it worked.

He set it up, clamped his Enfield down into it, set up his spotting scope and fired a round at the target.

Now Skinner didn't tuck the rifle up against his shoulder when he fired, he just leaned over and looked down the barrel and pulled the trigger.

Looked in his scope, dead center bullseye.

He leans over and fires another round.

Hmmm, that one was an inch higher.

Leans over, fires another round...

Hmmm, that one's an inch higher than the last round....

Leans over, fires another round...

WHAAP, the barrel came up and hit him in the forehead.

It seems the back end of his vise worked great, but the front end still needed a bit of work. The not-inconsiderable recoil was easing the barrel a bit further up each time he fired a round. He decided that his vise needed a bit more engineering and retired it for the time being...

Sunday, April 25, 2004

A little family irony

My aunt gave me a family tree that was compiled by one of my distant cousins. It's actually a bit more than a simple genealogical chart, but not much more. More like a chart with notes. There was however one item that caught my eye whilst reading over this.

My Great-Great (followed by four or five more "Greats") Grandfather served with the Georgia Militia who rooted the Cherokees from their homes in this area.

The irony of this comes from the fact that his mother was a full-blooded Cherokee. Some of the people he helped displace had more white blood than he did.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

I missed the Possumblog Thursday three. Dang!

ok, here we go, two days late:

1) What three (3) Southern places, towns, or regions (aside from your own, if you currently reside in the South) do you think you would enjoy living in?
hmmm, Middle Tennesse, fairly close to Shelbyville so I can taunt the Walking Horse people, Northern Mississippi around Corinth (dunno why, just like it) and the Shenendoah Valley.

2) What 3 (three) Southern places, towns, or regions (aside from, &c., &c.) have you ever visited and would never want to set foot in again? (I make the special note that you must have actually visited there, mainly because some people have irrational negative opinions about places based entirely upon what they have heard from others. Nothing like first-hand experience.)
That's easy... Atlanta, Florida and Atlanta.

3) Finally, what are the three most distinctly Southern tourist traps you have ever visited?
The peanut/pecan places beside the interstate in South Georgia... Sorry I can't offer any others. I generally avoid touristy-type places, so I am not the best judge for what is a trap and what isn't.

I'm back... sort of

Actually, I haven't really been anywhere, just busy with more madness at the office, a quick trip to Virginia with the bride and of course, tractor repair.

We had our dates mixed up last weekend, the auction was actually this weekend, so TC and I spent a goodly part of the morning riding around. He took me by a farm outside of Calhoun that amazed me. I did not know any such place existed in North Georgia anymore. These folks have a row-crop operation of several thousand acres. The first thing that I found remarkable was the seven center-pivot irrigation rigs. The second thing was their fertiliser... huge mounds of chicken litter. Piles so large the Cat trackloader sitting beside one of them looked like a matchbox toy. The fact that they had two grain elevators surprised me too. One of them was the size of the elevators that rise above the small towns around Des Moines. This is the first operation of this size I've seen outside of the Midwest. I realise there are row-crop farms in South Georgia this big, but for North Georgia it's a throwback to the past.

Sunday I rode up to Southwest Virginia with sweetie to take a mare to visit with this guy. The pictures in the link do not do him justice. He is one of the most impressive stallions I've seen in quite some time... for a non-Quarter horse at least. On a related note, driving through Knoxville dragging a horse trailer is not an enjoyable experience. The roads remind me of 285 circa 1987, except I don't think Atlanta had that many potholes.

Went to the Ferguson dealer down the road from my office and traded $208 for a crackerjack box full of parts (half of which naturally proved to be the wrong parts despite the fact that I walked in with the parts manual and gave them the part numbers).

Had I known that thrust washers were $17 apiece, I would have been tempted to try case-hardening some flat washers myself. Of course that's still not as bad as the $70 bigger brother had to pay for a set of seals to repack one of the steering cylinders. That should have cost around $10 to $15. The markup on replacement parts is outrageous.

We started putting the Ferguson back together this morning and it does at least have the front axle back under it now.

I went this evening to deliver a load of hay. I couldn't round up any of my flunkies to load for me, so I had to do it myself. I am too old and fat for this sh$t. I did at least con DR into riding with me to make the delivery. He's in some kind of blue funk (and this is different from the last six months because of what?), so I was unable to glean any new material from him.

Other than more madness at work and finally getting my yard mowed, that sums up the week...

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Lots of observations and things to talk about, but I can't seem to summon up the energy to do anything about it right now.

Maybe this evening, or not.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Went by the tractor place on the way home. My new radiator for the Ferguson is in. That was the big expediture, I've still got to get new hoses and some bushings for the front end before I can put the damn thing back together though.

TC wants to run down to a equipment sale at the stockyards tomorrow. I still need to find another trailer to haul hay on, so I think I'm going to ride with him.

On a related note, some sorry bastard stole my trailer hitch the other night while I was at the funeral home. It is pretty damn shitty that some thieving sonofabitch would do something like that. Honestly, had it happened at Wal-Mart or the mall it wouldn't make me so mad, but that just makes me mad as hell.

Sorry for the language, but this just really pisses me off.

I've been going back and forth between being pissed at the world and very sad this week. I think I like being pissed off better.

I saw a disenheartening sight this morning coming into the office. Someone down the road is mowing hay. I am offically behind the eightball now. I've got the Ferguson torn all to hell right now. Disc mower still has a stripped gear. Tedder has a bearing out. What in the hell happened to this winter? I was going to fix all of this crap and somehow never had the time. I need to buy a lottery ticket.

On a related note, I have offically passed the Jeff Foxworthy "you might be a redneck of mow your yard and find a car" into the realm of having a white trash "jungle" yard. If I don't start mowing now, I'll be doing it with the bush hog for the next three or four times, because that's about what it takes to get it manageable again if it gets away from me. Maybe I'll just go all-out in this direction and buy about 50 goats to mow the yard with. I'm sure I could market them to the local Hispanic population.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Rankin' Rob has an interesting post up about being groped by the Keebler Elf. I reckon Bobby Lee Cook would be all over that. Rob should call him, Bobby Lee likes high profile cases with big payoff potential.

However, I digress, I've never been groped by anybody unless I count the bride. I doubt she'd admit to it with her well-known decorum... sorry, that's an inside joke. She just discovered today that my friends consider her a bitch on wheels when she's pissed-off and that it is wise not to provoke her. I, of course knew this when I married her. It was a big part of her charm.

Anyway, back to Keebler Elves.... I don't know that I would have admited this if I were Rob, even it was a female in the Ernie suit. Come to think of it, are you SURE it was a she in that costume?

Since today was buy-a-gun and piss-off-a-liberal day, I went to the gunshop this evening. I can't afford to buy any guns right now, but I did buy a box of .45 long colts. I need to burn some powder this weekend.

Indian Bob was over there. He told me a couple of good tales about my buddy Skinner, but to be honest I'm not in the mood to do much writing. I will tell a quick one about Indian Bob though.

He's a yankee, but he's still a pretty good guy. He and Skinner are into this Buckskinning stuff. They do the French and Indian war period. One day some guy from the local historical society called Indian Bob and asked him to come to their meeting and talk about the French and Indian War. Bob said "what is there to tell? They (the French) lost and they ain't won a war since, end of story."

Guess you had to be there, but I thought it was pretty damn funny.

Possumblog's Thursday Three Volume II

1) What three LIVING people from the South would you invite to your meal?
Not to seem like I'm sucking up to anyone, but there are a few bloggers I'd like to have dinner with. Terry being one, The Lawyer being another. For my third, I think I'd like to go with a politician, either Zell Miller or Fred Thompson.

2) In recognition of Faulkner’s aphorism about the past not being dead and, in fact, not even being past, what three DEAD people from the South (aside from Faulkner) would you invite to your meal? (Assuming, of course, that they would not show up like extras from Dawn of the Dead, but rather would show up in the form they held before leaving their corporeal habitation and advancing to their ultimate reward.)
That's an easy one, Sam Houston, John W. Thomason and Mark Twain. If Twain is excluded for being from a Border State, I'd say John Cabel Breckinridge. Now, that being said, there's a whole slew of Confederates I'd like to visit with, but that's another discussion.

An alternate dinner party, just to listen to what is said, Sam Houston, Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, after all was born in Kentucky. Not just the dialouge between Lincoln and Davis... Houston disliked Davis and described him as being "cold as a lizard and ambitous as Lucifer..." I expect Colonel Thomason would probably like to be there to hear that conversation too.

3) After the warm conviviality of your feast has been deeply shared by all, what sort of postprandial parlor games would you employ to entertain your guests?
I don't know that I would waste time with games. I'd say that conversation would be the order of the day. But then, with Sam Houston being a guest, there's little doubt that acohol would be involved.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Got another email from Alan, he confirmed that a LOT of stuff got cut, but he expected the DVD to be much better.

Got an email back from Alan Huffines a while ago. He said that he did indeed choreograph and plan the battle scenes for the movie... like I said it looked good.

There are some things that ended up on the cutting room floor I think. I'm not going to get into disscussions about that right now though. I'd rather not spoil the movie.

He did say that Carrico's Leatherworks did all the saddlery for the movie. He does some fine work too, but I'm partial to Doug.

Friday, April 09, 2004

'twas a gorgeous day today, but instead of playing farmboy I decided to do something different. I went to a matinee showing of the Alamo. I was impressed for the most part. There were a few things that I saw in it that go against the traditional version of the story. The acting was excellent. Billy Bob Thornton's version of Crockett was probably the very best I've seen. How the folks who grew up seeing Fess Parker as Davy Crockett will take it is the question.

As far as "looking" authentic goes, they did a great job. The costumes/clothing looked good. The sets looked great. The weapons were correct. It did tickle me to see Sam Houston riding a what I'm pretty sure is a Doug Kidd "Hope" saddle similair to the one that I have. I didn't see a whole lot to quibble over. My main question is all the standing around on the battlements in full view of the Mexican army... and with all these riflemen from Tennessee, why weren't they picking off the Mexican artillery crews two hundred yards away?

LTC Alan Huffines, a guy I used to ride with (back when I had hair and I wasn't fat as a pig) was the military advisor for the film.

All in all, it's a fine movie. I'm trying to gather up some of the guys to go see it again. I'd like to go with a whole passel of us so we can sit around and argue about it afterwards.

April 9, 1865

"It would be useless and therefore cruel to provoke the further effusion of blood, and I have arranged to meet with General Grant with a view to surrender..."

I do not have any deep comments to make about the surrender of one of the finest armies in the history of the world. I wish I did, but anything I would say has probably been said before by someone a lot smarter than myself.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Possumblog Thursday Three

1) What is your favorite food that is usually available only in the southern United States?
Grits (real grits as in non-instant)
2) What is your least favorite?
Collard greens (Turnip greens on the other hand, are great... especially with chicken livers)
3) What Southern specialty food item do you cook the best?
Fried corn (or fried taters, but you can argue that they ain't Southern)

and yes Terry, I lifted your text. Why should I type it when I can get you to do it for me?

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Sweetie had to put one of her retired broodmares down Monday. She was a former racehorse who spent seven or eight years on the track before being converted into a foal factory. She was a sweet mare who loooked (outwardly at least) to be in good condition for her age. She was having trouble breathing and had bloody discharge from her nostrils. The vet said that she had a collapsed lung and it was ify whether or not surgery would do her any good.

Damn shame. She was a good horse.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

I spent most of today playing mechanic. I looked like a orphan grease monkey when I finally quit. I was able to pull the radiator and the fuel tank off the Ferguson and get the bolts broke loose on the grill frame. I'll need to borrow TC's A frame to finish pulling it off as it's rather heavy. I probably didn't need to, but I pulled the transmission cooler too. I figure it's never been off the tractor, so I should at least clean it while I'm in there.

The consensus amongst the neighbors is that I stole the baler. I'm still feeling very pleased with myself.

Time to sit down and gather all my tax crap. I've put it off too long as it is.

Saturday, April 03, 2004


The auction results are in. I am now the proud owner of a Ford 551 round baler. Now I just need to conjure the scratch to cover the rubber check I wrote to pay for it. I do believe that I got the bargain of the day. This baler is roughly twenty years old, but it was obviously shed-kept because the paint is not at all faded. I seriously doubt that it's ever been rained on. Not only that, I highly doubt it's had more than a few hundred bales ran through it, possibly not even that many. The paint is not even worn off the rollers or the pickup. For that matter, the chains still have paint on them. I was able to buy this contraption for the grand sum of $900. A new round baler can run anywhere from $9k to $20k+, depending on brand.

The reason I was able to buy this baler, which should have brought somewhere between $2500 and $3500 (because of condition) is because I am a smart boy (and a modest one too!). I knew something that most of the folks there didn't know. Very few people bid on this baler because it was a Ford. They were leery of buying something that they might not be able to find parts for. I knew that this baler was not built by Ford. Ford used to sub out their implements. They did not build anything but tractors. I knew that the baler was either a Gehl or a Vermeer. It was a Gehl as it turns out, a Gehl 1400 to be exact.

I'm feeling very pleased with my myself right now. For all intents and purposes I bought a brand new machine for less than a tenth of the price of a new one. Granted, it lacks the bells and whistles and electronic gizmo's of a new machine, but I don't like that crap anyway.

TC owns a ragged out Gehl 1400. It makes as good a roll as LA's John Deere 535 with a monitor. The only thing I don't like about this baler is the fact that it is a closed throat baler. That means the hay has to pass between two press rollers right behind the pickup. It can be hard to start a bale if the windrow isn't big enough. Most of the newer balers are open throat, which makes it a lot easier to start a bale.

I can learn to live with that. It's still easier than running a square baler.

We also acquired a bucket for the Ford loader and a bale spear for BC (maybe I can repossess mine now).

Other stuff of interest:
Massey Ferguson model 50 w/tricycle front end–$1000
Super M Farmall w/live hydraulics–$800/no sale
Ford 6610 Series II–$7900/no sale
Allis Chamlers 220 w/cab and air–$3100 Clean Tractor, 1000 rpm pto, painted with a brush
John Deere/Van Brunt grain drill–$180
Hesston 5530 round baler–$1600
Hesston 555 round baler–$3500 the other bargain of the day/late model with monitor
Gehl 1400 round baler–$800/no sale, needed belts
New Holland tedder–$2100
Massey Ferguson 255–$5900 Nice looking machine, good paint
Ford 4000–$1400 Dead battery or it would have brought more

There was a lot of stuff there, but I figured I'd better quit whilst I was ahead. The other major item I would have liked to have bought was a little Tuf-Bilt tractor with a whole pile of attachments (mower, cultivators and scrape blade). The Tuf-Bilts were made in Cumming Georgia in the late 70's and early 80's. They are very similar to an Allis G. I would love to have one to cultivate with. I'd probably do some serious corn growing then. It was the next-to-last item and my feet were killing me by then, so I decided to head for home.

I figure it's the full moon. I don't normally get this lucky.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Ran across this Southern Literary site today via Spudlets. The writing on this site makes me ashamed of my feeble efforts. There are several people that I read daily that could submit some work there though... however, they shall remain nameless because there's no sense in giving 'em a swelled head.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I found this interesting semi-biography of Elmer Keith today. All I have to add is that he was one tough Hombre. If I read the story correctly, he was 12 years old when he "fixed" his left hand.

He is one of the old timers that I wish I'd had a chance to meet.

It did, in a way, put me to mind of my father-in-law. Not that my father-in-law has much in common with Elmer Keith other than the fact I would also consider him to be a tough hombre.

When we were up in the frozen north for Christmas he had a toothache that was driving him nuts. Much like me, he doesn't go to the doctor unless he's forced to and he ain't overly fond of dentists either. Anyhow, I made a smartass comment about pulling that tooth for him if he'd bring me some needlenose pliers. He say "y'know, I had to to do that once when I lived in Mexico."

"Why", I asked "did you have to do it youself?"

"Because there weren't any dentists where I was at and I didn't trust anybody else to do it for me."

I shut up and said nary another word about volunteering to do any dentistry for him. I was afraid he'd take me up on it.