Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Out Back

This nice snapping turtle was on our pond bank Saturday. The first frost is probably less than two weeks away, so he'll be digging in for winter soon.
Looks a bit dinosaurish, doesn't he?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Biting Like......

Chainsaw safety and use are topics that I speak about regularly. At this recent event, one of the groups had a logger a few years older than me. It's a bit dangerous telling people how to take care of and run a chainsaw when a logger might chime in. This guy had learned to log from his father, but had taken safety courses a few years ago and was my Amen Corner. He uses the open face and bore cut to create a good hinge, and he likes the way he can get away quickly and cleanly from the trees he cuts. During our sharpening discussion he used a great expression describing how he likes his saws to cut. I probably will be using his expression in future talks.

Susan and I worked up a spruce tree over the weekend, and converted some of the wood into cants to stash away in the barn for future use. I put a factory ground ripping chain on the saw, and in just a few seconds figured out that it wasn't sharpened aggressively enough. We stopped and filed, reconfiguring the teeth slightly for better cutting.

Here is the result: it's Biting Like An Old Sow!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Not My Victrola

Here is a great Charleston sung by Johny Marvin, and posted on You Tube by RReady555. This will help you start the week on the right foot.

Here Comes Monday!

Back to the old grind!

Our Last Rose of Summer

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Today in History

September 27, 1908, the first Model T was built. Henry Ford introduced it to the public in October, and by the time it went out of production nineteen years later, Henry had built 15,007,033 flivvers. This photo is copied from the back cover of 'Model T Memories' by Floyd Clymer, who was selling cars at age 11, and soon began selling Fords.

This book by Mr. Clymer is still in print, and can easily be found on the internet, but I am afraid the $2.00 price that I paid some forty years ago has inflated a bit. It's a good reference book, and entertaining, too.

Model T's came in many body styles, or as a bare chassis so you could add a body yourself. The early T's even came in colors other than black.

Many T owners repainted their car to have a prettier ride, and today's restorers are keeping that tradition alive.

These are my favorite T pictures. Above, my mother as a little girl is riding in the back of a T out for a joyride. Note the lady behind the wheel. The horn did not work on this car, so she has a cowbell to clear the road. Below is the T Truck my dad bought and restored (teaching me a lot in the process) to keep me out of trouble as a teenager.

UPDATE! Here is great oldie sung by Billy Murray, posted on YouTube by SilentBacchus.

Weekend Steam

We got lucky and saw this old gem out idling around at Old Threshers this year. This engine is a rare old one, and it was on static display at Mt. Pleasant for many years because of a bad boiler. It now sports a welded boiler of modern steel and is in operation annually. There goes that man in the hat again!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Here's a little trivia question for you. What are the names of the two characters in the song 'School Days?' Not too many will know; most adults my age don't even know the words to the chorus. I first heard this song at the tender age of four, performed in the one room school that I would soon attend.

This acoustic recording was made on February 26, 1907, and the record is in pretty good shape. I played it on the old Brunswick and added some photos for a nice slide show.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

High Risk Environment

In the not-too-distant past, farm families were often devastated by accidents that maimed or killed. This photo makes me cringe, seeing the long dress so close to cogs and chains that are running the drag behind the wagon. The man's overalls are also an easy grab for the cog on the elevator. Tumble-rods like the one above have killed plenty of people and farm animals, too. It's just natural for folks to push harder during harvest, and Safety-First is sometimes forgotten.

Handling grain is much more efficient than it used to be, and one person can perform the whole harvest operation if need be. The big killer nowadays is drowning in flowing grain. Shelled corn that is moving will not support a person, and even though the danger is well publicized, farmers are killed every year when they get in a hurry. Farm country newspapers are posting safety articles now to remind farm workers of the danger.

Modern methods make the harvest a quick process if the weather cooperates. I don't think I have heard any farmer wish for "The Good Old Days." We like to see the old machinery demonstrated, but farm life is much easier with today's equipment.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grab your Sweetie!

We're over the hump this week, and a little treat will give us the strength we need to make it to Saturday. This is a very nice Fox-Trot from KSPM01; I am sure you will like it. Push back the chairs and dance!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chestnuts, Chestnuts

The drought last year gave us our first chestnut crop failure since our trees started producing more than twenty years ago. Chestnuts are falling again this year, and we have a pretty good batch already. These are a great snack to carry with you, and they gain in sweetness as they age. Chestnuts have to be refrigerated or they will dry out, so you only take with you what you will eat in one day. Susan is famous for her chestnut dressing at Thanksgiving, and I am already looking forward to that treat.

Monday, September 22, 2008


When our 2000 Chevy Astro had only 12,000 miles under its wheels, it ate the back end off of a Dodge Stratus that turned in front of us one night. All occupants were belted in, and the only injury was a burn from a side impact airbag for the girl driving the Stratus. Both cars were pretty well trashed, but because ours was practically new, our insurance company wouldn't total it, and it was rebuilt. I have been completing that rebuild ever since.

During our first winter driving this car we found that the anti-lock brakes kicked in sooner than we liked, and that it was hard to stop on any mildly slick surface. Pumping the brakes like I did when I drove a '51 Hudson made stopping possible, and soon, Susan was able to stop the old fashioned way, too. Stopping quickly on gravel required the same technique, and we figured that it was just the nature of the anti-lock brake system on this car.

Recently we both noticed a change in the feel of the brake pedal, (165,000 plus miles) so I installed a rebuilt master cylinder. Susan helped me bleed the system, and then we went out on the gravel to test it. HOLY COW! We could stop fast on gravel! No aggravating anti-lock kick in! What we have figured out is that, when we hit that Stratus, with the brakes engaged to the max, we blew the cup for the front brakes, and have been driving with only rear brakes for over 150,000 miles. Henry Ford would be proud of us, even if it was a Chevy.

Moral? I'm still learning how to get around under the car, and if I ever take a bad hit with my foot on the brakes I will rebuild or change the master cylinder; or get a new car.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Not My Victrola

Here is a timely selection from Fuzzbear. It's a bit more modern than the ususal fare on this site, being recorded in 1931, but it's a good one.


Yep, back to the old grind again. The horse does not sound too happy about this.

Poets' Corner

A Pot of Tea

You make it in your mess-tin by the brazier's rosy gleam;

You watch it cloud, then settle amber clear;

You lift it with your bay'nit, and you sniff the fragrant steam;

The very breath of it is ripe with cheer.

You're awful cold and dirty, and a-cursin' of your lot;

You scoff the blushin' 'alf of it, so rich and rippin' 'ot;

It bucks you up like anythink, just seems to touch the spot:

God bless the man that first discovered Tea!

Since I came out to fight in France, which ain't the other day,

I think I've drunk enough to float a barge;

All kinds of fancy foreign dope, from caffy and doo lay,

To rum they serves you out before a charge.

In back rooms of estaminays I've gurgled pints of cham;

I've swilled down mugs of cider till I've felt a bloomin' dam;

But 'struth! they all ain't in it with the vintage of Assam:

God bless the man that first invented Tea!

I think them lazy lumps o' gods wot kips on asphodel

Swigs nectar that's a flavour of Oolong;

I only wish them sons o' guns a-grillin' down in 'ell

Could 'ave their daily ration of Suchong.

Hurrah! I'm off to battle, which is 'ell and 'eaven too;

And if I don't give some poor bloke a sexton's job to do,

To-night, by Fritz's campfire, won't I 'ave a gorgeous brew

(For fightin' mustn't interfere with Tea).

To-night we'll all be tellin' of the Boches that we slew,

As we drink the giddy victory in Tea.
From: Rhymes Of A Red Cross Man, by Robert Service

If you have ever clicked on the poetry label you know that I am a big fan of Robert Service. This particular poem is one I skipped over for years, because I did not like tea. When I finally did take the time to study A Pot of Tea, the realization dawned on me that I had never had good tea. Tea where I grew up came in a tea bag from the local grocery store, and it was probably made from what was left on the warehouse floor. I started looking for good tea, and I was soon hooked on Oolong and Souchong. I find that tea keeps me going without the jitters I get from endless cups of coffee. I still have coffee in the morning, and usually again at noon, but in between-times I keep a travel mug close by with a hot Robert Service approved beverage. I am somewhat puzzled by the lack of popularity of Souchong among foresters; it smells just like a forest fire, with the leaves having been cured over a pine fire.

I always travel with a camp stove and everything I need to make espresso or tea. Here's a pleasant little break along the highway.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

E-Postal Reminder

You have this weekend and next to shoot and submit your targets for Mr. Completely's September contest. This month you shoot five times each at four progressively difficult targets. There is a five point deduction for each hit on the hostage, so practice beforehand is good. I killed a hostage on my first try, and re-shot for a slightly better score.

Weekend Steam

This is one of the many historical photos on display in the museum building at Old Threshers. No information was provided, but I think this Case engine would be a 75 HP. The barn sure does stand straight and proud. I wonder if Grandpa Whiskers was a Civil War veteran.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Can you believe this is the last weekend of summer? It's time to think about barn dances, so here are a couple of good fiddle tunes to dance to after you have your corn shucked and you invite the neighborhood over to celebrate.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

PocketaPocketaPocketaPocketaPocketa, Etc., Etc.

The sound of these old engines is irresistible to me, and I love to watch the exposed rocker arms and push rods. Wood processing is pretty appealing, too. This was at Midwest Old Threshers, but you probably had that one figured out already.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blue Spruce Problem

Everyone seems to like blue spruce, and nobody is happy when they notice Rhizosphaera needle cast attacking there favorite evergreen. This fungal disease attacks tender young needles in the spring, and preventative treatment must happen then if it is to be effective.
Rhizosphaera starts low on the north side of spruce trees, and moves upward and outward over a period of several years. Homeowners need to spray a fungicide on the trees early in the growing season to keep this disease from infecting new growth. Removal of dead and infected branches is a good idea, too. This tree was sprayed aggressively for several years, but the disease has won, and it does not have enough live crown to recover now. The good news is that a Douglas-fir nearby seems to have no problem living in Illinois.
Don't depend too heavily on one species in your landscape plantings, and try not to take it too hard when a tree doesn't work out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Soap Class

We were out late tonight with the mobile soap lab. The local community college hosted a soap class with Dear Wife presiding. Here she is reviewing the evening's activities with the participants.

Some good agitation action with a stick blender.

New soap going into a mold. All of the students made two batches and took home about two pounds of homemade soap.

Weekend Tree Farm Tour

Saturday I participated in a field day hosted by the Illinois Tree Farm committee and the National Wild Turkey Federation. A highlight of the tour was seeing this sawmill that the landowner has for a sideline. Little bandmills like this one are popular with timber growers, but I have resisted the urge. This landowner related his experiences, and his advice was to not buy one to make money. He can do custom cutting all day long and make about $150 dollars. A saw with all the bells and whistles can easily cost $30,000, so you better like cutting for others on Saturdays if you want it to pay for itself.

This little winch gizmo is used for rolling the log; a great hernia preventer! A friend of mine thought he could make money cutting log home kits, and the hernia he earned operating his mill wiped out all the profit he made.

These are some end products from the operation. If you have a creative streak, you can have a great time with a sawmill. You might even make some money if you can find the right products and market them effectively.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Not My Victrola

Here is a very nice Charleston from the Roaring Twenties, courtesy of KSPM01. Now go shake a leg!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

Crankin' It Up: WWI Commemorative Edition

In observance of the sacrifices made by our servicemen ninety years ago, this month we are posting "We Don't Want The Bacon," performed by the Peerless Quartet. They sound pretty sure of themselves; of course they weren't being sent to France.

I had to record this one with the microphone right in front of the phongraph horn, so you will hear the spring in the motor grumble a few times.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weekend Steam

This is hardly playing fair. There is a tractor driving area at Old Threshers where kids drive real tractors around an obstacle course. This faux Gaar Scott traction engine was very popular, and it is obviously intended to get kids hooked on steam engines at a young and tender age. Very devious, and lots of fun.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Here is my final Harry Lauder post; yes, this is the last one of my Harry Lauder discs. Roamin' In The Gloamin' was my favorite of all these, but this one is not bad.

It is generally accepted that Eck Robertson recorded the first country record in 1922 when he cut Sallie Gooden. This record is obviously a country record, and it was recorded in 1916 by Don Robinson, a fiddler born in North Carolina who taught and played in New York City. He recorded Arkansas Traveler in 1914, so Mr. Robinson may be the first recorded country musician. Whatever your opinion, this record was well liked and played nearly to death in its younger days. The flip side is Mrs. McLeod's Reel, and I will post it next Friday.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9/11 News

These photos made the E-Mail circuit recently, and this was a remarkable event. It occurred in Baghdad on July 4th of this year, and it was the largest re-enlistment ceremony in the history of our military. It was not reported by our news media.
Seven years after we were attacked on 9/11 by Islamic terrorists, our miltary heroes are still taking the fight to the enemy, and our country has not been hit again. Go over on the right sidebar and look at what is happening in the rest of the world. Terror attacks since 9/11/01 are now up to nearly 12,000, or about five per day; but not one on our shores. The men and women who wear the uniform are true heroes, and we must never forget the sacrifices they make in our behalf.
Never forgive, never forget what the terrorists have done. If you need a reminder, go here.

History If You Look

While on a shade tree call recently, I noticed these garages across the street from each other. The brick garage is a very nice complement to a brick home with a large porch, and a tile roof that matches the garage's. I am guessing that they were built in the 1920's by one of the local well-to-do businessmen. The garage probably housed a very nice car, maybe a boat, gardening equipment, and etc., but I doubt that the homeowner ever worked on his car in this building.

This humble garage is a stone's throw away, and it was probably built by the family who lived in the accompanying frame house. This is the size needed for a Model T to live in, when you could buy a new one for around $300. There would have been things like a tire pump, Monkey-Grip tire patches, wrenches, and Model T coil points on the benches down the side of the garage. I know that the workbenches were on the side because there are doors for the car on both ends of the building. I bet the guy built it this way so his wife didn't have to back out. I saw a similar garage one time with a turntable to spin the T around. Old buildings like this one remind me of nights and weekends under a car, fixing things yourself so you could have a set of wheels. I can smell the oil and grease without stepping inside. I'm glad that the current owners like this old building enough to keep it painted and roofed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Live Music Treat at Old Threshers

We were very glad to see these fine musicians entertaining in the Log Village at Old Threshers. Check out the homemade banjo-pretty neat.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Answer To Your Energy Needs!

A California-Approved perpetual-motion hybrid. I plan to invest in tall garage doors in case this catches on.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Not My Victrola

Lee Morse recorded 'Yes Sir, That's My Baby' in 1925. What is really remarkable in this song is her level of performance with brand new microphone technology. Up until this time, singers had to shout into a megaphone, and as I listened to this song, I wondered how many great performances we have missed from early Twentieth Century singers who needed better recording methods to reach the audience. A good case to study is Al Jolson. When his career revived in the 1940's he remade several of his earlier hits. You can hear genuine excitement in his later recordings that you don't hear in many of his acoustically recorded originals.

Summer's Winding Down

Spanish Needle and Iron Weed give us a beautiful show this time of year. The goldenrod is blooming, too, and as these flowers finish up, the trees should give us some nice color. The sassafras is starting to show some red, and the walnuts and cottonwoods are turning yellow.

Monday Again!

Back to the old grind!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weekend Steam

This one-of-a-kind traction engine is steaming at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. It was recovered from the Missouri River after being buried for forty years. It was built in the 1880's, and is the only engine in existence with the smokestack going through the steam dome. It uses a chain drive from the flywheel for road travel.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Crankin' It Up

Harry Lauder could really belt one out to the old megaphone. I looked this disc up on Victor Discography, and Side B was recorded in 1910. This side was probably recorded about the same time. The volume was maxing out my microphone, so I had to use a soft tone needle to record both sides of this record. Side A is 'I Love To Be A Sailor,' and it is a testament to the changes in humor and entertainment over a century. The flip side is 'We Parted On The Shore.' I will post it next week, and that will finish our series of Harry Lauder records.

Crankin' It Up

This snappy little dance record has lyrics so sentimental that I think they have crossed the line to Corny. I have always liked it anyway, and now that the golden rod is blooming, it is time to share it with you.

I still have a couple of Harry Lauders, but I am having trouble making a good capture from the microphone. I will try a different type of needle in the tonehead and should have one up by Friday night. In the meantime, Fox Trot to this post.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some Kind Of Record

One of my customers has planted several hundred acres of glacial lakebed fields into bottomland trees in the Little Wabash River valley. This has been a difficult project because the lakebed can flood during any month of the year. He typically planted each spring after all of my other tree planting projects were done, usually in June. One year he planted up to the 4th of July. His soils have a very high clay content and they hold moisture well, so he has had good success.
This year he wanted to fill in some areas with low survival, so we ordered seedlings; then it flooded, and flooded more. He kept his seedlings in cold storage, and I figured that he never was able to plant. He called me near the end of August so I could come out and look at what he had done.

He started planting on July 21, and finished on July 24. One month later the trees looked great, and I think they will have new buds formed before the fall frosts come. Back in April when we were planting uplands, the water would have been over his head in this field.

A bonus that day was seeing the mallows blooming around us.... in the marsh. Marsh Mallows.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September E-Postal Match

The new E-Postal match is up! This month you shoot four targets and try not to kill the hostages. Go to Mr. Completely or Here to download the targets and read the rules. You may want to practice a bit before you go for your score.

Problem? Solved!

Most chainsaw operators make their falling cuts under the butt log horizontally, and that makes for pretty stumps, but if cuts from opposite sides of the stump don't meet you create bypassed wood on the bottom of the log. Most fallers don't give bypasses a second thought, but these things can become wooden bullets in the sawmill when a circular headsaw passes through. Mr. J Jones, the faller in these videos demonstrates how he avoids unguided missiles in his sawmill; he simply angles down slightly with his chainsaw as he makes his falling cuts so his opposing cuts meet. Neat!

Smooth! Thank you Jason for the demonstration!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008