Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team


Ruger is offering a pre-production M77 Hawkeye in 6.5 Creedmoor, made in 2010.  This model was not in the catalog until 2011.  This is a new rifle, stored in Ruger's vault.  CLICK HERE to read all about it and to place your winning bid. This fine rifle will sell mid-day, Wednesday, June 19, 2019.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Tuesday Torque: 5 HP Hercules Buzz Saw Rig

Road King posted a video of this original 5 HP Hercules engine.  Making wood wasn't easy in the Good Old Days, but this was a huge improvement from using a crosscut saw for every cut.  Those short cuts make me nervous, though.  I wish they kept hands a bit farther away from the blade.  Note the drop cart, which was necessary on engines with a one piece base. The drop center not only lowers the center of gravity, but it places the flywheels at the right height to pull them over for starting.  Our friend Gary mounted his 9 HP Economy on a straight cart, and it would make you bust a gut to roll over the flywheels.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Don't Just Stand There!

Step back, escape the area around your stump.  Watching the tree go will eventually cause you to be hit.  I had cut several snags and was tired when I did this one, so I stood still.  I got lucky and was only swatted on the hand.


We have lots of chainsaw work in the next couple weeks, so it's Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Struck By Lightning


You might not notice this unless you are always looking up in the trees.


 A bit of zoom and you can really see it.  Pecan is an odd tree with lightning.  If the bark is wet with rain, lightning zips down the outside and just pops off the outer bark without injuring the tree.


This lightning bolt also popped off a gray squirrel; poor thing.  God Caught Him Before He Fell.

Sometimes you will be caught in a thunderstorm while you are out in the woods.  Beat feet back to your truck, and avoid passing close to trees.  When lightning comes down on a tree it may bounce around anywhere around the base, so keep some space for safety.  We were caught in a heavy downpour while canoeing in Missouri on the Eleven Point River.  We put in on the left bank, just a short distance from a big bur oak.  The adults kept the kids from gathering under the tree, and we stood in a loose group as the clouds dumped on us.  A big lightning bolt smacked a sycamore directly across the river from us; it was a bit like being shot at and missed.  The kids needed no more convincing to stay away from the bur oak.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Weekend Steam: Steam Rally Across The Pond

The culture is different, the engines don't look like ours, but they give engine lovers the same thrill.  Many Thanks to Merle for spotting!

White County Farm Bureau Young Leader Pistol Shoot...


...is coming up in one month!  Put July 13, 2019 on your calendar.  Send in your registration early and save ten bucks! You can practice at Pistol League, Thursday evenings at 6 PM. You probably can borrow a .22 pistol if you do not own one that is suitable. Bring your own ammo.

The 9th Annual Young Leader Pistol Shoot will be Saturday, July 13 at the Carmi Rifle Club. The .22 steel target shoot will include 6 unique stations, with both adult and youth classes (12 & over). Each station will feature 5 targets, with 5 relays at each target.

Each shooter will have a chance at winning a Ruger Mark IV .22 target pistol, with the top 3 in each class having additional chances. The pistol was donated by The Gun Room at Indian Creek RV in Norris City.

Competition will begin at 9:00 a.m. Registration is $25 per person if registered prior to July 1; and $35 after July 1. Registration includes lunch and drinks. Lunch for non-shooters is $10.

2019 Pistol Shoot sponsors are:

HARVEST SPONSORS – The Gun Room at Indian Creek RV, Citizens National Bank of Albion, COUNTRY Financial, Yesterday’s Drive-In & Catering, Botsch & Associates, Precision Crop Services, Farm Credit Illinois, Fairfield Memorial Hospital, Burnt Prairie Fertilizer, and the Carmi Rifle Club.

GROWTH SPONSORS – Carter Trucking, Consolidated Grain & Barge, Wabash Valley Service Company, and Dartt & Company, CPA.

For registration and sponsorship details, go to the White County Farm Bureau website at www.whitecfb.com/pistolshoot.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Wayback Machine: CRP Recon Joys

CRP signups made for intense workdays.  The county Farm Service Agency offices would often have dozens of new cases or renewals, and every field had to be inspected. I would map out the whole county to reduce backtracking, make a soil map of each case, and look up  the history of renewals so I would know what had been planted.  After seeing each case, the landowners had to be interviewed, and then the new plans could be written.  Conservation Reserve pretty much controlled my work for all of my years working for Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  It wasn't what I expected when I hired in, but it was good work that actually changed the landscape of the counties I worked in.  All that driving and walking meant that I saw lots of interesting sights.  Here are a couple of good ones from the spring of 2012 in Hamilton County.  The tractor is an Allis-Chalmers WC; the barn is probably melted down to the tin roof by now.


The throttle shows some honest wear. I guess the reason I focused on the throttle is because it is very familiar to me.  A kid working that little lever while driving a tractor feels like the king of the world.



Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team


Ruger is auctioning another good one this week!  It is a Law Enforcement Only Mini-14 from 1997, which was during the Clinton-era assault weapons ban.  This baby comes with two twenty round magazines, a flash hider and a bayonet mount. Know your local laws before bidding, because some state and local laws still prohibit this rifle.  CLICK HERE to read the full description and to place that winning bid. This fine carbine will sell mid-day, Wednesday, June 12, 2018.  $1425

Monday, June 10, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Cold Starting A Witte Diesel

Merle and I are both fans of Road King.  He makes some unusual projects, such as a multi-cylinder Briggs and Stratton.  This video is one of Road King's friends firing up a Witte one lung Diesel on a cool morning.  Thank You, Merle, for spotting!


Sunday, June 9, 2019

Do You Have A Soil Knife?


We picked one of these up at a garden show many years ago, and Susan uses it all the time.  I always carried an entrenching tool in my truck and used it for all kinds of chores, but lately I have been grabbing Susan's Soil Knife.  You can weed, plant, pick rocks out of your cleats; all kinds of chores, and you can pack it on your belt.  I am thinking of getting one for myself.  The only thing is, they come duller than a froe.  You will need to work on it with a file and a stone in a Dremel tool. You know what I mean:  Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Schipperke Trail


Little Jack was asleep behind me; these are Junior, Swiper, Skipper, and Lisa.  Maggie has settled into her new home, and we hear from her new family regularly.  If you know Schipperkes, you know it's a rare event when five are all lying down and quiet at the same time. Swiper is scheduled for his dental work in about three weeks, and after he recovers from that he will be ready to go to his forever home.  He is a gentle old soul and has been a very easy keeper.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Weekend Steam: U.P. Big Boy 4014 and 844 Double Header, Cheyenne to Rawlins, Wyoming

The restoration of Big Boy 4014 is likely the biggest news that we will ever see in the world of steam.   It's a wonderful thing that we can see videos of great events like this.  Thank You, Merle, for screening videos for us!


Thursday, June 6, 2019

Ernie Pyle Walked The Beach 75 Years Ago

I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France. It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn't know they were in the water, for they were dead.

The water was full of squishy little jellyfish about the size of a man's hand. Millions of them. In the center of each of them was green design exactly like a four-leafed clover. The good-luck emblem. Sure. Hell, yes.

I walked for a mile and a half along the water's edge of our many-miled beach. I walked slowly, for the detail on the beach was infinite.

The wreckage was vast and startling. The awful waste and destruction of war, even aside from the loss of human life, has always been one of its outstanding features to those who are in it. Anything and everything is expendable. And we did expend on our beachhead in Normandy during those first few hours.

For a mile out from the beach there were scores of tanks and trucks and boats that were not visible, for they were at the bottom of the water-swamped by overloading, or hit by shells, or sunk by mines. Most of their crews were lost.

There were trucks tipped half over and swamped, partly sunken barges, and the angled-up corners of jeeps, and small landing craft half submerged. And at low tide you could still see those vicious six-pronged iron snares that helped snag and wreck them.

On the beach itself, high and dry, were all kinds of wrecked vehicles. There were tanks that had only just made the beach before being knocked out. There were jeeps that had burned to a dull gray. There were big derricks on caterpillar treads that didn't quite make it. There were half-tracks carrying office equipment that had been made into a shambles by single shell hit, their interiors still holding the useless equipage of smashed typewriters, telephones, office files.

There were LCTs turned completely upside down, and lying on their backs, and how they got that way I don't know. There were boats stacked on top of each other, their sides caved in, their suspension doors knocked off.

In this shore-line museum of carnage there were abandoned rolls of barbed wire and smashed bulldozers and big stacks of thrown-away life belts and piles of shells still waiting to be moved. In the water floated empty life rafts and soldiers' packs and ration boxes, and myserious oranges. On the beach lay snarled rolls of telephone wire and big rolls of steel matting and stacks of broken, rusting rifles.

On the beach lay, expended, sufficient men and mechanism for a small war. They were gone forever now. And yet we could afford it.

We could afford it because we were on, we had our toe hold, and behind us there were such enormous replacements for this wreckage on the beach that you could hardly conceive of the sum total. Men and equipment were flowing from England in such a gigantic stream that it made the waste on the beachhead seem like nothing it all, really nothing at all.

But there was another and more human litter. It extended in a thin little line, just like a high-water mark, for miles along the beach. This was the strewn personal gear, gear that would never be needed again by those who fought and died to give us our entrance into Europe.

There in a jumbled row for mile on mile were soldiers' packs. There were socks and shoe polish, sewing kits, diaries, Bibles, hand grenades. There were the latest letters from home, with the address on each one neatly razored out-one of the security precautions enforced before the boys embarked.

There were toothbrushes and razors, and snapshots of families back home staring up at you from the sand. There were pocketbooks, metal mirrors, extra trousers, and bloody, abandoned shoes. There were broken-handled shovels, and portable radios smashed almost beyond recognition, and mine detectors twisted and ruined.

There were torn pistol belts and canvas water buckets, first-aid kits, and jumbled heaps of life belts. I picked up a pocket Bible with a soldier's name in it, and put it in my jacket. I carried it half a mile or so and then put it back down on the beach. I don't know why I picked it up, or why I put it down again.

Soldiers carry strange things ashore with them. In every invasion there is at least one soldier hitting the beach at H-hour with a banjo slung over his shoulder. The most ironic piece of equipment marking our beach-this beach first of despair, then of victory-was a tennis racket that some soldier had brought along. It lay lonesomely on the sand, clamped in its press, not a string broken.

Two of the most dominant items in the beach refuse were cigarettes and writing paper. Each soldier was issued a carton of cigarettes just before he started. That day those cartons by the thousand, water-soaked and spilled out, marked the line of our first savage blow.

Writing paper and air-mail envelopes came second. The boys had intended to do a lot of writing in France. The letters-now forever incapable of being written-that might have filled those blank abandoned pages!

Always there are dogs in every invasion. There was a dog still on the beach, still pitifully looking for his masters. He stayed at the water's edge, near a boat that lay twisted and half sunk at the waterline. He barked appealingly to every soldier who approached, trotted eagerly along with him for a few feet, and then, sensing himself unwanted in all the haste, he would run back to wait in vain for his own people at his own empty boat.

Over and around this long thin line of personal anguish, fresh men were rushing vast supplies to keep our armies pushing on into France. Other squads of men picked amidst the wreckage to salvage ammunition and equipment that was still usable.

Men worked and slept on the beach for days before the last D-day victim was taken away for burial.

I stepped over the form of one youngster whom I thought dead, But when I looked down I saw he was only sleeping. He was very young, and very tired. He lay on one elbow, his hand suspended in the air about six inches from the ground. And in the palm of his hand he held a large, smooth rock.

I stood and looked at him a long time. He seemed in his sleep to hold that rock lovingly, as though it were his last link with a vanishing world. I have no idea at all why he went to sleep with the rock in his hand, or what kept him from dropping it once he was asleep. It was just one of those little things without explanation that a person remembers for a long time.

The strong, swirling tides of the Normandy coast line shifted the contours of the sandy beach as they moved in and out. They carried soldiers' bodies out to sea, and later they returned them. They covered the corpses of heroes with sand, and then in their whims they uncovered them.
As I plowed out over the wet sand, I walked around what seemed to be a couple of pieces of driftwood sticking out of the sand. But they weren't driftwood. They were a soldier's two feet. He was completely covered except for his feet; the toes of his GI shoes pointed toward the land he had come so far to see, and which he saw so briefly.

From "Brave Men" by Ernie Pyle

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Whistle Blows

"....The Army said they would try to give us twenty-four hours' notice of departure. Actually the call came at nine o'clock one morning and we were ordered to be at a certain place with full field kit at 10:30 A.M. We threw our stuff together. Some of us went away and left hotel rooms still running up bills. Many had dates that night but did not dare to telephone and call them off.

As we arrived one by one at the appointed place we looked both knowingly and sheepishly at each other. The Army continued to tell us that it was just another exercise, but we knew inside ourselves that this was it.

Bill Stoneman, who had been wounded once, never showed the slightest concern. Whether he felt any concern or not I could not tell. Bill had a humorous, sardonic manner. While we were waiting for the departure into the unknown, he took out a pencil and notebook as though starting to interview me. "Tell me, Mr. Pyle, how does it feel to be an assault correspondent?"

Being a man of few words, I said, "It feels awful."

When everybody was ready our luggage went into a truck and we went into jeeps. The first night we spent together at an assembly area, an Army tent camp. There we drew our final battle kit--such things as clothing impregnated against gas attack, a shovel to dig foxholes, seasickness capsules, a carton of cigarettes, a medical kit, and rations. We also drew three blankets just for the night, since our bedrolls had gone on ahead.

The weather was cold and three blankets were not enough. I hardly slept at all. When we awakened early the next morning, Jack Thompson said, "That's the coldest night I have ever spent."

Don Whitehead said, "It's just as miserable as it always was."

You see, we had all been living comfortably in hotels or apartments for the last few weeks. We had got a little soft, and there we were starting back to the old horrible life we had known for so long--sleeping on the ground, only cold water, rations, foxholes, and dirt. We were off to war again......

That was when the most incongruous--to us-- part of the invasion came. There we were in a front-row seat at a great military epic. Shells from battleships were whamming over our heads, and occasionally a dead man floated face downward past us. Hundreds and hundreds of ships laden with death milled around us. We could stand at the rail and see both our shells and German shells exploding on the beaches, where struggling men were leaping ashore, desperately hauling guns and equipment through the water.

We were in the very vortex of the war--and yet, as we sat there waiting, Lieutenant Chuck Conick and I played gin rummy in the wardroom and Bing Crosby sang "Sweet Leilani" over the ship's phonograph.

Angry shells hitting near us would make heavy thuds as the concussion carried through the water and struck the hull of our ship. But in our wardroom men in gas-impregnated uniforms and wearing life belts sat reading Life and listening to the BBC telling us how the war before our eyes was going.

But it wasn't like that ashore. No, it wasn't like that ashore."

Excerpts from: The Whistle Blows, Brave Men, by Ernie Pyle; Scripps-Howard Newspaper Alliance

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team


Ruger is offering a new-old-stock Service Six from 1974 this week.  It is a .38 Special revolver, and it does have some handling marks.  The cylinder latch has marked a ring around the cylinder, and closeups on Ruger's website show some minor pitting, probably from finger prints many years ago.  You won't find many new ones like this, so CLICK OVER to GunBroker to read all about it and to place your bid.  This fine revolver will sell mid-day, June 5, 2019.  $955

Monday, June 3, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Grand Haven Tractor


Well, this certainly is interesting.  These little Grand Haven Tractors are post World War II vintage, and this one is powered by Wisconsin.  Those are tough, single-cylinder engines with Timken roller bearings on the mains.  They give long years of hard service if you keep oil in them. 


The G-H tractors were made in Michigan, and only about 1000 were built.  The article I read about them in Gas Engine Magazine tells of one that came with a Briggs and Stratton engine, so I do not know if the Wisconsin is authentic to the rest of the machine.


CLICK HERE to read a Gas Engine Magazine article about the G-H.  It looks like a perfect machine for a truck farm.



Every Day Is Saturday!

How on Earth we did our own chores with two day weekends is a mystery.  We work on our own projects every day now, and there is always more to do.  I love the smell of sawdust in the morning.


                                                              Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

NRA Day At The Carmi Rifle Club

NRA Day is one of our big events every year.  This event is designed to be a fun learning event for families, and we had several kids shooting again this year.  The back row is made up of club member/volunteers who bring guns and gear, and man all the shooting stations.  Everyone had a great time, and a bunch of people discovered that they can hit little targets at long distances.  Too much fun!


Friday, May 31, 2019

Weekend Steam: Big Boy 4014

Merle likes the Big Boy; I do, too!  The restoration of 4014 is still almost unbelievable.  The big engine needed serious boiler repairs, plus a complete teardown. This engine sat for more than fifty years, and the 4014 would have been an engine kit rather than an engine after being retired while in need of an overhaul, and then moldering for half a century. Union Pacific pulled in experts in steam and machining from around the country to make it happen.  They had not done this level of work on an articulated steam locomotive for sixty years.


Chainsaws And Storm Damage; Even More Danger...

Falling and bucking trees are dangerous activities.  You have the danger of the saw, plus the danger of wood high above you that you are setting in motion.  Bucking offers plenty of opportunities for kickbacks and springpoles to smack you.  Storm damage is a nasty brew of both falling and bucking, and  the temptation for homeowners to get up on a ladder to deal with broken trees causes death and injury on a regular basis.  Keep your feet on the ground and wear your safety gear.  Plan every cutting operation carefully so you don't get hurt.  Susan and I walked around this minor mess for an hour to figure our safest strategy.  It worked out well, but we were both on edge through the entire process.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Down, No Problems


One of the hickories in the dog yard lost a limb this morning, and it had to come down for safety.  We spent a good hour just scoping it out and testing locations for the tractor, so we could support the branch with the loader.  We hoped to not smash the fence, and we succeeded.  Even more important, we did not smash ourselves.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Another Chainsaw Fatality In The News

Today the St. Louis news tells of a chainsaw tragedy.  A 40 year old man was pruning a tree, according to the story, and suffered cuts to his neck and arm.  He died at the scene.  Chainsaws are the most dangerous tools we have, and few seek out safety instruction.  Some activities with a chainsaw are more dangerous than others, and most amateur operators do not understand the forces that may put them in danger.

The article states that the fellow was pruning a tree.  That places the operator under great risk of having a kickback, and that often occurs from above your head if you are reaching above your shoulders to prune a limb.  Reaching above your shoulders with a chainsaw goes against accepted safety rules, but if a person has had no training, he does not know that, or understand why it is dangerous.

I have listed our safety rules below, with kickback related rules in bold.  If you are going to be running a saw, please seek out a safety class.  Study these safety rules and take them to heart.  If you can't find a safety class and must operate, please watch some of my videos to see proper chainsaw use techniques. Click on the Chainsaw label at the end of this post, or under Labels on the left side of the page to see my chainsaw posts.

PS: Note that you must always have both hands on the saw when you are running.  Wrap your thumb around the handle.  Operators often reach out with one hand to make a cut that is at the edge of their reach.  If the saw tip catches anything when you do this, the bar flips right back in your face.  Both hands, tight thumbs, whenever the chain is running!

Chainsaws
1. Always wear your safety gear when running your saw: hard hat, eye, face, hearing protection, cut resistant protection for your legs, heavy boots, gloves (depending on work conditions).

2. Safety devices on the saw must be in working order: front hand guard,chain brake, chain catcher, throttle lockout, and right hand guard.

3. Hold the saw on the ground or lock it between your knees for starting. No 'Drop Starts.' Set the chain brake before cranking.

4. The engine must idle reliably without turning the chain.

5. The chain must be sharpened properly, including properly set depth gauges.

6. The chain must be adjusted to remove slack and still run freely.

7. The operator must understand the forces on different parts of the bar as the saw runs: push, pull, kickback and attack.

8. Both hands must always be on the saw when the chain is running. The thumbs must be wrapped around the handles. Both feet should be firmly planted on the ground.

9. The operator must always know where the end of the bar is, and what it's doing.

10. Don't let the upper (kickback) corner of the bar contact anything when the chain is running unless the tip has been buried with the lower corner.

11. Let off of the throttle before pulling out of a pinch on the top part of the bar.


12. Make a plan for every tree you cut. Assess hazards, lean, escape routes, forward cuts, and back cuts. Evaluate the forward or backward lean, and the side lean of every tree you cut. Know your limits.



13. Clear your work area and your escape path of brush, vines, and other hazards that can trip you or catch your saw.

14. Escape from the bullseye when the tree tips. 90% of accidents happen within 12 feet of the stump. Go more than 15 feet, and stay out of the bullseye until things stop falling.

15. Keep spectators away more than twice the height of the tree in the direction it will fall.

16. Don't cut alone.

17. Keep your body and the swamper's out of the line of the bar in case of a kickback.
18. Set the brake when taking over two steps or when moving through tripping hazards. Keep your trigger finger off of the throttle when you are moving.

19. DO NOT operate a chainsaw from a ladder! Operating with your feet off the ground requires special training.

20. Do not cut above your shoulders.

21. Springpoles must be shaved on the inside of the apex between the ascending and descending sides. If the apex is higher than you shoulders, stand under the springpole and cut it low on the descending side. It will release upward, away from you.Leaning and heavily loaded poles that are too small to bore cut for a hinge should be shaved on the compressed side until they fold.

22. Do not cut a tree that is holding up a lodged tree. Do not work under a lodged tree. Think about a mouse trying to steal the cheese out of a trap.

23. Instruct your swampers and helpers to NEVER approach you from behind or the sides to within the reach of your saw when you are cutting. If you pull out of a cut with the chain running, or have a severe kickback, the swamper can be killed if he is coming up behind you!

24!! Quit When You Are Tired! 

25!! Pause and review; reflect, when you are being pushed. You may be pushed into danger. Do not let pressure cause you to ignore safety rules! 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

How Perishable Are Your Shooting Skills?


Up until Patti began failing, we shot nearly every week at Pistol League.  During the dark time of year we shoot indoors, mostly on the target you see here.  We shoot 12 rounds at 15 feet, 12 rounds at 30 feet, (both stages standing, unsupported), then from 50 feet we shoot 6 strong hand with a brace, 6 weak hand with a brace, 6 kneeling, and 6 standing unsupported.  We have shot just a few times since Patti passed away last summer, and the last time I shot, I made 470 out of a possible 480 points.  We went last week for the first time in 8 weeks and I shot one round, making a score of 459. Two months ago I made all shots in the 9 and 10 rings, and this time I strayed clear out into a 7.  I obviously was straying to the left, and all of those were from the 50 foot line.  I will work on this at home and hope to do better next time.

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team


This will probably be your only chance to buy brand new, Ruger Old Army cap and ball revolver.  This one was built in 1982 and it has never been sold.  The photos you can see at Ruger's website show a few small blemishes, most likely from fingerprints, but nothing major.  This rare item will sell mid-day, Wednesday, May 29, 2019.  CLICK HERE to read all about it and to place that winning bid.
$605  Good Deal!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Tuesday Torque: Rotary Engine Challenges

Great War pilots faced great challenges, learning to fly, fight in the air, and handle planes with peculiarities that are difficult for pilots with long experience.  Whenever technology happens there is a learning curve, and people die while troubles are sorted out and overcome. It happened with steam trains as they sped up in the Nineteenth Century before reliable braking, communication, and signal systems were developed.  We have seen it recently with Boeing airliners with changes to the engines and software systems in the planes.  Rotary engine peculiarities were responsible for many crashes and pilot deaths.  Some say that the handling characteristics of the Camel killed as many pilots as the Germans.  Here are a couple videos that give a pretty good look at the problems pilots had to overcome.




Solemn Thoughts For This Day

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.  from Concord Hymn, Ralph Waldo Emerson

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on Life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead                      from Bivouac of the Dead, Theodore O'Hara

Year after year lovers wandering under the apple trees and through the clover and deep grass are surprised with sudden tears as they see the black veiled figures stealing through the morning to a soldier's grave.   Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Cover them over with beautiful flowers;
Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours;
Lying so silent, by night and by day,
Sleeping the years of their manhood away...   from Cover Them Over, Will Carlton

At night when everything's quiet,
And I'm lying alone in bed,
There comes a vision of battlefields,
The fight..the maimed..the dead.

Will I ever forget that hell "O'er There,"
And the tales the battlefields tell,
The price my "Buddies" paid with "their all,"
And the places in which they fell?"    from Thots!  "Buck Private" McCollum


Friday, May 24, 2019

Weekend Steam: Truckin' In The U.K.

You have to love steam lorries.  Don't you wish we had some of these on this side of the pond?!  Many thanks to Merle for spotting and screening!




Thursday, May 23, 2019

Dead Wood Paradox


We have been heating with wood for many years, and it took me a while to figure out this problem.  Downed wood that is horizontal does not make good firewood unless you split it and stack it under cover with time to dry it.  Vertical dead wood is often ready to burn, except for the lower portion of the stem, which will dry rapidly if split and stacked with good ventilation.  Treetops down on the ground must be cut well in advance of going in your stove.  I think what happens is the sapwood rots quickly and acts like a sponge, holding water that soaks the heartwood.  Water runs down off of vertical stems so the wood has a chance to dry and stay that way.  It's one of those things they don't teach you in school.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Wayback Machine: Extreme Wedging Means Having No Fun


Several years back I was asked to cut several dead trees endangering parking areas at a state office.  This stump is a shortleaf pine, and if you have ever cut pine trees in a tight planting project, you know the challenge.  This was a 60 segment tree, and you can see that it took 3 inches of wedging to make the tree fall.  That means that I wedged the top over about 15 feet before the tree fell.  This tree was nearly vertical, but pine trees tangle up in the crowns, and the neighbors were holding it up. No matter what kind of tree you are cutting, if you have to cut wooden shims to tip the log, you are doing some hard work with your hammer.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The USA Shooting Team


Ruger is offering another New Old Stock Mk I Target pistol this week.  It was built in 1982 and has been stored in the Ruger vault ever since.  This Mk I is a beauty, and I can't help but think that Ruger is getting to the end of these treasures.  CLICK HERE to read the full description and to place your bid. This fine .22 LR pistol will sell mid-day Wednesday, May 22, 2019. $581.15

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tuesday Torque: A Change Of Pace

Here is a very fine flying boat model with six engine nacelles with twelve propellors. I kept thinking, "No Way," but it flies!  You will enjoy watching this one.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

I'll Spare You

I spotted baby raccoons in a den tree last week, brought the camera out on the tripod and shot 25 minutes of video.  I whittled that down to 6 minutes, and if a helicopter hadn't flown over there would have been no excitement at all.  Oh, you could see a little movement, but mama wasn't home, and the kids were bashful.  I took three screen shots and that pretty much shows the action.




Friday, May 17, 2019

Weekend Steam: From One Extreme To The Other

Last week we looked at the Union Pacific 4014 Big Boy, and how do you top that?  I can't think of a way, so we are going to the other extreme and looking at an old, toy steam engine. This little Weeden engine is about 90 years old.  Remarkable!  We have videos in line from Merle, but after the Big Boy I am feeling a bit giddy and in need of a reset.



Enough of that! Here's a good pick from Merle, and suitable for the day we turned on the air conditioning. Hoo Boy; we let the fire go out Tuesday and now we are running the AC.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Swarm In May Is Worth A Bale Of Hay!


A swarm of bees flew in today.  I used to have several hives, but quit beekeeping thirty-five years ago when stings began sending me to the Emergency Room.  Susan took up beekeeping about five years ago, so we have equipment that is ready to set up.


Susan is not doing any lifting right now, so I set up a couple of supers, suited up and started clipping branches to reach the swarm.  Susan mixed up sugar syrup to keep the bees quiet and tucked a sheet into the entrance on the hive.


The swarm dropped into a box while still hanging on the branches and I placed them in front of the entrance, misted them with sugar water, and they began their march into the hive.  We checked them at sundown and all of them had moved in. The best part is neither of us was stung!