Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I have been remiss in my bloggage of late. I can offer no excuses beyond the usual culprits; laziness, lack of focus, lack of time and lack of anything to write about other than bitching and whining. I'd rather spare you that.

So, I offer you more tractor porn.

Ok, technically it's not tractor porn, but it is haymaking, albeit in a technologically confused fashion.

If I remember correctly I lifted this image from Yesterdays Tractors quite some time ago. The hay crew are either Amish or Mennonites, if they're not then they are very confused people.

The little cart imediately behind the horses carries an engine (probably a Deutz air-cooled diesel) that powers the baler (a Hesston inline).

The big trailer behind the baler is a Bale Buggy. The advantage to it is that you don't have to pick the hay up. The disadvantages are that you need at least two of them (they only hold about 80 bales) and they leave a gawdawful mess when you dump it. Somebody still has to hand-stack the pile of bales after you open the back door and drop them. I would be worried about breaking the strings on half the load myself. Still it is a huge time and labor saver. I'd like to try one if someone around here had one I could borrow.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

I got my days mixed up...

The Anniversary I mentioned earlier in the week was yesterday.

Yes, the Twentyfifth of June is the anniversary of G.A.C.'s little jaunt up to the Little Bighorn, where he managed to get himself and a good chunk of his command killed.

George Armstrong Custer has a name that can instantly stir up controversy, even among non-historians. It is interesting to me sometimes that an obscure Cavalry officer with political ambitions has a name that is instantly recognizable to everyone, whether they are interested in history or not, over a hundred years after his death. I call it Davey Crockett syndrome. Nobody would've ever heard of him either, if not for the fact he died at the Alamo. These two men have achieved immortality of a sort (that could be a horrible pun) simply because they happened to get killed at the right place and the right time.

I mentioned in an earlier post (many moons ago) that John McQueen (among others) believed that a big part of the Little Bighorn debacle was due to the fact that the Seventh Cavalry were no longer armed with Spencer Carbines. I think there is something to that. I would equate it to going from an M-14 back to an '03 Springfield. You've got more range, but you simply can't pump out as much lead. Custer had commanded Spencer equipped troops for more than ten years. I cannot help but think this made a difference.

Of course there were other factors, such as spiltting his command. I've heard that one argued around many a campfire before. There are good arguments for that on both sides.

Rushing ahead to find the Sioux instead of slowing down to link up with Terry, Gibbon and Crook (yes I know Crook was out of the picture, but Custer didn't).

And then there's the big one (to me anyway). He didn't listen to his scouts. When all of his Indian scouts started telling him "Too many Sioux" slowing down and taking stock of the situation would seem to be the wisest course.

Had a Wesley Merrit, Ranald MacKenzie or Nelson Miles been in command, the entire campaign would've turned out quite differently.

Who are those guys?

Custer's contemporaries, who served in the Civil War and later on the frontier (for over thirty years in Miles and Merrit's case) without presiding over a Mongolian clusterf*** of that scale.

No one (other than historians and people with an interest in history) have of ever heard of them.

The quiet professional who does his job and does it well always ends up a footnote, while the idiots and glory hounds* are remembered.

*(Miles was a bit of a glory hound, but not to the extent that G.A.C. was, he was also a lot smarter)

Friday, June 25, 2004

My buddy Stick has recently became a Land Baron. Bought his first house after a lifetime of living in apartments. He found a place that suits him perfectly, located betwixt the State Fool Farm, an Indian ('cuse me, Native American) Burial ground and a sweage treatment plant... He's recently discovered the feeling of satisfaction a country boy gets from being able to go outside and take a whizz in your own backyard in the middle of the night. (yes I realize that's a guy thing, my wife doesn't understand it either)

I wouldn't adivse that for those of you fellers living in Suburbia.

Anyhoo, I emailed him the other day t'ask him when he was going to have his house-warming party, so that all of his former co-workers can come trash his house and his reply was so damn funny, I had to share it.

"...I plan to roast a whole hog, slaughtered by my good self. Maybe I should invite the local representative of

I should probably mention that, after reading the aforementioned, that I DARED him to do it.

I want to be there to see it.

I'll leave any comments up to my three readers...

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I'm busier than a one-legged man in a room full of rocking chairs... waitaminute... I'm busier than a nervous cat at a ass-kicking contest... nope... that ain't it either.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him fish?

Dammit, I've confused myself now.

Suffice to say that I'm working late, taking care of my injured lil' darlin' and watching it RAIN every freakin' day.

I will eventually try to post something worthwhile, just dunno when. In the meantime, I'm amusing myself in my copious free time by leaving annoying comments over at Possumblog.

I hope to have a good post Saturday, because it's an anniversary. I'll give a gen-u-wine Marvel No-Prizeā„¢ to the first person who can tell me what the anniversary is.

On another note entirely, (Stick, this is for you) I will have corn by the fourth.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Still busy, it's catalog time again.

Hay got rained on three times, but it was dry enough to bale Saturday. Can't square bale it (horse people won't buy it), so I decided to roll it. I figure that cost me a couple of hundred bucks. Wouldn't been more than that, but I don't have to pay labor, so that helps a bit. Rolled 61 rolls of 4x4 bales over the weekend. It was raining here at the office Friday, so I called TC to see if it was raining at the house, our conversation went like this:

Me: "what's agoin' on?"
TC: "I'm fixing to go tedd some hay."
Me, getting excited because I thought the rainhad missed us : "Are ya really?"
TC: "Yeah, soon as I figure out how to mount a three-point hitch on a rowboat."

Broke TC's tedder Saturday and had to get bigger brother to do some serious welding on it. I would've done it myself, but he's TVA certified and can weld a whole lot better than I can.

I had mowed for TH (another neighbor) at the same time that I mowed mine. He and TC decided to go ahead and bale his Saturday afternoon (it was dry too) as soon as I finished tedding it. I headed home and hooked up my rake and went back to my field and raked the outside swathes, figuring to bale them Saturday and get it out of the way so that I would have an easier time raking Sunday.

Noticed TC was almost finished as brought the baler down and started rolling mine. Got about halfway down the first windrow and saw TC top the hill with his baler. He started in the windrow beside me. I got to the other end of the field and TH came rolling through pulling a rake. We got over half of it baled before dark. It took me about two hours to finish on Sunday. I've started gathering it up to move it, but I'm not finished yet. I've still got to figure out where I'm going to put all of it.

I like having good neighbors.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

%*#$@$! rain!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Mowing hay, no bloggage for a day or two.

In the meantime, I'll leave this...

This is not a family photo, but one I found on the web a long time ago. This is a very early baler with an old hayloader style pickup. A hayloader was attached behind a wagon pulled by a team of horses or mules (or a tractor) which picked up the hay out of the windrow and into the wagon, where it would be spread out by a man (or two men) with a pitchfork. Note the guy which the pitchfork on top or the baler, he is feeding hay into a hopper above the bale chamber.

The guy sitting on the back is tying the bales. Early balers used a system of wooden blocks inserted into the bale chamber to form the individual bales. There were slots cut into the blocks to allow the wire to pass through for tying the bale.

This seems very complicated and labor intensive, but it's much less so than a stationary baler. I would think it is worlds better than loading a wagon with a pitchfork...

I thought this was an interesting picture because the baler is being pulled by what looks like a small crawler tractor. That seems to me like it would tear up your ground too much, which would not have been good in the days of horse drawn sicklebar mowers.

Monday, June 14, 2004

I'm raht 'tard

Opposed to I am a 'tard, as has been claimed by some.

I staked my tomatoes Friday evening when I came home from work. Looks like I'll have a little corn next week. The rest of it will be in July sometime as it was planted later. %^$# morning glories have overrun the okra because I've been wrapped up in hay to the point I've neglected the garden.

I mowed (pasture) most of the day Saturday and then mowed some more (yard) untill about 11:30 Saturday night. I figured it would be cooler then than during the day... I do believe Saturday was the hottest day we've had yet. I had a heck of a time hooking the batwing up to mow with. I knocked down about 25 acres with it from around 2 until 7. Everything worked fine, so hopefully I am past my gearbox woes of last season. The 285 ran good, no overheating, so I am hopefull that it'll make it the rest of the season without any more major reapairs.

Moved hay, worked on sweetie's arena and fixed fence yesterday. Mowed a little more of the yard too.

I broke a belt on the baler Thursday, so I had intentions of getting TC to finish baling for me yesterday. That fell through because one of the other neighbors (LA) was broke down in the field with hay that, unlike mine, hadn't been rained on four times. I stopped to help him and TC called me in the midst of that, so he came over and we got LA's baler fixed so that he could finish up. By this time it was nigh on to dark so we gave up for the day.

Time to come back to work to rest a bit.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Thanks to everyone who expressed concern over my bride's condition. She's going to be fine, this was not her first horse wreck, the last one she had was considerably worse. She is going to have to have some pins put in her thumb that is broken, they've scheduled that for next Tuesday. The doctor seemed to think that she would recover all of her functions, but that she would probably have "Arthur" come to visit in the future.

I had intentions of trying to write a bit last night about Brandy Station and my adventures with Chuck yesterday, but time got away from me so I decided to go to bed instead. I figured I'd done enough damage for one day.

However, I will talk a little bit about our travels yesterday.

First off, y'gotta know Chuck. He's an interesting bird. The Bride once described him as a seventy-year-old juvenile delinquent. That's a pretty fair description. He's the son of a circuit riding Methodist preacher, a native Texan and a smart S.O.B., especially when it comes to money matters. If I ever hit the lottery, he's my first phone call.

Chuck had some kin in from Texas, they are in the process of researching a rather colorful ancestor. He got ran out of Alabama after the war (something about a young lady) went to Texas, was a Ranger briefly, City Marshall at some little Podunk town (involved in a least one shootout, again involving a young lady), then disappeared.

But what they were interested in yesterday was Chickamauga.

Chuck's Great-Grandfather enlisted in the 41st Alabama when the war began, Company I if I remember correctly, raised over around Florence, Alabama.

The 41st was part of Helm's Brigade at the time of Chickamauga, of Breckinridge's Division. They fought on the northern end of the field against Thomas's Fourteenth Corps. I talked to Jim Ogden before we went out there and he told me where a couple of markers for Helm's Brigade were located, so we set off in search of the ground where their Great-Grandfather had fought.

Brigadier General Benjamin Hardin Helm

We found the first marker without too much difficulty and I attempted to to explain what was going on in this part of the field.

Helm's Brigade stood toe to toe with King's Brigade of Regulars, who were entrenched behind some rude field fortifications. Helm was killed rallying his men for another charge in the low ground in front of the union line. The ground is slightly rolling and thick with trees and brush.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to try to stay in formation and advance through the woods... uphill, against an entrenched foe with smoke hanging in the trees like a heavy fog, smoke so thick you can barely see a few feet with the din of thousands of muskets firing along with hundreds of cannon... if Dante were there, he would indeed think he'd stepped into the Inferno.

This ground is different. It's not open like Gettysburg. This was a soldiers battle, not a General's.

The only thing I can think of that would've been worse would be some of the savage hand-to-hand fighting in Virginia in the summer of '64.

Chickamauga normally conjures images of the second days fighting... Longstreet's breakthrough, Wilder's Brigade mowing down Confederates by the hundreds with their Spencers, Hood losing his leg or Bragg's failure to pursue his beaten foe. The first day was pretty much a draw... so everyone remembers the second day, but the Army of Tennessee did some of the hardest fighting of the war the first day a Chickamauga.

I just got a CNN breaking news email thingee that said Ray Charles is dead.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Well, she's crabby as hell this morning, which I'll take as a good sign.

She was able to get someone up from Atlanta to cover her job, so that worked out ok.

She's ok, so she told me to go ahead and go about my business today.

I had today off to go on a tour of Chickamauga Battlefield with my buddy Chuck and some of his Texas kin. This should prove interesting. I am sure there will be much bloggerly material coming out of this trip.

Today is also the anniversary of Brandy Station (or Fleetwood Heights) the largest Cavalry action ever fought on this continent. If I am able, I'll try to write a bit about it late this evening.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Why am I blogging at one in the morning?

This has been one hell of a day.

I've just made it home from spending four hours in the ER with my bride. She had a minor horse wreck this evening.

I say minor now, but at the time I wasn't so sure. I thought she had a broken arm along with some broken ribs and a concussion. She probably would've had the concussion if she were not wearing a helmet.

She is pretty much a solid bruise from the waist up, but her worst injury is a broken thumb. That is actually a lot worse than it sounds because of her line of work.

Funny, the last thing I said to her as she rode off was "Be careful."

The timing was actually pretty good... ten more minutes and I would've been baling hay and would not have heard her cries for help and quite possibly missed seeing the horse running away as well.

I fixed the latches on the baler and was bolting everything back up when I heard an odd noise. It didn't register at first, I thought it was one of the barn cats howling at something. I walked over to my truck for a wrench and saw Ben (the horse she'd been riding) heading for the barn at a dead run. I ran to the gate and closed it and jumped into my truck and took off looking for her.

She was waaaaay over on the back side, where I haven't bushogged yet (where she had no business being) and I couldn't find her at first. I heard her yell again and found her lying flat on her back in the tall grass. She howled when I touched her, so I was ready to call an ambulance.

Then she got up.

On her own without an assistance from me.

I felt a little better then. I was afraid she'd broekn her neck. She said she couldn't see, so now I'm thinking she's got a concussion. I led her over to the truck and drove her to the barn.

She made me stop there and get her saddle off the horse (damn saddle is worth more than the idiot horse) and get her purse out of her truck.

Note: she had her little rat-dog with her and did not want to wait long enough for me to take the dog to the house (or get my wallet for that matter), so we got to the ER with the dog in tow. We've got time to retrieve a saddle, but no time to retrieve a wallet and checkbook and drivers license and so-on...

I will never understand the female mind.

Then the argument starts over which hospital to go to... I'm not even going to get into that.

As we were going up the interstate, she says "I'm going to throw up"

We're in the middle lane beside a semi, so I can't pull off the road, nor can I tell her to hang it out the window...

I had a fairly good sized towel in the truck, so I handed it to her.

Now why would I think that pitiful little towel would help?

She barfed all over my truck.

Finally get to the hospital, I go in to get a wheelchair and some help...

I get a wheelchair, but no help.

I got back out to my truck and try to get her out and into the chair with ten people standing there gawking at my blood and vomit encrusted bride (still wearing her helmet, boots and breeches). I'm trying to hold the dog and get her into the wheelchair when a little old lady steps forward and offered to hold on to the dog for me.

Get her into the building and of course, we have to fill out forms.

They did page someone to come and do triage, but it took them ten minutes to come up there. All the while sweetie is crying and spewing blood all over the place.

I was REAL close to screaming "don't you people have any F-ing nurses here?" and leaving to go to another hospital when I saw a nurse running down the hall towards me.

Did I mention that my truck is sitting outside running and a strange woman is holding our dog and sweetie's purse is in the seat while this is going on?

Got her back to an exam room and a went and moved the truck, which surprisingly enough, was still there, as was sweetie's purse and the little old lady holding my rat-dog. I locked the dog up in the truck (I left the windows open) and starting calling people I knew who lived close by to come get the dog. Naturally, no one was home, so the she spent the evening in the truck. It sounds vile, but I was hoping the damn dog would clean up the barf. No such luck. She'll eat horseshit, but not barf. What the hell good is she then?

I got back in about the time the doctor was finishing his intial exam. He winked and whispered "she'll be ok" as he walked out, which made me breath a bit easier, but he wanted to do a CT and a whole mess of other tests and x-rays out the wazoo, which kept me fairly nervous until her results came back. I was also there in time to hear her tell the nurses NOT to cut her breeches off. Female mind again. If I was hurt, I wouldn't give a damn if I was wearing a Saville Row suit.

I spent most of the evening pacing the floor, going out to check on the dog and trying to find someone to cover a job for sweetie in the morning. I was not able to reach anyone, so I get to get up in about four hours and start calling people again. If I can't find someone to cover for her she's going to be in deep shit.

Well, as Scarlet O'Hara said "Tomorrow is another day."

Maybe it'll be a better one.

I used the new baler yesterday evening. I was able to make one roll amd that was it. Couldn't get the bale to eject. It took three hours to get the bale out of it. I wasn't sure if it was the %&$&*% hydraulics on the 285 or something in the baler.

Finally had to call TC.

He came up, looked it over and and said "Y'gotta hammer or a pry bar?"

It seems the safety latches are a little bent. After I do a little minor torch work it should work fine. About two hours and I'll be good to go.

On the plus side, it makes a very nice, tight roll.

As TC told me before he left "Surely you didn't expect you could just go to the field and have everything work right the first time?"

I have long been a fan of Scott Adams and the Dilbert comic strip. I really enjoy it because, like most people who've worked for a large corporation, I've actually experienced some of the things he shows in the strip.

Two of our local radio idjits were talking about Dilbert this morning (I think today is Scott Adams birthday). Wally, the more hillbilly of the radio idjits said "The first time you read Dilbert you think WHAT IS this CRAP?"

About the the third time you read one you think "What IS this crap?"

By the fourth time you read it you're thinking "I LIVE THIS CRAP"

Monday, June 07, 2004

I just saw a bizarre thing.

Driving back from lunch, we passed a bait and tackle place.

In front of the building was a vending machine that said "Live Bait."

Live Bait in a vending machine? I truly hope I was seeing things.

Hopefully tonight I will sit down and write incredibly dull tales of my weekend hay extravaganza.

There is not a lot I can say about President Reagan that isn't being said much more eloquently by others.

I grew up during his years in office. I well remember the Ford/Carter years when it seemed that the whole country was going to hell in a handcart. I think we hated ourselves because of Watergate, Vietnam, double-digit inflation and a host of other reasons.

Then along came this actor from California.

A man full of boundless optimism and love of country, who had a vision of what we could and should be as a nation. I firmly believe he single handedly brought us out of the self-loathing that characterized the seventies. He reminded us that we did indeed live in the greatest nation in the world.

A hundred years from now, I think he will be regarded as one of our greatest Presidents.

Friday, June 04, 2004

This is in answer to a request from Stick.

This is my Grandmother's sister Willie in her youth. Yes, Willie. My Great-Grandparents evidently liked giving boy's names to their girls because they also had a daughter named Cecil. Since they had eight or nine girls and only one boy I wonder if it was wishful thinking? Actually there was a bit of a disagreement on which sister this was, my mom thought it was Cecil, but my aunt Reba (who remembers her aunts in their youth) assured me that it was Willie. Both of them were tall, Willie was six feet tall and Cecil was nearly as tall, my grandmother (their little sister) on the other hand wasn't much over five feet tall.

I remember Willie from my youth when she was old and stoop shouldered and careworn.

I found a WWI era postcard from a military hospital in France inside the lining of an old steamer trunk that came from her house. The card was barely legible, but I was able to make out enough to know that the writer was telling her how someone she knew at another hospital was doing. She never married, but I've often wondered if either the writer or the fellow the writer was refering to was her beau and he never made it home.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I didn't mow everything I wanted to, but I did mow more than I intended to.

Doesn't make sense does it?

The weather forcast originally called for rain Monday, but they've since bumped that to Sunday. I wanted to cut all of the big field (it's about a quarter mile wide and nearly a mile long), but I ended up mowing about a third of it. I also mowed about three or four acres for TC and seven acres for TH. TC called me this morning and told me that he'd went down to the big field and tedded (fluffed) it for me, which is a good thing because my tedder is broke... again. Bigger brother put it back together while I was raking last week, he either didn't put loctite on the bolts or he didn't tighten them down enough. Either way, it fell apart on me in the field. I've got new bolts, but I've not had time to put everything back together.

The 285 ran GREAT. The new radiator seems to have completely cured it's overheating problem (no leaks either). Everything ran fine until about 8:30 last night; I turned a corner, moving slightly uphill and the tractor just died. Boom. No runna no morra. Called TC (love this telephone tractor repair consulting bidness) and he diagnosed it (correctly) as fuel filters. I was skeptical, because in the past it has always lost power when the filters would get clogged up.

I was mowing at TH's at the time, he's the neighbor with the little tractor place down the road, so he just went over to his shop and got two filters and a toolbox (I haven't put mine back on the 285 yet) and we changed them in the field. TC was correct, because the old filters were completely stopped up with a combination of rust and mud.

It was after dark when we finally got everything operationally again. I did have a bad moment when the tractor started rolling backwards (towards the creek twenty-five feet away) while I was putting the grill back on. TC called me FG (see Farming while drunk, December 10, 2003) because of that.

And yes, my parking brake IS broken, I can't believe you had to ask.

I finished mowing that field in the dark. Evidently the alternator is not putting out because my lights kept getting dimmer and dimmer until I finally shut them off and mowed by moonlight.

I'm scared to think what that looks like in the daylight. It probably looks like FG mowed it while he was half lit.

Since I've been playing with photos so much lately, does anyone have any photo requests?

I emailed Jerry Pournelle some time ago about a discussion on his site about the Alamo movie. Earlier this week I got a reply where he apologized for not getting to my email sooner. As many irons as he has in the fire, I thought it rather nice of him to take the time to write back to me. Then, this morning I fired off an email to Glenn Reynolds about something I thought he might take interest in and danged if I didn't get a reply from him.

I thought it was kind of neat, but then I'm easily impressed.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The best laid plans...

I had intentions of being out of here by now, instead of being on my way home, I'm waiting on a print job to spool over so that I can build a mock-up to send the client.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Bloggage will be light to nonexistant for the next few days. I've got a narrow window of clear weather so I'm going to try and mow all my leased ground.

But then again, I may post when I come in from the field. I do an awfull lot of thinking sitting on a tractor, if I can just remember all the good ideas I come up with...