Saturday, September 30, 2017

Who Keeps Whom Hopping?


We have three fosters right now in addition to our own dogs, and we stay busy putting them in the dog yard, doing leash walks, and playing with them on their new exercise equipment.  This is Titan jumping through the hoop.  There are also lots of trips to the Vet.  In the last week we have had two of the fosters and our little Skipper to the Dr, and also took the two barn cats in for vaccinations.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Weekend Steam: The Modern Steam Locomotive, 1942

Great Film!  We even get to watch one being built!  Thanks to Merle for spotting this one!


Olney FFA Does It Again!

Jamie VanDyke's FFA team will be making their third trip to the FFA National Convention in October after winning the state FFA Forestry Contest at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.


Jamie's team took top honors at the sectional contest that was held at Sam Dale Lake State Park on September 11.  Jamie and his team stayed after the contest for a tutoring/review session and they have been working hard so they might go to the national contest again.  In 2016 the Olney team placed third in the nation; a remarkable achievement for kids from corn and bean country.

Tree ID

This year the contest consists of a written general knowledge test, tree identification, timber measurement, equipment identification, map interpretation, tree disorders, and chainsaw troubleshooting and knowledge.  Contestants at the national contest are also individually interviewed by judges.


Sycamore; An Easy One!

Team Photo Credit, Jamie VanDyke, Richland County Schools

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Buck's Branch Economy Is Getting All Dressed Up!


The 9 HP Sears Economy Engine that we collected in Eastern Kentucky nearly forty years ago is now sitting on a proper drop-center cart!  During its working life, the engine was bolted down on timbers in its mill shed, but a cart makes an engine much easier to move and to show.  Gary Bahre put the Sears on  cart he built with Case separator wheels and wooden timbers, but it stood too tall, and was hard to crank.  A high center of gravity also made the Sears worrisome when it was being trailered. Gary can breathe much easier now when he takes it to shows.


Mr. Mahnke of Mahnke Motorsports is the artist who stitched this all together.  He is also the builder of the rod for Gary's 8 HP Bessemer.




Stay tuned for updates.  Gary is planning to have this rig painted before cold weather arrives, and then it will be ready to show.

Photo Credit:  Gary Bahre

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Win A Hi-Point Carbine!


No Kidding, this is a chance to win a free pistol-caliber-carbine from Hi-Point, and all you have to do is enter Right Here.  This is too good to pass up, and the Hi-Point Carbines are fine guns for recreation, home defense, and varmint control around your compound.

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The Wounded Warrior Project


Ruger is offering one of the best looking firearms they produce this week.  It is a 5 1/2" Super Blackhawk with a fluted cylinder, in .44 Magnum.  I have one of these, and it is a joy to shoot.  This revolver was sent to a distributor in 1989 and was returned to the factory for unknown reasons.  This fine shooting iron will sell mid-day Wednesday, September 27, 2017.  CLICK HERE to read the full description and to place your bid. $721

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Ground Hard


I worry about little stuff.  If crops weren't being picked now, everybody would be talking about the drought.  The ground cannot be dug easily right now, and there are critters who will soon need to dig in and disappear for the winter.  Turtles are patient and persistent, but when you see them digging in dry soil to lay eggs or to overwinter, it pulls at your heart a bit.  We might get rain next week...

Friday, September 22, 2017

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Never Picked Cotton!


I saw on the 'net that some angry, offended gal got all bent out of shape because she saw a display featuring cotton plants and bolls in a store.  She got offended because it reminded her of slavery; at least that's what she said.  There's a darn good chance that it didn't remind her of work, because I don't think she has ever worked a real job.  Her profile picture on a popular Internet page shows her reading some poetry by Maya Angelou, so she is probably more about feelings than producing.


I can look at reminders of  work and not get angry.  I've  cleaned old appliances, moved big old chest freezers out of farmhouse basements, helped change crossties and pack ballast, taken care of quadraplegic college students, fought fires,  changed driveshafts and clutches on the side of the road, and worked behind a pulling unit on 95 degree days, and I don't get all pissed-off when I see reminders of the hard work. I am glad that I was able to be a wage earner for more than fifty years, and I don't have much patience for freeloaders.

My folks were sharecroppers in the Fifties and Sixties.  That was hard, and I am glad they broke out of it.  If you want to know hardship, be a young couple without the money to pay bills and have your milk cow drop over dead.  The Cotton Boll Gal doesn't know crap about hardship, or hard work. Here's a good song, just to remind us all that privilege, no matter your color, can be advanced by hard work.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ruger's Auction To Benefit Wounded Warriors


Ruger is offering a pair of P95's from 2001 with consecutive serial numbers!  These are manual safety pistols in 9mm, and the proceeds of this auction will go to benefit Wounded Warriors Outdoors.  This is a rare opportunity for Ruger fans, and this pair will sell mid-day, September 20, 2017.  Click Here to read all about it and to place your bid. $1275

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Banging My Head Against A Tree


For many years I have been cutting difficult trees on state sites, and making each one a lesson for the site staff.  I have explained many times the steps to cutting a tree; why we do it the way we do, and how to cut one without being hurt or killed.  So, Monday I was at one of those sites, and this is what I found.  These are classic "Cut the tree on an angle so the stump can push the tree over!" stumps.  I have yet to see a stump reach up and push on the bottom of a tree.  What stumps like this do is either cause the tree to barberchair, putting that tree up in the air so it can drop on you, or letting the tree slide off the stump, when it will decide where it is going to fall, based on how the weight is distributed after it hits the ground.  I have seen people smashed by both scenarios.  Shoulda saved my breath, I guess.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

You Get Two Guesses...

I just retired for the second time this year.  My contract work was more intense than I thought it would be, but it was very satisfying.  The new District Forester at Fairfield is up and running.  I think she will do great things in the years ahead.  Mel Gerardo was the first DF at Fairfield.  He was a Marine vet, and he fought at the Chosin Resorvoir.  I have eternal respect for him.  He left Fairfield to run the state nursery at Anna-Jonesboro, and he was superb in that job.  Rick Moore was the second DF; then Gary Stratton, who was my boss while I worked at Fairfield.  Jenny Lesko is the new District Forester, and she has a solid foundation with her education at Notre Dame and Purdue.  I think she will do great things in District 19, Fairfield, Illinois.

Anyhow, which of these do you think fits my mood tonight?





Yep, I feel good! Bobby's song is a downer, and it is great to be permanently unemployed!

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The Light Foundation


Ruger is offering a 22/45 Competition model from 2000 this week. The 22/45's are lighter than the metal framed Mk series pistols, and we seem to shoot our 22/45's more than we do our all metal Rugers.  This particular pistol has a damaged rear sight blade, and Ruger will replace it before shipping to the winner of this auction.  It will sell at mid-day, September 13, 2017, so Click Here to read the entire description and place your winning bid.  $456.22

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tuesday Torque: 20 HP Fairbanks From 1906

The most interesting part of this video for me is seeing the operator hit the 'Match Starter.' which was used on some of the early big gas engines.  The writeup says they are using caps, and that would probably be more dependable than Ohio Blue Tips matches.  What a great save!


Many thanks to Merle for spotting this great vid!

Where Were You?


I was on my way to this little patch of timber to do a TSI marking for the landowner.  I would make a pass and come back to the truck and listen to the news.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Final Monday For This Old Boy!

Our good engine friend Gary Bahre visited Old Threshers at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa this year, and brought back a couple of good grinder photos for us!  These grinders used to be on every farm and were used for sharpening mower sections.  A cow's gotta eat!



Back To The Old Grind!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Gary and Debbie Stratton, Illinois Tree Farmers Of The Year, 2017!


Gary and Debbie Stratton of Dahlgren are the recipients of the 2017 Illinois Outstanding Tree Farmer of the year.  This award presented by the Illinois Tree Farm Committee is sponsored by the American Forest Foundation and recognizes private landowners for their achievements in managing and modeling sustainable forest management.  Their goals, like many Tree Farmers, are to enhance wildlife by maintaining a healthy forest and utilize forest products to supplement their income.  Tree Farms across the nation are annually recognized for their efforts promoting sustainable forestry.

The Stratton's tree farm consists of 197 acres and has been in a forest management program for over 35 years.  Timber has been professionally marked for harvest on 3 separate occasions, thinning and crop tree release practices have occurred throughout.  A cabin was built using harvested lumber.  This property is a mix of forest and non-forest habitats with 3 wildlife watering ponds, six 1/2 acre wildlife openings planted with annual/perennial food plots and nesting/brood rearing habitat.  In addition, over 2 miles of hiking/access trails and several miles of temporary firebreaks necessary for controlled burning of invasive plant species are being utilized.  This multiple use concept makes it possible to manage and maintain a sustainable forest with the added benefits of hunting, fishing, hiking, wildlife/bird watching and mushroom hunting.

Photo and text courtesy of the Illinois Tree Farm Committee; used with permission.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Weekend Steam: Really Big Engines

Merle is doing great work finding and previewing steam videos.  This one shows the largest operating triple expansion engines in the world.  There are two of these babies, and each one pumped 19 million gallons of water per day from the Thames.  They are close to the size of engine that was used in the Titanic.


Thanks, Merle!

Gonna Miss This Good Old Boy

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Winding Down


I'm down to the last few days of my post-retirement job, and much of it has been revisiting old cases.  The Tree Farm people would turn white as a sheet if they saw how their sign is being displayed, but this is one of my favorite landowners.  He started working with timber in my district in 1956, and passed away just two years ago.  He planted a bunch of trees over the years on several different properties.  He was a tanker in Europe in WWII, but he never told me anything about it, other than he went to reunions every year. His daughter is selling off the properties one-by-one, and there will be many happy new landowners because of his work over the decades.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Ruger's Auction To Benefit The Light Foundation

Here's a special one this week; an engraved Ruger New Vaquero in .357 Magnum caliber, made in 2007.  Click on the pic to enlarge and take a good look at this beauty.  It sells mid-day, September 6, 2017.  They don't come much nicer than this!  CLICK HERE to read all about it and to place that winning bid. $1312



Tuesday Torque: Back To 805 Road King's Maytag Project

Last time we looked at parts 1-5, so we will continue at 6.










Sunday, September 3, 2017

My Last Labor Day!

I became a wage slave in September, 1965, and in the years since have been unemployed a total of two weeks.  I retired at the end of February this year, but it didn't last long.  My boss called up and asked me to come back on contract to do some work that had to be done before they could get a new hire in; so I did.  I wound that up last week, and will spend the next few days showing the new District Forester around the Fairfield and Olney forestry districts.  Anyhow, here are a few good work songs to celebrate.















Saturday, September 2, 2017

Aw Shucks!

I got behind a farm truck the other day as the corn harvest in Southern Illinois began.  He was raining an impressive bunch of corn shucks as he sped down the highway.  I am guessing this was a load of ensilage.  Does anybody have a better idea?